What Is the Difference Between MySQL and MariaDB?

Posted on by Joseph Molloy | Updated:
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many database solutions are available today, and MySQL and MariaDB are some of the best ones you can use. However, while they share a lot of similarities, such as syntax and architecture, there are some key differences you should keep in mind, including performance, licensing, and support, among others.

Read on to learn more about the differences between MySQL and MariaDB to decide which is best for your business.

What Is MySQL, and Why Is It Used?

To better understand what MySQL is, you should first take a look at its history. Michael Widenius, a Finnish software engineer, was the key figure behind the development of MySQL, which launched in 1995. Oracle's and Microsoft's proprietary database solutions dominated the industry then.

MySQL was developed in C/C++ as a free, open source solution and quickly became one of the most used database systems worldwide. Later, in 2008, it sold to Sun Microsystems for $1 billion.

MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) with its roots in SQL (structured query language). In most cases, MySQL works alongside Linux, Apache, and PHP. That’s why, when these systems work together, we call them the LAMP stack.

MySQL can adapt to various use cases but excels in web application data management. It's well-suited for eCommerce sites because of its powerful transactional features. Furthermore, it includes advanced data security capabilities for securing transactions.

What Is MariaDB, and Why Is It Used?

Back in 2010, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. This purchase made Michael Widenius realize there was a conflict of interest between Oracle’s commercial database solution and MySQL. That’s why he started a MySQL fork project known today as MariaDB.

MariaDB is an improved, backward-compatible, open source fork of MySQL. It has many built-in features and security improvements that MySQL needs to improve. MariaDB supports the same functionality as MySQL and extends it even further.

You can use MariaDB seamlessly with many apps and CMS solutions, specifically WordPress. Furthermore, it’s fully compatible with popular apps and tools such as phpMyAdmin and works out of the box.

You can use MariaDB in systems that require better speed and performance than MySQL. But more importantly, the most significant advantage you can look forward to is that it’s open source and free to use.

The Difference Between MySQL and MariaDB

Despite their common origin and similar functionalities, there are some key differences between MySQL and MariaDB that you should consider.

Thread Pooling

MariaDB features thread pooling and can support over 200,000 connections. To get the same feature from MySQL, you’d need to pay for its enterprise edition.

This feature is essential for eCommerce platforms that deal with a high volume of online transactions. Furthermore, a large thread pool helps optimize server resource utilization for improved performance and uptime.

Storage Engines

MariaDB supports a more substantial number of storage engines than MySQL. For example, some of the storage engines MariaDB supports include XtraDB, MariaDB, Connect, and Aria.


Both database systems offer robust scalability and performance features such as compression and table partitioning. However, MariaDB generally surpasses MySQL in terms of performance and speed.

Password Security

MySQL includes the validate_password feature, used for verifying and increasing the security of passwords.

MariaDB, on the other hand, offers three security plugins, namely simple_password_check, cracklib_password_check, and password_reuse_check.

Ongoing Development

MySQL is developed solely by Oracle’s official team of MySQL developers.

MariaDB’s development process, on the other hand, is open to public voting and discussion. Furthermore, anyone can submit MariaDB patches, which receive consideration for inclusion in the main repository.


While MySQL has a big corporation behind it, MariaDB has to rely on its community for development and support. In turn, MySQL can release new features and updates much more frequently.

If you require professional database support, you can acquire it much easier and faster if you base your application or website on MySQL rather than MariaDB.


On its websites, the Oracle Corporation provides substantial documentation for all of MySQL's open source projects.

Anyone can get involved in the development and documentation process of MariaDB servers and other apps from MariaDB’s ecosystem. You can find all the information you need to get started on the official website of the MariaDB Foundation.

Which One Should You Choose for Your Business?

Knowing the differences between MySQL and MariaDB helps determine which is right for you. To make the best decision, carefully consider your business's needs and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your IT department or hosting provider capable enough to troubleshoot and optimize when needed?
  • How many transactions does your website or app need to support simultaneously?
  • Are you willing to pay for the MySQL Enterprise Edition?

Backed by the Oracle Corporation, MySQL is the ideal solution for businesses that want consistent updates, steady improvements, and enterprise support. Aside from its relatively high annual cost of $5,000, MySQL Enterprise Edition features the highest scalability, security, and reliability levels.

The MySQL Community Edition is flexible enough to support a wide range of projects based on major operating systems and platforms. In addition, open source developers widely use MySQL and generally regard it as one of the most remarkable database systems in the industry.

On the other hand, years of development have transformed MariaDB into a well-known RDBMS that surpasses its predecessor. Moreover, its open source community is constantly developing new features to enhance database management and performance. Additionally, MariaDB is fast and secure right out of the box and doesn’t ask you for a $5,000 investment to get access to all of its features.


MySQL and MariaDB are the most popular database systems you can use today. They offer great functionality, speed, and a variety of features for your websites and apps. However, there are some differences between MySQL and MariaDB, including performance, licensing, support, and storage engines. Take a closer look at these aspects before finalizing your decision.

MySQL or MariaDB are usable on Liquid Web’s Linux servers. The VPS Hosting, Cloud Dedicated Servers, and Dedicated Server options offer versatility to any hosting environment. Contact the sales team today to get started.

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About the Author: Joseph Molloy

Liquid Web Security Operations tech Joseph spends his days cleaning up malware and doing his part to keep the Internet safe. He is interested in all things Linux and always looking for something new to learn. In addition, he enjoys cooking and playing guitar, is an avid horror and sci-fi reader, and is a fan of black metal music.

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