Alex Kirpichny

Alexandr Kirpichny

Chief Product Officer, Ispirer Systems

The database is an integral part of the organization's infrastructure. So, naturally, it is a responsible step to choose the right one for operating a business.

And the first databases that come to mind when choosing are MySQL and SQL Server. Both databases are very worthy, but how to choose the most suitable one - that is the question. Let's put these two databases under a microscope so that a question like this doesn't bother you anymore.

SQL Server: what is it?

SQL Server is a relational database management system. Its purposes are to store, manage and retrieve data effectively with the help of structured query language.

SQL Server provides a bunch of features and tools that cater for a wide range of use cases, from large-scale enterprise solutions to small applications. Key characteristics of this system encompass compatibility with intricate data types, transaction management, sophisticated indexing, data warehousing, high uptime, and diverse security measures. Microsoft provides various tools and services like SSMS, SSRS, SSAS, and SSIS. These tools help developers and administrators manage, analyze, and report data.

Offering a variety of editions to cater to a wide spectrum of requirements and financial considerations, SQL Server makes for a versatile solution. From the complimentary Express edition, ideal for smaller-scale applications, to the all-encompassing Enterprise edition tailored for substantial, mission-critical applications. Each version boasts robust features and optimization capabilities for enhanced performance, however, Express edition has a lot of limitations that can hinder software production.

MySQL: an ideal database?

MySQL, an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) currently owned by Oracle Corporation, is celebrated for its efficiency, user-friendly interface, and cost-effectiveness. Using the SQL language, MySQL enables seamless data management and interaction.

As a favored RDBMS, MySQL is widely employed in web development, content management systems, and diverse online platforms. Its versatility is evident through compatibility with various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, and support for programming languages like PHP, Java, Python, and more.

Beyond versatility, MySQL offers essential features such as data integrity, scalability, high availability, and diverse security options. Support for stored procedures, triggers, and views enhances its capabilities for developing complex database solutions. As an open-source platform, MySQL thrives on community-driven enhancements, providing both free and commercial editions to suit diverse requirements and budgets. The extensive ecosystem of tools and resources contributes to its popularity.

MySQL is primarily developed using the programming languages C and C++. It exclusively utilizes the English language for database operations, employing SQL (Structured Query Language) for managing and manipulating data.

Furthermore, MySQL seamlessly integrates with the Apache web server and PHP scripting language, particularly in Linux environments. This integration facilitates the creation of dynamic web applications that can efficiently interact with MySQL databases. The system is designed to support multiple users simultaneously, ensuring effective execution of SQL queries for data retrieval, insertion, updating, and deletion.

SQL Server vs MySQL: similarities

Both MySQL and SQL Server are relational database management systems, that is why they have a lot in common. Let’s focus on the main similarities the databases have.

  • Table Structure. The fundamental architecture of MySQL and MSSQL adheres to the standard table model, which is characterized by organized column-and-row-based data storage commonly found in relational databases.
  • Performance Excellence. Given that databases play a pivotal role in swiftly retrieving and storing data for applications, their performance is critical. Thankfully, both MySQL and MSSQL Server deliver exceptional performance speeds, serving as the backbone for your applications.
  • Key Relationships. Both MySQL and MSSQL make use of primary and foreign keys to establish relationships between tables, ensuring effective data organization.
  • Online Dominance and Popularity. In the realm of web applications, MySQL and MSSQL Server stand out as the most widely employed databases. Hosting services often present users with the option to choose between MySQL and MSSQL, reflecting their widespread use.
  • Scalability Made Easy. Adapting to the growth of your business is seamless with MySQL and MSSQL, as both platforms offer convenient scalability. Whether it's a small project or one handling millions of daily transactions, these databases can accommodate diverse project sizes.
  • Unified Syntax. While both platforms share a similar syntax, there exist subtle differences in create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) statements. Nonetheless, developers can navigate these variances with relative ease.
  • Drivers. Connection drivers for a myriad of popular programming languages are readily available online, simplifying the process of connecting MySQL and MSSQL without delving into intricate settings.

MSSQL vs MySQL: Differences

Now that we've got a handle on the ABCs of these two tech champs, let's dive into the MySQL vs SQL Server showdown and figure out which one's the real MVP for your needs. There isn't a universal solution to this, and the choice must be made considering the business needs, budget, and the following factors. So, here are the main players in this tech tussle that'll help you make that heavyweight decision.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Platform compatibility

The first difference between the two databases is platform support. However, over the past few years, Microsoft has significantly embraced the Open-Source Community by extending support to both Linux and Mac OS X. The latest iterations of SQL Server are designed to operate seamlessly on Linux, and they can also run on Mac OS X through a Docker container.

MySQL provides more options than SQL Server. It can be installed on most of the OS including Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris, OpenBSD, and HP-UX. To cut a long story short, if your organization primarily uses Windows as its operating system, SQL Server may be a natural choice. SQL Server is developed by Microsoft and it is well-integrated with the Windows environment.

If your organization operates in a heterogeneous environment with a mix of operating systems (including Windows, Linux, or others), MySQL might be a more suitable choice, since MySQL is known for its cross-platform compatibility.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Syntax and Language support

Syntax between the two database platforms is similar, although there are some minor differences across different CRUD (create, read, update, delete) statements. Syntax comes into play specifically when it comes to commands. For example, suppose you want to restore an older version of your database, you can use the “rollback” command to a specific “savepoint” (with the named savepoint being the distinguishing syntax).

In terms of language compatibility, SQL Server is compatible with a variety of programming languages including PHP, Go, Python, C++, Java, VB, Delphi, Ruby, and R.

MySQL is compatible with almost all the programming languages that SQL Server supports. Furthermore, it also supports extra languages like TCL, Perl Scheme, and Haskel. This characteristic is what makes it highly favored among developers.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Database Performance

Database performance is one of the crucial factors that determine infrastructure operation. A poorly performing database can negatively impact crucial business indicators like user satisfaction and revenue.

Nonetheless, the performance of a database is significantly influenced by a vast array of factors. Minor variations in workloads can drastically alter outcomes, while small adjustments can lead to substantial enhancements.

Put simply, a well-structured database is as valuable as gold. Both MySQL and SQL Server pride themselves on their outstanding speed and performance in operating high-end applications. They offer the capability to accommodate multiple databases on one server and utilize indexes for data organization to enhance performance.

According to this study, SQL Server consistently outperforms MySQL in SQL Server vs MySQL performance testing.

SQL Server, developed by Microsoft, boasts a robust and sophisticated architecture that is optimized for high-performance computing. Its efficient query optimization and execution plans, coupled with advanced indexing mechanisms, contribute to swift and reliable data retrieval. Additionally, SQL Server integration with the Windows operating system and other Microsoft technologies often results in enhanced overall system performance.

While MySQL, an open-source RDBMS, excels in scalability and ease of use, SQL Server's comprehensive suite of features and optimizations make it a preferred choice for enterprises with demanding performance requirements and complex data processing needs.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Security

MySQL and SQL Server are both relational database management systems that prioritize security but differ in their approaches. MySQL, as an open-source database, provides a robust security framework with features such as user authentication, access control, and data encryption. It has made significant strides in enhancing security over the years, and with regular updates, MySQL addresses vulnerabilities to ensure a secure environment. However, being open-source, MySQL security largely relies on community contributions and may require additional configurations to meet specific enterprise-level security standards.

On the other hand, SQL Server, developed by Microsoft, emphasizes a comprehensive and integrated security model. With features like Transparent Data Encryption, Dynamic Data Masking, and Always Encrypted, SQL Server offers a wide array of tools to safeguard data at various levels. Additionally, SQL Server benefits from Microsoft's dedicated security team, providing timely updates and patches to address emerging threats. While SQL Server is known for its robust security infrastructure, the choice between MySQL and SQL Server ultimately depends on the specific security requirements and preferences of the organization.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Query Execution

One big thing that sets MySQL and SQL Server apart is the ability to stop query execution. In MySQL, you cannot cancel a single query once it has begun running. The whole operation should be ended. On the flip side, SQL Server gives users freedom to halt query execution midway without killing the entire process.

Although this differentiation may not substantially affect the tasks of database administrators, it can pose a significant hurdle for developers. Therefore, if you are a software developer who frequently needs to stop query execution, SQL Server might just have the upper hand.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Storage Engines

When it comes to storage engines, MySQL comes to the stage, as it provides multiple storage engines. The storage engines most commonly utilized are InnoDB and MyISAM. However these two do not limit the list, since MySQL provides freedom to choose between various storage engines, including Blackhole, NDB, CSV tables, and more, per your requirements.

On the other hand, SQL Server utilizes a unique storage engine developed by Microsoft. The SQL Server Database Engine is essentially the core service that safeguards, manages, and stores your data. A single machine can accommodate up to 50 instances of the Database Engine.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Scalability features

Increasing the number of rows in SQL Server doesn't lead to much increase in response time. This is why most developers consider SQL Server a highly scalable technology. In its paid version, SQL Server includes features like compression, advanced partitioning, and in-memory technology to help it scale more effectively.

When the number of data rows increases in MySQL, you ultimately experience an increase in the time it takes to do things.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Support and Community

MySQL has two licenses: a free, open-source one under GPLv2 and proprietary licenses with extra support choices. The MySQL community is vast and dynamic, with numerous forums and online resources where developers can seek assistance, share insights, and troubleshoot issues. This community helps people work together to solve problems and gives beginners and experts access to lots of information.

In contrast, SQL Server operates as proprietary software, requiring users to acquire a license for usage. Although SQL Server is proprietary, it provides a minimum 10 years of mainstream support. In addition to that, it has a large and active community that participates in forums and support channels. This user network helps people share ideas, get advice, and solve problems when using SQL Server.

SQL Server vs MySQL: Cost

Sometimes costly database editions make companies fork out. That is why businesses look for free database versions, however free versions are not always completely free.

MySQL Community Edition is a complimentary, open-source variant of MySQL, making it an excellent starting point for familiarizing yourself with the platform. It's sufficiently robust to handle smaller production tasks, but extra support will require additional payment.

SQL Server provides two free versions called SQL Server Developer and SQL Server Express. The only difference between them is production. Microsoft describes SQL Server Developer as a "comprehensive version of SQL Server software that enables developers to build, test, and showcase applications in a cost-effective manner".

Resisting the urge to cut costs by aligning your IT requirements with the constraints of the free tier is a common temptation. However, for a mission-critical database, this approach might end up being more expensive over time. In the case of extensive deployments, investing in premium features like monitoring, backup, and prompt support is likely to provide substantial value for the money spent.

How to choose between SQL Server and MySQL?

Following this extensive MySQL vs SQL Server comparison, it should be clear that each system has its own unique strengths and specializations. It's evident that the ideal database management system for you will ultimately hinge on your unique needs and situations.

If your company has already embraced the LAMP stack and operates within the Linux environment, MySQL emerges as a natural and harmonious choice. Conversely, for organizations entrenched in the Windows ecosystem, utilizing .NET, and leveraging Microsoft technologies, SQL Server stands out as the clear and fitting preference.

No matter which database management system you choose, it is crucial to guarantee seamless integration with your established IT infrastructure. Achieving this typically involves implementing an intermediary API layer, facilitating a seamless connection between the database and the frontend user interface.

The final word

Choosing between these two titans is a challenging decision. MySQL has become the second most popular database in the world owing to its robust functionality and free nature. While the majority of businesses prefer SQL Server as a database management system that prioritizes security and cost.

In case you are on the way to migrate your MySQL to SQL Server or vice versa SQL Server to MySQL, you can approach Ispirer to automate this migration path. Ispirer Toolkit is our flagship product that helps to optimize the migration process and save your time. The tool supports dozens of migration directions, including migration to MySQL and SQL Server. Check it out and optimize your database modernization journey.