Basically, what an SQL and NoSQL database does is help you store and manage your data efficiently. But how are these two different? Before doing a comparison between these two, let’s understand what exactly is an SQL database and a NoSQL database.
What is an SQL Database?
Introduced in the 1970s, SQL or Structured Query Language is a standard way of interacting with relational databases. Relational databases store data in the form of tables, and include rows and columns. Relational databases use primary and foreign keys to connect them. SQL databases are a perfect choice if you are looking to manage consistent, structured data. It is also great to perform complicated transactions and queries.
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What is a NoSQL Database?
Introduced in the 1960s but came to fame in the early 21st century, NoSQL, or Not only SQL stores and retrieves data in different forms such as graphs, documents, key-value pairs, columns, etc. It basically covers various non-relational databases. Unlike the typical tabular structure of a relational database, NoSQL databases store data inside one data structure. NoSQL databases are perfect for managing dynamic, unstructured data. It is also great for horizontal scaling and distributing data across multiple servers. NoSQL databases are regularly used in big data and real-time web applications.
Fundamental Difference between SQL Database and NoSQL Database
|SQL Database||NoSQL Database|
|Relational Database||Non-relational Database|
|Predefined Schema||Dynamic Schema|
|Vertical Scalability||Horizontal Scalability|
|Follows ACID properties||Follows Brewers CAP theorem|
|Examples:MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, MS-SQL Server, etc||Examples:MongoDB, GraphQL, HBase, Neo4j, Cassandra, etc|
Let’s look at the major differences between SQL and NoSQL Databases.
SQL Database is a relational database management system whereas NoSql is a non-relational database or distributed database management system.
SQL databases store data in table form including rows and columns. It stores data in a structured form. However, on the other hand, NoSQL databases are present in different forms such as documents, graphs, wide-column stores, key-value pairs, etc.
SQL databases have a predefined schema and use a structured query language (SQL). On the other hand, NoSQL databases have dynamic schemas for unstructured data.
Also Read: Most Popular Databases in 2023
SQL databases are vertically scalable. What it means is that you can raise the load on a single server by increasing CPU, RAM, or SSD. On the contrary, NoSQL databases are scalable in a horizontal manner. With a NoSQL database, you can manage more traffic by sharding. You can also add more servers to your NoSQL database. This makes NoSQL more powerful. Thus, making it to be the preferred choice for ever-evolving large data sets.
SQL databases use Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability properties or ACID properties. On the other hand, the NoSQL database follows the Consistency, Availability, and Partition tolerance properties, that is, the Brewers CAP theorem.
The vendors of SQL databases extend great support while deploying and managing it. However, for some NoSQL databases, you still have to rely on community support. There are a few vendors or consultants with expertise in setting up or deploying large-scale NoSQL databases.
SQL databases are a great choice for multi-row transactions. On the other hand, a NoSQL database is better for unstructured data including documents or JSON.
SQL databases are also generally used for legacy systems developed around a relational database structure.
You can make use of an SQL database for applications with several attached operations. SQL schema helps you determine ACID properties and enhance data compatibility. These databases are a great pick if you have to quickly look for data from the database without any hassle.
On the other hand, a NoSQL database is perfect for applications with active and dynamic data not including any attached operations. NoSQL is also perfect for applications with missing data sets that will not affect business efficiency.
When to use SQL vs. NoSQL
SQL is perfect when the data is:
- In the tabular or structured form
- Systems where consistency is essential.
Think small business’ accounting systems, sales databases, or transactional systems like payment processing in e-commerce.
NoSQL is generally preferred for:
- Graph or hierarchical data
- Large and expanding datasets.
- Continuously growing applications with no data schema
Choosing between these two database really depends on the type of application you are developing and the data requirements it involves.
Having a clear understanding of the features and benefits of each database will help you choose the one that is the best for your project.
You should also consider the scalability and performance of each database. Having an understanding of which database aligns with your project can enhance your data performance, ensure data integrity, and finally, help you create a successful application.
In general, SQL databases are suitable for structured data, where data is consistent, and relationships between tables are well-defined. In contrast, NoSQL databases are suitable for semi-structured or unstructured data, where the data does not conform to a predefined schema, and relationships between data elements are not well-defined. SQL databases are typically used in applications that require complex queries and transaction management, whereas NoSQL databases are used in applications that require high performance and scalability, such as web applications and mobile apps.
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