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AWS RDS vs. AWS Aurora: Which one is right for you? 

September 27th, 2023

AWS RDS vs AWS Aurora

When it comes to cloud databases, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers two popular options: AWS RDS and AWS Aurora. Both are extremely powerful services that offer many features and can scale your business. But the decision on which one to choose can be confusing. Let’s break down the differences between them, so that you can make an informed decision for your business. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at AWS RDS and Aurora, investigating their underlying infrastructure, architecture, features, performance, and more. If you want to find out which is the best solution for your cloud-based data storage needs – stay tuned! 

AWS RDS vs. AWS Aurora: Infrastructure and Architecture

If you’re looking to decide between Amazon Web Services (AWS) Relational Database System (RDS) and Aurora, you’ll have to consider the infrastructure and architecture of each. 

One of the biggest differences between RDS and Aurora is that RDS is an overlay technology based on existing databases such as Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, while Aurora is a separate option that has been built from the ground up by AWS. 

RDS provides a quick-and-easy setup process with preconfigured parameter settings, while Aurora requires more work upfront to customize data storage. On the plus side, Aurora is able to create vastly different databases for specific use cases. 

In terms of infrastructure, RDS runs on dedicated hardware clusters in AWS’s data centres with certain hardware limitations, while Aurora has virtually unlimited compute and storage scaling capabilities. That said, RDS can be moved easily between regions or Availability Zones within a region without configuration changes, whereas for Aurora, there are associated risks involved with live data transfers. 

AWS RDS vs. AWS Aurora: Features Comparison

When choosing between AWS RDS and Aurora, it’s important to understand the differences between them in terms of features. First off, RDS is a fully managed relational database service that supports six popular database engines, including two versions of MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. In comparison, Aurora is a proprietary high-performance relational database service designed to deliver high performance at a lower cost. 

Both services offer scalability and automation of administrative tasks, such as patching databases with the latest security updates, backups, and failover support. However, one key difference between RDS and Aurora is that Aurora has built-in fault tolerance and automated failover capability. This makes it easier to provide continuous availability for your databases with minimal downtime or disruption. 

In terms of performance, Aurora provides up to five times better latency than RDS and can scale up to ten times more packed operations per second than MySQL engine in RDS. It also offers an encrypted storage option for better data security. Therefore, if you are looking for high-performance for mission-critical applications or databases with higher levels of security – then Aurora can be the right choice for your needs. 

AWS RDS vs. Aurora: Performance Comparison

Choosing the right database is essential for your application’s performance. So, let’s compare the performance of AWS RDS and Aurora. 

In terms of performance, Amazon RDS has a few distinct advantages. It offers a wide range of instance types from several generations of processor technology, including Intel Xeon E5 processors and Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Skylake). It also gives you the flexibility to set up read replicas for increased read throughput, as well as adjust other parameters for enhanced performance. 

 While Amazon Aurora offers greater storage capacity with its own SSDs, Amazon RDS also provides SSD-backed storage options that can enhance performance. Additionally, Amazon RDS offers a wide range of instance types from several generations of processor technology, while Amazon Aurora offers features such as query caching, parallel query execution, table partitioning, memory caching, and index optimizations to help optimize query performance. 

Overall, Amazon Aurora offers better performance than RDS when it comes to data processing and query optimization. Of course, both services have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of performance—it all depends on your application’s needs. 

AWS RDS vs. AWS Aurora: Security Considerations

AWS RDS vs Aurora

When you are choosing between AWS RDS and Amazon Aurora, it is essential to consider the security aspect. Both services offer strong data encryption and authentication options, but they have some distinct differences. 

AWS RDS is a traditional relational database, so it provides several security measures that can be implemented to keep your data safe. It supports access control with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), authentication by Identity and Access Management (IAM) users. It also supports encryption for storage and backups via keys managed by Amazon Key Management Service (KMS). Furthermore, it has support for VPC security groups which can limit who has access to your database instance. 

On the other hand, Amazon Aurora is a fully managed cloud database offering that provides several security features such as: 

  • Data encryption in transit via SSL/TLS for connections to your database instance 
  • Encryption of data at rest using the AWS Key Management Service (KMS) managed encryption keys 
  • Authentication with IAM user credentials or MFA 
  • It also supports VPC security groups for controlling network access. 

AWS RDS vs. AWS Aurora: Advantages and Disadvantages

Choosing between AWS RDS and Aurora can come down to what your main needs and preferences are. Both are powerful database services, but each has its own pros and cons. 


The advantages of AWS RDS include:

  • Offers a wide range of features and managed backups for point-in-time recovery 
  • Provides performance metrics and reports for close infrastructure monitoring 

The disadvantages of AWS RDS include: 

  • Limited scalability and horizontal scalability as RDS does not support sharding 
  • Limited availability due to a single point of failure, though Multi-AZ deployments can mitigate this at additional cost 
  • Higher cost, especially for advanced features like read replicas 

AWS Aurora:

The advantages of Aurora include:

  • Offers up to 5 times better performance than traditional databases 
  • Provides up to 15 low-latency read replicas across multiple Availability Zones 
  • Supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL database engines 
  • Offers managed backups with provisions for future rollback or database restoration 

The disadvantages of Aurora include:

  • Limited customization due to proprietary database engine 
  • Limited tooling due to relative newness of technology 
  • Potential vendor lock-in due to proprietary technology, which may make it harder to migrate away from in the future. 

Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the differences between AWS RDS and Aurora in order to make an informed choice. Consider the infrastructure, architecture, features, performance, and pricing when choosing the right database for your specific use case. 


To sum up, when choosing between AWS RDS and AWS Aurora, it’s important to consider the needs of your application and your budget. AWS RDS is a great choice for those searching for more managed database instances. On the contrary, Aurora is better for those looking for a cost-effective and performant solution. Both offer great scalability and availability for their respective use cases. Moreover, both are backed by the reliability of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. 

No matter which one you choose, it is important to understand the best practices related to performance and scalability. With the help of the right tools, such as Amazon CloudWatch, you can ensure your AWS RDS or Aurora instance is always running at peak performance.  

At the end of the day, managing data can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with cloud-based databases. Working with the right data management products, such as Astera’s suite of high-performance data solutions, can make the process more efficient. With seamless connections to both RDS and Aurora, among other data providers, Astera’s products offer user-friendly interfaces and robust features that help optimize the performance, scalability, and security of your databases. 

You can choose either of the platforms: RDS and Aurora due to their individual pros and cons. Whichever you choose, Astera’s data management solutions can help you overcome the challenges of working with both platforms at once. By streamlining your data integration, management, warehousing, and preparation processes, Astera’s tools can help you take your entire data management process to the next level! 

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