Introduction

A large, logically structured body of data, like a database, has little value without a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). An RDBMS is a software solution that allows you to interact with the database. You can easily retrieve, remove, or add data as well as control access to the stored information.

There are many available options on the market, and most of them are open-source and free of charge. MySQL and PostgreSQL are the two most prominent web server solutions. The decision to implement either one depends on specific use cases and workload requirements.

This article focuses on the main distinctions and provides a detailed comparison of MySQL and PostgreSQL.

MySQL and PostgreSQL Comparison of features.

MySQL vs PostgreSQL: Quick Overview

MySQL and PostgreSQL are continuously being upgraded and improved by an active and innovative community of contributors. This ongoing process is gradually reducing the principal differences between these two solutions.

However, there are significant contrasts that become evident in deployments with heavy workloads. Before proceeding to an in-depth analysis, we provided a brief comparison in the table below.

MySQL

PostgreSQL

Offers both open-source and paid commercial editions.

Fully open-source and free of charge.

Extremely fast and reliable.

Adaptable and feature-rich.

Focuses on speed rather than on fulfilling core SQL guidelines.

Complies with 160 of the 179 mandatory features of the Core SQL guidelines and standards.

Ideal for read-heavy workflows in web-based solutions.

Ideal for complex queries and massive databases.

The pace of development has not been as dynamic since becoming a partially proprietary solution.

Has an extensive and vibrant community that is continually developing new features.

MySQL basses its security features on Access Control Lists (ACLs).

PostgreSQL has in-built SSL support and the ability to encrypt client/server communications.

Supports multi-versioning concurrency control (MVCC), but only when supported by its InnoDB storage engine.

Built-in MVCC implementation.

Standard master-standby replication.

Multiple replication options.

Has little support for NoSQL features.

Supports multiple NoSQL features.

InnoDB version is compliant with ACID. (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability).

Complete ACID compliance.

Limited support for extensibility.

It is possible to add new functions, types, index types, and other features.

GeoSpatial Data is included as a default feature.

Allows the implementation of GeoSpatial data through an extension.

Limited support for server-side programming in a non-extensible language.

PostgreSQL supports the most popular programming languages.

Supports deployment on Docker Containers.

Supports deployment on Docker Containers.

Performance Comparison Between MySQL and PostgreSQL

Measuring RDMBS’ performance is very much dependent on the specific requirements a database needs to meet. In most basic use cases, either database management system would perform equally well.

Performance and Speed

PostgreSQL is designed to perform complex operations and to be compatible with a wide array of languages and platforms.

By not focusing on meeting all the SQL standards, MySQL has been able to prioritize speed.

PostgreSQL focuses on compatibility and has shown excellent results when used for complex queries, read-write analysis, and when administering large databases. Keep in mind that PostgreSQL can have a heavy toll on memory performance as every new client connection creates a separate 10 MB branch process.

Speed comparison of MySQL and PostgreSQL.

MySQL aims to achieve maximum speed and ease of deployment. This characteristic of MySQL is especially useful for simple information sharing and read-heavy workflows in web-based solutions. The simplicity of database deployment means that you can use MySQL to scale data at short notice horizontally.

Licensing and Community Support

PostgreSQL is fully open-source and free of charge. Its open-source license means that the source code is freely available and can be copied, modified, and redistributed by anyone.

This has created a vibrant community of developers that are continuously assessing the current state and working on developing new and improved solutions.

A stylized licence image that shows PostgreSQL as fully open-source.

MySQL comes with both a free and open-source community edition and several paid commercial editions released under proprietary licenses. Certain elements and plugins are only available for the proprietary editions, which might eventually lead to increased costs.

There have been complaints that the development process has slowed slightly since the project is not entirely open-source since its acquisition by Oracle.

SQL Compliance

Modern applications and databases often have a distributed architecture. Complying with official SQL standards and guidelines makes it easier for different database solutions to share data and meet demanding regulatory requirements (for example, GDPR, PCI, and ISO).

SQL Compliance

MySQL has focused on maximizing speed and reliability. This focus has resulted in MySQL being less compliant with ISO standards.

PostgreSQL complies with most of the Core SQL guidelines and standards, making it highly portable and easy to integrate with various tools.

SQL compliance elements.

PostgreSQL and MySQL: Differences in Syntax

MySQL and PostgreSQL are both based on the same SQL standards and actively try to meet as many requirements as possible. Understandably the syntax and commands for these two RBDMS’s are very much analogous. Let’s look at a few basic differences that can have an impact on the management of data.

PostgreSQL Syntax

MySQL Syntax

Data from the table is case sensitive.

WHERE Company = ‘Pnap’ is not the same as WHERE Company = ‘pnap’

Data is not case sensitive.

WHERE Company = ‘Pnap’ is the same as WHERE Company = ‘pnap’

PostgreSQL only allows the use of single quotation marks:

Company = ‘pnap’

Supports both single and double quotation marks:

Company = ‘pnap’ as well as Company = “pnap”

Date and Time Commands:

CURDATE()

CURTIME()

EXTRACT()

Date and Time Commands:

CURRENT_DATE()

CURRENT_TIME()

EXTRACT()

Security Differences Between PostgreSQL and MySQL

The need to protect databases and RDBMS from malicious activity has led to the development of countless tools, security protocols, and procedures.

Security

MySQL uses Access Control Lists (ACL) as its prime security feature.

PostgreSQL has in-built SSL support and uses the ROLE function for user permissions.

MySQL basses it’s security features on Access Control Lists (ACLs) for all connections, queries, and other operations. A limited amount of support is provided for SSL-encrypted connections between MySQL clients and servers.

For example, MySQL has a script that improves the security of your database by setting a password for the root user, and it also automatically removes default test databases from your system. MySQL also supports database user management and allows you to grant access privileges on a user-by-user basis.

PostgreSQL Crate Role function vs. MySQL Access Control List security features.

PostgreSQL uses the ROLE function to configure user permissions. It has in-built SSL support and the ability to encrypt client/server communications. PostgreSQL also provides a built-in enhancement called SE-PostgreSQL, which grants additional access controls based on SELinux security policy.

User-Friendly and Versatile GUI

The PostgreSQL user interface is called pgAdmin4, and it allows novice users to perform complex tasks and manage databases with ease. As PostgreSQL mainly focuses on extensibility, it is possible to use pgAdmin4 to add new data types, functions, and index types.

An example of the PostgreSQL user interface, pgadmin4.

The MySQL graphical user interface is called Workbench. This tool integrates the development, administration, database design, creation, and maintenance into a single integrated environment for the MySQL database system.

An example of the MySQL user interface, Workbench.

Programming Languages

One crucial aspect to consider when implementing a new platform is how it affects employees working in development and operations. The more programming languages a database server supports, the more freedom developers have to improve existing and create new functions.

In this respect, both PostgreSQL and MySQL support a wide array of programming languages.

Programming Languages

PostgreSQL: C++, .NET, Java, Delphi, Perl, Lua, Node.js, Python, PHP, R, D, Erlang, Go, Lisp

MySQL: C, C++, Java, Perl, Delphi, Lua, Go, R, .NET, Node.js, Python, PHP, Erlang, Lisp, D

Database Concurrency

Good concurrency enhances the ability of many people to access and use a database, from multiple locations, without restrictions or danger of data inconsistency.

When a database, equipped with multi-versioning concurrency control (MVCC), needs to update data, it does not overwrite the original information. Instead, it creates a newer version and at the same time stores the previous one.

This process is a core feature to consider if you have data sets that multiple subscribers’ need to access at the same time. Without concurrency control, reading from a database, at the same time as another process is writing to it, results in an inconsistent piece of data.

Concurrency

PostgreSQL achieves a very high level of concurrency with its in-built MVCC implementation.

MySQL also supports Multi versioning concurrency control (MVCC), but only when supported by its InnoDB storage engine.

Database Replication

The ability to copy data from one database server to another database on a different server is called replication. This distribution of information means that a set of users can now access data without directly affecting other users.

One of the most difficult tasks of database replication is the need to harmonize data consistency across a distributed system. MySQL and PostgreSQL offer several possible options for database replication.

Apart from one master to one standby and multiple standbys, PostgreSQL and MySQL offer the following replication options:

PostgreSQL

  • Logical replication
  • Streaming replication
  • Bi-directional replication

MySQL

  • Master to master replication
  • Single master to one standby forwarded to one or multiple standbys
  • Circular replication

Conclusion

PostgreSQL is a feature-rich database that can handle complex queries and massive databases. MySQL, in turn, is a fast, reliable, and a well-understood solution. MySQL is relatively easy to set up and manage. The functionalities that PostgreSQL and MySQL offer are, in many ways, analogous.

Specific workloads emphasize the difference between PostgreSQL and MySQL. This article helps you make an informed decision and maximize the benefits of the RDBMS you decide to implement.


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