What is MySQL? A Beginner’s Guide

“Hey, I need you to compile a list of the most popular items in the last 80,290 transactions in our stores from March 2018 to May 2019 and I need it done by this Thursday.” Your supervisor requests of you. Whew! This seems like a lot. Don’t panic. They hired you for a reason. You’re a smart guy/gal. Where do you begin?

You ask around the office. You look at old notes from your Info Systems classes from college. You begin to panic a little bit because it has been quite a while since you’ve done any technical database work and you don’t want the supervisor to regret their decision to hire you.

Chances are, the data is being held in big a database. Most-likely, a MySQL database. You have some analytical abilities I know you do. You know where to go now, but you need a refresher on the fundamentals of MySQL.
Let’s start from square one to make sure you get all the important stuff down pat. Here’s a quick guide to get you up and running again.


MySQL is a database management system. A database is an organized collection of data. It could be anything. It could be tweets, sales, transactions, or even a photo gallery. To get into and process data kept in a database, you will need a database management system like MySQL Server.

To be even more granular, MySQL is an open source relational database management system utilizing a client-server model. It is a software used to create databases and manage them.

Computers are awesome with managing huge amounts of data. This means that database management systems play a huge role in computation and play big roles in other applications.

MySQL is Relational

They’re called relational databases because the data is stored in independent tables rather than being jumbled together in a single storage space. The composition of a database entails the units being arranged into optimized physical speed to ensure smooth operation.

The database uses logic for an adaptable programming environment that incorporates tables, elements, rows, columns, databases, and views. You are the creator of the rules that outline the relationships between the various data fields using cardinality.

Cardinality refers to the uniqueness of data values in a specific column. The relationship cardinalities include one-to-many, one-to-one, unique, required or optional, and the various “markers” between tables.

The database enforces the rules and relational integrity, so you don’t have duplicate or inconsistent data.

Open Source

MySQL is Open Source meaning that is accessible to anyone who wants to use or make changes to the software. Anyone is permitted to search for MySQL online and download the software without paying a dime.

Anyone can get a feel for the source code and modify it to suit the needs of a business. MySQL utilizes the GPL (GNU General Public license) that lays out exactly what you are allowed and not allowed to do with the software in specific situations.

You can purchase commercially licensed versions should you feel uncomfortable with the GPL.

MySQL Client Service Model

MySQL database software is a client/server system that is comprised of a multithreaded SQL server that supports various back ends, administrative tools, client programs and libraries, and a multitude of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Some of the biggest names on the web like Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook all use MySQL as their main source of data storage. It is also compatible with all the main computing platforms like Linux, MacOS, Ubuntu, and Microsoft Windows.

SQL (Structured Query Language)

Believe it or not, MySQL and SQL are not similar by any means. However, they complement do each other. MySQL is the relational database management brand name that incorporates a client-server model.

Structured Query Language (SQL) is the language used so that that the server and client can communicate with each other in a relational database management system domain. SQL is a domain specific language.

SQL gives the server instructions for the data. You input the SQL scripts so that you can execute certain functions like querying to find particular information about a dataset, Manipulation of data to insert, delete, or change any values, identity to define relationships and datasets, and Data Access Control to control who can look at or modify the data.

Here’s How It Works

It’s actually quite simple. In the Client-Server Model, the client inputs or requests, and the server responds.

On the frontend of things, every client is capable of making a request through the graphical user interface (GUI) on their screens. The server will take the request, follow, and create it as long as there is mutual understanding between the client and server ends.

MySQL is the same exact process as the Client-Server Model. First, MySQL creates the database for holding and manipulating data as the relationship between the tables are defined, next, clients used SQL scripts to make requests, finally, the server will reply to the request and the client will be able to see it.
Pretty simple.

MySQL. Super-Fast, Consistent, Scalable, and Uncomplicated

MySQL will run smoothly on a desktop, laptop, with supplemental applications, web servers, and many other programs, all while requiring little maintenance. If you assign a whole machine/device to MySQL, you can tweak the settings in your favor to take advantage of all the memory, input/output capacity, and CPU power.

MySQL is also capable of scaling up groups of networked machines working collectively. MySQL was principally created to work with enormous databases significantly quicker than the existing solutions at the time.
It is exceedingly fast, interconnective, and secure with host-based authentication and password encryption.

Hopefully you’re a little less anxious about the scenario mentioned at the beginning of the piece. You now have a deeper understanding of MySQL is and what it is capable of doing for you and the business. Impress the supervisor with your knowledge.

You know that in can query, identify, and define datasets. All you need is a little more practice. Wah are you waiting for? Go download it and find some practice datasets.

After all, it’s all free.

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