PostgreSQL vs MySQL: A comparison of database technologies

What the differences are between PostgreSQL and MySQL and which option seems more suitable for your next software project.

DevOpsUPDATED ON August 8, 2023

cover image for blog post on the topic of PostgreSQL vs MySQL database tools

The title PostgreSQL vs MySQL should make it clear that in this blog post we will take a comparative look at the two database technologies PostgreSQL and MySQL. In doing so, we will shed some light on the two technologies and look at the areas of use as well as considerations on when which technology might be preferred for which applications.

For efficient, sustainable and low-complexity data storage, any software system working with large amounts of data needs a database. A database consists of two core components: the database itself and a data management system such as PostgreSQL or MySQL.

Whether native or web apps, most modern applications need a suitable database system to function smoothly. Therefore, responsible software architects as well as software development teams are often faced with the question of which is the most suitable tech stack for your application. Of course, the database management system must also be included, and this blog will explore the strengths and weaknesses of two of the most popular database system solutions – PostgreSQL and MySQL.

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Data management system: PostgreSQL and MySQL

A data management system (also called a data processing system), together with the database, forms the main components of a database or data system. Whether PostgreSQL or MySQL, both technologies are data management systems that have to be installed and configured as part of the setup of a database for any software.

Setting up, managing or using a database is only possible through a data management system such as PostgreSQL or MySQL.

What is MySQL?

The relational database management system MySQL is a technology that is available in an open-source variant as well as in a commercial enterprise version distributed by Oracle Corporation. According to the annual “2021 Developer Survey” conducted by StackOverflow, MySQL is repeatedly the most widely used database technology. The most common application of MySQL is in data storage for web services, which makes MySQL the basis of many dynamic web presences such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. MySQL’s architecture is used on a variety of servers based on it, depending on need and size.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL is a free, object-relational database management system whose development began in the 1980s and was first used in a public CVS server in July 1996. PostgreSQL was initiated by  Michael Stonebraker, who researched and developed databases at the University of California. From his time at Berkeley, the database management system known today as PostgreSQL emerged.

PostgreSQL has been known by this name since the mid-1990s and has been available to all developers as open-source technology and has been continuously developed ever since. PostgreSQL is one of the most popular database management systems, which of course has to do with the fact that it has existed for so long, and the many competent developers have made the open-source project quite practical for a long time.

According to the StackOverflow “2021 Developers Survey” linked above, PostgreSQL is the second most-used database technology behind MySQL – and it’s rising steadily. Because while only about 26% of developers used it in 2017, it was already 34% in 2019 and by 2021 it was even more than 40%.

How do PostgreSQL and MySQL work?

As the names of the two database management systems suggest, both PostgreSQL and MySQL are based on the database language SQL (Structured Query Language), which is the standard language for interaction with data management systems. SQL is used for defining data structures in relational databases and for editing, querying and deleting data sets on them. It provides a relatively simple structure so that even non-technical staff can quickly work with SQL software.

In general, the task of PostgreSQL, MySQL and any other data management system is to enable the creation, maintenance and editing of databases by one or more users. The term database management system is often associated with the design and linking of the individual data created in the company. Accordingly, the data management system should also allow long-term access to the data, so that platform changes are also possible in the long term if necessary.

Migrating from MySQL to PostgreSQL can be a complex process due to differences in syntax, data types, and functionality between the two database management systems. It requires careful planning, data mapping, and transformation to ensure a smooth transition while preserving data integrity and minimizing potential disruptions to the existing systems.

PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Features and Functions

table comparing and contrasting features and functions of PostgreSQL vs MySQL

PostgreSQL vs MySQL: strategic considerations for your business

Companies need to look at other, perhaps less technical, factors besides performance and current software versions to choose a technology for their software development projects. Successful companies think and plan for the long term, which is how their software solutions should be developed. Not only should the technologies of the software be well documented, but they should also be available and well supported in the long term.

So let’s look at the evolution of the use of the database technologies discussed here. If we look at the trend chart shown in the graph below, we can see a rough progression of the popularity of both technologies in direct comparison. According to the survey published by StackOverflow, MySQL is repeatedly the most used database technology among developers.

So the trend chart at least confirms that MySQL is clearly ahead of PostgreSQL, and has been for years. PostgreSQL is far from being as popular as MySQL, but its development is very promising. In contrast to MySQL, whose popularity is stable, PostgreSQL’s popularity is increasing. With steady healthy growth, PostgreSQL has almost tripled in popularity in the last 8 years and is considered the second most used database technology after MySQL according to the StackOverflow survey.

Source: DB-Engines

As can be seen, the popularity of PostgreSQL is constantly increasing, which is of course also due to the fact that the number of companies implementing projects with PostgreSQL is growing. Innovative companies such as Apple, Netflix or Spotify are just some of the best-known users of PostgreSQL.

Tech giants like Meta (Facebook), Google (YouTube), Airbnb or Tesla also use MySQL. Incidentally, the transport company Uber announced in 2016 via its engineering department that it had switched from PostgreSQL to MySQL.


Both PostgreSQL and MySQL are reliable, mature and popular database technologies. Justifiably, both technologies are used by many developers and appear accordingly often in software development projects due to their great added value. If there were a clearly better alternative in every area, we would tell you the right choice directly. However, it depends on your priorities, problems and specifics, both technical and strategical, of the software to be developed.

A good example of the use of MySQL is in web-based projects that also have SQL-compatible requirements. In addition, teams with little knowledge of SQL also work on web-based projects, so the simple syntax of MySQL is very useful. PostgreSQL is chosen by companies because it offers data types that MySQL does not, as well as many other features that are not offered in MySQL.

Generally, however, MySQL is typically recommended for web-based/online or mapping functions, whereas PostgreSQL is recommended for large analytical processes. MySQL is rather lightweight and reliable, while PostgreSQL is super extensible and very feature rich. The differences are there, but with each update the technologies converge and try to take over or balance each other’s useful functions.

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