What is MySQL and How Does it Work?

Any web hosting company worth its salt will offer MySQL with its hosting. (By the way, if you haven’t yet upgraded to VPS hosting, you should probably look into that. It whips both shared hosting and dedicated hosting in many categories.) But all that harping on about MySQL leads to one very important, often unanswered question…

What is MySQL? 

MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) with a client-server model. It’s pronounced “My S-Q-L”, and it was developed by a Swedish company in 1994. But that probably doesn’t tell you what you really need to know about it, like “What’s a database?”, “What does ‘client-server model’ mean?” and “Why is MySQL so popular?”

Fret not. In this guide, we’ll break all of this down.

Let’s start with the easiest question:

What’s a database?

A database is a place where data is stored and organised.

Your phone’s contact list is an example of a database.

That’s where all your contact data is stored. When we say MySQL is a “relational” database management system, we mean that the database stores information in chunks that all relate to each other in some way. In this case, the “chunks” are tables.

What’s a client-server model?

The “client” here doesn’t mean you. A client is a computer that runs RDBMS software. MySQL is called a “client-server model” because whenever a computer needs to access the database, it connects to the RDBMS server.

How does MySQL work?

The MySQL software is made up of the MySQL server, the programs that help in the administration of the MySQL databases, and supporting software.

However, the most important part of the MySQL system is the MySQL server.

The MySQL server is hosted on the same physical or virtual system where the database files are stored, and it manages the database system.

If you want to do anything to the database, whether that involves adding information to the database or removing information from it, you have to go through the MySQL server.

When you ask the MySQL server to do something, for example “Delete the database called skydivingelephants”, the MySQL server locates the subdirectory in its data librady and deletes it.

The MySQL server is always running as long as the computer is on. That way, it’s always available to carry out requests.

Features of MySQL

MySQL has a multi-layered, modular design, which just means that the server is designed with independent modules. Here are some of the best features of MySQL:

  • It’s It uses fast B-tree tables with index compression, executes fast joins using nested-loop join, and has a lightning-fast thread-based memory allocation system.
  • It’s built for security. MySQL boasts host-based verification, encrypted connections, authentication plugins, connection-control plugins, password-validation systems, user account management and access control, and many more features that are designed to bolster security.
  • It supports data redundancy, which means that the same data is stored in two separate places. This is great for backup and recovery purposes, and also allows errors in the data to be corrected smoothly. And, speaking of backup, MySQL offers a range of backup strategies, so you can choose the one that works for you.
  • It supports more than just one data type. For instance, it supports floating-point types (float and double), binary and varbinary, char and varchar, signed/unsigned integers, and many more.

These amazing features probably explain why MySQL is so popular, but just in case you’re still wondering…

Why is MySQL so popular?

There are lots of RDBMS out there, but MySQL has a pretty loyal fan following. Here’s why:

1. Its high performance

MySQL is backed by a wide array of cluster servers. This means that whatever information you’re storing, whether that involves government secrets, eCommerce data, or medical information, you never have to worry about your MySQL servers burning out or backing down.

2. It’s flexible and easy to use

Because MySQL is open source, you can modify it to fit your needs. You can also learn and customise the source code so you can tailor it to your desired specifications. And the best part is, you don’t even have to pay for this convenience.

3. It’s secure

We already wowed you with the fortress-like security system employed by the MySQL database. This security is a major reason why MySQL is one of the most sought-after databases on the market. With all the checks and double-checks implemented by the MySQL database, you can rest easy, knowing your information is safe.

4. There’s a booming community

Because MySQL is open source and has been on the market for years, there’s a bounty of information on the system. This is great news for beginners and also for seasoned developers looking to take their craft to the next level. With this much community support, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever encounter a problem you don’t know how to solve or that you can’t find someone to solve for you.

The Takeaway

MySQL is a secure, high-performance open source database management system. With all these great features, it’s no wonder that good web hosting companies make sure their VPS hosting package is compatible with MySQL.