Best Alternative to phpMyAdmin

December 10th, 2021

The article provides a brief feature overview of the phpMyAdmin software and dbForge Studio for MySQL. In the article, you can find a feature comparison of both tools and see why dbForge Studio for MySQL is considered to be the best alternative to phpMyAdmin and is worthy of use.

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Contents

Many pundits consider MySQL to be the most popular open-source RDBMS, and it is for a reason. MySQL is efficient, reliable, and easy to operate, especially when you have a decent tool. That’s why there are so many professional solutions designed for MySQL and its close relative, MariaDB. They are free or paid, more or less functional, and created by different producers.

phpMyAdmin is well-known to all MySQL specialists. It has a long history – first introduced in 1998 – and hundreds of thousands of devoted users. The software has many advantages, but it also lacks some essential features. Finding a program like phpMyAdmin was always a burning question for developers. 

Fortunately, plenty of solutions are available. However, it would require too much time to test them all. In this case, referring to reviews on specialized resources is a worthy way out. You may not only get a comprehensive description of the product functionality but also compare it to other solutions and thus choose a phpMyAdmin equivalent for MySQL. 

In the current overview, we’ll focus on comparing phpMyAdmin with another famous software – dbForge Studio for MySQL developed by Devart.

What is the use of phpMyAdmin?

Why do people looking for phpMyAdmin alternatives?

phpMyAdmin is an open-source and lightweight tool designed to manage data and tables in MySQL and MariaDB databases. As its developers claimed, they wanted to bring MySQL to the Web, and they succeeded – the software is web-based and available from any location and device. The interface is multi-language, with 79 different language versions. 

The tool is compatible with different operating systems. Due to its portability, flexibility, simplicity, and functionality, phpMyAdmin has become a widely used software. It enables to create, manage, rename, and drop databases, tables, fields, indexes, user accounts, and permissions. With the tool, developers can import and export data, search in databases, administer multiple MySQL and MariaDB servers, execute queries, monitor server activity, etc. The predefined set of phpMyAdmin functions helps convert stored data in any format.

Why are people looking for alternatives to phpMyAdmin?

Though phpMyAdmin is a popular tool with a wide range of features, it cannot cover the full requirements and needs of database developers, thus, making them search for better phpMyAdmin alternatives or similar programs for Windows/Linux, etc. For example, phpMyAdmin does not provide scheme visualizations, full auto-completion capabilities, scheduled backup, and encryption.

In addition, installing phpMyAdmin is not straightforward. Before you get it, you need three more things installed individually, which are Apache server, PHP, and MySQL.

Best alternative to phpMyAdmin for Windows

To move on, we are going to compare phpMyAdmin with its best desktop alternative – dbForge Studio for MySQL.

dbForge Studio for MySQL is a multi-functional MySQL GUI software developed for performing all kinds of tasks on database development, management, and administering. It is a much more functional phpMyAdmin or MySQL Workbench alternative, a comprehensive IDE for MySQL and MariaDB. However, it is not web-based. 

Another factor is that dbForge Studio for MySQL is a paid solution, while phpMyAdmin is free of charge. However, Devart provides a fully-functional free trial version and an absolutely free Express Edition with basic functionality to allow users to try and evaluate all features available in the Studio.

Speaking of both tools’ functionality, we need to say that these solutions provide fundamental options that are necessary to operate MySQL and MariaDB databases. Still, when we start to compare the features’ capabilities, we see the difference. Let’s now dive deeper to see if dbForge Studio for MySQL is a worthy alternative to phpMyAdmin.

Query Writing, Editing, Execution, and Code Autocompletion

As query writing takes a major part of time and energy, all tools for database development and management focus on making this task simpler and more accurate. Both tools in question provide the necessary functionality.

They support fundamental SQL statements and allow developers to edit and execute queries directly. These tools include a dedicated SQL editor that helps manage the code syntax using different colors and highlighting. The code auto-completion functionality is also present, ensuring that the completion suggestions will match the context and that the code syntax is correct.

However, dbForge Studio for MySQL offers much more robust functionality to its users. First, it supports more fundamental statements (SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, while phpMyAdmin only supports SELECT) and allows for constructing the most complex queries easily in a visual mode. You can outline any query and add the necessary sub-queries to the main query.

Build complex queries using dbForge Studio for MySQL

Predefined code snippets speed up the writing process drastically. Many additional options, such as easy database object renaming, immediate access to object definitions, bookmarks, block selection, text search, code formatting, and customization will help you produce the most accurate, neat, and efficient code.

As for phpMyAdmin, for example, executing the SELECT COUNT ( ) FROM query is slow if the number of returned rows is very high.

Database Design

Both tools grant the possibility to create databases in MySQL and MariaDB in visual mode. With the tools, you can also visualize tables and views, access to properties of the database objects, and create diagrams that you can export into various formats. 

Create a MySQL table visually using phpMyAdmin

This basic functionality is enhanced significantly in dbForge Studio for MySQL. It includes lots of additional options, such as visualization of stored procedures, functions, and numerous customization options for diagrams, which make the performance faster and smarter.

The Studio allows the users to search for database objects in diagrams, zoom in and out, display the database indexes, triggers, and constraints, add notes to the ER diagrams, and make use of different skins.

Schema and Data Comparison and Synchronization

The functionality is extremely helpful for the DevOps process, and it is a big advantage of dbForge Studio for MySQL, as phpMyAdmin does not have this feature at all. If your workflow involves such tasks, you will definitely need a tool like phpMyAdmin. 

dbForge Studio for MySQL offers all the necessary functions to compare and synchronize the data and schema in databases of any size. You can configure the processes precisely for your needs using the flexible settings and then save those settings to apply them in the future. It is also possible to exclude certain tables and records from the analysis. 

To view and analyze discrepancies, users can apply different filters. Then they can synchronize the data and schema manually or automatically. The tool will generate synchronization scripts that you can save for the future. Also, you can use the command line to automate the synchronization jobs. 

Compare and synchronize data and schemas using dbForge Studio for MySQL

Database Connectivity

The security of the database connection is in the focus of both tools. They follow high standards by supporting SSH, SSL, and HTTP/Proxy. dbForge Studio for MySQL also supports Pipe, Embedded DB, Sphinx, and Percona, sorts connections by category, and marks them by color to let you manage them easier.

Database Explorer

With phpMyAdmin and dbForge Studio for MySQL, you can connect to multiple databases at once, browse and navigate between objects, access their properties, and duplicate structure and data. phpMyAdmin also allows moving objects and tables. 

dbForge Studio for MySQL, as a more powerful alternative to phpMyAdmin, gives you plenty of additional functions to explore databases. You can generate scripts for selected objects and save them as templates. Also, you can send tables to other tools (e.g., Query Builder) using the Send To command. Besides, you can refactor database objects, duplicate any objects, and access the object privileges quickly.

Data Editor

Both tools include this important functionality that lets users edit data in a convenient visual interface, search through the data grid, and browse data page by page for large sets. It is possible to edit the query results set in multiple tables at once. To view the necessary data, you can apply filters up to the cell level. The Data Editor allows for building charts directly in this tool, copying any data blocks to the clipboard, and printing required data. 

Edit table data in Data Editor of phpMyAdmin

However, dbForge Studio for MySQL is again a more functional alternative for phpMyAdmin. In addition to the options mentioned above, it provides such functionality as copying data with column headers and pasting them into a spreadsheet. You can make use of a separate Large objects editor, apply custom filters of any complexity, explore the full-text search, sort and filter the results on the server-side. All these options let you work with large data sets conveniently. The selected data can be exported to several formats (CSV, HTML, XML, JSON, etc).

Object Editor

Both solutions provide the feature. They allow working with tables, views, indexes, stored functions, stored procedures, and events. Here, dbForge Studio for MySQL is superior in functionality again. It can check constraints and foreign keys. If the target system is MariaDB, the Editor available in the Studio is applied to package and package bodies and sequences. Any action in the Object Editor can be undone.

Data Import and Export

phpMyAdmin and dbForge Studio for MySQL provide decent functionality in this area. They can import data from CSV and XML, and export data to CSV, XML, TXT, XLS, XLSX, PDF, JSON, SQL. 

In addition, dbForge Studio for MySQL can import data from TXT, JSON, XLS, XLSX, and DBF, and export to DBF, HTML, and RTF. Also, the tool supports such formats for both import and export as Google Sheets, MDB (Access), and ODBC. There are templates that you can apply to configure any task quickly. The processes can be automated with the command line interface. 

phpMyAdmin also supports an impressive variety of formats for both importing and exporting data. For import, these are compressed files, ODT/ODS, Paradox file, ESRI Shape File, MediaWikiTable, ZIP with SQL content, ZIP with CSV content, and SQL. To export data, you can choose the following formats: LaTeX, ODT/ODS, CodeGen, MediaWikiTable, PHP, YAML.

Export data to multiple file formats using phpMyAdmin

More widely-used formats supported by dbForge Studio for MySQL and the possibility for automating the tasks make this tool handier. 

MySQL Debugger

This essential feature is absent in phpMyAdmin, but it works perfectly in dbForge Studio for MySQL. It allows users to debug scripts and execute procedures step-by-step – there are specialized commands (Step Into, Step Over, and Step Out). The breakpoints support for procedures, functions, triggers, and scripts in dedicated windows help you perform all the related tasks.

Debug code with dbForge Studio for MySQL

Backup and Restore

Backing up and restoring data is a vital feature. Though both phpMyAdmin and dbForge Studio for MySQL provide this functionality, phpMyAdmin is inferior in many essential aspects. Its main disadvantages are the absence of scheduling and saving backups in the common text file format to the local drives only. 

Even though both tools can copy databases and import and export data, decent functionality is only available in dbForge Studio for MySQL. This tool can make database backups, saving them as SQL and Zip files as well as Script Folders. Besides, you can schedule and automate the process from the command line. In addition, you can view how to restore a MySQL database using phpMyAdmin or dbForge Studio for MySQL.

User Interface

phpMyAdmin lets you choose the language version and customize the UI with the predefined skins. dbForge Studio for MySQL does not have so many language versions, but its overall functionality has much more features to offer.

The UI of dbForge Studio has the start page where you can access main product features directly. The tool windows involve auto-hide and floating modes. To customize the UI and toolbars, you can apply any predefined scheme with one click. Additionally, the Studio provides such an extremely useful option as sharing code standards and templates with other users.

Performance Tuning

Both tools provide session statistics directly in the UI. dbForge Studio for MySQL provides the query plan for the users to review, ensures access to the profiling history, and saves it. You can compare profiling results and focus on the differences, and the tool will highlight them automatically and print the results.

Optimize query performance with Query Profiler available in dbForge Studio for MySQL

User and Session Management

Whether you choose phpMyAdmin or dbForge Studio for MySQL, you can monitor active connections and user sessions. phpMyAdmin also has its server monitor. dbForge Studio for MySQL serves as a potent alternative for phpMyAdmin with such additional options as setting up and managing application roles and a separate security manager that allows you to administer user accounts and rights comprehensively.

Administration

phpMyAdmin and dbForge Studio for MySQL produce the server variables window and allow users to maintain tables and flush objects (tables, locks, query cache, etc.). With the Studio, you can start and stop MySQL servers in the GUI, while phpMyAdmin displays the server status. 

Documenter

Documenting a database is a necessary task, but it can be very tiresome. The more detailed your documentation is and the better it is organized – the easier it will be to work with it. A powerful Documenter is provided by dbForge Studio for MySQL, but it is not present in phpMyAdmin at all. 

With the Studio as the MySQL phpMyAdmin alternative, you can create and save a comprehensive picture of the entire database structure. It will include all inter-object and inter-database dependencies. The style templates allow you to customize the look and make it smart and neat. Tasks can be automated to keep the documentation up-to-date continually. 

You can save the documentation in HTML, PDF, and Markdown formats, with active hyperlinks for navigation.

Data Generation

dbForge Studio for MySQL includes a dedicated Data Generation feature that produces any volumes of realistic test data to match your MySQL structures perfectly and maintain data integrity. The tool includes predefined data generators and lets you add your own ones, as many as you need. The data can be previewed in real-time. 

Generate data with dbForge Studio for MySQL

dbForge Studio for MySQL vs phpMyAdmin

Now, let’s take a closer look at the features provided by the tools. The table displays a feature comparison so that it can be easier for you to choose the tool matching your needs.

Feature dbForge Studio for MySQL phpMyAdmin
Database Connectivity
Support for SSH Yes Yes
Support for SSL Yes Yes
Support for HTTP/Proxy Yes Yes
Support for Embedded DB Yes No
Support for Pipe Yes No
Connection coloring Yes No
Connection category Yes No
SQL Mode No No
Encoding Yes No
Support for MariaDB Yes Yes
Support for MySQL Yes Yes
Support for Sphinx Yes No
Support for Percona Yes Yes
Administration
Service control to start and stop MySQL servers Yes No
Server status No Yes
Server Variables window Yes Yes
Table Maintenance Yes Yes
Flush Objects (tables, locks, query cache, etc.) Yes Yes
Backup/Restore
Copy Databases Yes Yes
Data Export Yes Yes
Data Import Yes Yes
Scripts Folder Yes No
Database backup Yes No
Backup/Restore using the command line Yes No
Performance Tuning
Session statistics displayed in the UI Yes Yes
Plan of the query displayed in the tree view Yes No
Profiling history that can be saved for further analysis Yes No
Compare profiling results with differences highlighting Yes No
Profiling results printing Yes No
User and Session Management
Security Manager to administer user accounts and privileges Yes No
Session manager to monitor active MySQL server connections and trace user sessions Yes Yes
Application roles Yes No
Server Monitor No Yes
Data Analysis
Display table data representing parent-child dependencies (Master-Detail Browser) Yes No
Data Report Generation wizard Yes No
Data Report designer Yes No
Pivot Table designer Yes No
Сharts availability Yes No
Chart building wizard Yes No
Data search on a live database Yes No
Automating report generation and distribution using the command line support Yes No
Report generation using the command line Yes No
Display query results as a chart No Yes
Data Editor
Copy data with column headers Yes No
Custom data filters Yes No
Data Viewer window to browse images, rtf files, and binary cell values Yes No
Date time editor with visual interface Yes Yes
Foreign key lookup editor Yes No
Full-text search in data grid Yes No
Single row values view Yes No
Graphical card view Yes No
Group by arbitrary columns Yes No
Incremental search through data grid Yes Yes
Large objects (LOB) editor Yes No
Edit multi-table query result set Yes Yes
Paginal data browsing for large result sets Yes Yes
Data printing Yes Yes
Quick filter per data cell Yes Yes
Report and pivot building directly from Data Editor Yes No
Сhart building directly from Data Editor Yes Yes
Server-side sorting and filtering to work with large data sets Yes No
Edit multiple execution results of one script on separate tabs Yes No
Export selected data to CSV, HTML, XML formats Yes No
Export selected data to JSON format Yes No
Export selected data to a file Yes No
Database Explorer
Multiple database connections Yes Yes
Browse and navigate between objects Yes Yes
View detailed object properties and browse data in Object Viewer Yes Yes
Dependency tree browsing for each object Yes No
Quick template script generation for a selected object: SELECT, INSERT, etc. Yes No
Send To command Yes No
Quick access to object privileges (GRANT) from the popup menu Yes No
Database objects refactoring Yes No
Move objects (tables) No Yes
Duplicate objects (tables) Yes Yes
Duplicate structure/structure and data Yes Yes
Duplicate objects (view, procedures, functions) Yes No
Database Projects
Project Explorer window for managing project files Yes No
Schema View window for browsing logical project structure Yes No
Project export into one or multiple scripts Yes No
Multiple build configurations Yes No
Compare a live database with the project Yes No
Table Designer
Flat table editor Yes No
Foreign key editor Yes No
Partitioning support Yes Yes
Full-text search on the column grid Yes No
View schema changes before updating a database Yes Yes
Data Types groups No Yes
Object Editor
Visual editors for check constraint Yes No
Visual editors for foreign key Yes No
Visual editors for index, stored function, stored procedure, table, trigger, view, events Yes Yes
Visual editors for package and package body (MariaDB) Yes No
Visual editors for sequence (MariaDB) Yes No
Undo option for object editor Yes No
Visual Query Builder
Support for a SELECT statement Yes Yes
Support for INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE statements Yes No
Preview and printing of the diagram Yes No
Adding and editing sub-queries visually Yes No
Query outline Yes No
SQL Editing and Execution
Automatic SQL syntax check Yes Yes
Code snippets Yes No
Customizable SQL formatting and code beautifier Yes No
Execute current statement Yes No
Parameter information for stored routines Yes No
SQL editor with syntax coloring Yes Yes
Bookmarks Yes No
Text searching Yes No
Document Outline window for quick navigation through large scripts Yes No
Executed SQL history window for the document Yes No
Execution warnings Yes No
Code Completion
Code snippets and Snippets Manager Yes No
Context-sensitive code completion Yes Yes
Automatic SQL syntax check Yes Yes
One-click access to schema objects definitions Yes No
Extended options for code formatting Yes No
Auto-generation of table aliases Yes No
Quick information about database objects Yes No
Database Design
Visual Database Designer Yes Yes
Visualization of tables and views Yes Yes
Visualization of stored procedures, functions Yes No
Visualization of stored procedures, functions Yes No
Support for IDEF1X and IE notations Yes No
Smart ER Diagram layout Yes No
Diagram export to different image formats Yes Yes
Searching database objects on diagram Yes No
Save/Load diagram Yes Yes
User Interface
Start page with easy access to main product features Yes No
UI skins Yes Yes
Customizable window layout Yes No
Multiple shortcut schemes with full shortcut customization Yes No
Syntax highlight customization Yes No
Wide choice of application languages No Yes
Other features
MySQL Debugger Yes No
Data Generation Yes No
Data Export Yes Yes
Data Export from the command line Yes No
Data Import Yes Yes
Data Import from the command line Yes No
Schema/Data comparison and synchronization Yes No
Database Documenter Yes No

Note: For a feature comparison, the following versions of the tools were used: dbForge Studio for MySQL v9.0, phpMyAdmin v5.0.2.

Conclusion

Having done this comparison, we can state that phpMyAdmin is a handy tool loved by many MySQL specialists, but it is not even close to dbForge Studio for MySQL. 

The Studio includes highly demanded tools, which are absent in phpMyAdmin. Such features as Schema and Data Compare, MySQL Debugger, Data Generator, Database Project, and Documenter that come with the Studio can save developers tons of time, energy and cut expenses. 

dbForge Studio for MySQL is an extremely potent and user-friendly phpMyAdmin alternative, and you can test it yourself. The 30-day fully-functional trial version will allow you to use all its options and evaluate their functionality and benefits. 

Download a 30-day free trial version

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