What is it?

MySQL is an open source, freely available database system for the web, which falls under the GPL (General Public Licence). It is a powerful system which allows you to create a relational database structure on a web server. It is used to store all kinds of data in which your website/s require in order to provide their full functionality.

In the world of web hosting, often most web hosting providers will give you access to a MySQL database and PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) as standard. You can think of MySQL as a the filing cabinet where everything is stored and PHP as the office assistant who retrieves the data required from the store, knowing where to find it and what to return. However, the difference with MySQL and PHP is that you can return millions of different records within fractions of a second. The system runs incredibly reliably as well as very fast.

How to Use it?

MySQL doesn’t contain a user interface as such by default, however you can use freely available tools such as PHPMyAdmin in order to access the data, add and remove tables, insert and delete data entries. However, the main and most powerful use of MySQL is harnessed through a server-side programming language, which commonly is PHP. Using a language such as PHP you can query the database with complex and dynamic requests, which returns the desired results where you can use however you like.

Queries are written in the database standard language called SQL (Structured Query Language). SQL works by using a special syntax and keywords in order to tell the database what data you want it to return. Here is an example of an SQL query: -

SELECT * FROM people WHERE id = 2 ORDER BY name ASC

This query in plain English would mean, “Get me all the data from the table called ‘people’ if the ID is 2, then return the data to me with the name’s in alphabetical order.”

The beauty of MySQL is that it is so flexible and can cater for every need, from a small one page website to a international website with over 15,000 hits per day. With features like user privileges, true data types and incredible performance it makes MySQL a brilliant resource for all website owners and developers alike.

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