For instance, MySQL, the most popular open-source relational database, offers MySQL Document Store. This provides the structure of a MySQL database combined with the flexibility and high availability of NoSQL without having to implement a separate NoSQL database. NoSQL databases are the better choice if you want to expand upon RDBMS’s standard structure, or you need to create a flexible schema. NoSQL databases are also better when the data you’re storing and logging is coming from distributed sources, or you just need to store it temporarily. While SQL is valued for ensuring data validity, NoSQL is good when it’s more important that the availability of big data is fast. It’s also a good choice when a company will need to scale because of changing requirements.

when to use nosql vs sql examples

You can read more about this in the “The convergence of SQL and NoSQL” section. If your data is primarily structured, a SQL database is likely the right choice. In the end, I can’t say that SQL is absolutely better than NoSQL or the way around.

Summarizing SQL vs NoSQL

These tables are connected to each other using one or more relations. SQL lets users add, remove and retrieve data from these rows within the database. On the other hand, NoSQL does not have a standardized query language like SQL. Each NoSQL database has its own specific query language, depending on its data model and design. NoSQL leverages data formats like JSON, XML and YML to support unstructured data.

As an analogy, we can think of documents as rows in a table and collections as tables. SQL databases use structured query language and have a pre-defined schema for defining and manipulating data. SQL is one of the most versatile and widely used query languages available, making it a safe choice for many use cases. You have to use predefined schemas to determine your data structure before you can work with it. All of your data must follow the same structure, and this process requires significant upfront preparation. If you ever need to change your data structure, it would be difficult and disruptive to your whole system.


They contain tables with columns (attributes) and rows (records), and keys have constrained logical relationships. Sometimes your data has different structures and different types. By definition, NoSQL databases give you more freedom to design your schema and store different data structures within the same database. SQL databases, on the other hand, have a more rigid structure and schema. NoSQL databases don’t require a schema to be defined before storing and retrieving data, making it a more accessible structure for immediate data handling. However, being able to take in unstructured and semi-structured data means some data may be incorrect or malformed upon input, and cannot easily be analyzed.

when to use nosql vs sql examples

This solution allows all database pros to do their jobs with a single solution instead of installing diverse specialized tools and switching between them. Let us first understand the benefits of NoSQL database vs. SQL database for various use case scenarios. Less suited for handling complex, interrelated data relationships.


Long story short, NoSQL provides cost-efficient storage, flexibility, and scalability in data stores. Another significant difference between SQL and NoSQL databases is their approach to database transactions. SQL databases use the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) model, which ensures strong transactional consistency and integrity.

when to use nosql vs sql examples

However, the cloud has also made it possible for companies to use NoSQL databases. NoSQL databases are less rigid and more scalable than SQL databases. To work effectively with relational databases, you definitely need a good database tool which is a cornerstone of success when handling databases. Database tools is a blanket term for utilities, solutions, and assistants that you can use to perform database development, management, and administration tasks. Primary and foreign keys in relational databases prevent data redundancy.

SQL Tutorial

You can’t use the different approaches in a single database, for example, but you can create multiple instances and use a different method on each. The wide-column data store looks a bit like the key-value store. However, instead of having a single value, a key holds access to columns. The graph database is a specialized niche type of NoSQL database.

when to use nosql vs sql examples

SQL is a decades-old method for accessing relational databases, and most who work with databases are familiar with it. Many modern data management issues cannot be handled by standard SQL databases. NoSQL does not support JOINs, since its data isn’t organized into tables. Instead it offers a variety of query languages and methods tailored to the specific data model being used. When working with complex data structures, this flexibility allows developers to access, manipulate, and analyze data more efficiently than traditional SQL queries. SQL databases are commonly referred to as relational database management systems (RDBMS).

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But so-called “mega-vendors” like Oracle and IBM lost two percent of the market in the past five years. And Gartner claims as much as a quarter of the SQL market consists of unpaid, open source databases like MySQL servers and PostgreSQL. NoSQL databases can incorporate SQL elements, while SQL databases can offer some when to use NoSQL vs SQL of the benefits of NoSQL through new features and full-fledged NewSQL databases. However, SQL databases have caught up and now offer some NoSQL perks while still being SQL. For example, databases such as Oracle and SQL Server enable you to store dynamic JSON and even use indices and filter queries on those values.

  • SQL remains more accessible, understandable, and most importantly, a lingua franca for data.
  • Generate a REST API on any data source in seconds to power data products.
  • SQL allows users to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) operations on relational database management systems (RDBMS) based on a structured and tabular format.
  • Which means JavaScript running in the middle tier, so you don’t have to create JAR files or middleware servers like Oracle Weblogic.
  • For example, key-value stores use a simple query language limited to basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations.
  • SQL is a domain-specific language used to query and manage data.

NoSQL non-relational databases are horizontally scalable and can distribute data across multiple servers and nodes. For example, you can scale out a Cassandra database by adding more nodes to the cluster, which allows for easier scaling and better fault tolerance. However, this can make managing data consistency and partitioning more complex. In SQL or relational databases, structured data is organized into tables using a fixed schema. They support varying data models, such as key-value, document, column-family, and graph.

What is NoSQL?

Traditional RDBMS uses SQL syntax to store and retrieve data for further insights. Instead, a NoSQL database system encompasses a wide range of database technologies that can store structured, semi-structured, unstructured and polymorphic data. SQL and NoSQL databases have some fundamental differences, such as their structure, schema, and scalability. Therefore, with no fear of data duplication, all the needed information for a specific query is often stored together. As a result, lookups are easier when dealing with large volumes of data.