Difference between SQL and NoSQL


While choosing a database, the first query arises is that whether you should go for Relational i.e. SQL or Non-relational (NoSQL) data structure. Both these data structures are having pros and cons to each other.  Here’s the quick guide to these data structures along with the comparison:

What is SQL?

Structured Query Language (SQL), is a domain-specific language used in programming and designed for managing data held in a relational database management system (RDBMS), or for stream processing in a relational data stream management system (RDSMS). Relational databases use relations to store the data. This data then match within the dataset. It is used for the data manipulation and management. SQL is used to insert, query, update and modify the data.

What is NoSQL?

Contrary to SQL, a NoSQL database doesn’t require a schema i.e. self-describing. Its documents are JSON documents. These are complete entities that one can readily read and understand. NoSQL utilizes a wide variety of data models which are high performance and non-relational databases.

These databases are easy to use, give scalable performance, strong resilience, and wide availability. For examples, MongoDB, Couchbase, CloudDB, etc.

Difference between SQL and NoSQL:

There are a lot of differences between SQL and NoSQL, which are important to understanding while making the decision of choosing the database for your website or organization. The major differences are:

1. Language:

Let’s understand the difference of Language by taking an example. Suppose there is an island A in which all people speak the same language, use the same language for communication and every other purpose. Now in this island changing the language would disrupt the communication and would be very difficult.

Now, there is another island B in which every person speaks a different language and there is no universal language, changing one person’s language will not affect anyone else.

This example illustrates the key difference between SQL and NoSQL databases. Let’s explain:

SQL databases use Structured Query Language for managing and manipulating the data. At one side, it is extremely powerful, versatile and widely use options available, but at another side, it is very restrictive. In SQL, you use predefined schemas to examine the structure of data and all the other than a need to follow the same structure and any change in the data would be disruptive and very difficult as like in island A.

A NoSQL database, on the other hand, has a dynamic schema for unstructured data, and the data can store in many ways, either column-oriented, document-oriented, graph-based or organized as a KeyValue Store. There is no restriction as like in SQL, you can create documents without predefining their structure, every document can have their own unique structure, can add any number of fields and syntax can vary in each database.

2. Scalability:

In most general cases, SQL databases are vertically scalable. It means that you can increase the load on a single server by increasing CPU, RAM or SSD. On the other hand, NoSQL databases are horizontally scalable; this means they can handle the more traffic by simply adding more servers to the database. NoSQL is more preferable for large and constantly emerging datasets due to the ability to become larger.

3. Structure:

SQL databases are table-based. On the other hand, NoSQL databases are document-based, graph databases, key-value pairs, or wide-column stores. Systems like accounting system, legacy systems or other which consists of multi-row transactions require SQL databases.


SQL is an established database with a very large community Although, NoSQL is growing rapidly its community is not as well defined as like SQL.
SQL is available for all major platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac, BSD, and Solaris, and not limits to SQL query language. NoSQL gives you the facility to change the data schema without modifying the existing data.
SQL is vertically scalable, i.e.the load can increase on a single server by increasing CPU, RAM, and SSD. NoSQL is horizontally scalable, which helps reduce the workload and scale your business with ease.
The database is open source and free. It’s high-performing for simple queries.
The MySQL database can replicate across multiple nodes, meaning that the workload can reduce and the scalability and availability of the application can be increased. The database doesn’t require a database administrator. Since it is fairly user-friendly in this way, it can use by both developers and administrators.


SQL is a good choice for organizations that can get benefit from its pre-defined structure and schemas, which require multi-row transactions, for example, accounting software.

NoSQL, on the other hand, is a good choice for a business that has rapid growth or databases with no clear definitions.

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