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What Is MYSQL? A Beginner’s Guide

Daren Low
May 25, 2024


While you may not think about them often, databases are actually one of the most crucial parts of web hosting.


We count on them for a multitude of things – such as whenever we sign up for an account on a website. To do this, you’ll have to provide your username, password, and email address, and all of this data will be stored in a database server where it’s readily available whenever accessed.


And if we’re talking about the most popular databases out there, one of them has to be MYSQL. Famous web applications like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress all use the MYSQL database!


What also makes it so great is that it’s a relational database server, which we’ll be getting into shortly. Keep on reading to learn all about MYSQL:



What is a MYSQL Database?


MYSQL is a relational database management system or RDBMS, which is based on the Structured Query Language (SQL). The system is open-source and operates on a client-server model, which runs on all major operating systems including Windows, Linux, macOS, etc.


If this is the first time you’re hearing some of these terms – don’t sweat it. Let’s break it down in simple English to better understand what MYSQL does:


1. Open-source


Open source software refers to software that is available to all for downloading, studying, changing, and distributing. Basically the owner of the software grants these rights to everyone.


2. Client-server


client-server model

How a client-server model works.


A client-server model simply means that all the clients (a.k.a. users) connect to the server via a specified network and make requests. The server then accesses the client requests and responds back with appropriate data.


3. Database


In layman’s terms, a database is essentially a structured collection of data. A good example would be the Messenger app on your phone, which contains all the messages from all your contacts. In this case, the messages are data, which is stored in the database of the Messenger application.


As mentioned earlier, MYSQL is a relational database, which just means that all the data is organized in the form of tables, which all relate to each other in one way or another.


4. Query


A query is a command which retrieves certain data from the database. All queries in MYSQL are written in the Structured Query Language or SQL.


5. SQL


Structured Query Language or SQL is the standard programming language used to manage relational databases. SQL allows users to perform various operations on the database such as adding or removing specific data from the database.


6. Tables


Tables are structures present inside a database where the data is stored. With relational databases, multiple tables can exist in the same database. So in every SQL query that you run to fetch data, you will need to specify which tables to perform this operation on to avoid overlap or prolonged runtime.


typical database table layout

Layout of a typical database table. (Credit: Adobe)


The 2 components of a Table are columns and rows. Both these components are discussed separately below.


7. Columns


Columns are vertical assortments of data inside a table. All the entries in a column must be of the same data type. Otherwise, the database will not work. Each column can be of a different data type which divides the data into contextual subsets.


Columns define what type of data will be present in each row in a specific table.


8. Rows


Rows are horizontal assortments of data inside a table. While each column contains a specific type of data, rows are not restricted to this. In a table, there will be different data types present inside the same row.


And another thing – whereas columns are identified by the type of data they have stored, specific keys are used to point to rows in queries. A handy tool called row index will help you understand what all these entries of data are pointing towards.


MySQL Relational Database Management System

How a database works along the web server to provide information over the internet.
(Credit: Learn Computer Science Online)


So, to quickly recap what we’ve just learned, we need to make a database to store and retrieve data. The database consists of tables, which are structured assortments of data, and all of the tables in a relational database are related to one another.


Tables are made up of rows and columns. Each column contains the same type of data, while multiple data types can be present in a single row.



Where Would You Use MYSQL?


MYSQL can be used for a wide variety of applications, especially for massive websites such as Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and so on.


As heaps of data can be stored in such a way that it will be readily available once requested, MYSQL is an excellent choice for data warehousing, data logging, e-commerce, and more. Plus, it can also be easily integrated into a Php-based website, and then used to efficiently fetch and display searchable information to users in real time.


Still a bit overwhelmed? You’ll have a better understanding of the ideal scenarios to deploy MYSQL once you know how things work in MYSQL. Have a look at the section below for a detailed explanation of how MYSQL operates and handles data.



How Does MYSQL Work?


MYSQL operates on a client-server model where a client sends a data request to the server. The server then responds by sending back appropriate response data.


client-server architecture of MYSQL

Client-Server architecture of MYSQL.


  1. First, the MYSQL server creates a database for storing and updating data.
  2. Then, clients will use any preferred MYSQL graphical user interface (a.k.a. the applications used to access and manage MYSQL) and connect to the server using this GUI. To make data requests from the server, clients need to make use of appropriate SQL commands.
  3. When a client sends a SQL query to the server, the server analyzes the query and responds by sending the requested data to the client machine.


Because MYSQL is a relational database system, it does not take too much time for it to find appropriate response data from a huge stack of data. This is why web applications with thousands of GBs of data prefer MYSQL for their database needs.



What Benefits Does MYSQL Bring?


Now, let’s talk about some of the biggest advantages of MYSQL to better understand why it’s the industry favorite for database management.


The first (and arguably most important) benefit is data protection. Whether you’re the end customer or a business owner, you know just how important it is to protect everyone’s data. MYSQL is well known for its security and privacy protocols, which is why major web applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and more use MYSQL for its features.


Another great benefit that MYSQL brings to the table is scalability. As your business grows so will your data, and MYSQL allows you to increase your database size according to your needs without having to change anything.


What’s more, MYSQL also promises a 24/7 uptime and consistently fast performance speeds. So even if an e-commerce website is getting a million hits every day, MYSQL will offer lightning-fast response speed.



Which Web Hosts Offer MYSQL Hosting?


If you’ve reached this far, you’re probably also curious to know which web hosting platforms offer MYSQL. Here are some popular hosting sites you can consider:


  1. Hostinger
    Offers unlimited bandwidth, free domain, and free SSL.
  2. DreamHost
    Offers unlimited SSD, unlimited traffic, and 100% uptime guarantee.
  3. HostPapa
    Offers 100GB SSD, free domain, and free SSL.


If you need more help deciding on which web host is right for you, have a look at our detailed web hosting reviews.



Looking for PostgreSQL web hosting? Discover more on the best free PostgreSQL web hosting providers with our review.



MYSQL In A Nutshell


MYSQL is one of the best relational database management systems out there as it offers lightning-fast response speeds even if your database size is thousands of TBs. Plus, they also promise 24/7 uptime, protection from data breaches, and more. The only prerequisite to using MYSQL is that you need to learn the Structured Query Language (no worries though, it’s not as complicated as traditional coding languages).


Aside from popular social media platforms like Facebook, content management systems like WordPress also use MYSQL for its database management. In fact, many WordPress hosting providers offer MYSQL hosting too (because it’s just that popular!)


And that’s all there is to it! If you found this blog helpful, do check out our other posts on web hosting, web development, online security, and more here on Bitcatcha.



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