MySQL vs MariaDB: What Are the Main Differences Between Them

Should I use MySQL or MariaDB? That is probably the question in your mind right now.

MySQL vs MariaDB

An in-depth comparison of MariaDB vs MySQL based on license model, popularity, features, performance, and support.

MySQL and MariaDB are relational database management systems (RDBMS) best known for their mutual compatibility and their identical command and query syntaxes. In fact, MariaDB is a free and open source fork of MySQL that inherited many of that database’s characteristics.

The MariaDB and MySQL database management systems have a lot in common, which can make it difficult to choose when you need to decide on a database solution for your needs.

But before we get into an in-depth analysis on the topic MySQL vs MariaDB, let’s start at the very beginning.

Brief History of MySQL and MariaDB

Michael “Monty” Widenius is the main author of the original version of the MySQL. The name MySQL comes from Monty’s first daughter My. 

Related: How to Run MySQL in Docker Container: A Simple, Easy to Follow Guide

The MySQL database was started by a Swedish company MySQL AB in 1995. MySQL AB was later acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008 for $1 billion. Not long after that, Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle in 2010. Since then, MySQL is maintained and managed by Oracle.

When Oracle acquired MySQL many people on the team worried about the future of MySQL. The main author of MySQL definitely didn’t like the idea of Oracle becoming the owner of MySQL. Consequently, a community-developed fork of the MySQL database source code named MariaDB was created. The original MySQL developers starts focusing on MariaDB.

MariaDB continues Monty’s tradition by being named after his second daughter, Maria.

According to Monty’s own words at a MySQL & MariaDB conference in Santa Clara on April 2014, MariaDB was born to ensure that a free version of MySQL always exists.

Now that we have provided the necessary background information we can get into the topic of this post: MySQL vs MariaDB.

License Model

MariaDB is fully available under the GPL (General Public License) version 2, with its entire set of features. There is not a commercial license, and there will never be for legal reasons.

The GPLv2 states that you can use the software free of charge, but you cannot modify and sell it unless you release the source code.

MySQL was originally under the GPL, but has some different licensing issues since it was bought up by Oracle. MySQL keeps a dual-license approach. The MySQL Community Edition is licensed under GPLv2, but the premium features are available only in the MySQL Enterprise Edition, which is licensed under proprietary, paid license.

In other words, the main difference between the two licenses for MySQL is the available features and support.

In conclusion, while you receive the full-featured package when using MariaDB, that’s not the case with MySQL. Therefore if we compare the two here, MariaDB has clear advantage provided by the GPL license it is released upon.


One of MySQL’s biggest advantages is its long market presence. Because it is one of the oldest popular database solutions, there is a wide range of community resources that developers and database administrators can use to find answers to problem questions and fix bugs.

At the moment of writing this article, MySQL is ranked #2 while MariaDB is far behind on position #12.

MySQL vs MariaDB Popularity

Here you can find the DB-Engines ranking of the database management systems according to their popularity.

So as can be seen from the chart above, MySQL is the clear winner when it comes to popularity.

MySQL vs MariaDB: Features

MySQL and MariaDB have very comparable general options, which is why they are so similar. However, MariaDB has several additions that improve on MySQL.

Storage Engines

In addition to the standard Archive, Blackhole, CSV, Federated, InnoDB, Memory, Merge, and MyISAM storage engines, MariaDB contains 12 new engine stores that do not exist in MySQL.

  • Aria
  • Cassandra
  • Connect
  • MariaDB ColumnStore
  • Mroonga
  • MyRocks
  • QQGraph
  • Sequence
  • SphinxSE
  • Spider
  • TokuDB
  • XtraDB

Obviously MariaDB supports more storage engines than MySQL. However, keep in mind that it is not a matter of which database supports more storage engines, but rather which database supports the right storage engine for your requirements.


Replication is a process that enables database administrators to copy records from one database to another. MySQL offers asynchronous replication, which means it is a one-way process.

MariaDB, on the other hand, not only allows Master to Slave data transfer but also allows Master to Master replication. This provides administrators a bit of added functionality to work with multiple Master databases at once.


MySQL uses a specialized clustering technology called MySQL Cluster. MySQL Cluster is a completely separate product from the MySQL Community/Enterprise Editions. It provides another storage engine to MySQL which distributes records over multiple hosts by a key hash.

On the other hand, MariaDB uses the Galera Cluster to perform advanced replication for multi-master nodes. It is built by default in MariaDB and can be easily enabled by just activating the configuration parameters.

In terms of the features, MariaDB offers the same features of MySQL and much more.

MySQL vs MariaDB: Performance

MariaDB has several optimizations that tend to improve the performance as compared to MySQL.

The biggest feature and therefore the biggest advantage of MariaDB is its speed and performance. When it comes to performing queries or replication, MariaDB is faster than MySQL. In addition to, MariaDB also outperforms MySQL when it comes to replication.

MariaDB supports thread pools, which can improve concurrent connection and execution, especially for simple but CPU-intensive queries, such as those in online transaction processing. In additions, MariaDB advanced connection pool can run and faster and support more than 200,000 connections.

Now, MySQL does have the ability to thread pool. However, it is only available on the Enterprise Edition. This means that the free-to-use community version does not include thread pooling.

It is also important to note that with the Memory storage engine of MariaDB, an INSERT statement can be completed above 20% faster than in the MySQL.

When it comes to database views, MariaDB introduces significant optimizations by querying only the necessary tables. In contrast, in MySQL when you query a view, all of the tables that are connected to the view are queried.

So if you need a high-performance relational database solution, MariaDB is a better choice.


MySQL offers an enterprise version of its product that includes complementary security features and 24/7 support. Backed by the Oracle Corporation, MySQL is a great option for business customers looking for steady improvements, consistent updates, and enterprise-level support.

MariaDB also provides a top-quality support option that offers 24/7 technical support throughout the year. Their engineers are experts in both MariaDB and MySQL, which helps a lot if you decide to switch between the two databases.


This brings us to the end of this article which highlighted some of the core differences between MySQL vs MariaDB database systems.

Oracle’s MySQL is a well-respected database management system which has enjoyed huge popularity. MariaDB has many of the capabilities that MySQL has, but it attempts to go a step further by adding a variety of features that MySQL does not have.

Our conclusion is if you need a high performance and a variety of connectors from your database solution, then MariaDB is the solution you should prefer. It can offer better performance with more updates and an open-source feature. 

The fact that many leading IT companies such as Google, Wikipedia, Wikimedia, RedHat, Ubuntu, Mozilla, SUSE and many others have opted for MariaDB is certainly a clear indication.

Related: The 5 Best Free Replacements for MySQL Server

If you are interested, here you can find the complete list of differences between MySQL and MariaDB.

If you want to add your thoughts to this MySQL vs MariaDB comparison, please feel free to write down your suggestions below in the comments section.

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