Alex Kirpichny

Alexandr Kirpichny

Chief Product Officer, Ispirer Systems

A database is the backbone of an organization. A number of databases are available on the market today, many of which are open source. Open source solutions lead the ranking of the most popular databases today. Choosing the right database is difficult, since almost all of them are packed with a bunch of features, meet high security requirements and are provided for free.

How to choose the best option for your company? If you are now asking yourself this question, then this article is meant for you.

We chose two of the most popular open source databases for enterprises - PostgreSQL and MariaDB - and pitted them against each other. In this article, we will look at what cases these databases are best suited for and how to get the most out of them. So, let's begin.

What is PostgreSQL?

Many people know PostgreSQL for its extensive capabilities. This database rightfully holds the title of the richest in capabilities for data manipulation. It supports a range of SQL features, including foreign keys, subqueries, as well as user-defined types and functions.

PostgreSQL is a highly stable database that has been developed for 27 years already by the open-source community. This database further sets the performance bar high and offers features that scale and reserve data workloads.

PostgreSQL boasts sophisticated features like materialized views and partial indexes that boost efficiency. Materialized views can be employed for costly joins and aggregations that are regularly executed.

The use cases for PostgreSQL are indeed rich. This database is an appropriate solution for most of the cases regardless of their size or system loads. PostgreSQL is a reliable database for almost any project.

However, there are a number of cases in which businesses prefer using PostgreSQL to any other database. Among them are a huge number of web applications, geographic information systems, data warehousing, data analytics, and social media platforms. In fact, commercial companies such as Reddit, Uber, Netflix, Instagram, and more use PostgreSQL as their database system.

What is MariaDB?

MariaDB is a highly scalable open-source database made by the MySQL creators in 2009 after MySQL had been purchased by Oracle. Although it bears similarities to MySQL, it has undergone substantial evolution since its creation.

MariaDB leverages its heritage as a MySQL fork to integrate with existing environments. Its architecture boasts pluggable storage engines like PBXT, XtraDB, and InnoDB, enabling granular performance optimization tailored to diverse use cases.

Strong JSON support in MariaDB makes it great for dynamic web apps needing real-time analytics or complex data interactions.

MariaDB is commonly used for business transactions requiring quick responses to frequent queries, especially with small amounts of data. The InnoDB storage engine supports ACID-compliant transactions and ensures that it treats each transaction as a single unit.

MariaDB works well with web applications and e-commerce platforms, and its multi-threading mechanisms allow it to handle higher loads than other database systems. MariaDB can handle sudden increases in website traffic and accommodate business expansion because of its multi-threaded model and high performance. This allows your application or website to effectively grow and handle increased demand.

Migration to PostgreSQL and MariaDB

As a matter of fact, PostgreSQL and MariaDB stand as excellent open source solutions for business. These databases serve as viable alternatives to both modern databases like Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, and legacy systems such as Sybase, be it a transition from on-premise to cloud or infrastructure upgrade.

Selecting a new database is a complex and pivotal process. Factors such as the current technological landscape, database workload, size, and specific critical requirements demand careful consideration.

This process can be both intricate and demanding, but the benefits of migration to modern databases outweigh the complexity of this process. Firstly, modern databases typically provide enhanced performance and scalability, allowing businesses to handle larger volumes of data efficiently. Secondly, modern databases often incorporate advanced security features, helping to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access and cyber threats. The Ispirer experts stand ready to undertake a comprehensive analysis of your existing system, identifying the most suitable option - whether it's PostgreSQL or MariaDB. We will help you transition smoothly and confidently by integrating the chosen solution into your business operations seamlessly.

Additionally, streamlining migration is feasible with the help of automated tools, which can significantly simplify the process. If you need to migrate an existing database to another, you can try Ispirer Toolkit that can save time and resources on PostgreSQL migration or MariaDB migration.


Although PostgreSQL and MariaDB have a lot in common, there are a range of differences that set them apart. In fact, both databases support relational database management systems as the primary database model.

One of the unique aspects of PostgreSQL is its ability to function as both a relational and a NoSQL database. It becomes possible because it supports JSON and other data types. This makes it a good option for applications that need the flexibility of NoSQL and the reliability of a relational database.

MariaDB has different storage engines that allow for adding specific database features to a versatile database system. One such pluggable storage engine is OQGRAPH. Contrary to regular storage engines, it does not actually store any data, but rather represents data as a graph.

Both databases support a client-server architecture model, which means that the server is responsible for managing files in the database, accepting connections from client applications, and performing database actions on behalf of clients.


MariaDB and PostgreSQL both feature an expandable structure built for personalization. Users needing specific extra features for their requirements can incorporate them using shared libraries, providing developers with increased development possibilities.

PostgreSQL is notably adaptable because it accommodates a variety of sophisticated data types. These include network address types, native UUID, geometric/GIS, JSON (indexable), and timestamps aware of time zones. If these attributes aren't persuasive enough, PostgreSQL further sets itself apart with modifiable operators, data types, and index types.

MariaDB accommodates a variety of SQL modes, partitioning, procedures for backing up and restoring databases, server surveillance, and logging. It even allows you to develop functions, data types, operators, window functions, or virtually anything else. Anyway, despite all of these numerous features that MariaDB provides, it still falls behind PostgreSQL in the matter of extensibility.


PostgreSQL provides a wide range of indexes that allow flexible work with database tables. What is more, PostgreSQL has advanced indexing options like B-tree, GiST, GIN, function-based, partial, and covering indexes. It has many tools to improve query performance and make data retrieval easier.

In comparison with PostgreSQL, MariaDB offers a more modest set of supported indexes. It only supports four types of indexes, including primary keys, unique indexes, plain indexes, and full-text indexes.


In order to compare performance of both databases, it is necessary to consider the use case.

Basically, MariaDB is considered to be the perfect choice for small databases as it is lightweight. It is also capable of storing data entirely in-memory - something not offered by PostgreSQL. MariaDB boasts a sophisticated thread pool that can operate swiftly and accommodate over 200,000 connections, complemented by 12 fresh storage engines. This enables it to compete directly with PostgreSQL in relation to query processing velocity.

However, PostgreSQL outperforms MariaDB in regard to reads and writes and can be more efficient for databases with substantial volumes. PostgreSQL uses its cache and the server's cache to quickly retrieve frequently accessed data. This allows PostgreSQL to perform better than MariaDB's query cache.

Data typing

PostgreSQL provides support for the JSON and JSONB data types, while MariaDB substitutes with a LONGTEXT column to achieve similar functionality. This capability allows both databases to handle unstructured data commonly associated with NoSQL databases.

MariaDB is lenient, automatically adjusting data types that don't align with the schema during inserts and updates. In contrast, PostgreSQL lacks this feature and strictly enforces data typing.


Replication is a method that allows developers to copy data from a database to its replicas, ensuring consistent access to information for all users. This process offers numerous benefits, including fault tolerance, scalability, automated backups, and the ability to run complex queries without impacting the main database.

MariaDB and PostgreSQL both offer replication capabilities. MariaDB includes features like asynchronous multi-source replication and master-slave replication. Moreover, the MariaDB Galera Cluster allows users to execute semi-synchronous replication, multi-primary clustering, delayed replication, and parallel replication.

In contrast, PostgreSQL provides primary-secondary replication along with cascading replication, streaming replication, and synchronous replication. Furthermore, by utilizing the latest BDR package, PostgreSQL allows bidirectional replication as well.


MariaDB regularly issues security patches, underscoring the community's commitment to security.

Similarly, the PostgreSQL Global Development Group (PGDG) releases a record of ongoing Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) that is managed by a vast and helpful community. It's crucial to keep open-source software current with the most recent patches and versions. The capacity to implement these patches promptly is essential.

Support and community

MariaDB provides support from skilled engineers, typically software developers and database administrators, who are experts in both MySQL and MariaDB. Enterprise-level subscribers receive comprehensive 24/7/365 support from MariaDB Corporation.

Additionally, support is accessible through the MariaDB knowledge base, featuring tutorials, documentation, and other valuable resources.

MariaDB thrives on its active community, comprising developers, contributors, and non-developer groups. Various avenues exist for engaging with community members, including social media, mailing lists, events, and conferences. Users are encouraged to contribute by debugging, documenting, and developing MariaDB themselves.

Similarly, PostgreSQL boasts a robust community that offers support through user groups, documentation, mailing lists, and supplementary resources. An IRC channel provides a platform for users to ask questions and interact with knowledgeable PostgreSQL community members. Furthermore, there are several international sites for PostgreSQL users that offer community engagement opportunities and resources in various languages.

PostgreSQL vs. MariaDB: What to choose?

Both databases have a number of solid advantages, but it's worth relying on the specific requirements of your project. If you have a small project that requires web application analytics and the ability to customize customer experience based on real data, then pay attention to MariaDB. Moreover, it is a more budget-friendly option compared to PostgreSQL.

If your business is in the financial or healthcare sector, and you have large volumes and heavy database loads, then PostgreSQL is a great option for you. Reliability, a wide range of capabilities - this is what you need. This option is also ideal for data warehousing and analytics. Besides, with the PostGIS extension, it’s a perfect fit for location-based apps and GIS systems.

Wrapping up

In this article, we talked in detail about the capabilities and characteristics of PostgreSQL and MariaDB databases. We touched on performance, customizability, security, and use cases for both databases.

We hope that the information will allow you to make the right choice in favor of the database that suits you. In case you don’t have a team of experts to perform the migration, Ispirer will help you migrate as part of the comprehensive migration services.