Picking a Database: SQL or NoSQL?

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The use of databases allows for many functions in the tech industry. There are two types of databases that developers use—SQL and NoSQL.

What is an SQL database and what is it used for?

Standing the test of time, SQL is the Java of databases. It’s used in majority of software compared to NoSQL databases.

Structured Query Language (SQL) databases follow a model of relation, hence why they are called relational databases. This means that data is organized into relation groups. It’s a form of structuring data and organizing it by using database schema—the connection between fields of data in tables and the tables themselves. Additionally, SQL databases are English-based. They use commands like ‘INSERT’, ‘DELETE’, ‘SELECT’, and so on to manipulate data.

Examples of SQL Databases

  • Oracle
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • MariaDB

What is a NoSQL database and what is it used for?

NoSQL databases are much younger than SQL databases. As the name suggests, these databases don’t use the same structure as their predecessor. NoSQL databases were designed to disregard the strict process involved with relational models, earning the characteristic, ‘schemaless’. They target large amounts of data while focusing on efficient scaling and adaptability.

With this flexibility and lack of schema, NoSQL databases were divided based on the models they used, some of which are:

  • Document: The name is self-explanatory—this model is analyzed through unique keys for each document and searches for specific content they contain.
  • Graph: It’s presented as a visualization of mathematical data, which can be searched based on formulas, for example.

Some examples of NoSQL databases are Cassandra, Redis, and MongoDB.

Which is better?

By separating the databases into different categories, their strengths and weaknesses become more apparent.

  1. Schema or no schema

The structure of schemas allow for better organization within a database and can be easier to search data. However, schemaless databases make adding data much simpler. This means businesses who are continuously changing may find NoSQL databases to be a better fit.

  1. Accessibility & the integrity of data

SQL databases process commands one at a time, though they can identify problems sooner. Performance is slowed because of this. If faster performance speed access to data results are needed, NoSQL databases are a good choice since they run commands one after another without waiting for the results of previous commands.

  1. Joining

Normalization, or the deletion of multiple copies of the same information, is used in SQL databases. This helps when data needs to be combined across different tables. On the other hand, with NoSQL databases, the only way to do this is to make a specific folder for this information in order to join it together.

The Result

Each database is used for different reasons that are entirely up to the developer. SQL databases are best used to protect sensitive data and large collections of data that needs to be sectioned. An example of this is banks. NoSQL databases are preferred for simultaneous tasks that need to be conducted quickly and can be easily accessed. Text searching millions of pieces of data in an app is a good example. Ultimately, the purpose of a database, as well as what information it would hold, is one of the most important things to consider when choosing whether to use and SQL or NoSQL database.