MySQL vs. SQL Server | Compare Relational Databases

Thalia Barrera
9 min read

Before choosing a robust relational database management system, understand the MySQL vs. SQL Server comparison and what differentiates the two.

In the domain of relational database management systems (RDBMS), MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) stand out as prominent choices. While both systems share some similarities, their distinct differences require careful consideration. It is especially important when you want to understand which system is ideal for your organization’s requirements. This article will plunge into the MySQL vs. SQL Server comparison, helping you understand their major differences.

What are Relational Database Management Systems?

Before commencing the MySQL vs. SQL Server differences, it is crucial to understand the primary technology that drives both of them.

Relational database management systems are a powerful software class of database systems that help in storing, managing, and modifying structured data. This model organizes your data into tables with rows and columns. In each row, a record or an instance of an entity is stored. Each column represents the attributes or properties of the entity. RDBMS has an essential feature of establishing relationships between tables through primary and foreign keys.

To interact and retrieve data from the RDBMS, you must employ the standardized language, Structured Query Language (SQL). The primary components of this language consist of data definition statements and data manipulation statements.

Most organizations prefer using RDBMS because raw data is organized and stored in a comprehensible format. You can even control access to the data and automate backups to keep your data secure.

Overview of MySQL Database


Known for being user-friendly and cost-effective, MySQL is an open-source RDBMS owned by the Oracle Corporation. Widely used for big data management and analysis, MySQL is extensively used in web applications, content management systems, and the development of online platforms.

For developers, MySQL is a versatile choice as it is compatible with multiple operating systems. You also receive support for diverse programming languages like Python, Java, and PHP. When it comes to business organizations, MySQL offers essential features like data integrity, scalability, and high security. It supports views, stored procedures, and triggers, facilitating the development of efficient database solutions.

MySQL comes with an expansive ecosystem of tools, libraries, and resources. Since it has an open source nature, there is a vast community that regularly contributes to enhancing the platform. Not only commercial but also free MySQL editions are available, contributing to the further widespread adoption of this RDBMS.

MS SQL Server

SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server is a robust RDBMS developed by Microsoft. Driven by SQL, SQL Server provides you with an array of features. Some of these include support for complex data type requirements, transaction control, advanced indexing, data warehousing, and diverse security options.

Microsoft also provides a suite of complementary tools:

  • SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)
  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

These tools enhance user experience and boost the data management, analysis, and reporting capabilities of businesses.

MS SQL offers various editions to cater to a wide range of requirements. A free Express Edition and a comprehensive Enterprise Edition with distinct performance capabilities exist. Today, SQL Server has found its mark with diverse applications spanning web, mobile, and desktop platforms for its efficient data storage, management, and retrieval abilities.

SQL Server vs. MySQL Differences

You may have heard the terms MySQL and SQL Server being used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that each database system is quite distinct from the other. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that differentiate both.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Compatibility With Platforms

MySQL is known for its excellent compatibility across various operating systems (OS). It is a part of the LAMP stack, which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Developers usually prefer using MySQL on Linux, but comprehensive support is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and other Unix-based OS.

SQL Server was originally designed for Windows as it is owned by Microsoft. In the initial years of this RDBMs development, the primary focus was on a single operating system. However, Microsoft has now made significant strides in embracing the open source community. Recent versions of SQL Server can now run on Linux. For Mac OS, SQL Server will require an additional software, Docker. It will only run within the Docker container.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Programming Languages and Tools

MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server are examples of a SQL database that employs SQL to manage their schema and data. Both support whichever programming language you prefer:

  • C#
  • C++
  • Java
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • R
  • Delphi
  • Visual Basic

However, the SQL Server vs. MySQL difference lies in how SQL Server introduces a mechanism that enables the .NET languages. Microsoft has developed the ADO.NET library, which is specifically tailored for SQL Server. Thus, you can get streamlined database access and services for .NET-based applications.

When it comes to Integrated Development Environment tools, the MySQL vs. SQL Server differences widen. MySQL Workbench is the official IDE tool for MySQL developers and users. Other tools include dbForge IDE for MySQL, Navicat, and phpMyAdmin. The official IDE tool for SQL Server is the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). Other popular tools you can use with Microsoft SQL Server include dbForge IDE for SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Data Studio.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Performance

Efficient database performance is crucial for software applications. Any lag in database response time can slow down the entire system, massively affecting the users’ operations and experience.

Both MySQL and SQL Server boast extensive scaling and performance capabilities. The SQL Server vs. MySQL difference lies in terms of response time. SQL Server delivers swift and efficient performance across Windows and Linux.

Whether you have an on-premises data warehouse or a cloud data warehouse, SQL Server has been shown to provide more seamless database upgrades and modernized tools. TempDB, a system database, is leveraged by SQL Server to optimize memory performance by storing temporary data.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Data Filtering and Query Execution

One of the critical factors in the MySQL vs. SQL Server comparison is how each platform handles query execution and filtering data.

In MySQL, once a query starts running, you cannot stop the query midway. If you want to cancel even a part of the query, the entire sequence will stop working. However, with SQL Server, you get the advantage of stopping the query midway without disrupting the whole process.

Stopping query execution is a significant differentiating factor for developers who may spot inconsistencies in their codes and need to stop some queries during execution.

To filter data for better analysis, MySQL provides you with multiple methods to filter the tables and rows. But when you need to filter data across multiple databases, you must execute separate queries for each database. Conversely, with SQL Server, you can filter rows across multiple databases with a single unified query.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Storage and Backup

When it comes to MySQL vs. SQL Server storage comparison, MySQL has the upper hand because it provides multiple storage engines. The two widely used options are the InnoDB storage engine and the MyISAM storage engines. You can also select various other storage engines, such as Blackhole, NDB, CSV tables, and more, per your requirements.

SQL Server employs a single storage engine designed by Microsoft. The SQL Server Database Engine is the fundamental service that stores, manages, and secures your data. A single computer can support up to 50 instances of the Database Engine.

When you look at the MySQL vs. SQL Server data backup comparison, you will see that MySQL has a feature that locks the database during backup. While the backup is in progress, you will not be able to access or modify your data. But with SQL Server, you can continue working with the database and executing queries while the backup process runs.

SQL Server vs. MySQL: Security Features

MySQL and SQL Server comply with the EC2 standards for cloud computing security. However, the MySQL vs. SQL Server security difference lies in handling database access.

In MySQL, you can access and alter database files during runtime with the use of binaries. This feature does not hinder the work of other simultaneously running processes. MySQL also provides Access Control Lists (ACLs) for all connections, queries, and operations users can perform.

In contrast, SQL Server prevents users from accessing and modifying database files when running. By preventing direct access, SQL Server can identify and rectify security gaps, ensuring your data is protected from potential hacking.

How to Move Data from Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) to MS SQL Server with Airbyte

The Final Word

After reaching the end of the MySQL vs. SQL Server comparison, you must have noticed how both systems possess respective strengths and areas of specialization. SQL Server integrates seamlessly within the Microsoft ecosystem, offering large-scale organizations with secure and scalable database servers. On the other hand, MySQL offers versatility and efficiency, making it popular with web-based applications and diverse development environments. If you're eager to expand your knowledge, delve into our tutorial on SQL Data Cleaning for comprehensive insights.

A great way to enhance the functionality of MySQL and SQL Server databases is by using additional connector tools. Airbyte has the most extensive catalog of connectors, thereby simplifying the process of establishing a connection with the database of your choice. You can even build a custom connector for your relational database and efficiently perform operations on your data. Try Airbyte Cloud for free today!

Limitless data movement with free Alpha and Beta connectors
Introducing: our Free Connector Program
The data movement infrastructure for the modern data teams.
Try a 14-day free trial