PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Understanding the Key Differences

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PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Understanding the Key Differences

Pankaj Bhadwal
Last updated on June 14, 2024

    With a database being the backbone of any application, it is quite important to decide which database to choose. In general, two types of databases are used extensively by a wide range of applications, namely relational and non-relational databases. Also, many relational and non-relational databases are out there, and each one of them has its own strengths and weaknesses.

    Relational database management systems (RDBMS) have been known and used for more than four decades, and they are the go-to options for storing data. But the advent of big data gave birth to NoSQL or non-relational databases, which can even store unstructured data.

    This article focuses on two major relational database management systems, namely PostgreSQL and MySQL. To begin with, we will make you familiar with both these database management systems and then explore the differences between them.

    So, let us begin.

    What is PostgreSQL?

    PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, is a free object-relational database management system (ORDBMS). ORDBMS is analogous to the relational database , except it has an object-oriented database model . Licensed under the PostgreSQL License, it is an open-source database management system.


    PostgreSQL is the successor of the Ingres database, and initially, it was named POSTGRES referring to its origins. Later in 1996, it was known as PostgreSQL to indicate its support for SQL. However, in 2007, the development team decided to keep both the names PostgreSQL and the alias Postgres. Michael Stonebraker, in 1986, began the implementation of POSTGRES, and he used several ideas from Ingres except for its code.

    In 1989, version 1 of the system was released as described in [ston90a], the first rule system. The following year witnessed the release of version 2, which was described in [ston90b], the second rule system. Version 3 was released in 1991 with a new rule system and added features, like an improved query engine and support for multiple storage managers.

    Later in 1994, Postgres95 was released by replacing the POSTQUEL query language interpreter with another one required for the SQL query language. Postgre95’s version 1 was released in the following year. As mentioned earlier, PostgreSQL got its name in 1996 to indicate its support for SQL . In the following year, PostgreSQL version 6.0 was released. The latest version of PostgreSQL is 12.3, which was released in 2019.

    Features of PostgreSQL

    • PostgreSQL is a cross-platform database management system compatible with Linux, macOS, Windows, and UNIX systems.
    • It is compatible with multiple programming languages, like Perl, Ruby, Python, C, C++, Tcl, Go, and JavaScript (Node.js).
    • PostgreSQL supports several SQL features, such as multi-version concurrency control (MVCC), SQL sub-selects, table partitioning, streaming replication, and just-in-time compilation of expressions.
    • It is compatible with ANSI-SQL2008.
    • PostgreSQL supports storing different types of data, like video, audio, image, and graphical data.
    • Some other features of PostgreSQL are user-defined data types, table inheritance, foreign key referential integrity, sophisticated locking mechanism, asynchronous replication, tablespaces, and point-in-time recovery.

    Pros of PostgreSQL

    • PostgreSQL is an open-source and extensible database management system.
    • It is fully ACID compliant.
    • It supports different indexing techniques, like the B+ tree, Generalized Inverted Index (GIN), and Generalized Search Tree (GiST).
    • PostgreSQL is capable of processing complex data, such as geographical data.
    • It enables us to create our own triggers, functions, and data types.

    Cons of PostgreSQL

    • Many people face backup recovery and performance issues with PostgreSQL.

    What is MySQL?

    MySQL is one of the most popular open-source relational database management systems, and it is licensed under the GNU General Public License. Also, MySQL is available under many proprietary licenses. Initially, a Swedish company called MySQL AB, owned and sponsored the MySQL database system. Later, Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB, and in 2010, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems.


    The development of MySQL began in 1994 by Widenius and Axmark, and in the following year, they released its first version. Until 2008, i.e., until Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB, several alpha and beta versions of MySQL, like versions 3.19, 3.20, 3.21, 3.22 alpha and beta, 3.23 beta, 4.0 beta, 4.1 beta, and 5.0 beta were released. Later, MySQL version 5.1 and 6.0 alpha were released before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010.

    After that, many versions were released, and the latest version of MySQL is version 8.0, released in 2018. The MySQL database management system got its name by combining the name of co-founder Michael Widenius's daughter, ‘My’, and the acronym for Structured Query language, ‘SQL’. MySQL is a major component of the LAMP web application software stack. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python.

    Features of MySQL

    • It is a cross-platform database management system compatible with Windows, FreeBSD, Solaris, macOS, and Linux systems.
    • MySQL supports multi-threading and uses a thread-based memory allocation system.
    • It supports multiple storage engines, like InnoDB, NDB Cluster, and MyISAM.
    • MySQL offers client and utility programs, including command-line programs such as ‘mysqladmin’ and graphical programs such as ‘MySQL Workbench.
    • It supports different character sets, including Ujis, Latin1, and German.
    • MySQL supports large databases that can contain up to 40 to 50 million records.

    Pros of MySQL

    • MySQL offers high-level data security.
    • As MySQL is ACID-compliant and supports multi-version lock transactions, it ensures data integrity.
    • The support for multiple storage engines and the design simplicity of MySQL results in higher performance.

    Cons of MySQL

    • Transactions associated with the system catalog do not comply with the ACID properties.
    • It cannot cache stored procedures.
    • MySQL versions less than 5.0 do not support stored procedures, ROLL, and COMMIT.
    • Poor performance scaling.

    PostgreSQL vs MySQL: A Head-to-Head Comparison

    We have had an overview of PostgreSQL and MySQL database management systems. Now let us understand how these two database management systems differ from each other based on different parameters.

    Parameters PostgreSQL MySQL
    License PostgreSQL is licensed under the PostgreSQL Licence and is free and open-source. MySQL is open-source and available under the GNU General Public License.
    SQL compliant It is entirely SQL compliant. It is partially SQL compliant as it does not support the check constraint.
    ACID-compliant PostgreSQL is fully compliant with the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) properties. MySQL, when used with InnoDB and NDB Cluster storage engines, is compliant with the ACID properties.
    Storage engine It has a single storage engine. It has multiple storage engines, like InnoDB and NDB Cluster.
    Implementation language The implementation language of PostgreSQL is C. The implementation language of MySQL is C and C++.
    GUI tool PgAdmin MySQL Workbench
    Support for materialized views and table inheritance PostgreSQL provides support for both. MySQL does not provide support for both.
    Partial, bitmap, and expression indexes. Supported Not supported
    Used for PostgreSQL is used in small and large systems whose primary requirements are data validation. Also, it performs well in OLAP and OLTP systems when extensive data analysis is required. MySQL is primarily used in web-based projects that need a database for simple data transactions.
    Replications It offers replications, such as:
    • Single master to one standby.
    • Cascading replication.
    • Single master to multiple standbys.
    • Streaming replication.
    • Logical log streaming replication.
    It offers the below replications:
    • Single master to one standby.
    • Circular replication.
    • Single master to multiple standbys.
    • Master to master.
    • Single master to one standby to one or more standbys.
    JSON and NoSQL features support This database system supports JSON and NoSQL features, like key-value pairs and native XML support with HSTORE. MySQL only supports JSON and not NoSQL features.
    Temporary tables It supports temporary tables. It does not support temporary tables.
    Support for geospatial data PostgreSQL does not have built-in support for geospatial data. Instead, it uses the PostGIS extension. MySQL has built-in support for geospatial data.
    Renowned Users Netflix, Instagram, Uber, Spotify, Twitch, Reddit, and many other renowned companies use PostgreSQL. Web applications, like WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, and Drupal and popular websites, like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube use MySQL.


    There are a few features like the support for temporary tables, NoSQL features, materialized views, and table inheritance, offered by PostgreSQL but not by MySQL. Despite PostgreSQL offering more features, MySQL is more popular due to its speed and ease of use.

    If your project or application requires a high-security database management system, MySQL would be a great pick. But if you need a DBMS that is fully compliant with SQL, we recommend choosing PostgreSQL over MySQL. Moreover, if your project involves complex procedures and data integrity, PostgreSQL is likely a better option.

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    PostgreSQL is compatible with a wide variety of data types compared to MySQL. If your project requires dealing with numeric data types and basic characters, MySQL would be a great choice. Meanwhile, PostgreSQL is an excellent choice if your project requires dealing with the unique data types it supports.

    PostgreSQL is a database management system that comes with a wide range of features and handles complex queries, whereas MySQL is a simple database management system. So, MySQL is more simple to use, learn, and set up than PostgreSQL.

    PostgreSQL is an object-oriented relational database, whereas MySQL is purely a relational database.

    Yes, PostgreSQL has the ability to manage any size of data, whether it is small or big.

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