Exploring Database Solutions: MariaDB vs MySQL - Which One is Right for You?

February 23, 2024
20 Mins

Choosing the right database can be challenging, with so many options available in the market. Among these, MySQL and MariaDB are two of the most popular open-source databases widely used by organizations. Although they share similarities in their relational database management structure, certain differences make the choice of MySQL vs. MariaDB relatively tougher.

This article compares the key features of MariaDB and MySQL, highlighting their similarities and differences. By the end, you'll clearly understand which database aligns best with your business requirements.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is a popularly used relational database management system (RDBMS) maintained by Oracle. It provides a structured approach to storing and managing data by organizing it into tables. MySQL enables the database to be accessed using SQL (Structured Query Language) queries. It operates on the client-server architecture, allowing multiple clients to connect to a MySQL server for data access and management. 

Key Features of MySQL:

  • MySQL is a cross-platform RDBMS compatible with various operating systems like Windows, Linux, and macOS, providing flexibility in deployment options.
  • It supports multiple storage engines, allowing you to choose the most suitable one for your specific requirements.
  • MySQL is scalable, meaning it can handle large volumes of data and accommodate growing demands without compromising performance.
  • It supports replication, enabling you to create multiple copies of your database for backup, failover, or load distribution purposes.

What is MariaDB?

MariaDB is an open-source RDBMS that originated as a fork of MySQL. This means it is branched off from the original MySQL codebase to create a separate database system with improved features. MariaDB is designed to maintain high compatibility with MySQL, ensuring that existing MySQL applications can run seamlessly on MariaDB with minimal modifications. 

Key Features of MariaDB:

  • MariaDB supports a wide range of plugins and extensions, enabling you to extend the database functionality according to your requirements.
  • It offers native support for JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data types and functions, allowing you to store, query, and manipulate JSON documents within the database. 
  • MariaDB offers a unique feature called ColumnStore, a storage engine designed specifically for analytical workloads. It allows for faster query execution and better performance when dealing with large datasets.
  • It empowers you to create virtual columns that automatically calculate values based on other data in the database. This makes it easier to work with complex datasets.

MySQL vs MariaDB: Similarities

As MariaDB originated from MySQL, there are several striking similarities between these two DBMS. Here is a detailed list of the essential similarities:

SQL Support: Both MariaDB and MySQL use SQL, enabling you to write queries and interact with the databases. Most SQL commands, data types, and functions are identical in both systems.

Data Storage Structure: In both MariaDB and MySQL, data is stored in tables comprising rows and columns. This structured format enables efficient organization and retrieval of data, making it easier to manage large datasets.

ACID Compliance: The reliability of database transactions relies on four core principles known as ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability). Both MySQL and MariaDB are committed to upholding these principles. By adhering to ACID, both databases ensure the accuracy and integrity of data.

Open Source: Both databases are open-source, which means you can freely access, modify, and distribute the source code.

Client-Server Architecture: MariaDB and MySQL share a client-server architecture, where multiple clients connect to the database server to access and modify data. This architecture allows for concurrent access to the database and ensures data consistency.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Key Differences

Here's a comprehensive comparison between MariaDB and MySQL, highlighting key differences:

MariaDB vs MySQL: JSON Data Handling

Both MariaDB and MySQL support the storage and retrieval of JSON data, but their underlying mechanisms for storing JSON data differ. In MariaDB, JSON data is stored as strings, while MySQL stores JSON data as binary objects.

Furthermore, the support for JSON functions varies between the two databases. MariaDB offers JSON_QUERY and JSON_EXISTS functions, which are not available in MySQL. Conversely, MySQL supports the native JSON data type JSON_TABLE, which MariaDB does not provide.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Thread Pooling

Thread pooling enables a database to efficiently manage resources by matching new connections with existing threads. A high thread pool capacity is crucial for applications that require scaling and accommodating many users simultaneously. The MariaDB community edition includes a thread pool that effectively manages over 200,000 connections. This is ideal for scalable applications with high concurrent usage. 

In contrast, MySQL offers a thread pool plugin exclusively in its enterprise version. However, its concurrency capacity is limited compared to MariaDB, as it cannot support as many connections.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Encryption

Encryption capabilities are crucial for meeting compliance standards and ensuring the security of stored data. MariaDB and MySQL offer extensive encryption options to protect data during transmission and at rest. However, there are certain differences in the encryption capabilities of MariaDB and MySQL. 

MySQL provides authentication for configuration and encrypts redo/undo logs. It does not, however, encrypt temporary tablespace or binary logs. In contrast, MariaDB offers encryption for both temporary tables and binary logs.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Analytics Capabilities

MariaDB provides a dedicated analytics solution called ColumnStore, which is tailored to efficiently handle the processing and analysis of extensive datasets. It leverages columnar storage and parallel query execution, allowing faster data retrieval.

On the flip side, MySQL does not offer an equivalent built-in analytics solution. While MySQL can handle basic analytics tasks, it may need to be more optimized and efficient when dealing with more advanced analytics workloads.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Database Views

Database views provide a significant performance optimization by acting as virtual database tables that can be queried like regular tables. However, it is important to note that there is a difference in how MySQL and MariaDB handle querying views, particularly when it comes to optimizing performance.

In MySQL, when you query a view, the database engine will typically access and query all tables connected to the view. This happens regardless of whether the query requires data from all those tables, resulting in unnecessary overhead. However, MariaDB has optimized this process so queries only target the necessary tables. This reduces the overall workload on the database, resulting in improved performance and response times.

MariaDB vs MySQL: Choosing the Right Database

Now that you're familiar with MySQL and MariaDB databases and their differences, you may be wondering which one to choose. However, the decision ultimately relies on your specific preferences and requirements. Let’s explore the key factors to be taken into consideration in choosing the right database.

Performance: It is a critical factor when deciding on a database. MySQL prioritizes stability and robustness, while MariaDB focuses on performance optimizations with features like parallel and multi-source replication. Assessing your performance needs and conducting benchmark tests with your specific workload can help determine which database better suits your use case.

Licensing and Cost: Consider the licensing terms and associated costs for MySQL and MariaDB. Determine whether you prefer the open-source licensing model of MariaDB or if you require features exclusive to commercial editions of MySQL. 

Scalability: Assess the scalability of both databases based on your anticipated workload. Look into factors like query performance, concurrency handling, and resource utilization. Consider whether you require high levels of scalability and how each database accommodates growth over time.

Community and Support: Examine the level of community support and available resources for MySQL and MariaDB. Evaluate the quality of documentation and user communities. Additionally, consider the availability of commercial support options if you require professional assistance or enterprise-level support services.

Move Data to MySQL or MariaDB using Airbyte

Whether you choose MySQL or MariaDB, consolidating data from various sources into your desired target can be challenging. You may also need to move data to or from MySQL or MariaDB, connecting them with other data warehouses, depending on your needs. This is where a data integration and replication platform like Airbyte can help.

Airbyte provides a robust and user-friendly platform to simplify and streamline the entire process of data consolidation. It offers an extensive catalog of over 350 pre-built connectors, including MySQL, making data migration to your target system smooth and efficient. With these connectors, you can easily set up the connections between your data sources without coding expertise.

Here are the key features of Airbyte:

Connector Development Kit (CDK): Even if you don't find a connector for a specific source or destination, you can create a custom connector using the Connector Development Kit (CDK). By leveraging this kit, you can easily build custom ones tailored to your requirements within 30 minutes.

Change Data Capture (CDC): Airbyte also provides Change Data Capture (CDC) capabilities, allowing you to capture and synchronize changes made to your data at the source with the destination. This ensures that your data is accurate and consistent.

Wrapping Up

This article thoroughly analyzes two prominent database technologies—MariaDB vs. MySQL. It delves into the features of both databases and outlines parameters for evaluating each. Ultimately, the decision between MySQL and MariaDB depends on your business objectives.

MySQL offers significant advantages due to its extensive market experience spanning over 26 years and regular updates from Oracle Corporation. However, if performance and efficiency are key priorities, MariaDB should be your favorable alternative.

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