What’s the difference between SQL and MySQL?

SQL is a programming language you can use to store and process information in a relational database. MySQL is the most widely adopted open-source relational database. It serves as the primary relational data store for many popular websites, applications, and commercial products. Both technologies work together so that you can store and process data in structured tables with rows and columns. MySQL is the underlying technology that stores the data, while SQL is the language you use to read, modify, and delete that data. Several relational database management systems use SQL, including Microsoft SQL Server, which is also very popular. The terms SQL and SQL Server are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two very different technologies.

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What are the similarities between SQL and MySQL?

MySQL and SQL are similar only in name and in that they’re both used in relational database systems. A relational database stores information in rows and series of tables, which means you can query them efficiently. 

Both SQL and MySQL have been around for decades. In the 1970s, Edgar Frank Codd published a paper called “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks.” From this paper, Raymond Boyce and Donald Chamberlin created SQL. In 1995, Monty Widenius co-created MySQL, naming it after his daughter My.

SQL and MySQL are still frequently used in data management and within relational database management systems today.

Key differences: SQL vs. MySQL

While MySQL and SQL are used in relational database management systems, they serve different functions. 

What they are

SQL is a programming language that you can use to query and process information in a relational database. You can use SQL to add, update, or retrieve data within a database. In 1986, the American National Standards Institute made SQL the official standard for relational databases. The International Organization for Standardization followed in 1987.

In contrast, MySQL is a relational database management system. As a relational database management system, you can use MySQL to store and manage data using tables. You can create tables and define relationships between them. You can also use multiple techniques—like indexes, transactions, and normalization—to store and retrieve data while maintaining consistency and accuracy. 

How they work

SQL implementation involves a server machine that processes the database queries and returns the results. Your SQL query goes through several software components, including the following:

  • A parser tokenizes the SQL query statement and checks it for accuracy
  • A relational engine plans the best way to run the query
  • A database engine performs the physical storage operations

The default database engine in SQL is Microsoft SQL Server, owned and maintained by Microsoft.

In contrast, MySQL has several more software components for data management and storage optimization. MySQL components include the SQL parser and relational engine. However, the database engine in MySQL is InnoDB, owned and maintained by Oracle. 

Key differences: SQL Server vs. MySQL

While both are database management tools, there are several differences between Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

Platform support

MySQL and SQL Server both support different platforms.

SQL Server supports many platforms, but not nearly the same quantity as MySQL. SQL Server primarily supports Windows, with cloud deployment options for Linux and macOS via Docker.

MySQL supports more platforms than SQL Server. You can install MySQL on most operating systems, including Linux, macOS, Windows, Oracle Solaris, OpenBSD, and HP-UX.

Programming language support

These are some programming languages that SQL Server supports: C++, Java, Python, PHP, Go, Ruby, and Delphi.

MySQL supports the languages that SQL Server does and more, including Perl, Haskel, and TCL. Part of the appeal of MySQL is that it supports so many programming languages. This makes it a flexible choice for developers to use.


As they are both relational database management systems, MySQL and SQL Server offer many of the same features. They are both high-performing and can manage projects of varying sizes. Equally, they can host multiple databases on a single server and use indexes to sort data and optimize performance. However, there are some features that MySQL has that SQL Server does not, and the opposite is also true.

For example, you can use SQL Server to filter through multiple tables without performing individual searches. You can also stop a query without stopping the backup process.

With MySQL, you would have to run various statements, as you can only filter on an individual database level. With MySQL, you must also stop the entire process to cancel a query execution. 


When you increase the number of rows in SQL Server, there isn’t much increase in response time. That is why most developers consider SQL Server a highly scalable technology.  In its paid version, SQL Server has a number of features that help it scale more effectively. These features include compression, advanced partitioning, and in-memory technology.

When the number of data rows increases in MySQL, you also experience an increase in the time it takes to do things.


MySQL and SQL Server are both high-performance relational database management systems. You should consider both databases as powerful, scalable, and reliable.

SQL Server offers query optimizer and columnstore indexes to optimize performance. As you increase database workloads, SQL Server typically performs slightly better than MySQL.

MySQL uses connection pooling and query caching to optimize performance.

Query language and syntax 

SQL Server and MySQL both use SQL to query the database. You can use SQL commands and SQL statements to interact with them. This is the standard language for managing relational databases. However, MySQL and SQL Server differ slightly in syntax, including for the create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) commands.

SQL Server uses INSERT to add new data to a table. To delete data, SQL Server uses SELECT FROM and DELETE FROM. SQL Server uses double quotes to enclose tables.

MySQL uses INSERT INTO to add new data to a table. To delete data, MySQL uses SELECT and DELETE. MySQL uses backticks to enclose tables.

Connectors and integration support

The connectors and integrations that SQL Server offers work better with other Microsoft products. For example, it offers Microsoft ADO.NET, ODBC Driver, and JDBC Driver. You can also connect to Azure Data Studio and other Microsoft-based products. 

MySQL starts with MySQL Workbench, which you can use to design and create databases. As an open-source tool, it also comes with several additional APIs and connectors that you can use.

Product support & documentation

Both SQL Server and MySQL are mature technologies. So, there’s a lot of documentation online that you can find and read.

SQL Server is Microsoft’s proprietary software, which means you have to pay to use it in most cases.

MySQL is open source and is under the General Public License, version 2. While you can pay for additional support, most MySQL versions are free.

Security Features

SQL Server and MySQL both have a range of security features that protect against data breaches, unauthorized access, and similar major security threats.

With SQL Server, you can’t access files during run time. Additionally, SQL Server has a range of other features that restrict unauthorized user access, like role-based access control. SQL Server also provides row-level security to protect sensitive data and dynamic data masking.

They are binary collections, but developers can use MySQL to manipulate databases while they’re running. Because of this, you can consider MySQL as less secure than SQL Server

Summary of differences: SQL vs. MySQL




Stands for

SQL stands for structured query language and is a programming language.

The “My” of MySQL is the name of the co-creator’s daughter, My. MySQL is a relational database management system.

Used for

You use SQL to interact with, add to, manipulate, and change databases.

As a relational database management system, you use MySQL to create tables for storing related data.

Update frequency

SQL is rarely updated. 

MySQL has regular updates.

Wider usage

You can use SQL with other relational databases.

MySQL is an example of the underlying technology that stores data. You could use a different relational database management system instead.

Summary of differences: MySQL vs. SQL Server



SQL Server

What is it?

Open-source relational database management system by Oracle.

Proprietary relational database management system by Microsoft.

Platform support

MySQL supports more platforms than SQL Server.

Microsoft SQL Server supports fewer platforms than MySQL.

Programming language support

MySQL supports more programming languages than SQL Server, like Perl and Haskel.

SQL Server supports fewer programming languages than MySQL.


MySQL has a wider range of third-party connectors and integrations. 

SQL Server allows you to filter across multiple databases at once. You can also stop a query without ending an entire process.


MySQL has features that make it scalable, but not to the same extent as SQL Server.

SQL Server uses compression, advanced partitioning, and in-memory technology to provide a highly scalable environment.


MySQL uses connection pooling and query caching to provide high performance. 

SQL Server responds better than MySQL when performing in a scaled environment.

Query language and syntax

MySQL uses SQL as a query language and uses backticks in its syntax.

SQL Server uses SQL as a query language and uses double quotes in its syntax.

Connectors and integrations

MySQL has more integrations than SQL Server.

SQL Server has more Microsoft product integrations.

Product support and documentation

MySQL is open source.

SQL Server is proprietary software and has a cost.

Security features

With MySQL, you can edit databases at run time.

With SQL Server, you can’t edit or access files at run time.

How can AWS support your SQL and MySQL requirements?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has many offerings to support your SQL and MySQL requirements.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a collection of fully managed services that make it easy to set up, operate, and scale relational databases in the cloud. Amazon RDS supports seven popular engines, two of which are SQL Server and MySQL.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for SQL Server supports Enterprise, Standard Edition, Web, and Express Editions for SQL Server versions 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MySQL supports MySQL Community Edition versions 5.7 and 8.0.

You can also choose the cloud-centered solution Amazon Redshift instead of SQL Server or MySQL. It uses SQL to analyze structured and semi-structured data across data warehouses, operational databases, and data lakes. Amazon Redshift uses AWS-designed hardware and machine learning to deliver the best price-performance at any scale.

Here are ways you can benefit from using Amazon Redshift:

  • Break down data silos and gain real-time insight into all your data
  • Gain up to five times the performance against any other cloud data warehouse
  • Get data insight in seconds, without worrying about data infrastructure management

Get started with MySQL and SQL Server on AWS by creating an account today.