MySQL vs. MariaDB vs. PostgreSQL – Which One is Better?

Santosh Karla | 6 min read

If you are a technology leader or a software programmer, then at some point, you have come across the term SQL database. While going through various sources about SQL databases, choosing the right database for a particular situation demands a lot of research and knowledge about them.

MariaDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL are prominent open-source databases commonly used by businesses to store their data. These high-performance SQL database systems offer various features and functionalities depending on the customer’s requirement. Each database is developed with advanced tools, drivers, and support for multiple database engines, contributing to their popularity among newbies and experienced professionals.

This article provides a brief overview of MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL while highlighting the essential features and capabilities of each one.

MariaDB

MariaDB is an open-source relational database (DBMS). It is one of the most compatible replacements for widely used MySQL database technology. MariaDB was devised when Oracle acquired MySQL in 2009; it is based on Structured Query Language and supports ACID.

MariaDB is based on SQL and supports ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability) style data. MariaDB also supports parallel data replication, JSON APIs, multiple storage engines like MyRocks, InnoDB, Spider, TokuDB, Aria, Cassandra, and MariaDB ColumnStore.

However, there are some compatibility issues with the corresponding versions of databases like in version 10.1 and above; MariaDB stores JSON data in a different format than MySQL 5.7 does. To recompose the user replicating the columns of JSON objects from MySQL to MariaDB, they either have to convert them to the format used by MySQL or run the replication jobs via SQL.

They offer a commercial version on a subscription basis; the model additionally provides complementary products and a set of training, migration services, and remote management. The MariaDB foundation maintains its database’s source code, a body formed in 2012 to preserve and protect software’s open-source nature.

The best feature of MariaDB is that it focuses on high-level security; after the initial 5.5 version, the next version starts at 10. This version consists of multiple extensive features, while the current version is 10.2.

MySQL

Like MariaDB, MySQL is also an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Mainly the function of a relational database is to organize data into one or many data tables where data types may be related to each other, and these relations help structure the data.

SQL is the language programmers use to create, extract and modify data from relational databases and control the user access to the database. MySQL works with an operating system to implement a relational database in a computer’s storage system, manage users, allow network access and enable testing database integrity and create backups. It uses the standard SQL commands like INSERT, ADD, DROP and UPDATE, etc., and the purpose of MySQL is e-commerce, data warehouse, and logging applications.

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL again is an open-source object-relational database management system (DBMS). Interestingly it is not controlled by a single entity, company, or individual; hence the source code is free. PostgreSQL database is known for reliability, accuracy, and data integrity and is used to store the data securely. PostgreSQL is cross-platform and runs on various operating systems like Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X. PostgreSQL handles complex queries, triggers, foreign keys, updatable views, and transactional integrity.

Major differences between MariaDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL

MariaDB and MySQL have a lot in common, yet they are still quite different; both are open-source relational database management system that offers data processing for all types of enterprise. Whereas PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system.

PostgreSQL was released in 1989, while MySQL and MariaDB were released in 1995 and 2009, respectively. MariaDB supports the standard extensions, and with PostgreSQL, the standards are built-in. MySQL does not support nonstandard extensions.

Engine Ranking and Management Ranking Scores

Ranking MariaDB MySQL PostgreSQL
Engine Ranking 102.59 1219.77 586.97
Overall Ranking 12 2 4
Ranking MariaDB
Engine Ranking 102.59
Overall Ranking 12
Ranking MySQL
Engine Ranking 1219.77
Overall Ranking 2
Ranking PostgreSQL
Engine Ranking 586.97
Overall Ranking 4

Source: https://db-engines.com/en/ranking

All three databases support XML and data schemes. While both MySQL and MariaDB support several APIs and various access methods like JDBC, ADO.NET, and ODBC, etc. PostgreSQL not only supports several APIs and other access methods like ADO.NET, JDBC, and ODBC, but it also supports the native C library and enables the streaming API for large objects.

All three databases are fully ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability) compliant with no platform differences. While PostgreSQL has better data integrity, it ensures that data is valid before it is inserted or updated. In contrast, with MySQL and MariaDB, you need a server in a strict SQL mode to adjust the values before they are inserted and updated.

Methods of portioning

MariaDB supports portioning methods like sharding with Spider storage engines or Galera cluster and horizontal portioning. MySQL, however, supports horizontal portioning and MySQL Cluster or MySQL Fabric. PostgreSQL does not support portioning methods but uses table inheritance.

The Replication Method –

Both MySQL and MariaDB support replication methods like Master-to-Master replication and Master-to-Slave replication/ Whereas PostgreSQL only supports the Master to Slave replication method. All three databases support data durability and concurrency. MariaDB and MySQL have additional features like the concept of memory capability, but PostgreSQL does not support the concept of memory capability.

Business Intelligence –

MariaDB and MySQL both work better with BI (Business Intelligence) applications, and they are reliable. While PostgreSQL also works better with BI applications, it requires data analysis and data warehousing applications to read and write quickly.

Performance –

MariaDB and MySQL work well within performance like plug and play systems, but when it comes to MySQL, it does not work well under heavy loads or when attempting to complete complex queries. In terms of performance, PostgreSQL works better within systems and executes complex queries with ease.

OLAP and OLTP –

MySQL and MariaDB perform very well in OLAP/OLTP systems but with a condition of only read speed. In contrast, PostgreSQL performs well in OLTP/OLAP systems, but very extensive data analysis is required for reading and write speeds.

Concepts –

MariaDB supports user concepts like pluggable authentication and user roles. While MySQL supports user concepts like authorization concept and PostgreSQL supports fine access rights according to SQL standards.

Operating Systems –

MySQL supports operating systems like Linux OS, Windows, Solaris, and FreeBSD.

MariaDB supports operating systems like Linux, Windows, Solaris, and FreeBSD.

PostgreSQL supports Linux, HP-UX, OpenBSD, NetBSD and FreeBSD.

Features

These three databases support all the basic SQL operations, but there are many variabilities when it comes to advanced features. For example, PostgreSQL supports materialized views, whereas MySQL doesn’t.

Here’s a feature comparison table for all three databases.

Features PostgreSQL MySQL MariaDB
Materialized Views
Partial Indexes
Array Data Type
JSON Data Type
CHECK constraints (from version 10.2.1)
Replication
Full-Text Search
UPSERT
Common Table
Expressions
Sequences
Features PostgreSQL
Materialized Views
Partial Indexes
Array Data Type
JSON Data Type
CHECK constraints (from version 10.2.1)
Replication
Full-Text Search
UPSERT
Common Table
Expressions
Sequences
Features MySQL
Materialized Views
Partial Indexes
Array Data Type
JSON Data Type
CHECK constraints (from version 10.2.1)
Replication
Full-Text Search
UPSERT
Common Table
Expressions
Sequences
Features MariaDB
Materialized Views
Partial Indexes
Array Data Type
JSON Data Type
CHECK constraints (from version 10.2.1)
Replication
Full-Text Search
UPSERT
Common Table
Expressions
Sequences

To conclude, your decision on the choice of database majorly depends on your business requirements.

For example, if you are looking for hosting and support options, we would suggest MySQL or MariaDB. If your application works with geographic information, then the PostGIS extension should be your choice. I hope this article and the information it contains will help you identify your unique business needs and help you choose an appropriate database for your applications.

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