SQL Vs NoSQL: The Key Differences

When it comes to databases we can broadly categorize them into SQL and NoSQL. Knowing the differences between them will help you to choose a suitable database for your use.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases.

What is SQL?

SQL ( Structured Query Language ) is a database query language that is used for managing data held in a relational database. A relational database stores data in tables that can be interrelated to each other.

By using the SQL command you can create databases, tables, insert data to these tables, update an existing table, delete a database or table. It can perform various other operations.

Examples of relational databases

A list of some of the most popular relational databases is given below. These all use SQL for managing data hence also known as SQL databases.

  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • MS SQL Server
  • PostgreSQL
  • MariaDB
  • IBM DB2
  • Sybase
  • SQLite, etc.

What is NoSQL?

NoSQL is a non-relational database that uses JSON-like documents with dynamic schemas that means like a relational database it does not requires predefined schemas for entering data in the database. These are easy to scale and are mostly used for Big data and real-time web applications.

Examples of NoSQL databases

There are various ways to classify NoSQL databases. The basic categories with some examples are given below.

  • Document Type –¬† MongoDB, OrientDB, Apache CouchDB, IBM Domino, Couchbase, BaseX, Azure CosmosDB, etc.
  • Key-value – Azure CosmosDB, Apache Ignite, Couchbase, Redis, Oracle NoSQL database, InfinityDB, Dynamo, etc.
  • Wide column – Azure CosmosDB, Cassandra, HBase, etc.
  • Graph – Azure CosmosDB, AllegroGraph, Apache Giraph, OrientDB, ArangoDB, etc.

Differences between SQL and NoSQL

The following table shows the difference between SQL and NoSQL.

Database typeSQL databases are known as RDBMS or relation databasesNoSQL type of databases are non relational database
Language usedStructured Query Language OR SQL There is no declarative query language
SchemaFixed or predefined schema Dynamic schema
ScalabilityVertically scalableHorizontally scalable
Hierarchical StorageNot suitable for hierarchical data storageMore suitable for storing data hierarchically as it supports key-value pair method.
SuitabilityBest suited for complex query intensive environment Not good fit for complex queries
Development yearDeveloped in the 1970s to deal with issues with flat file storageDeveloped in the late 2000s to overcome issues and limitations of SQL databases.
ACID vs BASE propertiesFollows ACID ( Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability)Follows BASE ( Basically Available, Soft state, Eventually Consistent)
ExamplesMySQL, Oracle database, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, etc.MongoDB, Redis, Neo4j, Cassandra, Hbase, etc.


I hope now you understand the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases. For any query write us in the comments below.

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