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MariaDB Hosting Options

MariaDB is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that is a drop-in replacement for MySQL. It offers all the features of MySQL, with the same interface and compatible libraries, along with additional features, improved performance, fewer bugs, and better licensing.

History of MySQL and MariaDB

MySQL was the first widely popular Open Source database. It was invented in the early 1990s by Michael Widenius, and was a great success.

In 2008, the company that had been the lead development team behind MySQL was purchases by Sun Microsystems. Sun was purchased a year later by Oracle.

MySQL continues to exist as Open Source software, but there is also now a closed source Enterprise edition available.

Unsatisfied with the direction of the software, many of the original development team, including the inventor, created a fork of the Open Source version of MySQL, and began enhancing it and adding new features. This version has been named MariaDB.

Similarities between MySQL and MariaDB

If you weren't looking closely, you would think they were the same software. In fact, they are mostly the same software. MariaDB was created by first taking a copy of MySQL. Beyond that, MariaDB has kept up with changes to MySQL to make sure they stay compatible.

MariaDB is fully compatible as a "drop-in" replacement. That means that you can change an application's database from MySQL to MariaDB without changing anything else, and it will still work. But once you change it, you can start taking advantage of the improvements.

Differences

The MariaDB development team wanted to improve as much about MySQL as possible without breaking drop-in compatibility. They've added features, sped things up, and even improved the licensing.

Easier to Use

A number of features were altered or added to make the software easier for developers to interact with. These improvements include:

Use Statistics
DB Admins can now query data about how tables and indexes are used, allowing for a better understanding of server activity.

Progress Messages
Some types of queries can take a very long time to complete. In MySQL, there was no feedback about progress, which can lead to impatience and hasty job cancellation. MariaDB has added feedback to several long-running commands.

More Precise Time
MySQL allows for DATETIME and related values to be specified to the second, while MariaDB can specify time value to the microsecond.

NoSQL Features
MariaDB allows developers to write directly to the underlying datastore, skipping the SQL layer. While not recommended for most use cases, this adds the ability to store non-relational data.

MariaDB also has support for Dynamic Columns, which allows every row of a table to have a different set of virtual fields.

Performance

In a high-volume environment, every microsecond counts. MariaDB has made a number of improvements to speed and performance, including:

Optimizer
The optimizer is a utility within an RDBMS system that translates Structured Query Language commands (SQL) into instructions for the underlying storage engine. (This is mildly analogous to a compiler or interpreter.) The MariaDB rewrote the entire Optimizer, making it run much faster, especially on complicated or demanding queries.

Table Elimination
Just because a Table is named in a query doesn't mean it will actually need to be accessed in order to provide the requested results. MariaDB analyses the query against what data is actually needed to complete the request, and doesn't include tables that are not needed.

Better Testing: Fewer Bugs and Fewer Warnings

Though not an enhancement that end-users can directly take advantage of, the MariaDB development team have greatly expanded and improved the test suite for MariaDB. This ensures that new features are more reliable and contain fewer bugs when they are released.

Also, while not "bugs" exactly, MySQL created a number of warnings at the compiler level. These didn't signal anything was actually going wrong with the execution of the software, but did cause a bit of annoyance for developers. MariaDB has treated compiler warnings as bugs and worked to eliminate them whenever possible.

Better Licensing

MySQL is only mostly Open Source. The Enterprise edition contains a number of closed-source modules and enhancements. MariaDB is fully Open Source, and includes features which are closed in MySQL.

Further, libraries and other modules have been licensed in such a way that they can be used in conjunction with other closed-source software, eliminating some legal restrictions and allowing for complete flexibility in how the software is used.

MariaDB Hosting

Any web host that supports MySQL should be able to support MariaDB, but you should check with the web host directly if you are planning to make a switch on a live application.

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