SQL vs MySQL – what’s the difference?

Data is a critical element in the world of software and software development. In the modern world, nearly everything runs on data. Therefore, it is important that we have the tools and resources we need to navigate, analyse, and explore that data whenever we need to.

Two major components of data analysis are SQL and MySQL. Despite having nearly identical names, they are two different things that serve two distinct purposes. Knowing the difference between the two is key to understanding how to work with data effectively. 

In this blog, we are going to outline what both SQL and MySQL are, how they are similar, and how they are different. 

 

What is SQL?

SQL pre-dates MySQL and so we will start with a definition of it first. SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a type of programming language used to navigate data in a database. SQL has been the official standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for this function since the 80s and it is the primary programming language used to perform functions with data. 

SQL allows users to execute tasks such as “SEARCH”, “DELETE”, “MODIFY”, “UPDATE”, “RETRIEVE”, and so on. It is the standard language used to navigate all relational database management systems which means learning SQL allows a person to work with many different sets of data in different companies and projects. 

Working with SQL is an essential practice for many roles with a software development company, including software developers, analysts, and data engineers. 

 

What is MySQL?

In contrast, MySQL is an open-source relational database management system. It is a system that uses SQL to allow users to navigate the data stored within it and perform functions as described above. It also has a feature called MySQL Workbench that allows users to create, design and build their own databases.

As MySQL is a piece of open-source software, it receives regular updates and changes throughout time. Users can change the source code to their requirements and they can use plug-in storage applications in tandem with the server. It is a flexible and adaptable software that allows developers, analysts, engineers, and so on to work with data in an organised and accessible way. Data can be stored and organised within MySQL and then migrated to other platforms to fulfil its purpose.

What is SQL?

SQL pre-dates MySQL and so we will start with a definition of it first. SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is a type of programming language used to navigate data in a database. SQL has been the official standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for this function since the 80s and it is the primary programming language used to perform functions with data. 

SQL allows users to execute tasks such as “SEARCH”, “DELETE”, “MODIFY”, “UPDATE”, “RETRIEVE”, and so on. It is the standard language used to navigate all relational database management systems which means learning SQL allows a person to work with many different sets of data in different companies and projects. 

Working with SQL is an essential practice for many roles with a software development company, including software developers, analysts, and data engineers. 

 

What is MySQL?

In contrast, MySQL is an open-source relational database management system. It is a system that uses SQL to allow users to navigate the data stored within it and perform functions as described above. It also has a feature called MySQL Workbench that allows users to create, design and build their own databases.

As MySQL is a piece of open-source software, it receives regular updates and changes throughout time. Users can change the source code to their requirements and they can use plug-in storage applications in tandem with the server. It is a flexible and adaptable software that allows developers, analysts, engineers, and so on to work with data in an organised and accessible way. Data can be stored and organised within MySQL and then migrated to other platforms to fulfil its purpose.

What are the similarities? 

Before moving on to look at the differences between SQL and MySQL, it is vital to look at their similarities. As their names suggest, the two are intertwined and work together. 

SQL is a language that queries data and MySQL is a server that holds data and allows it to be queried by SQL. You could think of MySQL as a grocery store and SQL as the grocery store workers who work with and organise all of the products held within the store. 

 

What are the differences?

Despite their similarities and element of connection, there are more differences to be explored than similarities between SQL and MySQL. Including: 

 

Function and purpose

SQL and MySQL primarily differ in terms of their function and purpose. SQL is a query language used to work with data, MySQL is an open-source relational database that allows users to store, organise, and navigate data via the use of SQL.

Storage

SQL supports a single storage engine only, whereas MySQL can support multiple storage engines and plug-in storage.

Security

As an open-source piece of software, MySQL is less secure and robust than SQL. It can be accessed by third parties and data can be manipulated more easily than that in a SQL server. 

Updates

SQL is in a fixed state whereas MySQL is regularly updated and expanded. MySQL is open-source and worked with by many people. SQL is a standardised language that doesn’t vary or change even as time moves on. This allows people to learn SQL and use it for many different databases across the world without variation.

Community support

Open-source software allows the opportunity for community support for users. It is easier to find help with your data in MySQL than it is with SQL, as SQL is not open-source. 

Connectors 

SQL does not support any connectors whereas MySQL has the aforementioned MySQL Workbench that allows users to create their own databases within the server. 

 

Overall, SQL and MySQL are similar and separate at the same time. On the one hand, you need to know how to use SQL in order to work with MySQL, and they are both data navigation tools. However, they are different in many fundamental ways. One can’t go without the other and yet both are different from one another in function, purpose, form, security, storage, support, and so on. 

The bottom line for most people working with software and data in the digital realm is that both SQL and MySQL are essential tools to learn about and use throughout any project. Their unique benefits come together to make a dynamic duo of data work. Both are essential and both are worth getting to grips with. 

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