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Learn about MySQL

About MySQL

If you’ve ever used an online database, there’s a good chance that it was built using MySQL. Zappos, McGraw-Hill, Betterment, YouTube, Netflix, and even NASA use MySQL in their websites. It’s one of the most popular database management systems out there, and for good reason. The fact that it’s open-source is a big plus, as well, because you download and run it for free.

MySQL’s popularity also works to your advantage. Many hosting services support it, so you don’t need to find a specialist host to run your database. There are tons of MySQL developers out there, so you won’t have any trouble finding help to set up, run, and maintain your database. With that large base of skilled professionals around the world you can find a remote DBA and keep costs down by hiring freelancers.

But why should you use MySQL in the first place?

First of all, it was designed with online applications in mind. There are many other database management systems out there that weren’t originally created for offline databases, and that can cause problems if you want your database available to the world. Just about everything is online today, so including online functionality out of the box is very valuable.

Second, MySQL offers significant performance advantages. With a fast storage engine, rapid connection handling, and efficient use of server memory, you aren’t likely to get traffic that stresses the abilities of your database. (Though this can, of course, change based on the type of database you’re running.)

Third is the LAMP stack. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python, and it’s the go-to open-source infrastructure. It keeps costs down, uses systems and languages that interface well, and has a great deal of support. Some of the world’s biggest websites rely on the LAMP stack, and it can help you run an efficient online database, too.

These reasons are enough for a huge number of software-as-a-service, ecommerce, and entertainment websites to use MySQL. That’s a big endorsement. And with solid options for experimentation, scaling, and cross-platform usage, MySQL is a dependable solution for deploying your online databases.

One thing to keep in mind is that MySQL, unlike alternatives like PostgreSQL, isn’t fully SQL-compliant. So if you need your database to interface with SQL databases (or other databases that support the full SQL standard), you might have some issues. This might not be a major concern, but it’s something to keep in mind—and ask your developer about—when you get started.

There are a few other disadvantages of MySQL, as well. Some developers find that it doesn’t scale as well as other systems, especially when you get to very large, enterprise-scale databases, though this may depend on the ratio of read and write actions. It also requires add-ons for some functionalities, like ACID compliance, that other systems have built in. This can add up in development time and cost if you need a lot of extra capabilities.

All in all, MySQL is a great system with which to build an online database, even with its shortcomings. As long as you know where you might run into some snags, choosing MySQL over some of the other database management systems out there is a good option for many businesses.

MySQL FAQ

How are MongoDB and MySQL different?

The main difference is that MongoDB is what’s known as a “NoSQL” database management system. This means that database information is stored differently by MongoDB than by SQL-style databases. (Though some NoSQL databases do support SQL-style queries.)

Why would you choose this type of database over a SQL one? MongoDB specializes in high-write databases (ones that are updated often). It also offers effective scaling solutions and support for very large databases. One of the biggest advantages is that it also maintains high availability.

The MongoDB vs. MySQL question isn’t a straightforward one. As with many other similar decisions, your best bet is to speak with a developer who’s familiar with both to see which can offer you the most benefits.

What is MySQL Workbench?

Workbench is tool for database administrators, developers, and data architects to work with MySQL databases. It provides a visual interface for designing, developing, and interacting with databases. There are also server administration tools, backup options, and a whole lot more. In short, it’s your go-to tool for MySQL DBA.

It’s included with several MySQL editions, so you can use it for free, and it’s available on Linux, Windows, and macOS, so it’s a good tool to have in your arsenal. There are, of course, many other tools for administering your databases, but Workbench is a great place to start.

What are some common MySQL commands?

Like any database management system, MySQL has a large number of commands. But if you just want to do a few simple things, you can use some of these basic ones:

  • create database [databasename] - create a new database on the MySQL server
  • use [databasename] - switch to a database on the server
  • show tables - see a list of the tables in the selected database
  • SELECT * FROM [tablename] - show all data in a table
  • SELECT * FROM [tablename] WHERE [fieldname] = “value” - show all the rows in the table where a field name equals a specific value
  • SELECT * FROM [tablename] WHERE [fieldname1] = “value1” AND [fieldname2] = “value2” - show all cells that satisfy two conditions

These are only the most basic MySQL commands, but they’ll help you get an idea of how the queries work and how you might find specific pieces of data in your table.

To see other useful commands, check out the MySQL documentation tutorial; it walks you through connecting to servers, creating databases, running queries, and other useful commands.