MySQL or SQL Server – Which is Better?

MySQL or SQL Server?

Which is better for developing web based applications with?

I’m Brett, and I’ve been a full-time software developer since 1997.

I first connected a database to a website in 1998. It was hard work. The database was Access. Hmm, it wasn’t very reliable, but it did start to revolutionise access to data in the workplace.

Since then I’ve done a little bit of work with Access. However, the majority of the web applications I’ve created have used either MySQL or Microsoft’s SQL Server.

Best for Developers

Which database is best for developers?

In terms of features, there’s one winner – SQL Server. But MySQL is really snapping at its heels now.

When I first used MySQL back in 2002 it didn’t even do table joins properly. But now it’s quite hard to find a function that’s available in SQL Server but is missing in MySQL.

One thing that I really like about MySQL now is the popular graphical user interface used to manage the database. It’s called phpMyAdmin, and it’s very nice indeed:

phpMyAdmin Screenshot

Now I’m no DBA, but I find this interface much easier for managing databases compared to the current SQL Server Management Studio. For some reason Microsoft replaced the aging SQL Server Enterprise Manager with a vastly inferior GUI. One really neat trick of MySQL is that it’s really easy to export the entire database (and data) as a text file, making it super convenient to move your database elsewhere.

As far as coding applications go, I’ve found MySQL to be great for small to medium sized web applications. The database is fast and responsive, and a good match for SQL Server when it comes to small applications.

One of the joys of MySQL and SQL Server is that they’re both easy to connect to programming environments like PHP or ASP.NET.

I had a few teething problems connecting MySQL to C#, but once I’d solved my driver issues I was away. One nice thing is that I didn’t have to make too many changes to my code in order to convert it from using SQL Server to MySQL. If you’re writing database driven applications then rolling your own class library to handle the data access layer is always a good idea.

Best for Clients

Which database is best if you’re interested in getting a database driven web application built?

If the site will be quite small then it’s usually better to go for MySQL. MySQL database hosting plans tend to be significantly cheaper than those that offer SQL Server.

As an example, GoDaddy offered my several 1GB sized MySQL databases with my hosting plan. But if I’d used SQL Server with the same account then the maximum database size they could give me was a paltry 200Mb.

MySQL database developers tend to be a little more affordable as well, since big corporations tend to mop up most of the best SQL Server guys around.

So SQL Server is a good database, and so is MySQL. As a developer I’d have to say I like them both. However, for my own personal projects then I’ll easily choose MySQL.

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