SQLite vs MySQL – What’s the Difference

A core part of any website or development design is the database. There are several databases available on the market. SQLite, as well as MySQL, are equally popular open source databases. In this article, we’ll break down the essential differences between the two and help you understand the two – SQLite vs MySQL.

The database management system also referred to as a DBMS is often called RDBMS. RDBMS stands for Relational Database management system. At the most rudimentary level, all databases are used to manage, maintain, and manipulate data.

Data models can be one of two:

  1. NoSQL – an unstructured and is still evolving model
  2. Relational DBMS – a structured and more prominently used model

What is a Database Management System

A DBMS is a software that interacts with a database. It facilitates several operations over the databases it manages. A few of these operations are:

  • Managing the access of a database
  • Running SQL queries
  • Writing data into the database
  • Updating database
  • Deleting data from the database

In most cases, database and DBMS are used interchangeably. However, a database is a collection of stored data while a DBMS is the software used to access the database.

Every DBMS has an underlying model which decides the structure of the database and how the data can be retrieved. A relational DBMS uses the relational data model. Here data is organized in the form of tables. Each table has a set of attributes or columns, and each row also referred to as tuples have a relation. Owing to this, the structuring is referred to as RDBMS.

To work on a RDBMS, you have to use SQL or Structured Query Language. Each RDBMS has a different dialect.

SQLite vs MySQL

SQLite, as well as MySQL, are open source RDBMS. Let’s deep dive into their differences.

Architectural Difference – SQLite vs MySQL

  • SQLite is an open source project available in the public domain
  • MySQL is an open source project which is owned by Oracle

SQLite is a server-less database and is self-contained. This is also referred to as an embedded database which means the DB engine runs as a part of the app.

On the other hand, MySQL requires a server to run. MySQL will require a client and server architecture to interact over a network.

Data Type Support – SQLite vs MySQL

SQLite supports these datatypes: Blob, Integer, Null, Text, Real.

MySQL supports the below-mentioned datatypes:

Tinyint, Smallint, Mediumint, Int, Bigint, Double, Float, Real, Decimal, Double precision, Numeric, Timestamp, Date, Datetime, Char, Varchar, Year, Tinytext, Tinyblob, Blob, Text, MediumBlob, MediumText, Enum, Set, Longblob, Longtext.

As you can tell, MySQL is a lot more flexible when it comes to data types.

Storage and Portability – SQLite vs MySQL

The SQLite library is about 250 KB in size, while the MySQL server is about 600 MB. The SQLite directly stores info in a single file, making it easy to copy. No configurations are required, and the process ca be done using minimal support.

Before copying or exporting MySQL you need to condense it into a single file. For larger databases, this will be a time-consuming activity.

Multiple Access and Scalability – SQLite vs MySQL

SQLite does not have any specific user management functionality and hence is not suitable for multiple user access. MySQL has a well-constructed user management system which can handle multiple users and grant various levels of permission.

SQLite is suitable for smaller databases. As the database grows the memory requirement also gets larger while using SQLite. Performance optimization is harder when using SQLite. This has a few write constraints.

On the contrary, MySQL is easily scalable and can handle a bigger database with less effort.

Security and Ease of Setup – SQLite vs MySQL

SQLite does not have an inbuilt authentication mechanism. The database files can be accessed by anyone.  However, MySQL comes with a lot of inbuilt security features. This includes authentication with a username, password, and SSH.

SQLite does not require too many configurations and is easy to set up. MySQL requires more configurations as compared to SQLite. MySQL also has more setup guides available.

When to Use SQLite

There are certain times when SQLite can be more effective than the alternative. Some of these scenarios are:

  • Developing small standalone apps
  • Smaller projects which do not require much scalability
  • When you have a requirement to read and write directly from the disk
  • Basic development and testing

When to Use MySQL

Below are a few scenarios where MySQL is the superior option:

  • Multiple user access to apps
  • When users require strong security and authentication features
  • With distributed systems
  • With apps requiring a larger database
  • With projects which require more scalability
  • Web-based applications
  • When developing customized solutions

Pros and Cons – SQLite vs MySQL

Let’s quickly sum up the essential differences between the two options:

Advantages of SQLite:

  • File-based and easy to set up and use
  • Suitable for basic development and testing
  • Easily portable
  • Uses standard SQL syntax with minor alterations
  • Easy to use

Disadvantages of SQLite:

  • Lacks user management and security features
  • Not easily scalable
  • Is not suitable for big databases
  • Cannot be customized

Advantages of MySQL:

  • Easy to use
  • Provides a lot of database related features
  • Good security features
  • Easily scalable and is suitable for big databases
  • Provides good speed and performance
  • Gives good user management and multiple access controls

Disadvantages of MySQL:

  • Requires some technical expertise to setup
  • Slightly different syntax as compared to conventional SQL
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That’s all. We learned what a DBMS, RDBMS, and the difference between SQLite and MySQL is! Both have slight architectural and feature differences. At the end of the day, only you can decide what works best for your project. We hope that you can now make a more informed decision! Happy developing!

The author

Edward S.

Edward is a content editor with years of experience in IT writing, marketing, and Linux system administration. His goal is to encourage readers to establish an impactful online presence. He also really loves dogs, guitars, and everything related to space.