What Is Mysql And The Important Things You Should Know About Mysql11/16/2011
If you are remotely serious about your website, SQL should mean more to you than just another fancy acronym.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language that manages data in relational databases. But why would that interest you? After all, you just signed up for a hosting account so you can start a blog. Or perhaps you want to host a simple online store. You don’t need to know anything about SQL, right? Well, you actually do. Just about every web application that you can imagine relies on some sort of SQL database to store text, images, user credentials, settings, and all the other items that make up a website. So, unless you plan to have a completely static webpage, sooner or later, you will bump into SQL.
Did you noticed how we said “some sort of SQL database?” That’s because there are many types of SQL implementations, including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle SQL, and the open source MySQL. In this article, we focus on MySQL because it’s one of the most popular database servers and it’s free, meaning that most hosting providers offer it in their standard hosting packages. What are the most important things that you should know about MySQL? Read on to find out.
What does MySQL do for your website?
MySQL stores and retrieves the data that makes up the content of a dynamic website. For example, let’s say you have just set up a new WordPress blog. You are eager to put some content online, so you log in, write a nice post, and click Publish. Behind the scenes, your post is stored in a table in a MySQL database. If you decide to modify a post or a page, the entry for that specific entry is modified in the MySQL database. If you delete something, the entry is removed altogether from the table.
After a while, your friends will visit your new blog and maybe leave some comments. The comments are also stored in a MySQL table. In fact, every item that you create or modify, from the color of the fonts to the image and videos that you upload to the site, are kept in a MySQL database.
Think of MySQL as a huge registry that records information on all objects that compose your site. For example, a post may have multiple properties, each stored as a cell in a table: post content, post formatting, visibility, status, attachments, etc. When you publish the post, all of its properties are added to the “register.” WordPress has many tables, one for posts, one for comments, one for users, and so on. It’s up to MySQL to manage these tables, process the data, and move it around, so you and your visitors can enjoy a smooth browsing experience.
What’s so special about MySQL?
MySQL is the backbone of many of the most popular web sites in the world. You probably use many MySQL implementations every day, without ever realizing it – Wikipedia, Twitter, and Facebook all use MySQL databases. Facebook employs thousands of huge MySQL databases to store every like, picture, and wall comment generated by its 800+ million users. If MySQL can handle that much data for Facebook, it’s likely to be able to run any website, including yours, with no problems.
What makes MySQL so popular? First, it’s one of the best database servers available, comparable in features to commercial applications, such as MS SQL or IBM’s DB2. MySQL is also very fast, which makes it ideal for applications that need to process huge amounts of data in seconds. It’s also versatile and scalable, so it can be deployed successfully on Windows, Linux, and UNIX systems alike, from the smallest shared hosting accounts to the largest server farms.
Second, MySQL is open source and free to use. It works great with other open source applications, forming the popular LAMP stack together with Linux, the Apache web server, and the PHP scripting language.
Should you be actively looking for MySQL?
The answer is definitely yes! Unless you have very specific requirements and plans for your web server, MySQL support should be high on your shopping list. You can go without it if you don’t want any dynamic web applications or if you plan to use MS SQL Server or other competing products. But for a general purpose website, MySQL is highly recommended. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB, MediaWiki, and other popular web applications all use MySQL for data storing. Even if you would be able to run them using other database software, it’s much easier to stick with a tried and true solution such as MySQL.
Due to its popularity and accessibility, most web hosting providers include MySQL in their standard packages. However, make sure to check before signing up for a plan, as there are still some hosting companies that don’t offer MySQL or have limited support for it.
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