Comparing MySQL vs MS SQL Server

March 22, 2020|INblog, business, technology|BYsf appworks

As web development becomes more of an intricate affair, databases have become more crucial to the overall concept of website design. Even elementary applications such as WordPress utilize databases in some form—that’s how significant databases are today. 

Nearly every website comes equipped with a database that stores, retrieves, and modifies data to deliver a specific output. Now with more database usage than ever, understanding at least the basics of relational database management systems (RDMS) is an important part of web development strategy and design.

These days, developers have various options for RDMS to choose from in accordance with their specific requirements per project. While the preference is up to the individual developer or programmer, the options basically boil down to open-source database systems and commercial (or, closed source) database systems. SF AppWorks has been helping companies reach their full digital potential for a decade, so we know a thing or two about setting up databases.

In this article, we’re going to discuss both types of database systems. More specifically, we’re going to compare and contrast the MySQL vs the MS SQL server.

Understanding Big Differences Between MySQL and MS SQL Servers

As a programmer or web developer, it’s important to understand all of the differences between the two servers. That way, you can choose the right type of RDMS for each project. 

Starting with the types of servers they are, the main difference between MS SQL and MySQL is that MS  SQL is a commercial source database system and MySQL is an open-source database system. Both systems are widely used among enterprise corporations, although the majority is in favor of open-source databases. 

MS SQL stands for Microsoft Structured Query Language, meaning that it’s a standard language used for accessing and managing your databases. By using MS SQL, you can add, retrieve, remove, and access data within a particular database. It also allows you to create programs to support your work within each database.

Being that MS SQL is a commercial source database system—produced by Microsoft—you will have to purchase the proper licensing to use it.

MySQL, on the other hand, is the open-source database version of SQL for which you can also store data in an already existing database. All you have to do is download and install the software and you can use its customizable codes for free. Both servers are written in C and C++ languages, however, MySQL only supports the English language while MS SQL can support a variety of languages. 

Supported Platforms

As a Microsoft product, the MS SQL server was initially created for the Windows operating system only. In 2017, Microsoft opened up its SQL server to support the Linus platform as well as the macOS platform—but only through Docker. Compared to MySQL, this can be quite limiting.

MySQL is able to support major platforms including Windows, Linux, macOS/Mac OSX, Solaris, and FreeBSD. This is precisely what gives large enterprises the versatility and options they need to run their database systems. 

MySQL is even used for some of the most popular websites and social media platforms including Google, Facebook, and Twitter. This is due to the fact that the MySQL server allows programmers and web developers to keep the databases that already exist organized, whereas MS SQL does not.

Supported Program Languages

When it comes to the supported program languages in the MySQL vs MS SQL comparison, MySQL is once again the more favorable server.

It’s important to note, however, that both MySQL and MS SQL support many of the same programming languages. This includes the languages of Java, PHP, C, C++, Python, Ruby, Visual Basic, Delphi, Go, and R. In addition to these program languages, however, MySQL also supports Perl, Scheme, Haskel, TCL, and Eiffel. 

Those additional programming languages are why software programming and web developing communities favor MySQL to MS SQL—despite the fact that MS SQL provides software in a variety of spoken languages.

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Storage Engine

The MS SQL server only makes use of a single storage engine developed and provided by Microsoft. This means that there is limited flexibility as well as multiple upgrades to achieve any possible improved storage flexibility for programmers and developers. 

MySQL has the capacity to support multiple storage engines, which means that programmers and developers have a choice. They can choose a storage engine based on speed, reliability, and so on. They also have the option to use a plug-in storage engine. Of course, to make use of multiple storage engines, programmers and developers would have to upgrade from the earlier versions of MySQL which only supported non-transactional storage engines.

Once upgraded, MySQL offers much more flexibility than MS SQL in terms of storage engines, which is another plus.


This is the one area where using the MS SQL server offers more flexibility. With MySQL, programmers and developers are able to filter out tables, rows, columns, and users in several different ways. To achieve this filtering, however, they are required to do so by individual databases. 

This means that programmers and developers have to run multiple queries to filter their database tables while filtering their data. In other words, it’s a lot of extra work. 

The  MS SQL server allows programmers and developers the capacity of row-based filtering. By utilizing the row-based filtering option, they can filter any data by database, rather than running multiple queries. It also allows the filtered data to be stored in a separate database for distribution. 

This makes life much easier in terms of filtering multiple rows at a time without worrying about the number of databases being utilized to keep track of. 


Backing up data with MySQL is a time-consuming affair because programmers and developers have to take the extra step of extracting all their data in the form of SQL statements. Additionally, the RDMS tool used to do the extracting blocks the database during the backup. This particular feature is there to prevent any data corruption because the entire process requires an exchange between multiple editions of MySQL.

The MS SQL server, however, does not have a feature that blocks the database during the backup. This saves a decent amount of time while backing up or restoring data. It also requires less effort because programmers and developers don’t have to extract SQL statements. This is one of the conveniences of a closed (commercial) source database system.

Query Execution Options

The ability to bring a query execution to a halt is actually a very important feature. Only the MS SQL server comes with this feature, allowing programmers and developers to cut a database query execution short—without having to terminate the entire process. This is done by using a transactional engine, which keeps the state of the database consistent.

With MySQL, when a query is running, programmers and developers have no means of stopping the process of the SQL execution. It’s one of MySQL’s greater disadvantages.


Another benefit of a closed source database system is the security that it provides. Both MySQL and MS SQL database systems were designed as binary collections. However, MS SQL is much more secure than My SQL. 

In an SQL server, other processes cannot manipulate or access the data. That means hackers and third-party applications cannot directly access the database or binaries. Programmers and developers are required to perform very specific functions to manipulate their databases.

The MySQL server allows programmers and developers to utilize the server’s binaries to manipulate the data within the databases. Because of this, the databases are vulnerable and can be accessed and modified by hackers and other third party applications during run time. 


As a licensed RDMS, Microsoft SQL can be purchased in several different editions. These editions include Enterprise, Standard, Web, Work Group, Express, and Developer. To choose the right one, you would have to compare the various aspects of each to figure out which suits your project needs best.

The MySQL open-source server offers both a community edition as well as enterprise editions. The community edition is, of course, free while the enterprise editions are not. Basically, programmers and developers can choose between the Standard, Enterprise, and Cluster GCE.  

There are also special additions of the SQL RDMS server such as azure, compact, developer, embedded, evaluation, fast track, and local DB. These are better known as proprietary extensions and don’t necessarily replace either the SQL or the MySQL as a whole. 

Software Stack Component

The Microsoft SQL commercial source server offers each of its additions to fit the project-based needs of programmers and developers as well as the number of users. As mentioned above, there are several proprietary RDMS that are open-sourced and can be integrated with each of the editions offered. 

MySQL, on the other hand, was designed to meet the needs of modern web applications. It’s very common for web developers to integrate MySQL with Lamp Stack in addition to the Linux operating system, the Apache web server, and the PHP programming language. Of course, the capacity for integration falls on Lamp Stack as its components are interchangeable, allowing multiple programming languages to be used. 

It’s a toss-up between the two database servers as there are a number of combinations of stack component integrations that can be used with several editions of each. 

Community Support

Since the MS SQL server requires licensing, there is a lack of community support. This means that if and when programs and developers run into issues, they’ll have to either figure it out on their own or contact the Microsoft Server support. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee an immediate solution to the problem. 

With MySQL being an open-source database system, programmers and developers will most likely be able to find a solution to their problems right away via internet forums and communities. This is a great advantage because rather than explain the issue to an automated menu or outsourced customer service representative who is unfamiliar with the technology, you can find answers from real people—who have most likely faced the same problem.

Pricing and Ongoing Costs

Here’s what programmers and developers can get their hands on for free: the Developer and Express editions of MS SQL Server and the open-source edition of MySQL.

From there, it gets much pricier. For example, the MS SQL Server Standard edition costs about $3,717 and the Enterprise edition costs about $14,256. MySQL sells its Standard edition based on a yearly subscription starting at $2,000. Additionally, its Enterprise edition will run you about $5,000 and its Cluster GCE doubles that at $10,000.

Regardless of the technology, price is always a factor to consider as it may be the deciding factor for many programmers, developers, and businesses alike. 

MySQL vs MS SQL Server: Which is Right For Me?

Keep in mind that as a programmer and/or web developer, you’re going to be using your RDMS system all the time. Additionally, switching technologies in the future can become complicated. Therefore, it’s important to choose wisely. 

While most scenarios are in favor of the open-source MySQL, there are a few important details that also make it unfavorable—such as security measures, for example. Both MySQL and MS SQL servers are very popular among enterprise-level corporations as well as mid-size and small businesses.

Here’s what it comes down to—personal preference, necessity, and the number of users. 

Each edition of both servers come with a ton of different features and capabilities, so you’ll have to choose based on your technological needs, project needs, and personal needs. For enterprise-level businesses in need of security and more robust features, MS SQL seems to be the better-suited choice. For small to midsize businesses using PHP programming language,  MySQL will get the job done.

Technology development can be costly and time-consuming. If you plan to bring on outside help, talk to several teams and get a consensus on timeline, budget, and scope. Advice is free, so don’t hesitate to reach out to SF AppWorks today. 

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