They’re 2 of the most popular database systems used today, and for good reason: PostgreSQL® and MySQL™.
Choosing the right technology for your tech stack is vital for long-term success, and PostgreSQL and MySQL offer their unique benefits and drawbacks.
But how should you go about deciding which database to adopt? What are the critical factors and key differences to take into consideration?
From overall architecture, data types, and indexing options, to scalability, security, and more, we’ll examine the strengths, weaknesses—and everything in between—of PostgreSQL and MySQL to ensure you make the best choice to ensure your organization’s success.
Know The Difference: PostgreSQL vs. MySQL
At first glance, PostgreSQL and MySQL seem quite similar—they are both database systems after all—but they do differ in key areas.
PostgreSQL is an object-relational database known for its advanced features, robust performance, and ability to handle complex queries. It offers a multitude of features including transactions, triggers, stored procedures, and views, making it a popular choice for developers handling complex data operations; it is renowned for being highly extensible. PostgreSQL offers extensive support for various data types such as network address, native UUID, geometric/GIS, JSON with indexing capability, and timezone-aware timestamps.
Released in 1995 with the goal of providing a reliable, cost-effective, and high-performance relational database management system, MySQL boasts simplicity, ease of use, and speedy performance for most web applications. It is particularly favored for its ease of use and fast performance in web applications, making it a staple in the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python).
Comparing Syntax and Query Support
While both PostgreSQL and MySQL use Structured Query Language (SQL) to manage and manipulate data, differences in their syntax and query support can impact their usability and performance.
PostgreSQL supports a broader range of programming languages than MySQL (PL/pgSQL, PL/Python, PL/Tcl) giving developers more options when building applications. Additionally, PostgreSQL offers more advanced data types, allowing for greater flexibility in data storage and manipulation.
Performance and Speed Analysis
The performance and speed of PostgreSQL and MySQL can exhibit substantial differences, which are influenced by various factors like hardware, configuration, and optimization. Each database possesses its own set of advantages and limitations when it comes to read and write operations, scalability, and concurrency.
MySQL is often lauded for its swift performance in read-only commands, whereas PostgreSQL shines in its ability to handle read-write operations, large data sets or large volumes of data, and intricate queries with efficiency.
Scalability and Concurrency
Scalability and concurrency are important factors to consider when evaluating the performance of PostgreSQL and MySQL.
Scalability ensures efficient handling of increasing workloads and data growth, optimizing performance, cost efficiency, and futureproofing. MySQL often requires more resources to scale up in production compared to PostgreSQL.
Table scalability in PostgreSQL can be tuned through various indexing options like bitmap-, expression-, full-text-, and partial indexing to increase performance whereas MySQL only supports b-tree indexing.
Concurrency management enables concurrent transactions without delays, maintains data integrity, enhances user experience, and complements scalability efforts.
PostgreSQL uses multi-version concurrency control (MVCC), meaning that write transactions aren’t blocked while concurrent transactions needing to read that data are being modified. Given this, PostgreSQL is the better choice for frequent data updates. MVCC provides near-real-time replication with minimal downtime for standby servers.
By comparison, MySQL uses write locks in order to achieve concurrency. While this makes MySQL the preferred option if you require frequent data reads, it does mean that only one user can edit a table at a time; other users are essentially locked out from changing that table until the original user is finished.
As always, however, the best option will depend on the workload you’re running.
Data Types and Indexing Options
Data types and indexing options play a crucial role in determining the performance and functionality of a database system. PostgreSQL and MySQL both support a variety of data types, allowing developers to store and manipulate diverse data structures.
Overall, PostgreSQL offers more data types and indexing options, which can provide greater flexibility and power when working with complex data sets.
Security and Access Control
Both PostgreSQL and MySQL offer robust security features and access control options to help protect your data and ensure secure connections. Some of these features include user and group management, granting SQL privileges to different roles, and various authentication mechanisms.
With its emphasis on data integrity and security, PostgreSQL proves to be an exceptional choice for organizations that prioritize stringent data protection measures, while MySQL is better for organizations that prefer ease-of-use as their top priority.
As a free open source software (FOSS), the PostgreSQL license is fairly permissive and compatible with a wide range of other open source licenses.
MySQL was initially released under the open source GNU General Public License (GPL) but now offers a dual licensing model for both commercial distributors (who must enter into a commercial licensing agreement with Oracle) and open source projects.
Organizations using MySQL’s open source version need to comply with the terms of the GPL, which can impose certain obligations when distributing the software or its modifications. The commercial version’s license may have different compliance requirements.
PostgreSQL on Azure NetApp Files (ANF)
One of the defining features of PostgreSQL is its extensibility—if you need a particular add-on, odds are it already exists. And if it doesn’t, then there’s a strong likelihood that it can be developed.
That’s exactly how Instaclustr Managed PostgreSQL on Azure NetApp Files (ANF) came to life. By combining the unparalleled speed of ANF with Instaclustr’s Managed PostgreSQL service, users can now turbocharge their PostgreSQL operations with up to 325% faster TPS—all without increasing instance size or storage. Through the additional IOPS available on ANF storage, average TPS costs are now reduced by over 50%, making it especially ideal for use cases involving heavy read-write workloads and read-only transactions.
It’s a key benefit of being 100% open source and supported by a global community, and where PostgreSQL absolutely shines: the ability to transform and develop architecture to drastically improve your data operations.
Choosing Between PostgreSQL and MySQL
Which database is the better choice? Let’s compare the key takeaways:
Given their overall similarities and unique drawbacks, it can be a bit maddening to settle on one database to use. So, what do we ultimately recommend?
It’s pretty straightforward: choose whichever database you already know best, as there is a good chance that it will work well with your particular use case. But if you’re relatively new to both, then choose PostgreSQL.
Why? Because it offers remarkable extensibility that other databases can only dream of matching, enabling developers to create custom data types and functions tailored to the specific requirements of their applications. Its expansive support for diverse data types and indexing options empowers developers to effortlessly store and manipulate intricate data structures, while its unwavering emphasis on data integrity and security guarantees the protection of your valuable information.
And with a robust and active community of developers constantly adding new features and updates, PostgreSQL is maintaining its reputation as a dynamic—and 100% open source—database.
Ready to see what PostgreSQL can do for your dataset—not forgetting the awesome power of Instaclustr PostgreSQL-ANF? Get your free trial and spin up a cluster in no time.