What is MySQL Web Interface Hosting?
Databases are a major part of the modern web landscape. It's hard to imagine websites like social networks without them.
They store vast amounts of data like usernames, birth dates, email addresses, and profile pictures.
But how are those databases managed? Before people could start posting cat videos on the site, someone had to set up the database and populate it.
What's a Database?
A database is a way of storing and organizing lots of data, so the right files can be accessed as needed.
If you have a blog, your posts and page files will be stored in a database. You may move that database to a new host and your whole blog, content and all, will come with it.
How Managed Databases Work
In the past, managing databases was done using clunky command-line interfaces.
Nowadays, many databases intended for use on the web have web-based interfaces to manage them, and MySQL is no exception.
MySQL is an example of a relational database. Think of a table in a relational database like a spreadsheet.
It has rows and columns, just like in Microsoft Excel or in LibreOffice Calc, but instead of making calculations, the database organizes data.
All of the entries in the table have to be of a certain type, such as a string of letters or a number.
What makes the database relational is that you can connect different tables in a database ('relating') them by using a key that's found in all of them.
How MySQL Helps Manage Large Amounts of Data
MySQL is a relational database management system (RDMS). You can access and manage your MySQL databases anywhere using a web-based administration panel.
The source code for MySQL is open source, licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
However, several commercial versions are available for purchase from Oracle, the company that owns MySQL.
This is a very simplified table, but this is an example of what could be represented in a MySQL database for a social networking site:
User ID number
This is rather technical, but the end result of this is that relational databases can store and retrieve lots of data quickly, which is perfect for web apps.
A Little History Of MySQL
Though MySQL is not an acronym, the 'SQL' portion refers to Structured Query Language.
SQL is a special-purpose programming language that was invented at IBM in the 1970s.
While what it actually does is pretty complex; it suffices to say SQL manages the data within an RDMS, something like giving instructions to a team of people.
The relational aspect of MySQL lets you establish relationships between pieces of data for better optimization.
Imagine it as a color-coded filing cabinet, rather than a single box filled with individual documents.
How Did MySQL Begin?
MySQL appeared at the time when the World Wide Web was entering the mainstream.
Web designers wanted to build more complicated sites and the only way to do that efficiently was through a database management system.
The First Non-Enterprise Relational Database
Most relational databases, like those from Oracle, were large, clunky, prohibitively expensive affairs designed for enterprise companies.
As an open source project, anyone could use MySQL, and it spread like wildfire across the web. The company was bought by Sun, which was acquired in turn by Oracle.
Widenius forked the code to create which is intended to be as compatible with MySQL as possible. (Oracle's shuttering of Sun's open source projects like OpenSolaris and OpenOffice made a lot of people nervous.)
What is an Interface?
Before you can use the MySQL database to serve up people's wedding announcements and cat pictures on your awesome social networking sites, you have to set up the database.
It must specify the layout of each table in the database, what values go into the table and what type they may be.
Furthermore, how all the tables relate to each other must be clarified.
MySQL requires an interface for you to manage your data and databases. MySQL Workbench is the official interface.
It has myriad features that allow database creation, management, administration, and migration.
It's a download that requires Microsoft.NET Framework or Microsoft Visual C++ to function.
From The Command Line To The Web
In the beginning, it was only possible to configure MySQL from the command-line.
You can still do so if you really want to but the process can be complicated. SQL syntax is exacting.
If you forget a parenthesis somewhere, MySQL will bounce the line you've been working on and you'll have to type it again.
This can be frustrating with complicated MySQL commands.
MySQL Makes Database Management More User-Friendly
When MySQL and similar databases started popping up in the mid-90s, very few of the people running these new database-driven sites were professional DBAs.
Chances are if you're building a website yourself, you aren't either. There was a need for an easier way to manage databases where you didn't have to be good with your fingers.
No Longer Enterprise-Only
As MySQL and other open source technologies have been integral parts of the enterprise picture.
The need for robust and intuitive tools to manage these critical database environments has produced crisp, responsive management tools for the industry to use.
Web interfaces for MySQL allow you to perform administration tasks with your databases from a Web browser, instead of a program installed on your local machine.
You'll find this advantageous for your business if you need to access your database admin panel from a variety of devices.
Web-Based Interfaces Make Database Management Easy, Powerful
Using one of these tools is often a lot easier than trying to administer a database using the command-line.
You don't have to memorize the syntax of SQL to design a table.
To decide whether a table takes a string, an integer, a date, or an IP address, you just select the options from a drop-down menu.
To run queries, you can also use drop-down menus to select options. You also have the option of running raw queries on the database server if you want to.
How to Manage Your Data
In many situations, the tools you use to manage a database locally are the same exact tools you use to manage a database that is hosted somewhere else.
With the right configurations and architecture in place, you may find it tricky to notice a difference if you didn't know it was there.
Gone are the days of separate GUI-compromised management interfaces.
HTML5, Java and other advanced technologies have made these management tools as robust and even more robust than other tools that are actually installed.
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Choosing The Right Interface
So how do you access the interface? It's a matter of pointing your browser at the right address, either the URL or the IP address of the server.
Today there are a number of administrative interfaces, each with management and reporting capabilities all their own.
Which one is right for you is a matter of preference in many cases, but it also could be a matter of what platform you are managing from, what browser you are using and so on.
Consider Your Needs Before Choosing an Interface
Some management actually happens on mobile and tablet devices, a definite sign of the computing times we are living in.
Some of these management tools are even portable to some of the newer web-focused database structures outside of MySQL, such as NoSQL products like Cassandra.
These tools can access, analyze and manage structures of data across the web.
Again, it is just a matter of your needs and there are many options that operate best for your situation.
All of these tools let you do some of the same things:
- Create databases and tables
- Add or remove data
- Delete ('drop') tables
- Specify the layout of tables
- Define relations between tables
If you're using a shared hosting provider, you likely won't have a choice of what web interface you use.
You'll end up using whatever the hosting provider happened to like.
Popular Web Interfaces for MySQL
One of the most popular examples of MySQL Web interfaces is phpMyAdmin.
Perks of Other Web Interfaces
It is pre-installed by many Web hosting providers.
It includes a graphic interface that allows you to manage databases, tables, relations, and permissions.
You may also execute raw SQL statements if you really want to.
The other web-based MySQL interfaces offer much of the same functionality. Some are nicer to use than others.
Often, it's just a matter of taste finding an interface you like. You might find some easier to use than others.
phpMyAdmin is so popular that it's a de facto standard. If MySQL is installed, you can be almost certain that phpMyAdmin is too.
Adminer is another web-based tool Like phpMyAdmin, Adminer is written in PHP. Adminer is written in one PHP file.
It aims to offer a cleaner interface compared to phpMyAdmin. The fact that it's in one file shows its aim to be a lightweight alternative.
It's also a free open source application.
There are other tools that aren't free and aren't web-based, but try to put an attractive interface on top of MySQL.
Navicat for MySQL is one example of a paid tool. It's used by a lot of enterprise organizations to allow multiple users to manage a database. It also supports other relational databases like PostgreSQL.
Hosting Considerations for MySQL
Much of the time, you won't have much of a choice in SQL interfaces unless you're running a private server.
Most of the time, you'll have to take what the hosting provider gives you. That will usually be phpMyAdmin.
You just navigate in your browser to your hosting provider's control panel or another URL for the interface they give you to manage your database.
How to Change Interfaces
If you're lucky, you might be able to install different interfaces if you aren't happy with the default (phpMyAdmin, in all likelihood) through the control panel like cPanel.
You should be able to find good documentation on whatever interface you choose through your hosting provider.
Even if they try to make it easy to use, you should choose one that offers good support in case you run into any problems.
A VPS will give you more choice over a shared plan.
Five Features to Look for in a MySQL Host
When selecting the most convenient hosting plan to go with, there are a handful of things to bear in mind, aside from the usual factors.
- The type of web server your hosting provider uses: Apache, NGINX, Lighttpd, or others
- What database they're using: MySQL in most cases
- What kind of support you get: email, phone, text chat
- A knowledgebase covering database topics is a plus
- Migration tools for any existing databases with another provider
Now let's summarize, as to what the overall final verdict is on MySQL Web Interface Hosting.
Final Thoughts About MySQL
Ideally, you can get a proper MySQL interface that allows you to manage your MySQL databases over the web.
The interface itself can be an application or it might itself be a web interface. Modern web interfaces actually work exactly like a local desktop application.
Minimal Administration and Simple Management
The idea is that you can minimize or eliminate the amount of switching you need to do to get your administrative work done.
Typical MySQL interfaces allow you to pull up your database by logging in.
This way, presenting all the facets of your configuration, and managing your databases just as if it were on your local system.
Most serious websites are database-driven these days. A hosting provider should offer one of the tools to make managing your database much easier.
Pros of Using MySQL
MySQL, for many people, is the database management engine on the web.
Its free and open source nature makes it common for many web hosting providers to offer it.
They also offer a web-based front end to make it easier.
While there are several options, in most cases it will be phpMyAdmin, and for good reason.
- It's free and open source.
- It offers an attractive way to manage a MySQL database without having to use the arcane syntax
- More user-friendly than using the command-line client
- Most hosts are compatible
- Easy to scale
Top 3 Hosts for MySQL
Let's just get this out of the way: the choice of an interface in all likelihood won't be up to you if you're using a shared hosting plan. PhpMyAdmin is still the most popular interface, so it's well worth becoming familiar with it.
The choice of an interface will be a small consideration against all the other features, like cost and support.
MySQL Web Interface Hosting with InMotion Hosting.
InMotion supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. PhpMyAdmin is offered through cPanel.
The company hosts all its sites on SSD drives, so your database will be blazing fast.
The price per month of a basic shared hosting plan is very affordable, so it's hard not to recommend this as a good pick if you're happy with phpMyAdmin.
MySQL Web Interface Hosting with A2 Hosting.
If you're comfortable being your own DBA, you should check out A2 Hosting's unmanaged VPS plan. It's very cheap but you'll have to work for it since you'll be doing all the administrative tasks yourself.
You can use whichever database tools you want on your own server.
SSD drives are optional at this tier.
MySQL Web Interface Hosting with GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks attempts to be eco-friendly by powering its databases with renewable energy, but you don't have to skimp.
Their shared hosting plans offer unlimited bandwidth and storage.
You can access (you guessed it!) phpMyAdmin through cPanel.
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MySQL Web Interface Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need to install any additional software on my server to use a web-based management system?
To manage your database from the web, you will need some additional software installed on your server.
In many cases, such as with phpMyAdmin, your host may already have installed this for you. Or it may be available via one click installation through your control panel.
- What features can I manage through a MySQL web interface?
Features will vary based on the interface you utilize, but in general you should be able to do anything via a web interface as you could on a locally installed program.
For example, creating and editing databases, configuring your server and users, running reports, backing up, restoring, and migrating your database to a new server should be available actions.
- What other applications are available to manage a MySQL database?
In addition to MySQL Workbench and phpMyAdmin, there are a number of other tools available for administering MySQL databases.
Adminer provides full-featured database management for MySQL. DBTools Manager provides a minimalist approach, intended for personal use, as well as a more powerful commercial version.
If you're looking for a MySQL database manager, you should start by checking which programs your host provides. Those will be the easiest to set up and maintain.
- If the MySQL workbench requires the .NET framework, can I only run it on a Windows server?
No. MySQL is available for managing your SQL databases on Windows, Linux, and OS X servers.
- What is the difference between the open source MySQL and the commercial versions?
The commercial releases include all the same features as the open source database, but add some additional functionality.
For example, schema validation, automated documentation of databases, the ability to output documentation to HTML, automated backup, easy restore functionality, auditing tools, and a sortable grid view to improve search and navigation can be available.
- What is an RDMS?
RDMS, or relational database management system, is a database that stores data in a series of related tables.
It is one of the most popular database structures at the moment, because it is very easy to analyze and understand.
Also, an RDMS can be viewed in many different ways, it can be spread across many tables, and it is supported by nearly all hosting platforms.
- What type of support can I expect from MySQL Web Interface tools?
The support will vary considerably by the provider. In the case of most open source applications, you can expect support to be provided through documentation and community support forums or mailing lists.
Commercial versions, like those provided by Oracle, will often include professional support for a set length of time. Additional support is typically available for an additional fee.
- Can I customize my web interface tool?
Many MySQL web interface solutions allow at least some degree of user customization. If this is important, you should research each option to determine which provides the type of flexibility you're looking for.
If you're a developer, any of the open source solutions should allow you to edit the source code to fit your organizations specific requirements.
- Will these tools help me to manage large databases?
One of the advantages to MySQL is that it can be partitioned and divided into many smaller data sets. These data sets can even be placed on different directories or disks, allowing administrators considerable flexibility in terms of storage and management.
If your database becomes too complex to handle as a whole, you can break it apart and manage it one chunk at a time.
- What type of language support is available for the web interfaces?
Any decent web interface will offer support for many languages. phpMyAdmin, for example, offers support for 72 different languages.
If you can't find support for your language, you could consider creating your own translation file.
Many open source programs offer tools to build your own translation file, as a way to encourage development and expand their language library.
- Is it possible to try out different MySQL web interfaces so I can find the one I like?
Many web interfaces will provide some type of demo whether it's a downloadable demo you can install and test, or a demo server you can log onto and run tests on an actual database. phpMyAdmin has a full-featured demo available on their website.
- Do I have to know any programming languages to use a MySQL web interface?
Most MySQL web interfaces provide a GUI environment, so you can manage most features though and intuitive, visual interface. No coding required.
To manage advanced operations, some coding skills may be helpful, but shouldn't be necessary for typical, day-to-day management.
- Can I use the command line with a web interface?
Most web interfaces will also support some degree of command line interaction, depending on what you are attempting to do.
Command Line can allow for more advanced features, simplify automation, and provide other benefits to the more adept user.