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PostgreSQL vs. SQL Server – Everything You Need to Know

October 3rd, 2023

PostgreSQL vs SQL server

It’s almost impossible to talk about data management without mentioning PostgreSQL and SQL Server. As two of the most popular relational database management systems (RDBMS) technologies, they have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve been wondering how PostgreSQL and SQL Server differ from each other, and how you can use them together, then you’re in the right place. 

We’ll cover all these topics plus more in this article. We’ll explain what each technology does, discuss the differences between them, and explore how Astera Centerprise integrates with both PostgreSQL and SQL Server. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of both technologies and know how to get the most out of them. Ready? Let’s get started! 

What Is PostgreSQL? 

PostgreSQL is an open-source, object-oriented database system. It is one of the most popular databases in use today, with out-of-the-box functionality and compatibility with a range of programming languages. PostgreSQL is highly customizable, allowing users to define their own data types, functions, and even custom operators. 

Features and Performance of PostgreSQL:

  • PostgreSQL stores and processes data quickly and efficiently, handling large sets of data without compromising speed.
  • It is suitable for complex applications and big data solutions, thanks to its ability to store and handle complex queries.
  • PostgreSQL is known for its stability, reliability, and consistent performance, making it a preferred choice for many database professionals.
  • The vibrant open-source developer community of PostgreSQL provides support, troubleshooting resources, and continuous improvements for optimized performance.
  • PostgreSQL offers horizontal scalability through techniques like table partitioning, sharding, and streaming replication, ensuring efficient handling of large datasets.
  • It is optimized for performance, allowing for quick and efficient data retrieval and processing.

What Is SQL Server? 

PostgreSQL and SQL Server

SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft. It provides an enterprise-level platform for data storage, management and analysis that also boasts powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. With SQL Server, you can build powerful applications and quickly access your data, as well as construct robust databases with the options of customizable extensions and tools. 

Features and Performance of SQL Server:

  • SQL Server enables the building of powerful applications and provides quick access to data.
  • It offers broad compatibility with other systems, allowing connections to various structured data stores on-premises and in the cloud.
  • SQL Server supports the combination of traditional data sources (like Excel spreadsheets) with real-time streaming services.
  • It is compliant with major industry standards such as SQL, ODBC, and JDBC, simplifying integration with existing apps and third-party products.
  • SQL Server provides more enterprise features for scaling out and partitioning, making it suitable for businesses dealing with large amounts of data or needing distributed storage across different geographical locations.
  • It emphasizes performance optimization to ensure efficient data processing and retrieval, making it well-suited for handling growing datasets and high-performance requirements.

Comparing PostgreSQL and SQL Server 

When you compare PostgreSQL and SQL Server, the following differences are important to note:

  • Ownership and Licensing: PostgreSQL is an open-source and community-driven database, while SQL Server is a proprietary database owned by Microsoft Corporation.
  • Operating Systems: PostgreSQL is designed to run on multiple operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows, while SQL Server is primarily designed to run on Windows, but can also be run on Linux.
  • Cost: PostgreSQL is free to use, while SQL Server requires a license and can prove to be expensive, especially for larger organizations.
  • Scalability: SQL Server has pre-built packages that make scalability easier, while PostgreSQL requires more manual effort to scale the database.
  • Features: PostgreSQL offers a more extensive range of features than SQL Server, including support for native JSON data type, table inheritance, and many other advanced features. SQL Server, on the other hand, offers features that are specific to Microsoft products, such as integration with Microsoft Office.
  • Performance: SQL Server offers better performance for certain applications due to its more traditional structure, while PostgreSQL is known for its performance and can handle large amounts of data.
  • Custom Data Types: PostgreSQL supports custom data types, making it slightly more flexible than SQL Server.
  • Built-in Functions: PostgreSQL has a larger array of built-in functions compared to SQL Server.
  • Stored Procedures: PostgreSQL supports stored procedures written in multiple languages, whereas SQL Server supports stored procedures written only in T-SQL.

However, there are also some similarities between the two databases that are worth mentioning.

Both PostgreSQL and SQL Server:

  • Use triggers to execute functions in response to an event inside the database.
  • Connect tables through indexes to improve query performance.
  • Provide an extensive library of built-in functions for data manipulation and analysis.
  • Support stored procedures to execute commands and queries on the database.

PostgreSQL and SQL Server: Some Pros and Cons

PostgreSQL SQL Server
Open-source and community-driven  Robust enterprise-level database management system (owned by Microsoft) 
Highly customizable  Seamless integration with Microsoft products and technologies 
Excellent scalability and performance Well-documented with extensive support resources available 
Broad platform support  Better performance for certain applications 
Rich feature set with advanced capabilities  Offers pre-built packages and tools for easier scalability 
Scaling requires more manual effort  Requires a license (can be expensive for larger organizations) 
Limited integration with Microsoft products  Primarily designed to run on Windows, with limited Linux support 
Documentation and support resources may be limited  Limited support for custom data types compared to PostgreSQL 
Enterprise-level features may not be as extensive  Features may be more focused on Microsoft-specific technologies 
Licensing and support options may not be standardized  Customization options may be more restricted compared to PostgreSQL 

PostgreSQL vs. SQL server – Which is better? 

Determining the better server, PostgreSQL or SQL Server, depends on specific requirements and preferences. PostgreSQL is open-source and highly customizable, with scalability, advanced features, and strong community support. It may require more manual effort for scaling and has limited integration with Microsoft products.

SQL Server, as a proprietary database, offers seamless integration with Microsoft technologies, pre-built scalability tools, and extensive support. However, it comes with licensing costs and limited customization options compared to PostgreSQL.

Ultimately, the choice between PostgreSQL and SQL Server boils down to specific needs, preferences, and the technical environment. Organizations should carefully evaluate factors such as budget, desired features, scalability requirements, platform compatibility, and the availability of expertise in order to make an informed decision on which server is better suited for their specific use case.

The following are some use cases for both PostgreSQL and SQL servers:

Use Cases for PostgreSQL:

  1. Web Applications: Reliable, scalable, and feature-rich database for web applications.
  2. Geospatial Applications: Advanced support for geospatial data in GIS and location-based services.
  3. Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence: Efficiently handle large datasets for data warehousing and business intelligence.
  4. Content Management Systems (CMS): Reliable and stable data storage for CMS platforms.

Use Cases for SQL Server:

  1. Enterprise Applications: Comprehensive features and scalability for enterprise-level applications.
  2. Business Applications: Integration with Microsoft technologies for finance, HR, inventory management, and CRM.
  3. Data Analysis and Reporting: Integrated business intelligence tools for data analysis and reporting.
  4. E-commerce and Online Retail: Transactional capabilities for high-traffic e-commerce and online retail platforms.

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples, and both PostgreSQL and SQL Server can be used in a wide range of applications depending on specific requirements.

Using PostgreSQL & SQL Server With Astera Centerprise 

Astera Centerprise provides seamless integration with various databases, including PostgreSQL and SQL Server. It allows users to easily connect to their data sources, extract data, transform it, and load it into their desired target systems. By using these open-source databases, users can leverage their cost-effectiveness, reliability, and security features. 

One of the key advantages of Astera Centerprise is its code-free approach to ETL. With its drag-and-drop interface, users can easily create ETL jobs by visually designing the data flow and transformations, without writing any code. This is a significant advantage for businesses that don’t have dedicated technical staff or require faster results. 

Astera Centerprise’s code-free approach  reduces the learning curve and development time for creating ETL jobs. Also, it minimizes the potential for errors that can occur when writing code. Moreover, it enables business analysts and other non-technical users to participate actively in data integration tasks. It empowers them to perform data analysis more efficiently. 

In addition to being a code-free ETL tool, Astera Centerprise allows users to create high-performance ETL jobs. These jobs deliver faster results using fewer resources. It also enables users to automate the entire ETL process with dynamic parameters. Thus, it makes it easy to configure and automate complex processes without manual intervention. 

Overall, the combination of PostgreSQL and SQL Server with Astera Centerprise provides users with a powerful data integration solution that can handle a wide range of data types and formats, and deliver insights from large datasets efficiently. 


In conclusion, while PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server may have significant differences between them. PostgreSQL is an open-source database, while SQL Server is a commercial offering. Additionally, PostgreSQL comes with useful features such as the ability to add custom functions. Whereas, SQL Server offers one of the most sophisticated user interfaces available.

Both databases can be used in conjunction with Astera Centerprise. Astera Centerprise is a data integration platform, to enable businesses to move and manage their data more efficiently. Ultimately, the selection between PostgreSQL and SQL server will depend on the specific needs of your business. 

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