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PostgreSQL vs MariaDB [Complete Comparison]

Ryan Forrester
Dec 19th, 2023
Blog

Relational databases, with their efficient organizational structure, play a crucial role in powering everything from online applications to scientific research.

Open-source databases have surged in popularity due to their affordability, scalability, and flexibility. Among them, PostgreSQL and MariaDB stand out.

Confused about which database you should use or what types of applications are best suited for PostgreSQL and MariaDB?

This guide delves into PostgreSQL vs MariaDB, analyzing key aspects like features, performance, and use cases. By examining their strengths and limitations, we aim to equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision.


Features and Functionality:

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL vs MariaDB: Diving into the features of PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system with more features than MariaDB. It’s packed with advanced features like object-relational capabilities, complex data types, and replication solutions.

PostgreSQL allows you to define custom data types and manage unstructured or semi-structured data efficiently with support for JSON, XML, arrays, and native NoSQL capabilities. Moreover it ensures data accuracy through robust replication options (asynchronous, synchronous, streaming, logical) and advanced indexing (B-tree, GiST, BRIN).

MariaDB

PostgreSQL vs MariaDB: Diving into the features of MariaDB

MariaDB leverages its heritage as a MySQL fork to integrate with existing environments. Its architecture boasts pluggable storage engines like PBXT, XtraDB, and InnoDB, enabling granular performance optimization tailored to diverse use cases.

Robust JSON support facilitates the manipulation of hybrid data formats, making MariaDB highly suitable for dynamic web applications that demand real-time analytics or complex data interactions. Furthermore, its data typing flexibility is enhanced by features like virtual columns for database-level calculations and advanced thread pooling for efficient query processing.

Fun Fact: MariaDB, a modified version of MySQL, was developed by MySQL’s original team.

FeaturePostgreSQLMariaDB
CompatibilityNot compatible with MySQLHighly compatible with MySQL
IndexingAdvanced indexing capabilities with various types of indexes (B-tree, Hash, GiST, etc.)More limited indexing capabilities compared to PostgreSQL
Complex queriesExcellent support for complex queries with features like window functions, CTEs, and sub-selectsGood support for complex queries, but not as advanced as PostgreSQL
ExtensibilityHighly extensible with support for custom data types, functions, and multiple programming languagesLess extensible than PostgreSQL
Storage enginesDefault engine is InnoDB, but offers limited additional enginesOffers a variety of storage engines optimized for different workloads
PerformanceGenerally good performance, but can be improved with optimizationCan be slightly faster than PostgreSQL in some cases, especially for read-heavy workloads

As you can see, PostgreSQL is a more powerful and feature-rich database than MariaDB, but it is also more complex and less compatible with MySQL. MariaDB is a good choice for those who need a database that is easy to use and compatible with MySQL, but who may not need the most advanced features. Both MariaDB and PostgreSQL share SQL as their primary language, enabling consistent commands and similar outcomes.


Side Note: Building Apps On a Relational Database with Five

Database development is usually just the first step in the application development process. Next, end-users need to be given access to the database through a graphical user interface. That’s where tools such as Five come in. 

Five allows you to build a web app on a hosted database, whether that’s MySQL, PostgreSQL or MS SQL Server.

Five allows you to directly connect to a PostgreSQL database. This feature allows you to use existing data stored in PostgreSQL without the need to migrate or duplicate it.

By connecting directly to PostgreSQL, applications built with Five can access and display real-time data, ensuring that your application is always up-to-date with the latest information. Along with PostgreSQL, Five can connect to other data sources, enabling the combination of data from various environments into a single application.

To see the steps involved in connecting your PostgreSQL database check out this article: PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQL Server, SQLite: Build on Any Database


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Performance: PostgreSQL vs MariaDB

Speed Test?

PostgreSQL is great for handling intricate queries and data relationships, making it excellent for reports and analysis. MariaDB excels in write-intensive scenarios like online transactions and real-time analytics.

Moreover, both PostgreSQL and MariaDB scale well vertically, meaning they can handle increased loads on more powerful hardware without significant changes. This makes them suitable for applications where hardware upgrades are feasible. However, MariaDB is better for vertical scalability, offering engines like InnoDB and ColumnStore.

PostgreSQL focuses more on horizontal scalability with various replication methods and logical sharding through tools like Postgres-XL and Citus. MariaDB, with its Spider storage engine, offers support for horizontal scaling by distributing data across multiple servers.

Both have advanced query optimizers but PostgreSQL often shows superior performance in benchmarks.


Use Cases:

MariaDB

Great for dynamic web apps and small businesses with evolving data needs. It’s like a cousin of MySQL, making migration easy. Further, it’s great for powerful for apps needing real-time analytics and smart transactions, allowing you to tailor customer experiences based on live data.

Often it’s a more budget-friendly option than PostgreSQL, especially for smaller deployments.

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is ideal for mission-critical tasks in large enterprises like banking or healthcare. It can handles huge datasets and complex queries with ease, perfect for data warehousing and analytics. Plus with the PostGIS extension, it’s great for location-based apps and GIS systems.

Bonus Round

MariaDB plays well with existing tools like phpMyAdmin and WordPress, making it familiar and easy to work with. PostgreSQL has a steeper learning curve, so consider your team’s expertise before diving in.


Summary: PostgreSQL vs MariaDB

MariaDB, a fork of MySQL, is noted for its performance, GPL licensing, and support for JSON and hybrid data formats. It offers various storage engines and features like thread pooling, SQL compatibility, and parallel query execution.

For applications demanding low latency and high availability, MariaDB’s primary-primary replication is perfect. This setup provides two synchronized leaders, guaranteeing uninterrupted data access even if one leader becomes unavailable.

PostgreSQL, established in 1997, is lauded for its advanced relational database system capabilities, including ACID compliance and extensive extension support. It is recognized for its stability even under heavy data loads, and a wide array of features like support for JSON data and robust extensions.

Remember to check out Five which allows you to create web applications on multiple data sources: including external relational databases. No matter where your data resides, Five is able to query it.

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