MariaDB vs MySQL: A Comprehensive Analysis

on Database Management Systems, ETL, MariaDB, MySQL • February 3rd, 2022

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Healthy competition is a process that can bring out the best in companies that offer similar products. In a competitive market, providing the best services and having the majority of customers helps shape the profit of a company. When it comes to the role of a Database Manager, the choice of MariaDB vs MySQL is a relatively tough one.

Both MariaDB and MySQL are very good Databases, but depending on the situation one can dominate the other. MariaDB is a fork of MySQL, which means that it is a lightweight and improved version of MySQL Database. It has many features that are not present in MySQL which can give it a competitive advantage over the older MySQL.

This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the 2 Databases and helps companies decide which one to choose for their business operations. It talks about the features of each Database and also provides the key parameters that are required to distinguish them. Read along to find out about both these popular Databases and how companies can choose the Database they need depending on the situation. You can also have a look on a comparison of MongoDB vs MySQL.

Table of Contents

What is MariaDB?

MariaDB Logo
https://aws.amazon.com/rds/mariadb/

MariaDB is a fork of the original RDBMS (Relational Database Management System), MySQL. It is also an RDBMS and offers data processing features for all types of tasks, including small and enterprise tasks. It is an improved version of MySQL and was designed to incorporate features like security and performance that were not previously available in the original MySQL.

MariaDB was created by the developers of MySQL and was released in October 2009. The main goal to create MariaDB was to ensure that the MySQL codebase could be free for all. It started with version 5.1 and has had 10 major releases. The latest, stable version of MariaDB is MariaDB Server 10.5 and it is supposed to be supported until 24 June 2025. Currently, the developers are working on MariaDB Server 10.6.

MariaDB is an open-source platform that offers an advanced Galera Technology that provides 12 new storage engines, offers backward compatibility, and also supports a popular and standard querying language.

It also operates under the GPL (General Public License), BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution), or the LGPL ( Lesser General Public License). This way companies that follow any of the licenses can incorporate MariaDB into their systems with ease. MariaDB also can easily be integrated with other RDBMS and also supports PHP, a popular programming language for Web Development.

MariaDB is used by many large organizations, Linux distributions, and even enterprise organizations. Some of the organizations that use MariaDB include Google, Craigslist, Wikipedia, ArchLinux, RedHat, CentOS, and Fedora

In order to learn more about MariaDB and how to deploy it in computer systems, click this link.

What is MySQL?

MySQL Logo
https://aws.amazon.com/rds/mysql/what-is-mysql/

MySQL is the most popular and the first open-source RDBMS available on the market. Today, despite having many alternatives to MySQL, it has still managed to keep its reputation in the market, because of its 26 years of experience. An important point to note is that all the variations of MySQL have a similar syntax to MySQL, which means that MySQL provided the foundation for all these variations.

MySQL was developed in the mid-’90s and was originally designed to keep data organized and used SQL (Structured Query Language) to query all the records in the Database. It is used with the combination of PHP and Apache Web Server that are above a Linux distribution.

The first version of MySQL was released in 1995 by the Swedish company MySQL AB. The company was founded by David Axmark, Allan Larsson, and Michael Widenius. It was released under the GNU GPL (General Public License) license. In 2001, the software had more than 2 million installations and by 2004, the software was downloaded more than 30,000 in a single day.

In 2008, MySQL was occupied by Sun Microsystems and in 2009, when Oracle took over Sun Microsystems they got MySQL. Similar to other RDBMS, MySQL uses tables to store data in the form of rows and columns. It has triggers and stored procedures to maintain the relationships between tables and also supports various keys such as Primary Keys and Foreign Keys to maintain data integrity and consistency.

MySQL has been used by many organizations since 1995. Some of the organizations that use MySQL include GitHub, US Navy, NASA, Tesla, Netflix, WeChat, Facebook, Zendesk, Twitter, Zappos, YouTube, and Spotify.

In order to learn more about MySQL and how to deploy it in computer systems, click this link.

Key Features of MariaDB

MariaDB is a lightweight version of MySQL and provides improved and newer features for MySQL. Some of the key features of MariaDB are given below:

  • It is open-source software that offers backward compatibility.
  • It has 12 new storage engines that include PBXT, XtraDB, Maria, and FederatedX.
  • It has a larger connection pool and supports up to 200,000 connections and also has faster data replication.
  • It is faster than MySQL and does not support Data Masking and Dynamic Columns.
  • It comes with newer commands such as WITH and KILL and also supports compatibility with JSON.
  • It comes with plug-ins to address some missing features that are available in the MySQL Enterprise Edition.
  • It is supported by many server operating systems such as FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, and Windows.
  • It offers routing by using the MariaDB MaxScale router and also supports Analytics by using MariaDB ColumnStore.
  • The Data Structures, Syntax, and Indexes are similar to MySQL, so it is easy to convert code from one language to another.
  • MariaDB is written in C, C++, Bash, and Perl. 
  • It has 868 fork processes built in it.

Key Features of MySQL

MySQL is one of the first RDBMS that is popular even today. Its regular updates and efficiency in performance are some of the main factors that determine its success even today. Some of the key features of MySQL are given below:

  • It was one of the first open-source software in the market.
  • It is highly scalable and flexible to all types of data and users.
  • It offers high performance and availability to use any time and from any place by multiple users.
  • It has robust transactional support and supports Web Development and can easily be embedded with Data Warehouses.
  • It is supported by many server operating systems such as FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, OS X, and Windows.
  • The enterprise edition of MySQL has proprietary code that only the MySQL users have access to.
  • It offers routing by using the MySQL Router but does not support Data Analytics.
  • MySQL is written in C and C++.
  • It has 1600 fork processes built in it.

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What Does MySQL & MariaDB have in Common?

MySQL & MariaDB, to their core, are relational databases; hence few functionalities are somewhat similar. A few of these similarities are mentioned below:

  1. The information is stored, in an organized manner, on tables that hold records with the number of fields fixed.
  2. The SQL language is the standard operating language used in both software to manipulate and query information accordingly.
  3. In contrast to what we see happening in a non-relational database, here, the relationships between the tables, and other entities are known to the database.

In addition to the above-said, it’s also worth mentioning, MySQL & MariaDB share common origin points. MariaDB started out as a fork of MySQL code. And after Oracle bought the majority share of MySQL from Sun Microsystems, MariaDB course-corrected in accordance with their business objectives. However, both share a common look and feel; hence functionalities resonate — look below to find attached an image of the terminal client for both software to better understand.

Image Credits: panoply

In fact, both, MySQL & MariaDB share identical to somewhat similar configuration files, default port to connect, etc… etc…, and, on top of that, as MariaDB was built to be the perfect competition to MySQL, both are fully compatible with each other.

Factors that Drive the MariaDB vs MySQL Decision

Now that you have a basic idea of both worlds, let us attempt to answer the MariaDB vs MySQL question of how to make a decision between the two. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here and the decision has to be taken based on the business requirements, budget, and parameters listed below. The following are the key factors that drive the MariaDB vs MySQL decision:

1) MariaDB vs MySQL: Performance & Speed

Performance of a Database refers to the ability of the Database to store data and retrieve records according to the user’s requirements. Speed of a Database refers to its ability to quickly execute queries and complete transactions efficiently.

MariaDB has 12 new storage engines and has improved speed. It can be seen that, with a memory storage engine of MariaDB, an INSERT statement can be executed 24% faster than in the standard MySQL environment. It also comes with an advanced thread pool that is capable of running faster and supporting up to 200,000+ connections at a single point in time. MariaDB also ensures that updates can be done in a safe manner and are twice as fast as MySQL.

MySQL has a very slow processing speed and is not able to compete with the lightweight and improved MariaDB. It also has lesser storage engines which limit the processing ability.

2) MariaDB vs MySQL: Database Structure & Syntax

Database Structure and Syntax are crucial to the operation of any Database. Without having a proper format to execute code, users will not be able to access the records in the Database.

As MySQL follows an RDBMS structure, that consists of tables that contain rows and columns and MariaDB, which is a fork of MySQL, means that the Database Structure, Indexes, Syntax, and relationships between the tables of both the Databases are similar to each other. In fact, MariaDB developers do a monthly merge of the MariaDB code with the MySQL code.

Indexes too are maintained in the form of B+ Trees for both Databases. Some of the Syntaxes in both the Databases are shown below:

  • Selecting Records from the Department Table

MySQL Syntax

SELECT * 
FROM department;

MariaDB Syntax

SELECT * 
FROM department;
  • Inserting Records to the Department Table

MySQL Syntax

INSERT INTO department(dept_id, dept_name) 
VALUES ('1', 'Marketing’');

MariaDB Syntax

INSERT INTO department(dept_id, dept_name) 
VALUES ('1', 'Marketing’');
  • Updating the Records of the Department Table

MySQL Syntax

UPDATE department
SET dept_id = ‘2’ 
WHERE dept_name= ‘Production’;

MariaDB Syntax

UPDATE department
SET dept_id = ‘2’ 
WHERE dept_name= ‘Production’;

3) MariaDB vs MySQL: Deployment & Clustering

Deployment refers to the ability to use the Database across multiple applications. Clustering is the ability to have multiple copies of the data from a parent Database to a child Database. Both these processes are important because, when a company has a proper deployment and backup of its resources, it can manage employees effectively.

MariaDB is written in C, C++, Bash, and Perl and can be deployed on many server operating systems such as FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, and Windows. Clustering can be enabled in MariaDB by just activating the configuration parameters. Clustering is achieved in MariaDB in a Master-Master or Master-Slave manner. A Multi-Master technology is also supported by MariaDB using the Galera Cluster model.

MySQL is written in C and C++ and can be deployed on server operating systems such as FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, OS X, and Windows. Clustering also is a one-way synchronous replication process where one server will act as the Master and all the others will be the Slaves. MySQL helps to replicate data from all Databases, selected Databases, or even selected tables within a Database.

4) MariaDB vs MySQL: Support, Development & Documentation

Support refers to the community and the employees that help users when they face any issues and also report any complaints. Development is a constant requirement as the application is always in need of improvement. Documentation is the process of reporting all the transactions and bugs at regular intervals.

MariaDB offers support engineers that are skilled in both MariaDB and MySQL 24X7, with their enterprise solutions. The development of MariaDB is open to the public where all the developers can debate on further improvements and review them based on a public mailing list. This ensures that there is a transparent and regular release of patches. Documentation is maintained by the main steward, but the public can also participate.

MySQL offers technical support services based on Oracle’s lifetime support. The support team consists of MySQL developers and support engineers on a 24X7 basis. They fix bugs, security issues and also offer regular maintenance. Development of MySQL is done by Oracle Corporation and is not available to the general public. Security Patches are released every 2 months. Documentation is also maintained by Oracle Corporation.

5) MariaDB vs MySQL: Database Connectors & Compatibility

Database connectors are required to maintain the relationships between the tables in the Databases. Compatibility is a feature of many applications that ensures that the applications can run on multiple platforms.

MariaDB has a variety of Database connectors including ADO.NET, C, C++, D, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, etc. In terms of compatibility, MariaDB 10.2,10.3, and 10.4 act like limited drop-in replacements for MySQL 5.7.

MariaDB Compatibility Chart
https://mariadb.com/kb/en/mariadb-vs-mysql-compatibility/

MySQL has a variety of Database connectors including C, C++, Delphi, Perl, Java, Node.JS, Python, etc. MySQL is the foundation for comparison and so does not have any compatibility versions for analysis. Also, check Python MariaDB Integration.

6) MariaDB vs MySQL: Pricing Models

Pricing Models are the ways the Databases offer their services to their users. Users can choose an edition of the product and pay accordingly.

The pricing model of MariaDB is designed to combine the MariaDB Server along with other products and services that are suited for enterprise development. They offer a Cloud service also. The charges start with $0.4514 an hour for the SkySQL Foundation package. Companies can schedule an appointment with the MariaDB team for further details. The pricing model for MariaDB is given below:

MariaDB Pricing Model
https://mariadb.com/pricing/

For more details on the pricing model of MariaDB, click this link.

The pricing model of MySQL is designed to suit any company, in order to have optimal performance at all times. They offer 3 editions- the MySQL Standard Edition, the MySQL Enterprise Edition, and the MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Edition. Companies can choose between each edition depending on their budget. The pricing model for MySQL is given below:

MySQL Pricing Model
https://www.mysql.com/products/

For more details on the pricing model of MySQL, click this link.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Security & Access Methods

Lack of data security and access control privileges can make or break any product’s reputation; hence having them is a must. Below-given are some parameters that will help you evaluate MariaDB & MySQL therefore.

FeatureMySQLMariaDB
Native network encryptionYes. SSL based.Yes. SSL based.
Access Control SystemAccess Control List (ACL) is used.Access Control List (ACL) is used.
Brute Force ProtectionYesYes
Security CertificationYesYes
Access Methods
(Multiple common access
methods, which include
JDBC, ODBC and ADO.NET).
All Standards SupportedAll Standards Supported
OthersHost-based verification.
Password encryption.
Highly Secure systems with a lot of security features
Authentication: Yes. GSSAPI, SSPI, LDAP, SCRAM-SHA-256, Certificate, and more.
Certificate-based Multifactor authentication.
Native SSL support.

Disadvantages of MariaDB

Despite all the features of MariaDB, there are a few limitations that the software suffers from:

  • The software is still fairly new, so there’s no guarantee further updates and versions will be coming soon.
  • As the Database software is new, companies must pay for support whenever they face any issue.

Disadvantages of MySQL

Despite the experience that MySQL has had over the last 26 years, better variations are emerging from it because it is not able to handle some limitations:

  • As it is owned by Oracle, there are many restrictions.
  • It is ideally not suited for large-scale data.
  • It doesn’t support integration with other client applications.
  • As it has triggers, that can impose a high load on the Database server.
  • It has lower storage options than MariaDB and also exhibits slower speed.
  • The memory storage capacity is lesser than MariaDB and MySQL cannot support large thread pools at once.
  • It is not completely open-source and uses some proprietary code in the Enterprise Edition.

The below graph gives the trends in the popularity between MySQL and MariaDB over the years. It can clearly be seen that MariaDB is gaining popularity over the years. MySQL is having a constant rate but is slowly degrading.

MariaDB vs MySQL Trends Chart
https://db-engines.com/en/ranking_trend/system/MariaDB%3BMySQL

Conclusion

This article gave a comprehensive analysis of the 2 popular Database technologies in the market today: MariaDB vs MySQL. It talks about both the Databases and their features and limitations. It also gave the parameters to judge each of the Databases. Overall, the choice to choose MySQL or MariaDB depends on the resources of the company and its business goal.

MySQL is a great technology to work with because of its experience in the market for over 26 years and also because Oracle Corporation releases updates regularly. In case performance and efficiency are a major requirement, then MariaDB is a better alternative as it is a lightweight version of MySQL and also offers better performance and more features.

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