PostgreSQL vs MySQL: 10 Key Differences

May 15, 2024

PostgreSQL vs MySQL 10 Key Differences

If you are in the midst of choosing a database management system (DBMS), you have two top options: PostgreSQL and MySQL.

Both databases are open-source and have a large user base, making them popular choices for many web applications.

But which one is better for your specific needs?

In this article, we will compare PostgreSQL and MySQL based on several factors to help you make an informed decision.

MySQL Database

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at MySQL.

MySQL is an open-source relational database management systems (RDBMS) made by Oracle. It’s designed to help users efficiently store, manage, and pull up structured data. Boasting its versatility, MySQL is being used for everything from small projects to big websites and even massive company solutions.

Data gets neatly stored in tables, making it a breeze to do CRUD operations (Create, Read, Update, and Delete). It’s the go-to DBMS for heavy hitters like Facebook, Netflix, Shopify, Uber, and others who need to handle a ton of data.

Why choose MySQL?

MySQL is a go-to choice for companies when it comes to software as a service. If you’re looking for reasons why, here are a few of them:

  • Easy to use: Within 30 minutes of starting MySQL’s easy setup, you can modify the source code to fit your needs.
  • Scalable: MySQL is known for its scalability, which allows it to manage large databases efficiently with a minimal footprint.
  • 24/7 uptime: Companies using MySQL can run their services 24/7 without fail, making it a reliable option for high-demand applications.

PostgreSQL Database

Now, we look at PostgreSQL, another popular open-source RDBMS.

PostgreSQL, or “Postgres” for short, kicked off back in 1986 at the Berkeley Computer Science Department, University of California. It’s an object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) that’s packed with powerful features and really nails standards compliance.

Postgres is known for its rich features, flexibility, and reliability, making it a favorite for various applications. Numerous companies, including Apple, Fujitsu, Red Hat, Cisco, Juniper Network, and Instagram, have developed products using PostgreSQL.

It’s common use cases are:

  • LAPP Stack Database
  • Transaction Database
  • Geospatial Database

Why choose PostgreSQL?

Among the relational databases, PostgreSQL has been gaining popularity over the years due to several factors, including:

  • Multi-version Concurrency Control (MVCC) model: PostgreSQL uses this model, allowing many users to access the same database without locking it down for others.
  • Supports SQL (relational) and JSON (non-relational) querying: PostgreSQL enables you to query data in structured and unstructured formats, making it incredibly versatile.
  • Data integrity and protection: PostgreSQL has built-in features that ensure data integrity and prevent data loss.
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Key Differences of PostgreSQL vs MySQL

While PostgreSQL and MySQL are both structured query language (SQL) databases, there are some key differences between the two.

Here are some primary key differences between the two:


The popularity of PostgreSQL and MySQL is soaring thanks to the cloud, which makes things easier to set up.

In 2023, PostgreSQL was awarded the Database Management System of the Year by DB-Engines.

While PostgreSQL is the go-to for professional developers, learners are still big on MySQL, with 45% preferring it over PostgreSQL.

Either way, it’s a win-win for both databases.

Data types

MySQL and PostgreSQL both handle a bunch of data types, from the simple to the more complex ones.

MySQL supports various data types for different applications, including Integers, Characters or Strings, Dates with Timestamps and Time Zones, Boolean, Float, Decimal, Large Text, and BLOB for binary data (like images). However, it doesn’t support geometric data types.

On the other hand, PostgreSQL supports traditional SQL data types (e.g., Numeric, Strings, Date, Decimal) and unstructured types (e.g., JSON, XML, HSTORE), network data types, bit strings, etc. It stands out by supporting ARRAYs, NETWORK types, and Geometric data types for spatial data, thanks to the PostGIS extension, an open-source extension for advanced spatial functions.

See the complete details here.


MySQL’s community edition uses the GPL license, which is pretty open.

On the other hand, Postgres goes with the PostgreSQL license—it’s liberal, kind of like BSD or MIT licenses.

Despite MySQL being all about GPL, some users worry since Oracle owns it. That’s actually why MariaDB was created as a sort of branch-off from MySQL. Oracle still owns MySQL, but the community rallies behind MariaDB.

PostgreSQL has been free to use and distribute since its inception. It’s never been owned by any enterprise company unless you count the 1986 Berkeley Computer Science Department as a company.


MySQL uses a proprietary SQL database language, which is straightforward to learn and implement.

In contrast, PostgreSQL uses the standard SQL dialect that beginners may struggle with at first but will reward them in the long run since they’ll have a solid foundation for other databases like Oracle, SQL Server, and others.

MySQL faster quote

Database performance

MySQL performs better with simple SQL queries, while PostgreSQL excels at complex ones. However, for most workloads, Postgres and MySQL have similar performance, with up to 30% variation. Regardless of the database, missing an index can degrade query performance by 10x to 1000x.

MySQL has always been faster than PostgreSQL due to the way it implements data structures and locks tables, which usually leads to performance issues when dealing with large databases.

However, with its advanced indexing functionality and MVCC model for concurrency control, PostgreSQL can outperform MySQL on complex queries and large datasets.


MySQL and PostgreSQL both have excellent security features. They both support RBAC.

They also support secure connections through SSL, advanced authentication methods like Kerberos and LDAP, and encryption at the column level.

However, PostgreSQL has a slight edge over MySQL in terms of security. It uses its client authentication system to perform user authentication, while MySQL relies on the host operating system for this task, which can be more vulnerable.


MySQL is a relational database, while PostgreSQL is an object-relational database with advanced data types and inheritance for objects. However, this complexity can make PostgreSQL more challenging to use.

PostgreSQL comes with one ACID-compliant storage engine, while MySQL gives you options with 15 different storage engines beyond its default storage engine, InnoDB. This huge selection means you can easily find one that fits your specific needs.

PostgreSQL creates a new system process for every client connection, using a lot of memory for multiple connections. In contrast, MySQL uses a single process and a single thread per connection, making it better for smaller applications.


Data storage is essential for any database. PostgreSQL and MySQL offer various data storage options, including Tables and Indexes on disk. This section looks at two storage options: common storage and pluggable storage.

PostgreSQL supports tablespaces for storing Tables, Indexes, and Materialized Views in various locations, improving I/O efficiency. However, it doesn’t offer pluggable storage engines yet. Many necessary updates for this feature could be included in Postgres 17, enabling new engines like OrioleDB to be added easily as extensions. This could lead to support for multiple storage engines, similar to MySQL’s capability.

MySQL also uses tablespaces (within the InnoDB engine) for efficient I/O distribution by grouping physical objects. Unlike PostgreSQL, MySQL supports pluggable storage engines, enabling it to meet specific needs to store data for different applications, such as OLTP and Data Warehousing.


MySQL supports primary-replica and multi-replica replication, copying data changes from the primary to replicas using SQL. This asynchronous replication could affect performance and scalability.

MySQL replication allows replicas to manage reads and writes, ensuring continuity after a primary crash. However, syncing changes when transitioning a replica back to primary can slow the process, particularly with lengthy SQL operations.

MySQL also offers NDB cluster for multi-primary replication in high-transaction environments, but it requires careful implementation to avoid performance and latency issues.

PostgreSQL replication uses WAL files for fast, reliable, and manageable replication, outperforming MySQL’s. It supports primary-replica and multi-replica setups, including cascading replication, with options for synchronous or asynchronous modes. Asynchronous allows for read requests on replicas, while synchronous replication ensures consistency across replicas and the primary but slows down transaction commits.

For table-level replication, PostgreSQL can use external tools like Slony, Bucardo, Londiste, and RubyRep for trigger-based replication. However, its logical replication streamlines table-level replication through WAL records, avoiding trigger complexities. Logical replication, first introduced via the pglogical extension, has been part of PostgreSQL since version 10.

Community support

PostgreSQL and MySQL are both open-source databases, which means that they have a large community of developers who contribute to their development. However, the size of the community differs for these two databases.

MySQL has been around since 1995, making it one of the oldest relational databases in existence. Due to its early adoption and widespread use by major companies like Facebook and Google, MySQL has a significantly larger community compared to PostgreSQL.

PostgreSQL, on the other hand, has gained popularity in recent years due to its advanced features and robustness. With the increasing use of PostgreSQL by major companies like Apple and Netflix, its community is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

Get Web Development from StarTechUP!

Before starting your project, consider which database system meets your needs. PostgreSQL is favored for enterprise applications because of its advanced features and reliability. In contrast, MySQL better suits smaller-scale web applications.

At StarTechUP, we offer expert web development services using both PostgreSQL and MySQL databases. Our experienced developers can help you choose the right database for your project and ensure its seamless integration into your web application.

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About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin