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Differences Between MySQL, SQL, and PostgreSQL

Choosing a database server is not simple. SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL all offer a way to organize and store data, but each has its own unique benefits. Choosing the one that best meets your needs begins with understanding the differences between these options.

Operating System

Not all database servers can run on every operating system. The Postgres database program can run on any Windows operating system 2000 or older, Macs, Unix, and Linux. If you are running an older version of windows, such as Windows 98, you will need MySQL. SQL Server only runs on Windows XP or any version of Windows 2000 or older.

Installing and Maintaining

Installing and maintaining the database is what you will spend most of your time doing once you download it. The most user-friendly of the three is MySQL. SQL Server is complicated, and PostgreSQL falls somewhere between the two. Regardless, all three will require some training to understand and administer if the person in charge of the organization's databases is new to the technology.


Two of the programs, the Postgres database and the MySQL database, are offered with an open source license. MySQL has a GPL Open Source Commercial license. This means it can be used and modified free of charge as long as it will not be redistributed. PostrgeSQL is more lenient, offering the BSD Open Source license, which basically allows you to do what you wish after downloading the program. SQL Server is not open source, so you will have to pay to use it.


Views in these programs are the filters you use when looking at a table of database. For instance, if you want to see just the last names of the people in the database alongside their phone numbers, you will adjust the view. The three programs vary quite a bit in the way you can use views. SQL Server allows updateable, materialized, and indexable, views. MySQL supports limited updateable views. It does not allow materialized or indexable views. PostgreSQL also supports updateable views, but the designer has to write rules against views in order to update them. 

Features Only Available in PostgreSQL

Of the three, the PostgreSLQ database has more built-in features. For instance, it is the only one of the three that allows dynamic and action SQL in the functions. In other words, you can use action functions when you enter SELECT statements. It is also the only one of the three that supports both functional and partial indexes. Finally, PostgreSQL is the only one of the three that can define custom aggregate functions in C, SQL, PLPgSQL, and any PL language. MySQL and SQL Server can do this, but only in specific languages.

To Pay or Not to Pay?

The main question facing those responsible for choosing a database management program is whether or not it is important to purchase the SQL Server program. SQL Server has some features not available in others, specifically the integration of windowing functions, computed columns capability, and a free graphical view designer. However, for most applications the three programs perform similarly, and MySQL and PostgreSQL are offered without cost, so to the budget-conscience decision maker the choice is not difficult. Be sure to check out our web hosting comparison if you are looking to compare web hosting companies for your server.

Dedicated Hosting Services for Your Database Server

Dedicated sql server hosting is a popular option but be sure to look at the many dedicated hosting services, that offer MySQL, and PostgreSQL as an option since these usually have a cheaper monthly cost associated with them.

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