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SQL Vs MySQL: Difference Between SQL and MySQL

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18th Feb, 2024
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SQL Vs MySQL: Difference Between SQL and MySQL

Can you imagine buying a smartphone or laptop without accounting for the data storage capacity of the device?We all hold the photos and videos, chat, text, and browsing history on our electronic devices dear to us. All this content stored in an electronic format captures some information about ourselves and our lives. Even the thought of losing this data can induce anxiety and panic, so we repeatedly store and back them up. 

Just as our personal data is precious to us and serves some purpose, businesses need to store, manage and preserve their data securely. Since the explosion of the world wide web and the expansion of the digital world, businesses have begun to explore the full potential of information technology. And data storage and management are some of the most important contributions of the digital age. 

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After all, data is the currency of the information technology age. Moreover, the magnitude of data businesses need to store, manage and analyze is immense. How and when they need to use the data is just as varied. Small, big, or medium, all organizations use some form of database or the other. 

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With an increasing number of businesses establishing an online presence, databases have become a crucial requirement for organizations of all shapes and sizes. A database is a collection of data in a layman’s words, organized and stored in the electronic form to ensure easy access, retrieval, manipulation, and management of business data. 

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Databases are pivotal to a business’s success because they help store the relevant data in a centralized location. Not just that, they also facilitate the communication of critical business information like customer profiles, employee profiles, product inventory, sales transactions, marketing campaigns, and so on. Also, databases ensure data security through various authentication mechanisms like user logins and access specifiers. 

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Now that you know how important databases are to businesses and organizations, you must be looking to dive deeper into the world of databases.

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In this post, we’re going to talk about relational databases, with a special focus on two popular data management tools – SQL and MySQL. We’ll take the discussion even further by answering your burning questions about MySQL vs SQL server like, “What is the difference between MySQL and SQL server?” or “Is there a difference between SQL and MySQL in tabular form?”

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What is a Relational Database?

A relational database refers to the database type that stores a collection of data items having pre-defined relationships. This database adopts the relational model, representing data as a set of tables with columns and rows.

In a relational database, each column within a table contains specific data and a field that stores an attribute’s real value. On the other hand, the rows within a table contain a collection of a particular object’s related values. Each row has a unique identifier known as the primary key. You can access the stored data without needing to reorganize the tables. 

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Relational databases follow integrity rules to ensure that data stored in the tables always remains accurate and accessible. For instance, an integrity rule specifies that duplicate rows aren’t allowed in a table. It will prevent the occurrence of rows containing the same data, thereby eliminating errors in the table. 

SQL and MySQL are two widely used terms in enterprise data management. While they may sound like close relatives, they’re innately different. If you wish to work with relational databases, big data, business intelligence, and business analytics, you must know the difference between SQL and MySQL. 

Before we explore My SQL and SQL differences, let’s take a look at each of them independently and in-depth. 

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SQL vs. MySQL: What are they?

What is SQL?

Structured Query Language a.k.a., SQL is the standard language used to operate, manage, and access databases. By making minor changes in the syntax, you can add, retrieve, delete, or access data in different databases. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) maintains that SQL is the standard language for managing a relational database management system, such as MySQL. It is owned, hosted, maintained, and offered by Microsoft. 

You can use SQL to write programs for making any modifications to a database. Besides that, you can use SQL to create and modify database schemas. One of SQL’s greatest advantages is that you can use a single command to access multiple records within a database.

Read: SQL Project Ideas & Topics

Importance of SQL in Database Management 

Before delving into the key difference between SQL and MySQL, let us first learn in some detail why SQL is a crucial element in database management. As a powerful and standardized language, SQL’s importance lies in its role in efficient data management, manipulation, and analysis in diverse database environments. It serves as the backbone for many applications and systems in today’s digital landscape.

Here are some of the key points of importance for your reference:

  • Universal language for databases: SQL, or Standard Query Language, is used for interacting with RDBMS or like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, etc. Its standardized syntax allows developers and users to work seamlessly across different database platforms.
  • Data retrieval and manipulation: SQL enables users to perform various database operations, including retrieving, inserting, updating, and deleting data. Its query capabilities allow for complex searches, data filtering, sorting, and aggregation, making it crucial for data analysis and decision-making.
  • Data integrity and security: SQL offers robust mechanisms for ensuring data integrity through features like constraints, foreign key relationships, and transaction control (ACID properties). It also enables precise user access control, ensuring authorized users have appropriate access privileges while maintaining data confidentiality and security.
  • Database design and management: SQL allows for creating, modifying, and managing database schemas. Database administrators use SQL to define tables, relationships, views, indexes, and other structural elements essential for efficient data organization and management.
  • Scalability and performance optimization: SQL plays a vital role in optimizing database performance. Techniques such as indexing, query optimization, and efficient query writing help enhance the speed of data retrieval, especially in large-scale databases.
  • Support for diverse data types and operations: SQL supports various data types, from numeric and text to date and time, and provides a wide range of functions for manipulating and transforming data. This flexibility makes it versatile for handling diverse types of information and business requirements.
  • Business intelligence and reporting: SQL’s ability to extract, transform, and analyze data makes it indispensable for business intelligence applications and reporting. It powers analytical queries that enable businesses to derive insights, make informed decisions, and generate reports.
  • Adaptability and evolving standards: SQL continues to evolve with technological advancements, incorporating new features, standards, and specialized extensions. This adaptability ensures its relevance in handling modern data challenges, including big data, cloud computing, and emerging data structures.

What is MYSQL?

MySQL was developed way back in 1995 by MySQL AB. However, now it is owned and offered by Oracle Corporation. MySQL is an open-source relational database management system that uses SQL commands to perform specific functions/operations in a database.

MySQL is written in the C and C++ programming languages. It is compatible with almost all major platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix-based operating systems. It is also a core element of the open-source technology stack, LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). MySQL offers a multi-user access to databases.

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Now that we know what is SQL and MySQL, it’s time to look at what are the differences between the my SQL and SQL, and difference between SQL and MySQL in tabular form

Importance of MySQL in Database Management

It is important to thoroughly grasp MySQL’s importance in data management and how different it is from SQL. Hence, before going further into the difference between MySQL and SQL, let us first delve into its key points of importance:

  • Scalability and performance: From small applications to enterprise-level systems, MySQL’s architecture allows seamless scalability for all. Its optimization features enhance performance, ensuring efficient handling of data transactions and queries even in high-demand environments.
  • Reliability and stability: With a track record of reliability, MySQL offers robustness and stability, critical for data integrity and consistent performance over time. It’s been widely used across diverse industries and applications, showcasing its reliability in various scenarios.
  • Ease of use and accessibility: MySQL provides a user-friendly interface, making it accessible for developers, database administrators, and users of varying expertise levels. Its simplicity contributes to its widespread adoption and ease of integration.
  • Strong community support: Backed by a vast community of developers and users, MySQL offers extensive support resources, including forums, documentation, and community-driven improvements. This support network ensures that users can find solutions and assistance promptly.
  • Compatibility and integration: MySQL is compatible with different platforms and technologies, allowing seamless integration with various applications and systems. Its compatibility makes it a preferred choice for numerous software ecosystems.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Being an open-source RDBMS, MySQL is cost-effective compared to proprietary database solutions. Its open nature reduces licensing costs and provides flexibility for customization and adaptation to specific requirements.

SQL vs. MySQL: What are the fundamental differences between SQL and MySQL?

Understanding the key MySQL and SQL differences is essential for selecting the right database system, optimizing performance, and implementing effective security measures. This knowledge aids developers in learning how different MySQL vs SQL is when it comes to designing databases, writing optimized queries, and ensuring compatibility with other systems. It also serves as the straightforward answer to the amateur question, “Is SQL and MySQL same?”

Here are the primary differences between SQL and MySQL:

  • While SQL is a language used for operating different relational databases, MySQL boasts of being the first open-source relational database in the early 90s.

This open-source nature contributed significantly to its widespread adoption and popularity, especially among developers seeking accessible database solutions.

  • SQL is a query language, whereas MySQL is a relational database that uses SQL to query a database.

SQL functions as a standardized language for managing relational databases, allowing users to perform operations like querying, updating, and manipulating data. In contrast, MySQL is a specific implementation of an RDBMS that uses SQL as its query language to interact with databases.

Knowing the difference between MySQL and SQL ensures efficient use of the chosen database. It enables users to make the most of each system’s strengths and unique features to maximize performance and functionality.

  • You can use SQL to access, update, and manipulate the data stored in a database. However, MySQL is a database that stores the existing data in a database in an organized manner.

Knowing which one between MySQL vs SQL suits your needs will help you optimize database performance. It allows for better scalability planning and implementing measures to enhance performance based on the particular capabilities of SQL or MySQL.

  • SQL is used for writing queries for databases, MySQL facilitates data storing, modifying, and management in a tabular format.

SQL primarily focuses on extracting or modifying data, while MySQL serves as a database management system that focuses more on organizing and storing data efficiently.

  • SQL does not have support for any connectors. However, MySQL comes with an integrated tool – MySQL workbench – for designing and building databases.

MySQL Workbench is an integrated development environment (IDE) designed specifically for MySQL. It serves as a comprehensive tool for database architects, developers, and administrators to design, model, create, and manage databases visually.

  • SQL follows a standard format wherein the basic syntax and commands used for DBMS and RDBMS remain pretty much the same, whereas MySQL receives frequent updates.

Workbench enhances SQL’s functionality by providing a visual interface for managing MySQL databases, aiding in tasks like schema design, query optimization, and server administration.

  • SQL supports a single storage engine, but MySQL supports multiple storage engines and also plug-in storage engines. Thus, MySQL is more flexible.

SQL servers typically maintain higher security standards, restricting external processes from directly accessing or manipulating data. On the other hand, MySQL, being more open, may allow direct manipulation of database files during runtime using binaries, potentially posing security risks.

  • In SQL, the server remains independent of the database, which means that you can perform other operations on a database during a data backup session. On the other hand, in MySQL, you can perform a data backup by extract SQL statements.

During this backup process, MySQL might block certain database operations to ensure the consistency and integrity of the backup. This blocking mechanism prevents simultaneous modifications or transactions while the backup is underway, reducing the risk of data inconsistencies or corruption during the backup operation.

  • However, unlike SQL, in MySQL, the server blocks the database during a data backup session, minimizing data corruption chances when switching from one MySQL version to another.

Once you have grasped the key MySQL and SQL difference troubleshooting issues will come naturally to you. You will gain expertise in targeted problem-solving tailored to the specific database system in use, minimizing errors and enhancing efficiency.

  • In terms of data security, the SQL server is much more secure than the MySQL server. In SQL, external processes (like third-party apps) cannot access or manipulate the data directly. While in MySQL, one can easily manipulate or modify the database files during run time using binaries.

SQL servers maintain strict security, preventing external access, whereas the open-source nature of MySQL might allow file manipulation using binaries, requiring careful security setup and maintenance for robust protection. Both SQL and MySQL offer security features, yet proper configuration and best practices are vital for strong data protection.

  • SQL is not an open-source language. Naturally, if you experience any issue, you cannot expect community support. Instead, you’ll have to rely on Microsoft SQL Server support. Contrary to this, MySQL being an open-source platform, offers rich and robust community support.

This thriving community provides extensive support through forums, documentation, and user groups, aiding issue resolution and platform enhancement. The community-driven nature of MySQL’s support network enables users to access valuable resources and solutions for troubleshooting and optimizing their databases.

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SQL vs MySQL: Table of Differences

This table is a summary of the difference between SQL and MySQL to make understanding easier:

DefinitionStandardized query language for databasesSpecific open-source relational database management system
ImplementationLanguage specification used by multiple DBMSAn RDBMS that implements SQL and adds extensions
Language SupportStandard across different database platformsImplements SQL standards and adds specific features
LicenseNot a specific database systemAvailable under open-source and commercial licenses
FunctionalityDefines syntax for managing and querying DBsImplements SQL standards and offers additional features
PortabilityCode can be more portable across DB systemsSome MySQL-specific functions might lack compatibility
PerformanceVaries based on the DBMS implementing SQLKnown for speed and high performance in web apps
Community SupportSupported by a broad community of developersHas its dedicated community and extensive documentation
ScalabilityVaries based on the used DBMSOffers good scalability through various techniques
UsageUsed as query language across DB systemsWidely used in web development and dynamic websites


We have come a long way from the times of our ancestors when storing and managing data was a laborious and manual exercise. It’s unimaginable how much we would know about our ancestors if they had access to the power of database management systems. 

Today we live in a digital age where all forms and formats of information are stored as electronic data. So how do we store and manage the enormous tsunami of information that is out there? We have databases! 

This efficient way of storing, managing, analyzing, and recalling data has made it one of the most significant contributions of the digital age. You can save years of data and recall them at the click of a button. Need to look at an account from three years ago? That’s not even a problem today!

Data is integral to the digitally networked world we live in today. Businesses spend a significant share of their budget on storing and managing their data. Databases are essential to the efficient functioning of most businesses and organizations today. Professionals with expertise in databases, including relational databases, have become indispensable in the business world.  

The two most important aspects in understanding relational database management systems are SQL and MySQL. It may be easy to find the difference between MySQL and SQL server, but the two data management tools have distinctive uses. SQL is a standard language that is used for storing and managing data. MySQL, on the other hand, is an open-source relational database management system. They can coexist with each other as the My SQL and SQL difference serve different purposes. 

In this article, we have listed MySQL and SQL differences. For those who engage with data, knowing the difference between the two relational databases is important to achieve success in data analytics and management. 

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The debate of MySQL vs SQL server often engages database experts; they have similarities, as well, which make them complementary to each other. Both make data easily organizable, manageable, and accessible. However, how and when you use them will depend on the objective of your project and the resources it requires. 

To conclude, the SQL vs. MySQL debate is an open-ended one that does not end in an either/or argument. Although there are many differences between SQL and MySQL, they can very well complement one another to cater to your relational database requirements. Essentially, the choice between SQL and MySQL boils down to specific needs like security, speed, scalability, and efficiency. 

If you are curious to learn about SQL, and more about full-stack development, check out IIIT-B & upGrad’s PG Diploma in Full Stack Software Development which is created for working professionals and offers 10+ case studies & projects, practical hands-on workshops, mentorship with industry experts, 1-on-1 with industry mentors, 400+ hours of learning and job assistance with top firms.


Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are the different types of databases?

A database management system is an application that is used to create and manage databases. Depending on how the different database structures are managed, database systems can be of various kinds. Now, there are two kinds of database structures, namely, flat-file database and relational database. And there are four kinds of database systems – relational databases, hierarchical databases, network databases, and object-oriented databases. There is also a substitute to relational databases, called NoSQL databases, which can be used to store and manage vast volumes of data that is either structured or unstructured. Relational databases are by far the most extensively used database structures.

2Is MongoDB a relational database system?

MongoDB is a document-based database that is open source and used for managing and storing massive volumes of data. It comes under the segment of the NoSQL database and is non-relational in structure. This is the world's most popular non-relational database offering enhanced flexibility, horizontal scalability, and a dynamic schema design. MongoDB can operate across multiple servers (more servers can be added based on the requirement) and allows any of its fields to be indexed. This makes it especially suitable for storing hierarchical data. The structure of MongoDB remains unaffected by SQL injection and is up to a hundred times faster compared to relational databases.

3Hadoop or MongoDB – how are they different from each other?

Both Hadoop and MongoDB have gained extreme popularity when it comes to handling Big Data. While there are various similarities in these two database systems, there are also specific differences in their approach towards handling data. While MongoDB is based on C++, Hadoop is a collection of Java-based applications. Hadoop was created not to be treated as an alternative to transactional relational databases. It was meant for supplementing RDBMS for data archiving practices. MongoDB stores data in the form of collections of data, while Hadoop comprises a software ecosystem, where the distribution of data is carried out by the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS).