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SQL vs NoSQL Databases – What to use & When?

In today’s industry, a large number of databases are employed. Some of the databases are SQL databases, while others are NoSQL databases. The traditional process of the data is a SQL database system that represents data and relationships using a tabular relational paradigm. The NoSQL database is a modern database that uses a different technique for retrieving information other than relational databases’ tabular relations model.

The most important consideration when selecting a modern database is using a SQL or NoSQL data structure. While both are excellent solutions, there are significant distinctions between them that customers should consider before making a choice. Oracle was perhaps the most prevalent database management system in 2021, with an overall ranking of 1270.94.

This article will go through the key differences and the greatest SQL and NoSQL distributed databases available. The differences will help you to know which database to select for the use case to make it work. Choosing the right database for your application can make it easier to develop. However, a poor decision might cause conflict.

What is SQL?

The basic fundamental language that deals with Relational Databases is the Structured Query Language (SQL). It is pronounced as “S-Q-L” or “See-Quel” at times. This database system uses tables to establish the relationships.  SQL Programming supports searching, inserting, updating, and deleting database records.

It does not represent that SQL is not capable of performing more functions. This is potent to do a variety of tasks, such as database optimization and maintenance.  SQL is used in relational databases such as MySQL Database, MS SQL Server, Oracle, and many others. The “relational” in “relational database” alludes to IBM expert E.F. Codd’s “relational model” of information management developed in the early 1970s.

Supports a wide range of applications Restrictions in Horizontal scalability
The use of small footprints enhances performances and resource use Inflexible Data Models
Robust and easily understandable semantics

What is NoSQL?

NoSQL is a non-relational database management system (DBMS) that does not demand a set schema, eliminates joins, and is extensible. It’s utilized in distributed data stores with a lot of data storage space. Large data and genuine web apps both employ NoSQL. Companies like Twitter and Google acquire gigabytes of user data daily.

The term “Not SQL” denotes to a database that is not SQL. In 1998, Carl Strozz invented the term “NoSQL.” Traditional RDBMS uses SQL syntax to store and recover the information for further analysis. It refers to a collection of database systems that may hold structured, unstructured, semi-structured, and polymorphic data.

Highly scalable and accessible Distributed systems have their own set of issues
Data models that are adaptable and flexiblee ACID restrictions are interpreted in a variety of ways
Data representations at a high level

Difference between SQL and NoSQL Database

When it comes to comparing among the SQL and NoSQL networks, the SQL is table-based databases, but NoSQL databases are in document forms, key-value pair, or graph databases. According to the performance, SQL requires specialist database hardware, but NoSQL can run on existing hardware.

Although both databases are excellent solutions, there are several major distinctions between them that users should consider before making a choice. The following is a comparison table showing the differences between the SQL and NoSQL databases:

Basis Of Comparison SQL Database NoSQL Database
Structure A table-based structure is a preferable choice for programs that demand multi-row operations, such as accounting systems, or for legacy applications designed with a relational structure in mind. Document-based structure with Key-value pairs, graph databases, and wide-column stores.
Query Language SQL is a Structured Query Language There is no declarative query language that NoSQL uses. It differentiates as per the different databases.
Suitable The database is best suitable for Complex queries but not good for hierarchical data storage. The database is not suitable for complex queries. However, it suits well for the hierarchical data storage.
Scalability These databases are vertically scalable. So, with boosting CPU, RAM, or SSD, you may increase the demand on a single server. NoSQL databases are horizontally scalable. This means by sharding or adding multiple servers to this database, you can handle greater traffic.
Design for Traditional RDBMS examine and retrieve data for further analysis using SQL syntax and queries. The OLAP systems take advantage of them. The NoSQL database system is made up of many database technologies. These were created in line with the requirements placed on recent application development.
Schema SQL databases consists of a predefined schema NoSQL databases comprises of the dynamic schema for unstructured data.
Properties Followed SQL accompanies ACID properties that stand as Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation and Durability. NoSQL accompanies Brewers CAP theorem that stands as Consistency, Availability and Partition Tolerance.
Examples MySQL, Sqlite, MS-SQL, PostgreSQL, etc. Big Table, MongoDB, Hbase, Cassandra, Raven DB, etc.

Lastly, the providers provide excellent support for all SQL databases. There are also many independent consultants present to assist you with SQL databases for exceptionally large-scale deployments. However, one must still rely on support from the community for some NoSQL databases. Just a few outside professionals are accessible to design and execute your high size NoSQL deployments.

When to use SQL vs NoSQL Database?

Another important factor to look out for is “when to use SQL Vs NoSQL databases?” Read below to know the significant answers.

When to use SQL Database?

SQL is the finest database to employ for relational data, notably when the link among data sets is easily understandable and accessible. It’s also the greatest way to check for data security and integrity. SQL enables rising ad-hoc queries, and, in most circumstances, SQL databases are vertically expandable if you require flexibility in data access.

Some SQL databases have specific characteristics that support NoSQL workloads (for example, native JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) data types). If you don’t require the horizontal scalability of NoSQL data storage, these databases can handle a variety of non-relational applications.

Use Cases

  •       SQL is the simplest language used for interacting with a relational database management system.
  •       Understanding and modifying behavioural-related programs
  •       Creating unique dashboards

When to Use NoSQL Database?

For massive amounts of data or continuously updating data sets, NoSQL is the best database to employ. If you have variable database schemas or requirements that resist fitting into the relational data model. “Document databases” (e.g., CouchDB, Amazon DocumentDB, MongoDB) are a suitable choice if you’re dealing with immense quantities of unstructured data.

Use Cases

  •       Data that necessitates a flexible schema
  •       When ACID assistance isn’t required
  •       Data logging from a variety of sources


When it comes to cloud data storage, there are a lot of choices to consider. Choosing among the SQL and   NoSQL databases as your primary database is one of those tough decisions.  The significant factor is to consider the format of your data, the manner of query, and the flexibility you are going to require in upcoming times.

At last, we hope that this article clarifies the differences you should consider when choosing a database and the options that are accessible.

Recommended read: Types of NoSQL Databases

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