AUTHOR
Adservio team
DATE
March 22, 2022
CATEGORY
Digital Analytics
PostgreSQL vs. MySQL | When To Use Each

Digital Analytics

10 min

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL | When To Use Each

In use for more than 30 years, PostgreSQL is considered the most advanced open-source database in the world, but that also means working with it is more complex. While PostgreSQL may be able to handle more data types and indexes, MySQL is easier to work with, so which should you use?

Before you ask for expert advice about your next project, let's dive into a breakdown of how MySQL vs. PostgreSQL stack up in the world of open-source relational databases.

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL differences

One thing that makes PostgreSQL so powerful and widely used is that you can implement it for almost any environment on a variety of operating systems, whether you're running a virtual machine or containerizing it in the cloud. Of course, its architecture also differs from that of MySQL.

PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system (ORDBMS). In simple terms, that means objects can inherit relationships and properties, allowing businesses to handle various complex data types.

This makes PostgreSQL very functional and capable for advanced applications but also more difficult to work with on the backend.

If you need help architecting or tuning the underlying infrastructure of your database, don't hesitate to involve a team of performance experts.

Professionals with extensive knowledge of PostgreSQL in both on-premises and cloud environments can help you decide if it's the best solution for your needs.

When to use PostgreSQL

Even comparing the default version of PostgreSQL vs. MySQL database, Postgres has the upper hand.

Install both, change nothing, and you'll find that PostgreSQL supports flexibility and is faster and more capable right out of the box.

However, while Postgres has long been praised for its performance, MySQL has done a lot of catching up.

Still, Postgres can handle reads and writes in high volume. Performance aside, Postgres also does things that MySQL can't.

For instance, it supports a wide range of data types, including boolean, enumerated, geometric, network address, XML, hstore, arrays, ranges, and composite.

So, when do you know that you need to use PostgreSQL over MySQL? Here are some key factors:

  • You want a genuinely open-source solution. MySQL has faced licensing issues in the past, but Postgres is fully open source and has a dedicated community.
  • You have a demanding application. Postgres will stand strong, even with a high volume of read and write requests.
  • You need flexibility. Postgres supports more data types and even allows you to add your own.

Postgres also handles concurrency better than MySQL, thanks to multi-version concurrency control (MVCC).

Add to that its high extensibility, and it all makes Postgres sound like the best all-around solution. However, there are definitely instances where Postgres is not the best option.

When to use MySQL

While MySQL might sound simpler than Postgres, that's not always a bad thing. By far, the greatest advantage of MySQL is that it is far less complex to work with.

Recent versions have also taken strides to erase the performance discrepancies, especially if you make some tweaks.

While it's not an object-relational solution like Postgres, it is a relational database management system (RDBMS) suitable for many types of projects.

Plus, MySQL supports the most popular programming languages, including Java, Javascript, JSON, Python, Ruby, and others.  

When working in MySQL, you'll find the InnoDB (the default storage engine) works great for most applications, but you can also choose from 15 other engines depending on your use case.

The architecture of MySQL also utilizes less memory. For instance, MySQL will only use one thread per connection, compared to the memory-intensive processes used in Postgres.

Of course, another significant advantage of choosing MySQL over PostgreSQL is that MySQL has support engineers standing by to help in addition to a community support form.

If you pay for premium support through Oracle, you'll never have to worry about a question going unanswered.

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL

Do you still need help choosing an advanced database management system (DBMS) that can grow with your business?

You need to think about how a solution conforms to SQL standards and its additional features. Here's a side-by-side comparison of these popular database solutions.

Data Types

PostgreSQL can handle more data types than MySQL, but either can handle basic numeric and character data types.

With that said, PostgreSQL is still better-suited for handling even basic data types in large volumes (think enterprise-grade).

PostgreSQL will be the better choice if you're working with unstructured data or a special data type. However, if you're only using basic data types, you could go either way—in that case, it comes down to what you think of the other features.

Licensing and Support

Both MySQL and PostgreSQL call themselves open source, but there has undoubtedly been controversy over MySQL licensing in recent years.

With that said, there are enough open-source forks of MySQL that you shouldn't be concerned about losing access to it or running into licensing issues.

At the same time, MySQL can offer dedicated support and premium assistance if you choose to pay for one of those plans.

PostgreSQL does not provide any such support, so the downside of it being fully open source is that you'll have to rely on the forums or hire your own expert.

Performance

Whichever you choose in PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, you should be able to achieve good performance as long as you take the time to optimize it.

Even in Postgres, which is considered superior in this category, your setting need to be fine-tuned to your specific environment and application.

If you need help defining values for your PostgreSQL database, our team can offer guidance, but the single biggest tip for Postgres' performance is maximizing memory availability to ensure its processes can run efficiently.

Security

When it comes to security, MySQL and PostgreSQL prove comparable. Both offer access control and encrypted connections, allowing you to grant privileges at the user or group level.

Scalability

All things considered, is MySQL able to scale at the same rate PostgreSQL has proven it can? While that comes down to the specific use case and the engineers working on it, PostgreSQL is generally considered more suitable for large-scale applications.

This is not to say that MySQL can't scale up, but if you're dealing with an enterprise environment, Postgres is more capable of handling complex queries and frequent write operations.

Still, MySQL is ideal for applications that won't reach enterprise-level and don't need all the backend complexity.

So, which do you choose if you're somewhere in the middle? If you aren't deeply familiar with either PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, consulting with experts will help you choose the best solution for your project.

What Database should I use?

PostgreSQL is incredibly powerful, but it can also grow wildly complex, especially if you're dealing with a legacy database or trying to create a solution for a large application.

Plus, it doesn't work optimally right out of the box. You might need help tuning PostgreSQL performance to utilize resources better.

Likewise, if you determine that MySQL is better suited for your needs, you can't just dive in and expect it to work out.

Even though MySQL users tend to have smaller or simpler projects, performance problems can still arise if you aren't fine-tuning for speed and efficiency from the get-go.

Our team of coding experts can help you find a solution that meets the needs of your web applications, workloads, and data sets without compromising data integrity, accessibility, or performance.

Ready to take the next step? Reach us and see how we can help you design the ideal solution.

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