SQL vs MySQL: Understanding the Key Differences for Effective Database Management

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Ensuring data is stored, processed, and analyzed securely and efficiently has become increasingly essential. When storing and manipulating data now, there often needs clarity between SQL and MySQL. They are two of the most popular database technologies used today to store, organize, and retrieve data. Despite their similarities, a few key distinctions make them suitable for different types of applications.

In this article, we will explore the key differences in between SQL vs. MySQL to help you understand which technology suits your needs.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open-source, relational database management system (RDBMS) that provides a scalable platform to create databases manage data using Structured Query Language (SQL) to interact with the database for easy data retrieval and manipulation.

MySQL Architecture

MySQL Architecture

MySQL architecture is based on a client-server model and consists of three components: 

  • Client: It is a web-based, desktop, or command-line application used to interact with the MySQL server. 
  • Server: It is the program that is liable for operating the databases and responding to requests from the client. 
  • Storage Engine: It is responsible for storing and retrieving data from the databases whenever a query is run.

Benefits of MySQL

  1. It allows choosing between various storage engines, which can be optimized according to the application types.
  2. It is apt for managing high-speed read and writes operations, making it appropriate for large datasets. 
  3. Depending on the user's requirements, it can quickly scale up or down. 
  4. It has many security features, including encryption, authentication, and authorization. 
  5. It is free-to-use open-source software, making it a cost-effective choice for businesses of all sizes.

What is SQL?

SQL (Structured Query Language), often called SEQUEL, is a programming language specially created for managing data in databases. It creates, modifies, and retrieves data by communicating with the databases.

Benefits of SQL

  1. The learning curve for SQL is not steep and can be learned by users without any programming experience.
  2. Queries in SQL can be optimized to run fast, making it an ideal choice for applications with large databases. 
  3. SQL databases are scalable and can easily add more resources per need. 
  4. SQL databases have backup features that help safeguard data against any damage. 
  5. SQL allows users to create custom queries specific to their needs.
  6. SQL is a cross-platform language; it can be used on multiple operating systems like Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

SQL Vs. MySQL: Major differences

Before further diving into the comparison between SQL and MySQL, here is a brief overview of their distinctions.


Definition & Purpose

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) that only stores data and manages data by querying it using the Structured Query Language(SQL).

SQL is a programming language used to communicate with databases to manage and retrieve data.


MySQL is built on SQL and was developed by Oracle Corporation and was first released in 1995. Ever since, it has become the most prevalent database management system in the world, powering millions of web applications and websites.

SQL was created in the 1970s by IBM researchers and has become the most used and popular language for database management. 

Programming Language support

MySQL has support for basic programming languages, such as C, C++, Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, and Node.js, which gives developers the flexibility to create robust applications

SQL, on the other hand, is itself a programming language used to manage data and information in relational databases. It is a standard language for interacting with relational databases and many popular relational database management systems used, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, etc.


MySQL Workbench is a powerful visual tool used to handle MySQL databases. It provides a complete collection of graphical tools with a built-in SQL editor and a query builder to create and run SQL queries on the go. The MySQL Workbench Community Edition is the open-source version of the MySQL Workbench tool and is free to use. It provides all the features of the commercial version, from creating and managing databases to creating visual representations of the table schema for better understanding. SQL does not support connectors as it is a database language itself.

Community support

SQL and MySQL have highly interactive communities of users data analysts and developers providing support and resources.

SQL has a larger community with over 4 million active users and 3 million developers. With extensive online resources, it has over 10,000 tutorials,1,000 books, and over 1,000 forums. 

MySQL also has an engaging community of 2 million active users and 1 million developers. 


SQL is a standardized language that is used to create, update, delete, and retrieve data from a database, whereas MySQL is a relational database management system that is based on SQL but has its own set of commands. 

MySQL queries are written using a specific syntax that differs from the syntax used for SQL. 

For example, to find the top N rows in the SQL database, we need to write this query:

Whereas to find the top N in MySQL, we have to write this query:

The syntax of SQL and MySQL can be confusing sometimes, but by following the respective documentation it is possible to write queries in either language.


SQL is multilingual; it is available in multiple languages, while MySQL is limited to English only. SQL here has the upper hand as it can be useful for developers from across the globe.

Platform Support

SQL is supported on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, and Mac. MySQL is also available on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X and on cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure, etc.


Both SQL and MySQL offer a variety of pricing plans and features. Let's look at the different pricing plans and their approximate costs. 

For the SQL servers, the top-tier and the most expensive plan is the SQL Server Enterprise Edition costing US$13,748 for two core packs.

The standard edition for SQL costs US$3,586 for two core packs

The MySQL Cluster CGE is the most expensive tier and costs US$10,000. 

The MySQL Enterprise Edition is priced at US$5,000.

MySQL Standard Edition is priced at US$2,000.

Storage Engines

Storage engines are used by SQL and MySQL to handle data effectively. The main difference is that SQL uses a single storage engine, while MySQL uses multiple storage engines. 

SQL uses its storage engine, the Microsoft SQL Server Storage Engine (MSSSE). The MSSSE provides a range of features, such as row-level locking, data compression, and advanced indexing. 

MySQL has different storage engines, such as MyISAM, InnoDB, Memory, etc. Each of these storage engines has its own set of features and capabilities. Thus, MySQL provides more flexibility to users to choose the best storage engine for their particular use cases.


The method in which backup is taken in MySQL and SQL is slightly different. 

In MySQL, data needs to be backed up in SQL statements to minimize the chances of data corruption the server blocks the database. SQL does not block access data the database at the time of backup, allowing other operations to be performed on the database while the data is being backed up.

MySQL blocks the same database queries at the time of backup, resulting in long restoration times, whereas MS SQL does not and allows for other operations to be performed while it is being backed up, resulting in quicker restoration times.

It is difficult to determine which is better between SQL and MySQL as SQL is a versatile language, while MySQL is a powerful and popular open-source database management system. To use MySQL and other database management systems and tools effectively, you need to understand SQL well; both technologies must be combined to manage resources and customers effectively.

Sprinkle Data is a data pipeline tool that can be used to pull data from MySQL database and further structure and streamline data into one standard format. It is a no-code data management pipeline and analytics platform supporting over 100 data connectors. If you want to unify all your data in a single place, then Sprinkle data is one of the best pipeline tools available today.


1. What is the fundamental difference between SQL and MySQL?

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language used to communicate with databases, while MySQL is an open-source Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) that uses SQL as its querying language.

2. How does MySQL manage data compared to SQL?

MySQL is an RDBMS specifically designed to store and manage data using SQL queries for data retrieval and manipulation, while SQL is a language used to manage data in databases.

3. Who developed MySQL and SQL?

MySQL, developed by Oracle Corporation, was first released in 1995, whereas SQL was created in the 1970s by IBM researchers and has become a standard language for database management.

4. What are the key differences in community support between SQL and MySQL?

SQL boasts a larger community with over 4 million active users and 3 million developers, offering extensive resources like tutorials, books, and forums. MySQL, with 2 million active users and 1 million developers, also maintains an engaged community.

5. How do SQL and MySQL differ in terms of platform support?

Both SQL and MySQL are supported on multiple platforms, including Windows, Linux, and MacOS, along with compatibility on various cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure.

6. What are the pricing differences between SQL and MySQL?

SQL and MySQL offer varied pricing plans; SQL Server Enterprise Edition can cost up to US$13,748, while MySQL's higher tiers, like MySQL Cluster CGE, may reach US$10,000. MySQL Enterprise Edition and Standard Edition are priced at US$5,000 and US$2,000, respectively.

7. How do storage engines differ between SQL and MySQL?

SQL typically uses Microsoft SQL Server Storage Engine (MSSSE), whereas MySQL offers multiple storage engines like MyISAM, InnoDB, and Memory, allowing users to choose based on their specific use cases.

8. What distinguishes SQL's syntax from that of MySQL?

SQL is a standardized language used to manipulate the data stored in databases, while MySQL, though based on SQL, has its own syntax and commands for database management.

9. What backup differences exist between SQL and MySQL?

While unlike MySQL, backups involve blocking database queries and may result in longer restoration times, SQL does not block database access during backups, enabling other operations and quicker restoration.

10. How do SQL and MySQL complement each other for effective database management?

SQL, being a versatile language, and MySQL, a powerful open-source RDBMS, work best when combined. Understanding of SQL syntax is crucial for effective utilization of MySQL and database management tools.

11. What is Sprinkle Data and its relation to MySQL?

Sprinkle Data is a data pipeline tool that can extract existing data from from MySQL databases and standardize it. It's a no-code platform supporting over 100 data connectors, aimed at unifying diverse data sources into a single format.

12. Is SQL used in MySQL? 

Yes, SQL the query programming language is used to manage relational databases in MySQL. SQL is the standard language for managing relational databases, and MySQL is a popular database management system.

13. Is MySQL a coding language? 

No, MySQL is a database systems not a coding language. It is a relational database management system (RDBMS) a database system that stores and manages data in a structured format.

14. What are the five types of SQL? 

  • Data Definition Language (DDL) 
  • Data Manipulation Language (DML) 
  • Transaction Control Language (TCL) 
  • Data Control Language (DCL) 
  • Query Language (QL)

15. Which major companies use MySQL? 

Some of the major companies that use MySQL include 

  • Amazon 
  • Facebook 
  • Google 
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Uber
  • Airbnb
  • eBay
  • Netflix
  • PayPal
Written by
Soham Dutta


SQL vs MySQL: Understanding the Key Differences for Effective Database Management