MySQL is a global system from Oracle that’s used to manage databases. It’s based on relational algebra and is mainly used to store web service data. Well-known CMS that use MySQL include WordPress and TYPO3.

A definition of MySQL

MySQL is, as the name suggests, is an SQL-based database management system or DBMS. The open-source software is now maintained by Oracle, the company that also developed the Java programming language.

MySQL can store, manage, and display data in tables. It works as a client-server system. While the database acts as a server on which all relevant information is stored, the software can be looked at as the client. Using the software, users of the relational database can formulate various queries in the SQL query language and send them to the database system. These are then processed by MySQL, which is why data access is also an important component of MySQL

MySQL is characterized by a high degree of platform independence. You can use MySQL on more than 20 different platforms, including the popular operating systems Windows, macOS, and Linux. Plus, installing MySQL is super easy.

A short history of MySQL

MySQL was developed in 1994 by the Swedish company MySQL AB and was released one year later. The name of the database system is made up of the first name of the founder’s daughter (My) and the central language for the database system (SQL). The database system is programmed in the programming languages C and C++. The current version MySQL 8 is available since 2018.

The company MySQL AB was bought by Sun Microsystems in 2008. Sun Microsystems was in turn acquired by Oracle two years later. To this day, MySQL is maintained and further developed by Oracle. Shortly before the acquisition, MariaDB, a spin-off of MySQL, was created under the leadership of MySQL founder Michael Widenius. This time, the founder based the name on the name of his younger daughter, Maria.

Since MySQL was taken over by Oracle, however, the database system has been criticized more often. Mainly this is due to constant changes between the free and the paid version of the database system. Because of this, MariaDB and MySQL are in constant competition with one another.

How does MySQL work?

Databases are used to represent real-life data sets in a noncontradictory, logically coherent, and consistent manner. The database management system MySQL is based on the so-called relational algebra. Here, the data records are represented in tabular form and linked with one another. The advantage of this is that redundancy is avoided by using smaller data sets. The handling of duplicates is also simplified.

The relationships between the data can be queried using SQL. There are a number of different commands that you can use to select and evaluate the data, or to enter it in new tables.


Have a look at our MySQL beginners’ tutorial to learn the basic commands and create your first database.

Areas of application of MySQL

MySQL is an integral part of the so-called LAMP stack. This describes a set of technologies used for web services, like Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. The database system is mainly used to store web service data in relational tables. A separate table is created for each data record. Queries can then be formulated using relational algebra and the SQL query language, allowing you to link data records from several tables with one other.

MySQL is also used by some large companies such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. And many content management systems like WordPress or TYPO3 are based on MySQL and use its database management system.


MySQL is also part of the Apache distribution XAMPP and can be used to set up and manage your own database. To get started, have a look at our XAMPP tutorial.

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