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SQL Vs MySQL – What’s The Difference

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3rd Dec, 2021
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SQL Vs MySQL – What’s The Difference

In a world where data increases exponentially, database systems play a crucial role in efficiently storing and retrieving data. Database systems require a standard query language to be able to modify or perform operations on data. In practice, we use SQL to control and manipulate a database. On the other hand, MySQL is a Relational Database Management System that helps us keep data organized.

Although their functionalities might sound similar, there are a lot of technical differences between SQL and MySQL. If you want to steer your career towards the data-centric industry in 2021, you cannot ignore these basic concepts, especially since SQL and MySQL are the stepping stones of a database management system.

To that end, in this article, we’ll be highlighting the key differences between SQL and MySQL. But first, let’s understand what a database is.

What is a Database? 

A database is a software system electronically stored and organized for seamless accessibility and operational efficiency. With the help of a database, businesses and individuals can store volumes of data that would otherwise require significant physical space and administration.

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Databases are analogous to the large cabinets in offices and universities that systematically store hundreds of files containing thousands of hard copies of organizational information. With the advancement in technology over the last couple of decades, we have upgraded from storing data physically to electronically. These electronic libraries or software filled with billions of bytes of data are known as databases. 

Databases are of different types. The most frequently used type of database is the Relational Database. It is easy to use, scalable and allows users to organize a database to maximize its value. One of the most commonly used RDBMS known to developers is MySQL.

Let’s take a quick look into DBMS and RDBMS. 

DBMS and RDBMS: What are they?

DBMS, or Database Management System, is a software used for storing, managing, and retrieving information from databases

RDBMS is the abbreviated form of Relational Database Management System. It is an upgraded and advanced version of DBMS that allows users to perform all the above actions in a tabular format. This simplifies the process by many folds, especially when the volume of data is massive.

What is SQL?

SQL, Structured Query Language, is a language that acts as a medium between users and databases. It helps us to access and manipulate databases, like adding, removing, or editing data. It performs numerous activities like:

  • Retrieving data from a database
  • Inserting data in a database
  • Deleting records from a database
  • Updating data in the database
  • Creating new databases
  • Organizing the data in tables

Developed in the ’70s by a team of IBM researchers, it was initially named SEQUEL but later truncated to SQL due to trademark problems. It was created with the precise aim of managing and retrieving data from IBM’s quasi relational database management system. Once it was declared a success after a series of trial and error tests, IBM started to commercialize this product based on the system R prototype during the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Today, SQL is highly user-friendly with decades of creative input and modifications and finds applications across industries.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is one of the most used relational database management systems today. It is based on SQL and helps in creating websites and interacting with databases. It can trace and return data rapidly from an entire lot of searchable information available on a website. It works in association with other scripting languages such as Perl or PHP.

MySQL has been used by hundreds of successful websites and applications, from Linkedin, Netflix, Github to industry giants like Google and YouTube. The reason behind this extensive success of MySQL lies in 2 specific characteristics:

  • Accessibility: It is completely free and extremely easy to use. This is why most startups build their websites and database-related applications with the help of MySQL.
  • Open-source nature: It is available for modification and distribution along with its original rights (source code).

The visible advantages of MySQL which attract developers to the RDBMS are:

  • Complete control of the workflow
  • Comprehensive transactional support
  • High performance
  • 24×7 uptime


1. Fundamental Differences Between SQL and MySQL

Though SQL and MySQL sound similar and have similar work niches, there are significant differences between them. This table will throw some light on the neverending SQL vs MySQL debate: 





It was developed by IBM and is presently owned by Microsoft corporations.Oracle owns MySQL, although MySQL AB created it.

Usage fee

SQL will charge a specific fee for using its platform.MySQL is free and open-sourced.

Programming language

SQL is itself a Programming language.

My SQL allows usage of many programming languages like C, C++, Java, Python, etc

Linguistic barriers

SQL is available in different languages.MySQL is available only in English.

Data  restoration

Restoration of data is fast in SQL.

Data Restoration is a time-consuming process As it requires several statements from MySQL.


In SQL, the data is highly secured. , cannot breach SQL firewalls easily.

Here the data is a lot more susceptible to threats because it is an open-source program.

FlexibilityIt supports XML and user-defined functions.

It does not support XML or user-defined functions.

2. Executional Differences Between SQL and MySQL


We can execute operations in SQL by using specific keywords. Users can not use these keywords for any other purposes or variable names.

For example, some commonly used keywords are:

  • SELECT: for data extraction from databases.
  • UPDATE: to update data into databases.
  • INSERT INTO: insert new information into the database.
  • WHERE: for filtration of records according to conditions.

SQL statements can be classified under six categories. The two primarily used statements are:

  1. DML (data manipulation language statements): These statements are used to manipulate a database and perform functions like insertion, deletion, updating, etc.
  2. DDL (data definition language statements): These statements help create a schema object without removing the existing structure. We can perform operations like truncating or altering data using statements like TRUNCATE, ANALYSE, DROP, ALTER, COMMENT, etc.

In addition to DML and DDL, here are the four other SQL statements:

  • System control statements
  • Session control statements
  • Embedded SQL statements
  • Transaction control statements


MySQL does not have any programming language of its own. Instead, it allows us to code in all the programming languages available in today’s market, like Java, C++, Python, etc. So, there is no hassle of learning a new language and mastering its commands.

3. Application Differences Between SQL and MySQL


SQL poses a broad spectrum of applications in the 21st century. With the rise in data-specific studies, learning SQL is one of the initial steps of stepping into the world of database management systems. Some of the fields where SQL is used are:

  • Backend development:
  • Data analytics
  • Database administration
  • Marketing
  • Data science


We can use MySQL for running data analysis. It is used for arranging application data in a relational database that segregates data across multiple tables. It is best for applications that depend on multi-row transactions.

Tools that help build websites such as WordPress, Drupal, etc., use MySQL because it is available under various proprietary licenses. Some avenues where MySQL is used are:

  • Government applications
  • Social network applications
  • E-commerce websites
  • Video streaming applications 


SQL was the first database software created by IBM developers, whereas MySQL was developed on the shortcomings of SQL. It is widely inferred that MySQL is the upgraded version of SQL, even though they are pretty different when studied in detail.

In any case, SQL and MySQL easily complement each other and cumulatively provide you with solutions pertaining to database management. Both SQL and MySQL are skills that find wide usage across industries. 

From data scientists to journalists to business analysts, everyone can catalyze their data management skills with in-depth knowledge of SQL. Since it is very straightforward to learn and understand, we suggest you invest dedicated time and effort to master DBMS and MySQL to grow your careers exponentially.

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1 Is it challenging to learn SQL?

SQL is not at all difficult to learn. It has a straightforward and user-friendly interface and language. Anyone with basic programming knowledge can easily understand SQL in a short period. Its easy syntax makes it readable for anyone, even if they have no experience in programming. One does not need a technological background to master SQL.

2Which one should I learn between SQL and MySQL?

If you focus on the ease of usage without directly comparing them, MySQL has the edge over SQL. It is free and therefore, attracts more users. However, if your concern is data security, you should definitely consider SQL because MySQL being an open-source software, is susceptible to more phishing attacks.

3What is the future of SQL?

SQL has been around since the early days of computers. It has been an integral and irreplaceable part of data management. With the booming rise of technologies like Big Data, Data Mining, and Data Analytics, we can assume that SQL will stay relevant for a few more decades and create job opportunities for enthusiasts.

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