SQL vs MySQL: 5 Critical Differences

Aakash Raman • Last Modified: December 29th, 2022


In today’s evolving world, competition can come in any form. Companies try numerous strategies to provide the best services to their customers and at the same time try to gain valuable insights from them. One such topic that many people lack clarity on is the difference between SQL vs MySQL.

MySQL is one of the first open-source RDBMS (Relational Database Management System), that was developed in the mid-’90s. Today, there are many alternative variants to MySQL but all of these variants are built on the same foundation laid by MySQL.

Although it may seem outdated, MySQL has some of the fundamental database concepts built-in. It uses SQL(Structured Query Language), a language to operate your database, process queries, and maintain the relationship between various entities present in the database.

This article provides you with a comprehensive analysis of both SQL and MySQL and highlights the major differences between them to give you a better understanding of the SQL vs MySQL differences easily. It also provides you with a brief overview of both SQL and MySQL along with their features. Finally, it highlights a few challenges you might face when you use these technologies. 

Table of Contents

What is SQL?

What is SQL
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SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a domain-specific querying language that is used in programming and is designed for managing data present in an RDBMS. It was designed by Donald D.Chemberlin and Raymond F.Boyce and its stable release was in December 2016.

SQL provides numerous advantages over its predecessors, like ISAM (Indexed Sequential Access Method) and VSAM(Virtual Storage Access Medium). Firstly, SQL introduced the concept of accessing multiple records with a single command. Secondly, it removed the need to specify how a record is reached.

SQL was originally based on relational algebra and tuple relational calculus. It was also one of the first commercial languages to use Edgar F. Codd’s relational model. SQL comprises 4 sublanguages: 

  • Data Query Language(DQL)
  • Data Definition Language(DDL)
  • Data Creation Language(DCL)
  • Data Manipulation Language(DML)

Key Features of SQL

SQL comprises multiple features that make it an optimal query language for many databases. Some of those features are:

  • SQL offers high performance for a large number of transactions and describes data more analytically.
  • It is highly available and is accessible to a wide range of databases like Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite, etc.
  • It is highly scalable, flexible, and works well with almost any data source.
  • It offers robust transactional support and can handle large records and manages numerous transactions.
  • It enables you to provide permissions easily, thereby making it an exceptionally secure option.
  • It offers capabilities for comprehensive application development.
  • It is open-source and can be managed easily.

To learn more about SQL, click this link.

What is MySQL?

What is MySQL
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MySQL is the first open-source RDBMS that was available on the market. Today, despite having numerous alternatives to MySQL, it has still managed to maintain its reputation and popularity 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, 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 deployed in combination with PHP and Apache Web Server, which 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 has more than 30K downloads per day.

In 2008, MySQL was taken over by Sun Microsystems and in 2009, when Oracle Corporation 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 supports triggers and stored procedures to maintain the relationships between tables, along with numerous various keys such as Primary and Foreign Keys to maintain data integrity and consistency.

Since 1995, many companies have used MySQL. Some of the organizations that use MySQL include GitHub, US Navy, NASA, Tesla, Netflix, WeChat, Facebook, Zendesk, Twitter, Zappos, YouTube, and Spotify.

Key Features of MySQL

MySQL houses a wide range of features that make it a better solution when compared to other databases. Some of these features are:

  • 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 at any time and from any place for multiple users.
  • It has robust transactional support, supports Web Development, and can be easily 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 MySQL users have access to.
  • It offers routing by leveraging the MySQL Router but does not support Data Analytics.
  • MySQL is written in C and C++.
  • It has 1600 fork processes built into it.

The architecture of MySQL is shown below.

MySQL Architecture
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To learn more about MySQL, click this link.

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What is the Difference Between SQL vs MySQL

Now that you have a basic idea of both technologies, let us attempt to answer the SQL vs MySQL question. 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 SQL vs MySQL comparison:

1) SQL vs MySQL: Definition and Type

SQL is a domain-specific programming language that is useful to manage relational databases. It is a type of query language.

MySQL is an open-source RDBMS that is used to store, retrieve, modify and administrate a database using SQL. It was developed by MySQL AB and is database software.

2) SQL vs MySQL: Complexity, Usage & Support for Connectors

You need to learn the SQL language to use it effectively. Hence, it can be a bit complex for novice users. SQL queries and commands are used to extract valuable information from an RDBMS according to the user’s needs. SQL does not provide any connectors to perform these tasks.

As MySQL is a database, it is readily available through the normal download and installation process. It is used as an RDBMS database and offers an integrated tool/connector called “MySQL Workbench” to design and develop databases.

3) SQL vs MySQL: Updates

The SQL query language is procedural and its command line remains the same. MySQL, on the other hand, receives frequent updates.

4) SQL vs MySQL: Community Support

SQL does not have good community support. In case you face any issues in SQL, you need to go to the Microsoft SQL Server support page. As MySQL is free to use, it has rich community support.

5) SQL vs MySQL: Flexibility & Other Advantages

One of the many Advantages of SQL is that it’s available in many languages and supports XMAL & user-defined functions. Overall, SQL offers high speed and performance. Further, it is an interactive language with high portability. It does not require advanced coding techniques and supports multiple views of data. C

MySQL is only available in English and does not support XMAL and user-defined functions. Overall, MySQL is open-source, provides high performance, and offers data security and complete workflow controls.

Challenges of SQL

Now that you have a good idea about SQL, it is now important to understand some of the challenges you might encounter while working with SQL. The challenges of SQL are:

  • SQL is a very declarative language and rewrites the same code in multiple areas.
  • It has inefficient support for implementing indexes and in some cases, can cause memory issues.
  • It can result in high CPU usage if there are poorly-written queries, high compilations, and recompilations, and high usage of temporary tables.

Challenges of MySQL

Although MySQL is one of the first open-source RDBMS, it does have some limitations. Some of the challenges of MySQL are:

  • 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 and also exhibits slower speed.
  • The memory storage capacity is less and MySQL cannot support large thread pools at once.
  • It is not completely Open-Source and uses some proprietary code in the Enterprise Edition.

SQL vs MySQL: Differences

DefinitionThe Structured Query Language (SQL) is an acronym for Structured Query Language. It comes in handy while working with Relational Databases.MySQL is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) for storing, retrieving, modifying, and administering databases.
ComplexityTo use SQL efficiently, you must first grasp the language.It is easily accessible via download and installation.
TypeSQL is a query language.MySQL is a Database Management System. The database was queried using the “SQL” programming language.
Support for ConnectorConnector assistance
Connectors aren’t available in SQL.
To design and create databases, MySQL provides an integrated tool called ‘MySQL Workbench.’
PurposeTo use a Database System to query and operate.Allows for data manipulation, storage, modification, and deletion in a tabular format.
UsageSQL code and commands are used by MYSQL and other DBMS and RDBMS systems.MYSQL is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS).
UpdatesThe language hasn’t changed, and the command hasn’t changed either.Get the most recent information on the official website.

Most Common FAQs

Q1) Are MySQL and SQL Server the same?


MySQL is an open-source RDBMS from Oracle. SQL Server is developed and managed by Microsoft. 

Both are RDBMS that offer different features when it comes to support for programming languages, how queries are executed, pricing, and how the database is manipulated.

Q2) What is the difference between SQL and MS SQL?

SQL is a standard language to query relational databases. MySQL is an open-source Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) that manages relational databases and processes user requests using SQL. 

The SQL query language is used to create, read, update and delete (C.R.U.D operations) records from MySQL databases. MySQL consists of a collection of programs, features, and capabilities so that it can store and retrieve data from relational databases efficiently. 

Q3) Can I have SQL Server and MySQL in one system?


Your business can use both SQL Server and MySQL RDBMS, since they run autonomously and on different ports. MySQL uses 3306 as its default port and SQL Server uses 1433 & 1434. Hence, if you were to run these two on the same machine, you won’t have a hard time doing so.

There are only a few things you will have to pay attention to. You are required to define a detailed IO profile and resource usage for your database server for them to run as smoothly as possible on your systems.

Q4) Is MySQL faster than SQL Server?

It depends on your use case.

MySQL is fast when used for transaction processing because of its InnoDB engine. It offers high concurrent transactions and join for large tables.

If you work with a mixed type of workloads, MS SQL server is the best solution.

Q5) What is the difference between Oracle SQL and MySQL?

Although MySQL is an open-source RDBMS, Oracle SQL and MySQL are both owned by the Oracle Corporation. Following its acquisition of Sun in 2010, Oracle now owns the popular MySQL database program. 

Oracle SQL uses a commercial license and supports distributed databases. It is designed for enterprise environments where large volumes of data must be handled quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, MySQL is free to use and is best suited for small to medium-scale applications.  

There are also additional differences, such as MySQL only supports full-text and hash indexing. Oracle employs additional indexes, such as Bitmap, function-based, partitioned, and so forth.


This article gave a comprehensive analysis of a database querying language and a popular database: SQL vs MySQL. It gave a brief overview of both technologies and explained their features and challenges in depth. It also gave the parameters to judge both technologies.

Overall, the SQL vs MySQL differences provides more clarity for both technical and non-technical users of any organization. It helps companies understand the relationship between a database language and a database. Either technology cannot exist without the other and both are interlinked every step of the way. 

You cannot use MySQL without understanding SQL in depth. Similarly, you cannot learn SQL unless you have a database like MySQL to work with. In any case, if you want to build your database like the traditional RDBMS, then you need to have a good blend of both these technologies. By having these 2 technologies working together, you can effectively manage your resources and your customers.

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Share your experience of learning about SQL vs MySQL in the comments section below.

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