Comparing Database Engines: SQLite vs MySQL - Features, Performance, and Use Cases

February 16, 2024
20 min read

With so many options all over the internet, it can get challenging to select the right relational database management system for your data management practices. One classic example of this is choosing between SQLite and MySQL. Both are relational storage systems. However, their features, use cases, and functionalities differ broadly. 

In this article, you will learn about MySQL vs SQLite, and we will discuss their overviews, key differences, features, use cases, and more. 

MySQL Overview

Created by Oracle, MySQL is a widely known open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). The platform stores the data in tables within rows and columns, just like other relational databases. Different columns can be marked as required or optional, serving as a pointer or primary key to another table. To perform queries in this database, you can use Structured Query Language (SQL), a common relational database language. 

MySQL comes with an in-built graphical user interface (GUI) and command line interface (CLI) for making data more accessible to data professionals and programmers alike. Beyond all these features, the database is platform-independent and compatible, enabling you to run it on any OS and work with different programming languages. 

Key features of MySQL include: 

  • Multiple Storage Engines: MySQL components handle SQL operations and queries for different table types. MySQL offers many storage engines, including MyISAM, MEMORY, InnoDB, CSV, ARCHIVE, and BDB.
  • Huge Database Support: MySQL supports large databases that could contain around 40 to 50 million records. 

SQLite Overview

SQLite is a lightweight database that doesn’t have a cloud interface and works on your local host system. It is an in-memory open-source database that does not require a complex installation setup. 

SQLite stores data in multiple two-dimensional tables instead of one big table. Each table has rows containing a unique value as an identifier called a key, which relates to other tables. It reads and writes directly to only one disk file. This file contains a complete SQL database with multiple tables, triggers, indices, and views. 

SQLite is also serverless, allowing you to manage data without client-server architecture. In addition, it is a self-contained storage system that is less dependent on the operating system and doesn't require any configuration. 

Key features of SQLite include: 

  • Small Code footprint: The size of the SQLite is very small. By default, it takes only 250 KB to be installed, and if you want it fully configured, it goes up to 750 KB max. 
  • Dynamic Column Length: The length of the columns is not fixed. It allows you to allocate only the space required for the field. For example, if you have a varchar(200) column and put a 10-character length value on it, SQLite only allocates 20 characters of space and won't allow the space for the whole 200.

MySQL Vs SQLite: Key Differences

Attributes MySQL SQLite
Data Types All the basic data types, including Timestamp, Varchar, Enum, Set, and Text. Instead of data types, SQLite supports storage classes for data, including Null, Integer, Blob, and Real.
Size 600 MB. 250 KB and more according to your requirements.
Performance Better for complex and big applications. Efficient for small-medium data.
Ease of Setup Requires a detailed configuration. Minimal setup and easy configuration.
License MySQL is licensed under the General Public License (GNU). SQLite is in the public domain, and you can use it without any licensing restrictions.

MySQL Vs SQLite: In-Depth Comparison

Here is a significant comparison between MySQL and SQLite:


MySQL has a multi-layer client-server architecture that includes client, server, and storage. The client layer in the database handles your queries and commands using its CLI and GUI. Next, the server layer processes your commands and logic, creating a new thread for every request. Lastly, the storage layer is responsible for storing data in tables. This client-server architecture makes it a good choice for applications that require remote database access, support for multiple concurrent users, and centralized data storage. 

Contrarily, SQLite doesn’t follow client-server architecture. It compiles SQL into bytecode, which is then executed using a virtual machine, and the program runs until it completes or forms a result to return. SQLite backend stores the data tables on the disk in a B-tree implementation. It is a storage system that runs as part of an app and is also called an embedded database. This makes it ideal for applications with lightweight, integral databases without server management overhead. 

Storage And Portability

MySQL requires a more involved process for portability to support its robust capabilities. With its full suite of functionalities, the database needs 600 MB of storage—MySQL stores data in multiple files and tables. To make it more portable to contain data in a single file, you have to use additional tools like mysqldump. However, the process can be pretty time-consuming and resource-intensive.

On the other hand, the SQLite database is entirely 250 KB (apart from additional functionalities). It stores databases in a single file, which makes copying, backing up, or even transferring databases as easy as managing any regular file. As mentioned above, its self-contained nature ensures that it runs with minimal support and dependencies without configuration or setup. This makes it ideal for applications with resource constraints, such as specific IoT devices, embedded systems, and more. 


MySQL is designed for scalability and handling large datasets. It gives you the feature to scale horizontally and vertically. It can add more resources to a single server to scale vertically, such as memory or storage. For horizontal scaling, MySQL can distribute the workload among multiple servers. In addition to its scalability, it can be used by many users to work on data management. 

However, SQLite is limited to only single-user access, which makes it hard to scale. It doesn’t support vertical or horizontal scaling. SQLite operates within the constraints of local systems, such as disk space and memory. Therefore, the database gets bigger only when you increase the amount of memory. 


MySQL provides many robust security features by default. It offers the best access control through multiple user accounts and privileges. This allows you as an administrator to restrict access to specific tables, databases, or operations based on user permissions and roles. MySQL also supports data encryption at various levels, including rest and transit. In addition, its dedicated auditing, logging, and vulnerability management features enable you to monitor and address security vulnerabilities in the database. 

In contrast, SQLite lacks the presence of security features. It doesn’t have built-in authentication and authorization mechanisms, which makes it less suitable for multi-user applications. SQLite also has limited support for encryption, and you have to use extensions such as SQLCipher for AES encryption through third-party solutions. 


Both databases are open-source, so MySQL and SQLite are free to use. However, if you have custom requirements, MySQL provides other solutions for cost. You can learn more about MySQL paid solutions here

MySQL Vs SQLite: Use Cases

Below are the key use cases for MySQL and SQLite: 


  • Websites: MySQL is popularly used as a backend database for modern web applications. It is used by platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Magento for storing and managing website content, user data, and other application-related data. 
  • Online Transactional Processing (OLTP): MySQL excels in handling real-time transactional workloads with low latency and high concurrency requirements. Applications like banking systems, e-commerce, and retail applications use MySQL to track real-time user data. 


  • Embedded And IoT Devices: Being self-contained and low-sized, SQLite works well with IOT devices. It is a good fit for use in set-top boxes, cell phones, cameras, watches, and other similar tools.
  • Application File Format: SQLite is often used as an on-disk file format for desktop applications, including financial analysis tools, media cataloging, version control systems, and editing suites. 

Move Data to MySQL and SQLite Using Airbyte

Now that you know the difference between both databases, you might want to integrate data into MySQL or SQLite according to your use case. You can use tools like Airbyte to automate the data integration process. 

Airbyte is a data integration tool that follows a modern ELT approach to perform data integration. The tool offers over 350+ pre-built connectors to streamline the creation of data pipelines between any data source and MySQL or SQLite. However, note that SQLite connector is only available with Airbyte’s open-source software. 

Key features of Airbyte include: 

  • Custom Connectors: If you still can’t find the required pre-built connectors of your choice from its extensive catalog, you can create custom ones in Airbyte. It allows you to create custom connectors within minutes using its connector development kit. This is a great feature, especially if you need to connect less popular data sources. 
  • Scheduling And Monitoring: Airbyte provides scheduling and monitoring features for data replication. You can track the performance of your data pipelines and schedule tasks using its interface. 


In this article, you have learned the difference between MySQL and SQLite. Both databases are relational. However, they differ broadly in architecture, portability, scalability, security, and pricing. If you have to deal with huge datasets, need multiple user access, and require a dedicated server, then MySQL is a good choice. However, if you are dealing with small datasets and need to perform efficient read and write operations, then SQLite is ideal. 

Whatever storage system you choose, moving data is a constant step, and SaaS tools like Airbyte streamline that process for you. You can automate moving data from MySQL to SQLite with cutting-edge features like the largest catalog of pre-built connectors, robust monitoring capabilities, and more.

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