SQL vs. MySQL: Differences, Similarities, Uses, and Benefits

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about SQL vs. MySQL, databases, and answers to the questions: what is SQL? and what is MySQL? See the skills you need for jobs using SQL and MySQL.SQL vs. MySQL: Differences, Similarities, Uses & Benefits

[Featured Image]:  Data Analyst learning the basics of SQL and MySQL.

SQL and MySQL are database-related languages. SQL is a programming language you can use to work with data in databases, while MySQL is an open-source database product that implements the SQL standard.

MySQL is generally faster and more efficient than other relational database management systems (RDBMS), so it is often the preferred choice for applications that require high performance.

What exactly is SQL?  

SQL stands for Structured Query Language, designed specifically for interacting with relational databases. SQL is a language for storing, manipulating, and retrieving data in relational database management systems. You can use the SQL language to modify and create tables in the database, insert new data, modify existing data, delete data from the tables, and query those tables for specific information. 

SQL is the preferred language for most relational database management systems, including Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2.

IBM developed SQL in the late 1970s. It has been standardized since 1986 by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Many other vendors have implemented their versions of SQL that are compatible with each other and are like dialects of SQL.

What exactly is MySQL?  

MySQL is a relational database management system. You use it to store data in tables, and the rows of those tables can be related to each other by common information in the columns. The basic idea is that you have one or more "tables" (or "databases") and a set of rows (records) and columns (fields). Other elements, like keys and indexes, help you define them further.

MySQL is a database management system used in web applications, which is available for Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Solaris. MySQL comes with many web hosting packages. You can download MySQL Server software, pronounced “my sequel,” from the official website.

Read more: SQL JOIN Types Explained

Placeholder

professional certificate

Google Data Analytics

This is your path to a career in data analytics. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.

4.8

(92,596 ratings)

1,239,208 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Spreadsheet, Data Cleansing, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), SQL, Questioning, Decision-Making, Problem Solving, Metadata, Data Collection, Data Ethics, Sample Size Determination, Data Integrity, Data Calculations, Data Aggregation, Tableau Software, Presentation, R Programming, R Markdown, Rstudio, Job portfolio, case study

Key terminology to learn about SQL and MySQL

You’ll discover a lot of terminologies used in the world of SQL and MySQL. Here are some fundamental terms to learn to grasp the technology quickly.

Database (fields, tables)

A database is a collection of information. Databases can be structured or unstructured.

The most common examples of databases are MS Access, SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

Relational database RDBMS

Relational database management systems (RDBMS) are integrated software packages that provide you with the ability to store and manipulate data in a relational format. This means that you can make links between records to relate them together. For example, Microsoft Access and MySQL are both Relational DBMSs.

Storage engine

The storage engine is technology in a database that manages how data gets stored on a disk. MySQL's four most commonly used storage engines are MyISAM, InnoDB, MERGE, and MEMORY. 

Open source

An open-source license is a copyright license for computer software that allows users to use the source code freely, modify, and redistribute it. A core idea in open-source software development is the production by an online community of developers. Open-source software often evolves in a collaborative, public manner.

Database queries

Database queries get data from the database. With MySQL, you can write them using Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL is a language that directly interacts with the database without using any third-party tools or programming languages.

Here are some basic examples for writing queries in SQL:

• SELECT * FROM TABLE_NAME

• SELECT COLUMN_NAME FROM TABLE_NAME

• INSERT INTO TABLE_NAME VALUES (COLUMN_VALUE)

• UPDATE TABLE_NAME SET COLUMN_NAME = VALUE

Placeholder

Database statements

These statements contain commands for interacting with a database. You’ll use these statements to create and modify tables, insert data into tables, retrieve data from tables, delete data from tables, and much more.

Table

A table is a collection of data that gathers the information together so you can effortlessly search through it later. Tables are what hold your data in a relational database system like MySQL.

Column

Each column represents a particular piece of information within a table (e.g., first name or last name). The column name is the label used to refer to that piece of information when retrieving it from the database. 

There may be multiple columns for each piece of information in your database if you put data in multiple fields (e.g., first name in one column and last name in another).

Row

A row represents an individual record within a table (e.g., John Smith). Each row contains multiple pieces of information related to a single person (e.g., first name and last).

How do you use SQL with MySQL?

SQL works with many different database systems, so it's not specific to MySQL, but it's a language to know if you want to use MySQL. SQL is also the default query language used by MySQL, so it's easy to learn how to use MySQL without having to learn another language too.

The idea behind relational databases is that they store data in tables of rows and columns. Each row represents an item or record, and each column represents a property of that item. 

For example, if you have a database of people, the table might contain columns named "first_name," "last_name," "address," etc., where each row represents a person, and the values stored in each column are related to their first name, last name, etc.

SQL helps you write queries to:

• Select specific rows from a table (in other words, just get some data)

• Insert new rows into tables (add new records)

• Update existing records

• Delete existing records from tables (delete existing records)

Placeholder

Can you use SQL with other databases?

Yes, you can use SQL with databases other than MySQL. The SQL language is an ANSI/ISO standard that any database can implement. SQL is not specific to MySQL; it's a general-purpose language that allows you to manipulate data in any relational database. Many programmers use SQL to manipulate data stored in PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and others. When you learn SQL, you can apply it to any supported database.

What exactly is Microsoft SQL Server?

Microsoft SQL Server uses the SQL Server database engine. Windows Server. It is used by many business applications and other software programs.

SQL Server is one of a family of database management systems (DBMS) from Microsoft. The other DBMS products in this family are Azure SQL Database, which provides hosted relational database services, and Azure Analysis Services, which provides in-memory analytics capabilities for business intelligence applications.

Other database technologies that use SQL for your project

Other database management systems are also worth considering for your next project. Many of these database systems offer features that MySQL doesn't have or are easier to use in certain situations than MySQL. Some of them are even better suited for certain types of projects than MySQL is.

Here are some alternatives to MySQL:

  • PostgreSQL: This open-source database is a robust, high-performance object-relational system. With more than 30 years of relentless improvement and architecture that has proven reliability, data integrity, and accessibility, PostgreSQL has earned a strong reputation.

A worldwide group of volunteers develops PostgreSQL, released under the terms of the PostgreSQL License, similar to BSD and MIT licenses.

  • SQLite: SQLite is a standalone, client-side library implementing a transactional, serverless, zero-configuration SQL database engine. The source code you’ll discover here has both core library and example applications you can test.

  • MariaDB: MariaDB is an alternative to MySQL. MariaDB works with your existing applications and doesn't require any database changes.

  • Oracle Server (Procedural Language/SQL): Oracle Server is part of Oracle's family of enterprise software products. It provides database services for applications running on Linux or Solaris platforms and Windows Server 2008 R2 or later versions on x64 processors.

Do all databases use SQL?

No, the alternative to SQL is NoSQL, which stands for Not Only SQL. NoSQL databases use different data models and query languages than relational databases. NoSQL databases have been gaining popularity because they can store data differently than relational databases, making them easier to scale.

Some people think that NoSQL databases are always better than relational databases. However, it isn't true for all cases. Many scenarios exist where relational databases still have their uses (for example, if you want to store complex relationships between items). NoSQL is suitable for big data and unstructured data. 

What are the requirements for you to learn SQL or MySQL?

To get started with SQL and MySQL, you’ll need to learn basic knowledge about databases and the relational model. The basics of SQL are not that hard to understand. You’ll see many tutorials online, and many of them can give you enough information to get started with SQL.

Most people can learn the basics in less than a day, but it takes more time to use SQL and MySQL proficiently. The starting point is to understand how the language works and what it can do for you.

Working with relational databases: What you need to know

Three main areas of SQL make up the functionality: data definition (creating tables), data manipulation (adding new rows or changing existing ones), and data retrieval (getting information out of a table). These are known as:

 

  • Data Definition Language (DDL)

  • Data Manipulation Language (DML)

  • Data Control Language (DCL)

By learning to do these three types of activity, you can start generating data reports, building applications, and analyzing data. You can also learn other languages to interact with relational databases, such as Php, JAVA, C++, and Perl.

Skills in using SQL and MySQL 

The combination of SQL and MySQL provides a powerful way to store and interact with data. Here are some of the skills you’ll learn as you start your journey with relational databases: 

SQL skills: 

  • Understand how to write queries to extract data from a database.

  • Understand how to join tables together for analysis purposes.

  • Understand statement syntax to manipulate databases.

  • Know a coding language for UX design.

MySQL skills: 

  • Understand how to install and configure MySQL.

  • Know how to create databases, users, tables, and views within those databases.

  • Know how to populate tables with data.

  • Understand the basics of SQL syntax so you can write queries against your database.

  • Understand what privileges exist within MySQL so you can assign them appropriately.

  • Know how to manage permissions so users can only access what they need.

What jobs use SQL and MySQL?

The SQL language performs various job functions and helps people in many different job roles. Here is a list of some of the jobs that use SQL and MySQL and their base annual salaries:

  • Database administrator: $78,555 [1]

  • Database and systems administrator: $89,209 [2]

  • Database developer: $81,433 [3]

  • Data analyst: $67,327 [4]

  • Business intelligence developer: $93,583 [5]

  • Data warehouse architect: $113,592 [6]

  • Data warehouse analyst: $81,168 [7]

  • Data warehouse manager: $111,276 [8]

  • Business systems analyst: $82,036 [9]

  • Business intelligence developer/analysts: $93,145 [10]

Read more: SQL Developer Salary Guide: What to Expect in 2022

Want to start learning SQL and MySQL?

Build job-ready skills for a career in data analysis with the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate on Coursera. Develop your SQL know-how while you practice collection, cleansing, visualization, and analysis.

Placeholder

professional certificate

Google Data Analytics

This is your path to a career in data analytics. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.

4.8

(92,596 ratings)

1,239,208 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Spreadsheet, Data Cleansing, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), SQL, Questioning, Decision-Making, Problem Solving, Metadata, Data Collection, Data Ethics, Sample Size Determination, Data Integrity, Data Calculations, Data Aggregation, Tableau Software, Presentation, R Programming, R Markdown, Rstudio, Job portfolio, case study

Article sources

1

Glassdoor. “How much does a data administrator make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-database-administrator-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,25.htm.” Accessed October 21, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Learn without limits