If you’ve already checked out our MySQL hosting comparison piece, you will be familiar with what’s about to come. On this page, you’ll learn about why SQLite is worth using, how it’s best to use it and where it’s best to make use of it.
Furthermore, you’ll be offered a list of healthy alternatives, since not everyone has the same needs.
An Introduction to SQLite
When a website needs to store large chunks of data that can be arranged into a table or graph, most developers turn to databases. It’s a simple concept, as old as programming itself. The SQL interface and management programs allow you to create, access and manage this data.
What is SQLite and How Are Databases Used?
Databases have many uses, from organizing user accounts to keeping track of sales data, and many websites contain them. However, MySQL and related programs can be confusing, difficult to set up, and too complex for a start-up project.
SQL is the Structured Query Language, a programming language that is used to communicate with a relational database system. It is not the only language for doing so, but it (by far) the most popular.
SQL Helps Manage Data
It is comprised of a data definition language that specifies the overall structure of data to be stored, and a data manipulation language that can be used to add, edit, or retrieve data.
SQL is implemented by a number of popular database systems, such as MySQL, MariaDB, and PostgreSQL. It does not specify a way to build a database, only how to interact with it. Each database system’s developers choose how to implement the SQL standard.
Should you run into issues, consider using SQLite instead. It’s faster, more versatile, and can be easier to work with. In addition to being relatively simple to install, many apps like sudo apt-get for Ubuntu and NuGet for Windows can handle the packages for you. It’s like a mini-MySQL without a headache.
Screenshot of the SQLite homepage.
Lightweight, Relational Database
SQLite is a lightweight relational database system based on the SQL standard. It is used primarily for local and embedded storage, and also early development and prototyping. A handful of advanced features are not included, but it is otherwise a fully-functioning database system.
SQLite is Open Source software, and the code is in the Public Domain. By some estimates, it is the most widely deployed database system in the world. Even though the software is open-source and can be used as many times as needed with a single license, it is not open-contribution.
What is a Relational Database System?
A relational database system is a data storage program that stores information in a series of interrelated tables. These systems are widely popular, although are being replaced by hierarchical databases and network databases in many use cases.
Are There Other Types of Database Systems?
While there are other non-relational forms of databases (such as so-called “NoSQL” systems like MongoDB), relational database management systems (RDBMS) have become the most commonly used. Generally, the most popular systems used of 2018 are:
You have a ton of viable options to choose from as a user. Having a reliable RDBMS is absolute key, seeing as important, often sensitive data is involved.
How is SQLite Different from Other RDBMS Programs?
Most database systems run in a client-server configuration. The database system and its data are separate from the program using it for data storage. The client sends SQL queries to the RDBMS server, and the server returns the data (after carrying out any commands to add, edit, or delete something).
What Are The Advantages of SQLite?
There are a number of advantages to this client-server model of database management. For example, multiple applications can read and write to the same database.
However, there are disadvantages as well. Setup can be complicated. Coordinating communication between the application and the database server can be difficult. The overall memory and storage footprint of the database system is fairly high.
How SQLite Stands Out
SQLite is different in that it is not a separate application. Rather than running a database server that an application has to call as a client, SQLite is a programming library that can be included in an application. Database queries are then run as internal function calls, rather than server requests, and the data storage itself is a single file that sits in normal file storage.
This approach makes SQLite fast and portable, with an obvious trade-off in features and power. For these reasons, it is often used for applications like embedded storage and rapid prototyping.
SQLite is a feature-rich, lightweight, and portable RDBMS. While there are some things missing from this small-scale SQL framework, it comes with a few nifty features other databases don’t support.
Single file data storage
Support for large data
Small code base
Fully supported on most OS
Transactions on SQLite are atomic, consistent, isolated, and durable. This helps guarantee validity of database transactions. Even if the transaction is interrupted by a crash, or there’s a system failure, the system will do well to persevere.
Single File Storage Data
Single file storage data means that the system stores one file that multiple users may access.This helps to eliminate data duplication and also increases worker efficiency. Data duplication can cause tedious tasks to clean up a database, dreaded by us all.
Supports Large Data
Trying to store massive amounts of information? SQLite has you covered with support for databases up to a terabyte in size. Many websites and businesses have extensive data, whether it’s resources or simply essentials.
Having the ability to store copious amounts of data is an upside, eliminating worry and extra costs.
Small Code Base
The includable library is less the 500 KiB. The small code base makes it easier to learn and for newbies to use.
Fully-Supported on Most OS
No matter what operating system you use, SQLite will likely work. The system is fully supported on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, Android, and iOS. This is a massive upside, eliminating a huge number of compatibility issues.
SQLite is a self-contained system and has no dependencies an no external database. This makes it easy to download and simple use the system on nearly any operating system. In fact, the source code is contained in just a single source code.
No premium licensing needed, SQLite explains it themselves.
This means no licensing needed at all to use for any purpose. According to their website: “Anyone is free to copy, modify, publish, use, compile, sell, or distribute the original SQLite code, either in source code form or as a compiled binary, for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and by any means.”
Features Not Included in SQLite
It’s important to realize that SQLite is not a fully compliant implementation of the SQL standard and that not all features are included.
Most of these are either unnecessary for the typical SQLite user, too complex, or simply haven’t been implemented yet.
SQL Actions Not Supported
Here are some commands which are not supported by SQLite:
RIGHT OUTER JOIN and FULL OUTER JOIN
DROP COLUMN, ALTER COLUMN, ADD CONSTRAINT, and most other ALTER TABLE commands
FOR EACH STATEMENT triggers
Write to VIEW (they are read-only, though this can be hacked with triggers)
GRANT and REVOKE, because permission is meaningless (there is no client).
Common Uses of SQLite
Being such a versatile yet easy-to-use program, SQLite is used in a ton of situations. While its predecessors MySQL and PostgreSQL may be more powerful, SQLite holds up and is often the better choice for certain developers.
5 Reasons Developers Often Choose SQLite:
Here are some of the main factors developers take into account when taking the leap with SQLite:
Application data storage, instead of writing to things like XML, JSON, and CSV
Internal storage of devices and gadgets
Content storage for small websites
Data analysis with SQLite3 command-line shell
Server-side data storage
While these upsides may seem minor, they certainly eliminate a ton of small, annoying issues for technologists and database experts.
SQLite vs. MySQL/PostgreSQL
If you’re still not sure whether SQLite is the right choice for you, take a look at this quick table that compares the three’s basic features. There are, of course, more differences in function and technology than those listed below, but this should point you in the right direction.
Ease of Use
Easy for beginners to set up and use; no configuration required
Intermediate; some advanced programming knowledge needed
Advanced; should only be used by proficient programmers
Can be taxing
High and rising in popularity
Somewhat; is used by many major companies, but not as popular due to its complexity
Limited (data must fit on one drive)
Moderate (performance issues)
*Easily port to other OS
Windows macOS/Mac OS X
IBM AIX FreeBSD HP-UX
Mac OS X
1 writer; unlimited readers
Limited; issues with concurrent read-writes
Local applications, testing, video games
When you need more power than MySQL, website development, fast-scaling websites or apps
When you need the most robust SQL database out there, high-power applications, big data, write-heavy operations
SQLite Pros and Cons
Still conflicted on whether to pick SQLite or a client-server database engine? This list should help you decide if it is right for your needs.
Works great on most small- to medium-sized websites
Straightforward, painless installation
Server-less, unlike client-server processes
Faster and lighter than client-server directories
No administration or configuration required
Great for single-person projects
Not suitable for high-traffic websites
One writer per file; limited concurrent writer support
Missing some advanced features
Not great for large, quickly-growing project
Hosting Options for SQLite
SQLite is not an application to be hosted but is instead a programming library that is included by or compiled into another application.
That said, finding the right host is still important. Not all of them support SQLite, and some (especially shared hosting) does not allow you to install your own files or tinker with the server at all.
Assess Your Overall Hosting Needs
SQLite is a very popular RDBMS, so simply supporting it isn’t enough to make a host stand out. Look for one that best suits the needs of your website first and foremost. E-commerce hosts for shops, image hosting for media-heavy websites, and so on.
From there, do your research to see if they have what you need. You can ask directly if there’s SQLite support, or try and find documentation on your own.
Choose a Host for SQLite
Stuck? Here are a few hosts suggestions to get started on your research. These sites are versatile and made to suit a large audience, but there are many niche hosts out there if these aren’t your cup of tea.
With its developer-friendly attitude, A2Hosting gets a big thumbs up. Its plans are cheap, it offers unlimited resources from shared to dedicated servers, and, most importantly, SQLite is pre-installed on all servers! If it’s not up-to-date, it’ll even help you get the newest version up and running.
Dev tools include SSH access, support for software like PHP, and programming languages like Python. Overall, A2Hosting is a great host of developers new and old.
Last but not least comes SiteGround, a balanced choice with decent prices, resources, and developer-friendliness. While it may not have A2’s expansive devkit, SiteGround is just an overall great option.
SQLite seems to be a bit more complicated to set up, but full support is there. This service has many features geared towards newbies, so those still honing their programming skills may be more comfortable here — but experienced devs will enjoy tools like staging sites or unlimited databases.
Final Roundup: Will SQLite Meet Your Needs?
The majority of sites will integrate well with SQLite. While large projects and ones that grow quickly will need the scalability and power an RDBMS like MySQL provides, most websites will do just fine on the compact, efficient SQLite.
Unless you’re planning on using shared hosting, finding a host that supports it shouldn’t be too difficult. At the very least, you should be able to locate one that lets you install your own applications.
Other features in Relational Database Options (SQL RDBMS) 2019
SQLite is a programming library used to create, query, and update a self-contained, serverless, lightweight database that requires no configuration. SQLite databases are relational and are a nearly-complete implementation of the SQL database query language.
What is a relational database management system (RDBMS)?
SQLite databases are relational and SQLite can be described as a relational database management system (RDBMS). Relational databases store information in tables, where each table row contains related data. An RDBMS is a database management system designed to create, query, and edit a relational database.
How is SQLite different from MySQL and other RDBMSs that use SQL?
The biggest difference between SQLite and other RDBMSs such as MySQL, MSSQL, and PostgreSQL is that SQLite does not store the database on a database server.
Instead, SQLite creates a database file that is stored locally, right alongside the rest of the application files. This makes SQLite somewhat easier for a developer to interact with since database access is managed with file permissions and the database is stored locally (on the same server or computer as the application files).
Other SQL databases use a client-server model where the database is contained on a database server and accessed by one or more applications that are not on the same server. Think of SQLite as a lightweight SQL implementation for local storage rather than a traditional RDBMS.
Why should I use SQLite?
SQLite is really easy to use. You don’t have to install it. You just download SQLite, run it, and use it.
It actually performs quite well, even under pretty heavy use.
The source code is in the public domain – meaning your concerns about running afoul of the law are extremely minimal.
Are there downsides to using SQLite?
Since an SQLite database is a file, it can only be changed by one user at a time. While the system is very fast, if you must have concurrent users editing the database without having requests waiting in line, you’ll need a different system.
Also, SQLite does have an size limit, and as such may not suitable for big data applications.
Finally, the developer recommends using it for websites that see fewer than 100k pageviews per day – although the SQLite website itself uses SQLite, runs just fine, and sees 500k+ hits per day.
Is SQLite a “lite” implementation of SQL?
The “lite” in SQLite means that it is a lightweight RDBMS (small in size and requiring minimal server resources), it does not mean that it is a limited or “lite” implementation of SQL. While SQLite is not a complete implementation of SQL and does lack a couple of advanced SQL features, the same is true of many other leading SQL implementations including MySQL.
Can I use SQLite with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla?
Drupal can use SQLite right out of the box. There’s a free plugin available that makes it possible to use SQLite databases with WordPress. While some community interest has been expressed in adding support for SQLite to Joomla, at this time it does not work with SQLite.
What apps use SQLite?
SQLite is used for sever-side storage by many web applications. It is used for client-side local storage as well. For example, most major browsers enable SQLite as a format for web application local storage, web application frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django work with SQLite, desktop applications including Skype and Adobe products use SQLite, and most major computer operating systems include SQLite.
What web programming languages provide bindings for SQLite?
How do I get SQLite?
If you’re trying to get SQLite for your local development environment or to run on a private server (VPS or dedicated server), you can download SQLite from the official project website. If you want to use SQLite on a shared server, your host will need to add support for it. Get in touch with your host to discuss the possibility or pick a host that already supports it.
Do all hosts offer SQLite databases?
Most hosts do allow for the creation and use of SQLite databases. However, not all hosts offer SQLite, and those that do may not offer support for the specific programming language or framework you plan to use.
The best thing to do is to check with your host (or the hosts you’re considering) if you want to use SQLite and aren’t certain that it’s available.
How will I know if a host offers SQL databases?
Most hosts don’t advertise the fact that they support SQLite databases because they just aren’t as popular as other database systems such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL, MariaDB, and so forth.
If you want to find out if a specific host supports SQLite, first make sure they support the programming language or framework you plan to use. Next, have a look at their support forum and knowledgebase to see if they’ve indicated that they support SQLite. Finally, you will want to check directly with the hosts customer support techs to verify that they do offer SQLite support before signing on the dotted line.
Is SQLite free?
Yes. SQLite is completely free. The source code is in the public domain. This means that you can use SQLite for any purpose, even commercial, without a license.
Do I need an SQLite license?
In general, no, you don’t need a license. The code is the public domain and free to use for any purpose. You may have noticed that the SQLite website does offer rather pricey licenses, however. These are offered to corporations who feel that they need something called “warranty of title.” If you aren’t concerned about such things, then you can use SQLite for free for any purpose.
Note: this is not legal advise. If you have any questions about this issue, you should consult with a lawyer.
About Brenda Barron
Brenda is an active online publisher and experienced WordPress blogger. She has been building websites since 1997. In addition, she publishes science fiction and fantasy stories under the name Brenda Stokes Barron.
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Who's the Best Host for SQLite?
We think SiteGround is a good choice for SQLite optimized hosting.