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NOSQL vs SQL. Key differences and when to choose each

March 18, 2016

NOSQL vs SQL. Key differences and when to choose each

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Nowadays there is a rising tendency to use NoSQL databases. In this article we want to clear up the differences between both database types and on what occasions should we choose one over the other for our project. If you think you can collaborate with more characteristics or information for this article, we’ll gladly pay close attention to your commentaries.

Before proceeding, do we know the difference between NoSQL vs SQL? Simply to clear it up. The main difference between both database types lies in the fact that NoSQL databases don’t use relational models.

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Relational database advantages

  • Its use is more adapted and the profiles that know it are mainstream, and therefore less expensive.
  • Due to the amount of time that they’ve been on the market, these tools have better support, product suites and add-ons to manage these databases.
  • The atomicity of operations on the database. This means that on these databases either the entire operation is done or it’s not done at all, using the famous ‘rollback’ technique.
  • The data must comply with integrity requirements both in data type and compatibility.

Disadvantages in relational databases

  • The atomicity of the operations plays a crucial part in the database’s performance.
  • Scalability, even though it’s usually tested in productive environments, it’s usually lower than NoSQL databases.

Advantages of a NoSQL database

  • the scalability and its decentralized style. It supports distributed structures.
  • They’re usually much more open and flexible as databases. They allow adapting to the needs of a project in a much easier way than entity related models.
  • Changes in the schemes can be done without having to stop the database.
  • Horizontal scaling: they’re capable of growing in device number, instead of having to reside in one large device.
  • They can be run on low-resource devices.
  • Query optimization on databases designed for large amounts of data.

Disadvantages of NoSQL databases

  • Not all NoSQL databases contemplate the atomicity of instructions and the integrity of the data. They withstand what’s know as eventual consistence.
  • Compatibility issues with SQL instructions. New databases use their own characteristics in the query language and they’re not yet 100% compatible with the SQL used in relational databases. Support for work query issues in a NoSQL database is more complicated.
  • Lack of standardizing. There are many NoSQL databases and there is still no standard like the ones that exist in relational databases. An uncertain future is predicted for these databases.
  • Cross-platform support. There are still many improvements to be made on some systems so that they can run on non-Linux operating systems.
  • They usually have not-really-useful management tools or console access.


NoSQL vs SQL: When should we use which type of database?

  • When the data must be consisten without leaving room for error when using a relational database. SQL.
  • When our budget won’t allow large devices and must be put into lower performance devices. NoSQL.
  • When the datastructures we manage are variable. NoSQL.
  • For analyzing large quantities of data in read mode only. NoSQL.
  • Event capture and processing. NoSQL
  • Online stores with complex intelligence engines. NoSQL

At this point it’s very important to insist on the fact that even though it may look like a good time to move over to a NoSQL database, we must keep in mind before taking that decision if the characteristics of our database rather needs a NoSQL or a relational database.

We hope this article comparing both databas types (NoSQL vs SQL). Do you have information to add or comment? Any experiences with SQL or NoSQL databases? let us know, we’ll pay attention.

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  1. […] Si queréis más información sobre bases de datos no relacionales y su comparación con las relacionales, no os perdáis este artículo de nosql vs sql, diferencia y cuando elegir cada una. […]

  2. Pedro Osorio

    thanks you so much it've been of help !

  3. Carla Andres

    Thanks for your comment Pedro, we really appreciate.

  4. amar

    it's good to move on with No-Sql,as No-Sql has some great features as compared to SQL i.e relational database. Really Helpful information ! Would like to hear more in future .

    • Carla Andres

      Thanks for your comment Abad!

  5. This article highlights some additional differences between SQL and NoSQL databases, and offers some advice on when to use each. It notes that relational databases also tend to have more support and add-ons since many of them have been available for a longer period of time. Relational databases also typically have better atomicity, which means either all of the requested commands in a series will be executed, or none will. This could be very important if you really need to ensure the order of transactions, for example. One of the downsides of ensuring atomicity, however, is that the database is typically slower. And while relational databases are certainly used in production, they don’t scale as well as NoSQL databases.

    • Carla Andres

      Hi, NoSQL databases are not yet well known/used, although they have a lot more power. But if you want an optimal performance, just use the SQL databases because they have been in use for a long time and are very polished.Thanks,

  6. Tvich

    " Captura y procesado de eventos. NoSQL Tiendas online con motores de inteligencia complejos. NoSQL "Seems like you forgot to translate in English. But in general, nice article, thanks a lot)

    • maria

      Thank you Tvich for your comment!We've already updated the article :)Kind regards,

  7. […] the link to check out a comparative of NoSQL vs SQL databases. And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the loveliest models of 2017 are here, with […]

  8. bodas y eventos oviedo

    Yo no estoy en linea con lo aqui escrito, pienso sinceramente que hay muchos factores que no han podido ser tomados en cuenta. Pero valoro mucho vuestra exposiciòn, es un buena web. Saludos

    • maria

      ¡Muchas gracias por tu comentario!

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