PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Critical Differences & Key Features (Advantages & Disadvantages)

PostgreSQL performance and MySQL are both widely used relational database management systems (RDBMS). They are both open source and offer a variety of features. However, there are some key differences between the two that could make one better suited for your project than the other. PostgreSQL is often praised for its support of complex queries. If your project will require a lot of data analysis, PostgreSQL may be the better choice. MySQL, on the other hand, is known for its simplicity. If you are looking for an RDBMS that is easy to set up and manage, MySQL might be a better fit. 

Additionally, MySQL is typically faster than PostgreSQL. The decision of which database to use ultimately comes down to your project's specific needs. However, knowing the key differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we will discuss some of the key differences between these two widely used RDBMSs.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL is a powerful, open-source object-relational database system. It has a strong reputation for being reliable and boasting a large feature set. PostgreSQL is known for its complex queries, which can make it more difficult to learn and use than some other RDBMSs. The main reasons why PostgreSQL is such a popular and powerful database management system are its extensibility, object-relational features, ACID compliance, and support for NoSQL databases.

In addition, PostgreSQL is highly concurrent, meaning that it can handle multiple tasks simultaneously. This makes it an ideal choice for high-volume data operations. With so many features, it's no wonder that PostgreSQL is the database management system of choice for many businesses.

Key features of PostgreSQL:

  • Open source
  • Object-relational database system
  • Supports complex queries
  • NoSQL support
  • Customisable
  • Long History
  • Frequent Updates
  • MVCC Features

What is MySQL?

MySQL is a widely used, open-source relational database management system. It is known for its simplicity. It is easy to set up and use, which makes it a popular choice for small businesses and projects that don't require complex queries. As of 2019, MySQL is the world's most popular database, used by over 39% of developers. While it doesn't offer some of the same features as PostgreSQL, it's still useful for many applications - like web apps. When it comes to scalable web applications, MySQL is often the go-to choice because it's standard in the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, PHP).

Key features of MySQL:

  • Open source
  • Relational database management system
  • Simple to use
  • Popular for small businesses
  • Highly scalable
  • Maintained by Oracle
  • Long History
  • Frequent Updates
  • MVCC Features
  • A Supportive Community

PostgreSQL Vs MySQL: Why do developers choose one over the other?

When it comes to choosing a database, developers often weigh the pros and cons of each option. Here are some of the key differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL which will help you  decide which is the right database management system for your project:

1. Database history:

PostgreSQL is the world's most advanced open-source database. It was started in 1986 as a follow-up to Ingres and was designed to address the difficulties that existing database systems had. PostgreSQL is now used by many organisations and individuals worldwide. Michael  Stonebraker, a computer science professor at UC Berkeley, is the main developer behind PostgreSQL. MySQL is a database management system that was founded in 1995. It is named after the daughter of one of its creators, Monty Widenius. Their goal is to provide reliable data management solutions to users. By 2000, it had been released on most major platforms.

2. User support:

You can get free support for MySQL from the large community of volunteers that offer support and recommendations through the Percona websites. Or, you can purchase paid support for the commercial versions of MySQL from Oracle. The cost of this support varies depending on the level of support package you purchase. For PostgreSQL, you can either get free support from the enthusiastic community of volunteers or purchase paid support from a third-party provider. If you prefer to troubleshoot problems yourself, there are plenty of resources available in the form of manuals and books. These will help you identify and solve any issues you encounter.

3. Speed:

MySQL is designed to be efficient and fast, making it great for high-volume data operations. PostgreSQL is also a speedy database management system, but not as quick as MySQL. This is because PostgreSQL is meant for complex queries which can take more time to execute than simple queries. When dealing with large datasets, complicated queries, and read-write operations, PostgreSQL is faster. However, MySQL is usually quicker for read-only commands.

4. Scalability:

Postgres uses more RAM than MySQL but does not have a database size restriction. It is more sophisticated in terms of complexity and employs Multi-Version Concurrency Control to support numerous users with a lower risk of locking. As a result, Postgres may be a better choice for massive database management. However, MySQL is designed to be fast and reliable. It uses parallel query strategies which makes it more suitable for concurrent usage.

5. Programming languages supported:

MySQL supports a wide range of programming languages including Delphi, Erlang, Go, Java, Lisp, Perl, PHP, and R. PostgreSQL supports even more languages such as Java, JavaScript, Python, R, Tcl, Lisp, Erlang, and others. This makes PostgreSQL a more versatile database system than MySQL.

6. Operating systems:

MySQL's Cloud-based support makes it a versatile choice for businesses, while its compatibility with multiple operating systems makes it a good choice for individual developers. PostgreSQL's REST API provides a great deal of flexibility. It's compatibility with multiple operating systems also makes it a good choice for individual developers.

7. Data indexing:

An important way to improve database performance is to use indexes. Indexes help speed up SQL queries, particularly when working with large tables of data. MySQL and PostgreSQL offer different indexing options. By choosing the right option for your needs, you can keep your database running quickly and efficiently. MySQL indexes can be stored on R-Trees, B-Trees, and hash tables. R-Tree indexes are commonly used for spatial data types, while B-Tree indexes are typically used for INDEX, FULLTEXT, PRIMARY KEY, and UNIQUE constraints. Hash indexes are used for inverted lists when FULLTEXT indexes are enabled.

There are three main types of indexes that can be used in PostgreSQL: hash indexes, b-tree indexes, and partial indexes. Hash indexes are created by hashing the values in a column, while b-tree indexes store data in a tree-like structure. Partial indexes only index a portion of the table, while expression indexes create an index based on an expression function.

8. Pricing:

PostgreSQL and MySQL are both open-source software platforms that can be used for free. However, while PostgreSQL is completely free, MySQL also has some paid plans available. MySQL offers three paid plans: MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Edition, MySQL Enterprise Edition, and MySQL Standard Edition. Prices start at $10000 for the Cluster Carrier Grade Edition and go down to $2000 for the Standard Edition.

9. Coding differences:

When it comes to coding, there are three main areas of difference between MySQL and PostgreSQL: case sensitivity, default character sets and strings, and IF and IFNULL vs. CASE statements. MySQL is not case-sensitive, while PostgreSQL is case-sensitive. This means that in MySQL you don't need to capitalize strings as they appear in the database, but in PostgreSQL, you will need to capitalize them exactly as they appear or the query will fail. Additionally, with certain versions of MySQL, you need to convert character sets and strings to UTF-8, but there is no such compulsion with PostgreSQL.

Finally, IF and IFNULL statements are perfectly fine to use in MySQL, but in PostgreSQL, you need to use a CASE statement since IF and IFNULL statements don't work.

Advantages of PostgreSQL:

  • PostgreSQL is an open source database, which means that its source code is freely available for anyone to use, modify and implement as they see fit.
  • Its costs are reduced because it doesn't require a licence fee - making it a more affordable option for businesses.
  • PostgreSQL supports geographic objects so you can use it for location-based services and geographic information systems.
  • The strong community behind PostgreSQL ensures that bugs are fixed quickly and efficiently.
  • The database is highly scalable, so it can grow with your business needs.
  • PostgreSQL support ACID(Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability).
  • PostgreSQL is easy to use both for small businesses and large enterprises.

Disadvantages of PostgreSQL:

  • The current external solutions demand a high learning curve: This means that it may be difficult to find support or training for PostgreSQL.
  • The data will have to be exported or replicated to the new version when it is released: This means that you may need to invest in additional software or hardware to keep your data current.
  • There is a need for double storage during the upgrade process: This means that you will need to have enough storage space to accommodate both the old and new versions of your data.
  • Indexes in PostgreSQL cannot be used to directly return the results of a query: This means that you may need to use alternative methods to retrieve data from your database.
  • The query execution plans are not cached: This means that each time a query is run, the database will need to recalculate the best way to execute it.
  • Bulk loading operations may become bound by the CPU: This means that large data loads may take longer than expected, and may use more processing power than is available.
  • On performance metrics, it is slower than MySQL.

Advantages of MySQL:

  • MySQL is an open-source database, which means that its source code is freely available for anyone to use, modify and implement as they see fit.
  • It is easy to use for small businesses and large enterprises.
  • The strong community behind MySQL ensures that bugs are fixed quickly and efficiently.
  • MySQL is highly scalable


MySQL and PostgreSQL are two of the most popular database management systems. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses. PostgreSQL is a better choice for businesses that need high levels of concurrency control or support for multiple programming languages. Additionally, it is completely free to use. MySQL, on the other hand, is a better choice for individual developers or businesses that need compatibility with multiple operating systems. Additionally, it offers a wide range of indexing options to help speed up SQL queries.

Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. With Boltic, there's no need to sacrifice performance for the sake of data integration. Our fully-managed No-code Data Pipeline platform is easy to set up and use, with a minimal learning curve. In just a few minutes, you can be loading data from PostgreSQL and/or MySQL, as well as various other sources, into the destination of your choice. With strong integration capabilities, Boltic gives you the flexibility to bring in data of different types quickly and easily, without having to write a single line of code.


Is PostgreSQL faster than MySQL?

PostgreSQL is more efficient with larger data sets, complex inquiries, and read-write operations. MySQL meanwhile, executes faster for read-only commands.

Does PostgreSQL perform better than MySQL?

Ultimately, it comes down to how you use them. MySQL is generally known to be faster with read-only commands at the cost of concurrency, while PostgreSQL works better with read-write operations, massive datasets, and complicated queries.

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