What’s the Difference Between SQL Server and MySQL?

One’s Microsoft, the other’s open source.

Ah, ok, you came here to learn a little more than just the basics, basics? Don’t worry, CodeFirst have got you covered.

SQL Server and MySQL are like different sides of the same coin. For a start, they are both Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS). What does a RDBMS do? It allows you to store, query and retrieve data in/from datasets. An RDBMS is generally a critical component of any webpage/app.

As you’ll be aware, data is everything these days, so having the right structure and mechanisms in place to use said data is important.

Relational Databases are just one method of storing data. If you want to use a RDBMS, be it SQL Server or MySQL, then you’ll need to ensure it’s the right fit for your data. Alternatives, or NoSQL databases, are structured differently from these two - but that’s a topic for another day.

Both of these RDBMS use SQL, or Structured Query Language by default as their way to encode data - the programming language of the system, if you will. Most, if not all programmers you come across will know basic (or advanced) SQL. You can also use both systems with other languages like Java, Python, Ruby, and C++.

Anyway, so you need a relational database management system.

According to Stack Overflow’s latest insights survey, MySQL is leading the charge (used by 58.7% of developers) in the most-used database management department, followed by SQL Server (41.2%).

This reflects a general trend in software development circles towards the use of open source software. Why choose (GNU General Public License) open source? It’s free and you can easily modify the code, or build onto it to suit your purposes.

However, if you are releasing your product commercially using MySQL, you must either:

●Make your project also open source and available under GNU General Public License using MySQL Community Edition; or

●Purchase MySQL Standard Edition or MySQL Enterprise Edition, both reasonably priced annual subscriptions.

Microsoft’s SQL Server can also be used for free, with the Express version of the system - however it comes with very restrictive terms. SQL Server is not open source. Other versions of SQL Server, including Developer Edition, Standard, and Enterprise (plus others, like the Azure version) are available on different pricing scales, generally per core or per user.

So where do the other differences lie?

●SQL Server can utilize row-based filtering across databases, whereas in MySQL it needs to be done on a database by database basis (hello, tongue twister).

MySQL backups are blocking: the database is blocked from use while backing up - SQL Server’s backup functionality is non-blocking. A solution to this is setting up MySQL Replication.

●It can be difficult to stop (kill) queries in MySQL, not so SQL Server.

●There’s extra tooling available with SQL Server, with MySQL you may need to use additional third party tools to have a similar experience.

●SQL Server uses Microsoft’s storage engine, you can pick your storage engine with MySQL.

Microsoft will be on hand for technical support for SQL Server, whereas with MySQL you’ll usually be checking out (or asking) community answers, but there are plenty considering the popularity of the RDBMS.

SQL Server comes with all the bells and whistles of a proprietary product and comes with the price tag to boot. If you can afford it and particularly if you’re working with .NET, SQL Server is a very attractive option.

On the other hand, MySQL is reasonably priced and very flexible, so long as your developers know what they’re doing and how to leverage the power of MySQL.

Like we said, two sides of the same coin!

Need help with your next software development project? Whether it’s building a web-app, internal enterprise software, or a product to release on the Google Play store, we can fit the perfect team to your project - plus guide you through the perfect data solution for your back-end, whether it’s SQL Server, MySQL, or Redis (an in-memory, key-value data storage solution). Ask about our bespoke software development or get in touch to hire one of our experts to augment your team.