MySQL vs Postgres Comparison: Differences, Performance, and Syntax

March 18th, 2022

When it comes to choosing the database management system, different questions might arise. It is crucial to find the DBMS that meets your needs and shows the highest effectiveness while solving the challenges you face. In this article, we are going to discuss the differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL database management systems.

The following topics will be explored:

  • What is the difference between MySQL and PostgreSQL?
  • Is Postgres faster than MySQL?
  • Should I learn MySQL or PostgreSQL?
  • When do I use MySQL vs PostgreSQL?
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PostgreSQL and MySQL databases

First, let’s take a close look at Postgres and MySQL databases.

PostgreSQL (Postgres) is an open-source and free object-relational database management system that provides a rich feature set and is easily customizable. Postgres has compliance with atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability (ACID) properties. It is user-friendly and great for both professionals and beginners. MySQL is an open-source related database management system that helps organize data in tables. The tables can be related to each other and thereby they structure the data. MySQL allows for creating an effective and secure data storage system.

Key differences between MySQL and PostgreSQL

Now that we have a brief background on PostgreSQL and MySQL, let’s discuss the key differences between these database management systems.

RDBMS vs ORDBMS

MySQL is a purely relational database management system (RDBMS) while PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system (ORDBMS). In MySQL and other relational database management systems, all tables are interrelated. In its turn, PostgreSQL combines the characteristics of both an RDBMS and the object-oriented relational database management system. Such databases contain not only interrelated tables, but also support objects, classes, and inheritance.

License

Both systems are open-source-based, but MySQL is maintained by the Oracle Corporation, while Postgres is maintained by volunteers.

Replication

Replication of data from a database on one machine to the database on another one is done to ensure that all users have the same amount of information available. Replication is done on a regular basis. A distributed database allows for multiple users’ simultaneous work.

MySQL provides Master-Standby replication, while PostgreSQL not only supports it but has improved WAL processing, allowing for near-real-time replication and standby capabilities with minimal downtime for standby servers.

Performance

MySQL is faster for read-heavy operations, and thus it is often chosen when dealing with OLAP/OLTP systems where quick reads are the primary issue. PostgreSQL in its turn excels when working with huge datasets and complicated queries, it is great for concurrent write operations. All this makes PostgreSQL a perfect choice for business intelligence and data science tasks.

Security

MySQL implements access control (ACL) security for any operations a user may attempt to perform. PostgreSQL has ROLES and legacy roles for setting and maintaining permissions. It also has native support for SSL connections and client/server message encryption and row-level security. PostgreSQL has the SE-PostgreSQL extension that provides additional access controls based on the SELinux security policy.

NoSQL support

MySQL didn’t use to provide any NoSQL support but it has been recently released with its 8.0 version. In its turn, PostgreSQL offers NoSQL support too.

Key differences between MySQL and Postgres

PostgreSQL vs MySQL detailed comparison

In this section, we are going to talk about other significant differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL. It might seem that these two databases are quite similar, however, when it comes to practice, it appears that there are some peculiarities in their usage. To help you make an informed decision, we offer a comprehensive PostgreSQL and MySQL comparison table.

While the two databases have numerous parallels and overlaps, they also have significant variances. We’ve tried to make a fair and honest comparison between the two, but in the end, you’ll need to assess your personal situation and pick the DBMS that best suits your needs. 

We’ve summarized the similarities and contrasts between the most widely used features of PostgreSQL and MySQL.

Popularity

Postgres has an active community primarily focused on releasing the most advanced security improvements and state-of-the-art features. MySQL has a big community of contributors whose main goal is to upgrade the existing feature set by adding new features. MySQL is a default tool for building many applications and in terms of MySQL vs PostgreSQL, it possesses a bigger market share than PostgreSQL while the latter is considered to be a more advanced database.

Syntax and queries

When it comes to syntax, there is almost no difference between PostgresSQL and MySQL, as both of them are based on the SQL standard. The example of the SELECT statement is as follows:

MySQL:

SELECT * FROM records;

PostgreSQL:

SELECT * FROM records;

Actually, the absence of PostgreSQL vs MySQL query differences even allows queries to be interchangeable in both DBMS.

Indexes

PostgreSQL allows creating an expression index resulting from expression functions as opposed to column values. It’s also possible to create Hash indexes and B-tree indexes as well as partial indexes that organize the data from a part of the table. 

MySQL supports indexes that are stored in B-Trees such as INDEX, FULLTEXT, PRIMARY KEY, and UNIQUE. It also allows creating indexes stored in R-trees as well as Hash indexes and inverted lists when used together with the FULLTEXT index.

Data types in tables

In comparison to MySQL, Postgres supports a greater range of data formats. PostgreSQL may be preferable if your application works with any of the unique data types it offers, as well as unstructured data in large tables. Both DBMS will work fine if you only use basic character and numeric data types. PostgreSQL supports the following data types: numeric, date/time, character, boolean, enumerated, geometric, network address, JSON, XML, HSTORE, arrays, ranges, composite. MySQL supports data types, such as numeric, date/time, character, spatial, JSON.

Performance and speed

Postgres performs better by default because it supports concurrent writing operations without the need for read/write locks. It also implements transaction isolation and snapshots and is fully ACID compliant. MySQL, on the other hand, seeks to achieve concurrency by employing write locks. As a result, the number of concurrent activities per process is reduced. You’ll need to add a lot of resources to MySQL to scale in production environments.

However, one area where MySQL shows better results is in read-intensive processes. Because most applications just read and display data from a database, a basic MySQL implementation outperforms a PostgreSQL one. This is due to the fact that when Postgres forks a new process for each connection, it allocates a substantial amount of memory (about 10MB). This results in ballooning memory use, which essentially eats away at the system’s resources. As a result, speed is sacrificed in favor of data integrity and standard compliance.

ACID compliance

Even when several modifications are made within a single transaction, ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliance assures that no data is lost or miscommunicated across the system in the event of failure. MySQL is ACID-compliant only via InnoDB and NDB Cluster Storage engines. PostgreSQL is fully ACID-compliant.

Replication clustering and scalability

MySQL and PostgreSQL both offer replication. Replication in MySQL is one-way asynchronous. PostgreSQL, on the other hand, supports synchronous replication, as well as cascade and synchronous replication.

MySQL offers MySQL Cluster, a multi-master database that prioritizes linear scaling. It uses synchronous replication internally, despite having one-way asynchronous replication. MySQL avoids any negative impact and transaction failures by removing single points of failure from the system and ensuring that data is written to diverse nodes.

In terms of clustering, PostgreSQL allows for streaming or synchronous replications, as well as Postgres-XL, a database clustering environment.

JSON support

MySQL supports JSON but not doesn’t support indexing for JSON. In its turn, PostgreSQL supports both JSON features and indexing JSON data for faster access. 

Support for programming languages

MySQL provides support for Delphi, Erlang, Go, Java, Lisp, Perl, PHP, R. In its turn, PostgreSQL supports a somewhat higher number of languages, including Java, JavaScript, Python, R, Tcl, Lisp, Erlang, and others.

Ease of use for beginners

When it comes to the question of MySQL vs PostgreSQL ease of use for beginners, MySQL is more user-friendly, and it takes less time to build a project from scratch. Newbies, on the other hand, may find PostgreSQL’s learning curve excessively harsh. In comparison to the MySQL database community, the PostgreSQL support may be less substantial and active.

Which database system is better MySQL or PostgreSQL?

MySQL is simple to set up as a stand-alone product or as part of a stack, such as the LAMP stack. Most web hosting packages now contain MySQL databases, which you may also access via database management software like phpMyAdmin.

With PostgreSQL. it’s more likely that you’ll need to set up a development computer or run a virtual server and install PostgreSQL yourself. In terms of accessibility for novice developers and analysts, MySQL has the upper hand. That isn’t to argue that PostgreSQL isn’t the best option for a specific application, particularly the resource-intensive one that could benefit from improved security and load balancing. However, since MySQL is more widely used, it is more accessible.

In addition to the platform itself, you’ll also need to think about what third-party applications and integrations you’ll require for your infrastructure.

Why use MySQL?

Here are a few compelling reasons to use MySQL:

  • Support for master-slave replication and Scale-Out
  • Offload Reporting and Geographic Data Distribution
  • Low overhead of the MyISAM storage engine when utilized for read-only applications
  • Memory storage engine support for frequently used tables
  • Query Cache for frequently used statements
  • Lots of resources to learn and troubleshoot MySQL

Why use PostgreSQL?

When comparing the two databases, it’s important to know the key advantages of PostgreSQL. Some developers might choose it over MySQL because it is considered to be better and faster, and equipped with much richer functionality.

The following are the main reasons to choose PostgreSQL:

  • Table partitioning, Point in Time Recovery, and Transactional DDL features
  • Ability to utilize 3rd party key stores with full PKI infrastructure
  • Since PostgreSQL open-source code is distributed under the BSD license, developers can modify it without having to contribute back enhancements
  • Object-level privileges can be provided to users and roles
  • Support for AES, 3DES, and other data encryption techniques
  • Spatial indexing features

How to migrate MySQL to PostgreSQL

Is it possible to move MySQL databases to PostgreSQL? Let’s suppose there is a user who has a MySQL database and wants to migrate it to Postgres. It can be easily done using a helpful IDE that is specifically designed to save users’ time and effort. Also, you can use the Studio and an ODBC driver to migrate data between the two DMBS. To see a detailed tutorial on how to migrate MySQL to PostgreSQL, follow this link.

How to convert Postgres database to MySQL

Database migration from PostgreSQL to MySQL can be quite a challenging and time-consuming task that can be automated with the help of a powerful converter—dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL

Postgres, MySQL and dbForge

dbForge product line offers database development and management tools for major DBMSs: SQL, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. In particular, users value highly dbForge Studios—all-in-one IDEs for database development, management, and administration.

dbForge Studio for MySQL

dbForge Studio for MySQL delivers everything you might need to build and manage databases, simplify the workflow, ensure high performance and reduce costs. And all these—under a neat and user-friendly interface. Over the years, it proved invaluable to database developers, data analysts, DBAs, and data scientists.

Top reasons to choose dbForge Studio for MySQL

  1. Advanced code completion and syntax check
  2. Schema and Data Compare tools
  3. Query Builder
  4. Data Import and Export
  5. Backup tool
  6. Database Projects and Version Control
dbForge Studio - best IDE for MySQL

dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL

dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL offers robust database development and administration capabilities embracing the essential tools in one universal solution that is designed to accelerate your productivity and deliver more value to your customers.

Top reasons to choose dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL

  1. IntelliSense-like SQL Development
  2. Query Profiler
  3. Data Export/Import
  4. Report Designer
  5. PIvot Tables functionality
  6. Chart Designer
dbForge Studio - best IDE for Postgres

Conclusion: PostgreSQL vs MySQL

Both database management systems are really a decent choice. In brief, PostgreSQL beats MySQL in complex queries, while MySQL crushes Postgres (when using InnoDB) in simple queries and is much more user-friendly. It is also easier to find devs and DBAs for MySQL as compared to PostgreSQL. At the same time, Postgres is ideal for analytics tasks.

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