What is MySQL

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By Vijay Singh Khatri

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system based on Structured Query Language (SQL). This type of database management system is used to store and manage a large amount of data.

MySQL was developed and marketed by MySQL AB, a Swedish company, and is now supported by Oracle Corporation. Its name is a combination of “MY”, the name of MySQL co-founder Michael Widenius’s daughter, and “SQL”. MySQL database system runs on a server and is ideal for both small and large applications. It is also a very fast, reliable, and easy-to-use database system. MySQL is released under an open-source license, so you can download and use it for free.

In addition, it is the most popular database system used with PHP. You can also use MySQL with other programming languages such as PERL, C, C++, Java, etc. MySQL is compatible with different operating systems, and you can easily use it on them. Programmers use MySQL to store and retrieve data in different types of applications, websites, and other services. In this article, we will discuss this popular database system in detail. Let’s start.

Introduction to MySQL

As we said before, MySQL is an open-source, flexible relational database management system that is used to store and handle a large amount of data. The data in MySQL is stored in the form of tables which consist of rows and columns. You can easily retrieve, update, and delete this stored data.

Structured Query Language (SQL), on which MySQL is based, is the most popular language for accessing and managing the records in the tables. MySQL is primarily used for developing web-based software applications. Furthermore, you can use MySQL on different platforms such as Windows, Linux, and Solaris because it is also a cross-platform database system.

MySQL can handle large databases easily because of its multithreaded features. You can also run deeply embedded applications and create large data warehouses with the help of MySQL because it is a flexible and scalable database management system. The plugin libraries of MySQL allow the developers to embed the database into any other application. Many other features of MySQL like stored procedures, triggers, functions, views, and much more help in the easy development of applications.

The event scheduler feature of MySQL helps the developers to automate the tasks. Further, the powerful security mechanisms of MySQL ensure that only authorized users can access the database.

Many large organizations, such as Facebook, Twitter, Uber, GitHub, YouTube, etc., are using this database system on their platforms. Popular content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal, Contao, etc., are also using MySQL in their applications.

History of MySQL

MySQL was created by the Swedish software company MySQL AB in 1995. Three engineers of this company, named David Axmark, Allan Larsson, and Micheal Widenius, were the developers of this platform. The main purpose behind the development of MySQL was to provide a reliable and fast data management system to users. The initial version of this database system was based on low-level language ISAM for personal usage. But it was too slow and inflexible to meet the requirements. Then developers created a new SQL interface for this database to fix those issues.

Many versions of MySQL were released during that time, such as version 3.19 and version 3.20. In 1998, the Windows version of MySQL was released for Windows 95 and Windows NT. In 2000, MySQL became an open-source platform that could be accessed and used by all.

The open-source nature of MySQL allowed third-party developers to use it in their projects. In 2002, a new headquarters of MySQL AB was opened in the USA. At that time, MySQL became a popular database among home and professional users.

In 2008, MySQL AB was acquired by Sun Microsystems, but in 2009, Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems, and now MySQL is updated and supported by Oracle.

Features of MySQL

MySQL is a relational database management system that helps you in storing and managing the data efficiently. The data in this database is stored in a structured form. It is also an open-source database system and can be distributed over the Internet. You can access and modify the data of MySQL from anywhere and anytime. Here are some features of this database system that make it more popular among developers. Let’s discuss them.

1. Open-Source and Supportive System

This is the first feature of MySQL. The open-source feature of this database system allows the developers to download it for free. Anyone can use and modify it from anywhere. You can easily change the source code of MySQL based on your requirements.

MySQL follows the GNU General Public License terms. These terms are the rules and regulations that further define the changes that you can do and can’t do in the development process. So you have to follow GPL for all modifications.

Furthermore, MySQL is also available under a variety of proprietary licenses. A commercial license of MySQL is also available, which allows the developers to use MySQL in commercial applications also. Moreover, developers can get support from the official manual of MySQL and different IRC channels and forums. There are several third-party organizations also available to provide support and services.

2. Client-Server Architecture

Another feature of MySQL is its client-server architecture. In this database system, there is a server (MySQL) and many clients in the form of application programs that can further communicate with the server in the form of queries. The server (MySQL) processes those queries and returns the result to the clients (application programs). All this process of sending queries, their processing, and returning of the result can be done using the Internet connection.

In addition, MySQL can work on distributed networks. The application programs don’t need to run on the same system where the server (MySQL) is situated. They can communicate with each other using the Internet. MySQL can easily handle the multiple requests of application programs as compared to other file-server systems.

3. Compatible

MySQL is a compatible database system. You can easily download, install, and execute it on different operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, Ubuntu, Unix, etc. The multithreaded feature of MySQL allows the clients to send requests from different databases at the same time.

Further, different interfaces are supported by MySQL also, such as command-line interface, Graphical User Interface, Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) interface, etc. These interfaces are available for many programming languages such as C, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, etc. This allows the users to send requests from any interface and in any programming language to MySQL. You can also run MySQL on any type of hardware, such as small PCs, huge servers, etc.

4. Reliable and Fast

The storage engine architecture of MySQL makes it more reliable and fast as compared to other database systems. It can handle multiple queries of different clients at a very fast speed by utilizing all the CPU power.

Also, any volume of data can be managed by it efficiently. All the data stored in MySQL is consistent and reliable because this database system does not allow the storing of redundant data. Furthermore, you can quickly access and manipulate that data using MySQL. The engine on which MySQL is built allows the users to do multiple transactions per second at high speed.

5. Stored Procedures

MySQL allows the users to store their SQL queries in the form of stored procedures and then call these stored procedures to execute the queries. Stored procedures are generally used to store that piece of code that programmers need again and again, such as inserting or deleting a record saved in a database.

This feature eases the work of programmers and also promotes code reusability. If you have queries that you have to write, again and again, you can save them as stored procedures. After that, you don’t need to process the tables directly, and it also increases efficiency. Stored procedures are also helpful in managing large database projects.

Difference between MySQL and SQL

After discussing the features of MySQL, it’s time now to discuss the difference between MySQL and SQL. As discussed earlier, MySQL is a relational database management system that uses SQL commands to perform specific functions in the database. On the other hand, SQL is a structured query language that is used to operate, manage, and access databases. Let’s discuss the difference between them in detail.

MySQL was developed by MySQL AB. SQL was developed by Microsoft Corporation.
It is a relational database management system that uses SQL to query data from the databases. SQL is a structured query language that is used for managing and retrieving data from the database system.
MySQL is a database system and not a programming language, so it does not have any particular syntax and format. SQL is a query language, so it has proper syntax and format.
MySQL is open-source software which means it is free for all. SQL is not an open-source software and is owned by Microsoft. That’s why it is not free for others.
MySQL is used for storing, deleting, and updating the data in a tabular form. SQL is used to query and update the database.
MySQL supports multiple storage engines. SQL supports only a single storage engine.
MySQL servers do not work independently from databases. In SQL, the server and database work independently.
MySQL is less secure because of its open-source nature. SQL servers are secured, and outsiders are not allowed to manipulate data.
In MySQL, restoring data is a time-consuming process, and it also requires multiple SQL queries. In SQL, the data restoring process is less time-consuming.
MySQL supports connectors. SQL does not support any connectors.
MySQL does not support user-defined functions. SQL supports user-defined functions.
MySQL is available in only a single language. SQL is available in different languages.
MySQL has great community support. SQL has only one support system for queries, Microsoft Support Care.
In MySQL, you can not cancel a query during execution. In SQL, you can easily cancel a query during its execution.
MySQL supports all the basic programming languages such as C, PHP, Python, etc. SQL itself is a programming language for database systems.
MySQL is cross-platform and works well in different operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, etc. 16 SQL works well in the Windows operating system. The latest versions of SQL work partially for other operating systems such as Linux and macOS.


After downloading and installing MySQL, you can easily use it. You have to learn SQL to use it effectively.
MySQL is a software, so the updates are made quickly for it. SQL is a language, and its commands are fixed. It does not get any updates.
MySQL has two editions available, MySQL Community Server and MySQL Enterprise Server. SQL has various specialized editions such as web, enterprise, standard, and express.
In MySQL, while performing data backup, the server blocks the database. In SQL, while performing data backup, the server does not block the database.

Why is MySQL the Most Popular Database Creation System?

Databases are a necessary back-end feature of most software applications. Organizations have a lot of choices when selecting a relational database management system (RDBMS) for their projects. There are many factors considered by them while making a choice. MySQL is the most popular database system among developers. There are a lot of reasons behind its popularity. We are discussing some of them here.

1. Easy-to-Use

MySQL is popular among web developers because it is easier to use, learn, set up, and maintain as compared with other database systems. Any developer can easily use it without any previous experience. They can easily download and install it within a few minutes without any difficult configuration. Further, features of MySQL, such as triggers and stored procedures, make it easy for developers to administer it easily.

2. Scalable and Flexible

MySQL can handle large volumes of data easily because of its scalable and flexible features. These features allow the developers to use it in large databases without compromising performance. You can scale MySQL with the growing demands of enterprises in different ways, such as replication, clustering, etc.

3. Security

Security is an important issue in enterprises. Everyone wants to protect data from cyber-attacks. MySQL comes with several security features such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, data masking, and authentication plugins to provide data integrity and consistency. Further, it also provides password encryption and secure transaction features.

4. Large Online Community

MySQL has a large online community support, which is another main reason for its popularity among businesses. A huge number of MySQL developers are available that are giving continuous functionality to this database platform. Further, in almost every big city, MySQL user groups are available. MySQL also offers technical support to businesses.

5. High Availability

The high availability of MySQL makes it popular among businesses and web platforms. Cluster servers and replication configurations of MySQL enable businesses to handle any failure without any interruption. MySQL also ensures that data is not being lost in case of any failure by providing different backup and recovery strategies.

Drawbacks of Using MySQL

MySQL has lots of features and advantages over its competitors. But like other relational database systems, MySQL has some limitations or drawbacks also. Some of these drawbacks have been explained below.

1. MySQL is Not Much Mature

MySQL is not as mature as other relational database systems. MySQL was not developed as RDBMS. The functions of relational database systems are added later in it. That’s why it is less mature than its competitors, such as PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. It also does not support very large databases efficiently as other database systems. Transactions are also not handled properly in MySQL.

2. Less Flexible

MySQL is a less flexible database system than others in the case of database schemas and data models. A few stability issues can occur if data does not match with the defined database schema. If you are using MySQL for large applications, then you have to be careful about the type of data stored in the database. Some other database systems like MongoDB have more dynamic options available for updating schemas.

3. Less Scalable

In MySQL, there are fewer options available for scalability, which leads to poor performance. Vertical scalability or adding read replicas are the only options that you can use in MySQL. Multi-master replication support has been added to MySQL, but its implementation is limited.

4. Not Community Driven

MySQL is not a community-driven database system. It is owned by Oracle Communication, and Oracle does not release test cases for bugs and also does not accept security patches. This drawback of MySQL is causing many open-source developers to migrate to other database systems.

Creating Your First Database in MySQL

A database is used to store information in the form of tables which further consist of rows and columns. We can access, update, and delete this information through the database easily and efficiently. In MySQL, there are mainly two ways to create a database. Let’s discuss them.

1. MySQL Command Line Client

This is the first way to create a database in MySQL. It usually comes with a MySQL server installation pack. We can create a new database in the command line client by using the “CREATE DATABASE” statement. First, you have to run the command-line client. After that, enter your password and then write the following command to create a database.


MySQL server could have multiple databases. So if the database “fruits” already existed in your MySQL server, then you will get an error if you run the above command. That’s why to prevent errors, use the “IF NOT EXISTS” clause with the command. This clause instructs the MySQL server to check the existence of a database. Syntax is:


After the execution of the above statement, MySQL will return a message whether the database has been created or not.

There are some optional parameters also that you can use in the above statement, character set, and collate. MySQL database server supports many character sets. If you don’t use the charset_name parameter in the above statement, then MySQL takes the default character set. Collate is another optional parameter that compares characters in a particular character set. Use the following syntax to create a database with both parameters.


COLLATE latin1_swedish_ci;

MySQL Workbench

This is the second way to create a database in MySQL. It is a popular visual database tool that is used to design, develop, and administer MySQL. It also supports SQL development, data modeling, data migration, and many other things. You have to follow some steps to create a database using MySQL Workbench.

  1. First, launch the MySQL Workbench and open the setup new connection wizard.
  2. Now, enter the username and password to log in.
  3. After login, go to the navigation tab and click on the Schema menu. In the schema menu, you can see all the names of previously created databases.
  4. Right-click under the Schema menu and select the create schema option or click the database icon for creating a new database. Creating a new scheme also means creating a new database.
  5. Now, the new Schema window opens. Enter the schema name, change the character set and collation if you want, and click the Apply button.
  6. Now, a new window, “Apply SQL Script to Database”, appears. Click on the Apply button.
  7. A new window screen appears. Click on the Finish button.
  8. Now, you can see the new database in the Schema menu.


In this article, we have explained all the important features of MySQL along with its history and its popularity among other database systems. We have also explained the steps to create a new database in MySQL. If you want to begin your database journey, then you can easily go with MySQL, as it is an open-source and freely available database system. Further, its features such as compatibility with many operating systems and integration with different programming languages increase its demand among big organizations.

In addition, there are some very popular user-friendly MySQL GUIs available such as Workbench, Sequel Pro, DbVisualizer, etc. You can choose any GUI according to your needs. MySQL security features are also very high. You can also use MySQL in different types of work like embedded applications, content indexing, data warehouses, and many more. In short, data handling is quite an easy task with the help of MySQL. I hope this article gives you a better knowledge of what MySQL is.

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