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MongoDB vs MySQL: Which One Should You Choose?

By |2022-10-18T09:47:25+00:00September 5th, 2022|

Investing in the right database can make it easier for businesses to tackle the exponential growth in data these days. Several database providers claim to meet modern data challenges, but the question is: do they fulfill your specific business requirements?

MongoDB and MySQL are two popular management systems preferred by businesses dealing with large volumes of data. However, each database has pros and cons and is suitable for a particular use case. So, before choosing one, you must evaluate them on several factors, such as security, flexibility, scalability, and most importantly, the supported use cases.

Here’s an in-depth comparison of MongoDB vs. MySQL to help you make an informed decision.

What is MongoDB?

MongoDB is an open-source, free-to-use NoSQL database that can store large amounts of unstructured data. Instead of rows and columns, MongoDB uses collections and documents to store data. Each collection contains a set of documents, and each document has key-value pairs, also known as the basic data unit. The documents in MongoDB have a JSON-like format and can vary in size and content. Each document has an Id, which is the primary key and represents a unique value in a document.

MongoDB Data Structure

The schema-less nature makes MongoDB a highly flexible solution, making it easier to enter fields on the go.

MongoDB uses MongoDB Query Language (MQL), a flexible and powerful query language with CRUD features that let you create, read, update, and delete information. MongoDB also makes data compilation, geographical queries, and text search easier. You can query using JSON-linked operators, Boolean AND, and OR queries.

MongoDB features

  • Replication: MongoDB’s replication feature allows you to create multiple copies of the same data and distribute them across many servers
  • Ad-hoc queries: MongoDB supports ad-hoc queries, range queries, regular expressions (Regex), and field searches. In addition, queries can return specified text fields and incorporate JavaScript functions specified by users.
  • Sharding: Large datasets are split into small sets across MongoDB instances to boost performance
  • Load balancing: MongoDB supports control concurrency to manage numerous requests from clients to several servers at the same time
  • Capped Collections: MongoDB facilitates capped collections that manage data insertion orders
  • Horizontal Scaling: You can increase MongoDB’s capacity just by adding more servers.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system. Introduced by Oracle, MYSQL has gained much traction in the market. It is the world’s second most popular database management system — used by some of the most popular brands, such as booking.com and Netflix. Developers prefer working with this database for WordPress websites.

It stores data in a relational format, i.e., in rows and columns, which makes it easier to analyze and query. The database is based on a client-server model, so any time a user wants to access some information, they can send a request to the server using SQL commands. Users can use commands like “SELECT,” “UPDATE,” “INSERT,” and “DELETE” to modify data.

Developers prefer to work with MYSQL because of its low cost of ownership. Plus, it comes with several functionalities, such as MYSQL Work Bench, a dashboard that allows you to perform server administration, perform data migrations, conduct data modeling, and manage data effectively. Moreover, the database is highly secure and robust.

MySQL features

  • Replication and clustering: MySQL supports replication and clustering through multiple synchronization methods, which improves program execution efficiency
  • Security: MySQL provides various security features, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), password protection, authentication plugins, and data masking
  • Performance Schema: This MySQL feature allows users to check the execution of a server at runtime
  • Online Schema: MySQL provides a variety of online schemas that help users fulfill their storage capacity requirements and provide increased functionality.
  • Backup: MySQL allows users to back up their data in several ways, including full and incremental backup and logical versus physical backup

Now that we have covered the main functionalities of both databases, let’s compare and contrast their capabilities and functionalities:

MongoDB Vs. MySQL: Ease of Use

MongoDB

Compared to MySQL, MongoDB is easier to work with.  Since there is no need to define schemas beforehand, it gives a chance to users with minimal technical knowledge to immediately start storing data in it.

You can use the database with various programming languages, including C, C# and .NET, C++, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Rust, Scala, Go, Swift, and Python. The flexibility allows organizations to hire developers with a broad range of expertise.

MongoDB has recently introduced MongoDB ATLAS, making it easier than ever to use MongoDB on the cloud. It allows users to manage, scale and operate MongoDB in the cloud with just a few clicks.  With MongoDB ATLAS, you can quickly access a cluster and start coding immediately. It also allows you to combine or migrate your data from popular cloud storage platforms, such as Amazon S3.

MySQL

MySQL relies on SQL Query language, so even if a developer is unfamiliar with MYSQL, they won’t have much trouble catching up as SQL is an easy language to master.

As a relational database, MYSQL is easier to work with when developing applications that require high referential integrity and security. Hence, developers usually prefer MySQL when working on financial or healthcare applications.

MySQL is also easy to set up. Users without prior knowledge of MySQL can install the database and activate it in WordPress. Users can take advantage of various third-party tools to establish a connection with the database.

Ease of use depends on the level of expertise of a developer. Most developers are familiar with  MySQL as it has a huge community and has been in the market for some time now. On the other hand, MongoDB has some easy-to-use features and takes away the hassle of defining schema before storing data.

MongoDB vs MySQL: Scalability

MongoDB

What sets MongoDB apart from relational databases is scalability. It supports horizontal scaling, allowing you to add nodes to increase capacity and handle the extra load. For example, if you are building an application and your database can no longer cope with the workload, you can just add a server to cater to the increased demand.

Source

MongoDB supports two types of database scaling methods: Replication and Sharding.

Replication allows you to create copies of database or database nodes. It doesn’t boost the total capacity of the database or its ability to handle write requests but increases MongoDB’s fault tolerance by spreading read requests across several nodes instead of a single node. Moreover, clients can always access data from other nodes if one node goes down.

You can increase MongoDB’s total capacity and the ability to handle write requests through Sharding or Partitioning. Sharding distributes only a part of data across different nodes based on a Sharding Key, which increases the capacity of each node, as it only processes the data it stores.

MySQL

Scalability choices are considerably limited in the MySQL database management system. You usually have two options: vertical scalability or read replicas.

In vertical scaling, you must increase the processing capacity of your existing system. Unlike horizontal scaling, you cannot improve performance by adding a server; instead, you need to upgrade the processing power, memory, storage, and network speed.

Another option is read replicas, where you make read-only copies of your data across different servers. This method allows you to offload the burden from just one server. However, there are limitations to the number of copies you can make. It also poses a problem when an application is write-heavy.

MySQL also allows sharding but has various limitations, so it is usually not used.

When it comes to scalability, MongoDB is the clear winner. You can scale it quickly at a low cost. Plus, it is more fault-tolerant and resilient. Also, since you are only adding a server, you don’t have to switch off the existing server, so there is no downtime. 

MongoDB vs MySQL: Security

MongoDB

MongoDB also offers extensive security measures. One of its prominent security features includes role-based access. You can give users different roles and privileges accordingly. Other than that, MongoDB encrypts all traffic through TLS/SSL encryption.

Another interesting feature offered by MongoDB is Client-side field-level encryption. This feature allows an application to encrypt fields in documents before sending the file to the server. Only users with the right encryption key can decrypt the data to read it. If an encryption key is deleted, all data is rendered inaccessible.

When it comes to security, both databases offer extensive security features. So, you cannot claim one is better than the other in this aspect. The choice depends on the business requirements.

MySQL

MySQL guarantees maximum protection of your data. It offers security based on Access Control Lists (ACLs), which don’t let users attempt connections, queries, or other operations without

The database also supports encrypted data transfer between client and server through TLS (Transport Layer Security), which ensures any data received through a public network is reliable. The TLS protocol can also detect any data loss.

Users can also get data masking and de-identification capabilities with MySQL Enterprise Edition. Demasking allows hiding sensitive data such as credit card numbers or identification numbers.

Is MongoDB Faster than MySQL?

MongoDB stores unstructured data faster than MySQL since there is no requirement to define schema beforehand.

The data read and write process is also quicker since all information for each entity is stored in a single document. Features like replication and sharding also give a considerable performance boost.

MySQL is relatively slow because it organizes information logically in tables. The database must write and read data from many tables to update or retrieve information, increasing server load and degrading speed.

MongoDB is clearly the right choice if you are deciding based on higher speed and performance.

When to Use MongoDB?

MongoDB is an ideal database to:

  • Integrate various data sources with different formats in a centralized location.
  • At the back-end of high-performance applications that require high scalability or traffic, such as e-commerce, social media, or IoT application, horizontal scalability allows users to increase the database’s capacity at a low cost.
  • Deal with complex, continuously evolving data structures.

When to Use MySQL?

MySQL is suitable for certain scenarios, especially:

  • When data requires high security and referential integrity.
  • To maintain a set schema with organized data that you don’t have to update over time.
  • At the backend of financial applications, banking applications, or medical applications.
  • For novice developers as MySQL has a vast community and low setup costs.
  • For startups that want to handle low-volume traffic.

Conclusion

The database you choose depends on the need of your organization and your particular use case. Often businesses use two or more databases together to tackle different use cases, which requires seamless data transfer between them. Astera Centerprise makes it easier for you to connect to various databases and ETL data between them without writing any code.

Here are some prominent features of Astera Centerprise:

  • Native Connectors: Astera Centerprise has 40+ native connectors to popular databases, file formats, cloud platforms, and data warehouses.
  • Built-in Transformations: You can easily manipulate your data using no-code, in-built sophisticated transformations
  • Automation: Astera Centerprise supports trigger-based job scheduling features that automate your data pipelines
  • Data Quality Features: It has various data validation and cleansing features that ensure your data is always healthy and decisions reliable
  • Drag and Drop User Interface: Astera Centerprise is easy to use and comes with a short learning curve. You can start building your data pipelines within minutes.
  • Schema Detection: It automatically detects schema from MongoDB and helps you map it to a relational database with ease

Download Astera Centerprise today and try it for free for 14 days.