Vijay Singh Khatri | 21 Mar, 2023

What is MySQL? [Definition] A Complete Beginners' Guide

MySQL was founded by the Swedish company MySQL AB and is used by many business giants in the tech world. But what is MySQL exactly? It is a database management system composed of programming languages such as C and C++and helps you manage relational databases. You can modify its source code depending on your unique needs on this free, open-source software.

Users can access MySQL on several platforms, namely Unix, Windows, and Linux. It excels in reliability and scalability. Moreover, MySQL is a vital component of the LAMP stack. The LAMP stack comprises Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Let’s explore the MySQL definitions, uses, and important features!

What is MySQL Database?

A database is a structured collection of data. You can find databases everywhere.

A relational database breaks your data into various sections and stores them in tables. A table simply contains rows and columns and acts as a storage unit for large amounts of data and information.

In the big data ecosystem, MySQL is one of the most used technologies. It is known as the most popular database and enjoys widespread and efficient use in industries. With MySQL, even beginners can instantly build powerful and fast data storage systems. Moreover, the interfaces and syntax are easy to implement.

It is safe to say that MySQL is an integral part of the most popular software stacks and helps build and handle web applications to data-driven B2B services.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of MySQL, let us move forward to understand how MySQL works.

How Does MySQL Work?

You must be curious to understand how MySQL works. MySQL has a client-server architecture. It is used in a networked environment, and the server program is responsible for all interactions with the databases. It resides on the same system as that of the database files.

Several client programs such as MySQL tools or any applications written in other programming languages make database requests by connecting to the server. The server then processes the client requests are processed and the results are sent back to the client.

A client has an option to either stay on the same system as the server or switch to a remote host and send database requests to the server. You must remember that the MySQL server must be in a running status so that the clients can connect.

In a nutshell, here are the main processes of a MySQL environment:

  • MySQL creates a database to store or manipulate data and defines the relationship of each table.
  • Clients can type specific SQL statements on MySQL to make requests.
  • The server application responds with the information requested and is received on the clients’ side.

What is MySQL Used For?

MySQL is a relational database management system based on SQL. You can use it for a wide range of purposes, like e-commerce, data warehousing, creating web applications, b2b services, logging applications, and more.

However, the most common and popular use of MySQL is to build a web database. It can be used to store anything, from a single piece of information to an entire inventory of products with humongous data for an online store.

Moreover, you can associate it with scripting languages such as PHP or Perl to create websites for interacting in real-time with a MySQL database. It is highly beneficial as it rapidly displays categorized information to a website customer or visiter.

Moving on, let us understand more about MySQL.

Relational database and Client-Server Model

People are often unclear as to whether MySQL is a database or not. Is MySQL a database?

MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) based on structured query language (SQL). In addition, a relational database is like a digital store used to collect data and organize it as per the relational model.

Now, there are two essential components of MySQL: relational databases and the client-server model. To understand the two better, let us dig into these two concepts.

Relational Databases

There are various ways to store data in one place. MySQL uses relational databases to serve this purpose. Instead of accumulating the data in one big unit, the data is stored in multiple rows and columns called tables.

If you wish to store two kinds of data:

  • Customer: Name
  • Order: Name, Color, Price, Made by, etc.

…then this data must be bifurcated and assembled in a relational database. If not, you may face a few obstacles such as:

  • Redundancy: For example, the customer’s name may be the same with a different or even the same product category. In such a scenario, it becomes difficult for you to manage the data.
  • Management: It would become highly inconvenient for you to match the order data with that of the customer’s data

Relational databases handle obstacles like this. It creates one table for the customer and another for the order.

Now, what if you wish to see all the orders made by a single customer, at once? Well, relational databases provide you with a key for this purpose. A key helps you to link your data with both tables. Therefore, you can combine the data of different tables as and when required. Keys are unique and are present in the form of a numerical ID number.

Now, let’s move towards the client-side model.

Client-Side Model

MySQL uses the client-side model along with the relational database.

The entire data resides on the server. To retrieve it, you need to make a request. This request is made by the client to get the required information.

For clarity, here is an example. If you visit any website and want to access the web pages available, that website sends several SQL requests to the database server to display the information on your web browser.

Features of MySQL

MySQL Features

There are a plethora of features associated with MySQL. Let’s take a look:

  • Open-Source: MySQL is open-source. Anyone can download, use, or make modifications as per the requirements. It is easy to understand and free of cost. MySQL uses GPL, that is, General Public License. It mentions the rules and regulations about the dos and don’ts of the application.
  • Scalable: MySQL is highly scalable. It can tackle small or large amounts of data, multiple machines, and more seamlessly, improving the customer's experience.
  • Reliable and Extremely Fast: The data is stored efficiently in MySQL. It guarantees consistency and zero redundancy, making data quickly accessible to the users
  • Highly Secure: MySQL is backed up with a strong password system that makes it a secure interface.
  • Easy Management: The software is easy to download and access. If you wish to schedule the tasks, you can use the event scheduler.
  • Robust: MySQL provides you with distributed multi-version support and has the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) property
  • Incredible performance: With the software, you get table index partitioning and memory caches.
  • 24/7 Support: You can use MySQL on any platform and find support anytime for both the open-source and enterprise editions.

Now that you are well acquainted with the features and benefits of MySQL, here are the data types it supports.

Datatypes of MySQL

There are different types of data types in MySQL. We have categorized the same as stated below:

  • Numeric Data Type
  • Date and Time Data Type
  • String Data Type
  • Spatial Data Type
  • Binary Large Object Data Type

Numeric Data Type

  1. TINYINT: TINYINT can be either signed or unsigned. In the case of signed, the range varies from -128 to 127. The unsigned range is 0 to 255.
  2. SMALLINT: Thai data type can either be signed or unsigned. In the case of signed, the range varies from -32768 to 32767. The unsigned range is 0 to 65535.
  3. MEDIUMINT: Either signed or unsigned, this medium integer range varies from -8388608 to 8388607 when signed. The unsigned range is 0 to 16777215.
  4. FLOAT (m,d): A floating number can’t be unsigned. M is the display length whereas, d is for the number of decimals.
  5. DECIMAL (m,d): This data type is an unpacked floating number. Each decimal depicts one byte each.
  6. DOUBLE(m,d): This is a double-precision floating point that can’t be signed. M implies display length, where d shows the number of decimals.
  7. INT: INT can be both signed or unsigned. In the case of signed, the range is -2147483648 to 2147483647. The unsigned range is 0 to 4294967295.
  8. BIGINT: BIGINT is either signed or unsigned. In the case of signed, the range is -9223372036854775808 to 9223372036854775807. The unsigned range is 0 to 18446744073709551615.
  9. BOOL: This data type shows True or False conditions.
  10. BOOLEAN: Same as BOOL.

Date and Time Data Type

  1. DATE: The format is yyyy-mm-dd. Range varies from'1000-01-01' to '9999-12-31'.
  2. TIME: It follows the format, ‘HH:MM:SS’. The range lies in between'-838:59:59' to '838:59:59'.
  3. DATETIME: The format is 'yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss'. The range is '1000-01-01 00:00:00' to '9999-12-31 23:59:59'.
  4. TIMESTAMP(m): It follows the format, 'YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS'.The range is '1970-01-01 00:00:01' UTC to '2038-01-19 03:14:07' TC.

String Data Type

For several string data types, the maximum size is 255 characters, which implies the total number of characters a string can store. Here are those data types:

  1. CHAR
  4. TEXT

Other string data types are stated as below:

  1. TEXT: The maximum size is 65535 characters.
  2. MEDIUMTEXT: The maximum size is 16777215 characters.
  3. LONGTEXT: A maximum size of 4GB or 4294967295.
  4. ENUM: It can hold a maximum of 65,535 values.

Spatial Data Type

  2. POINT

Binary Large Object Data Type (BLOB)

  1. BLOB: The maximum size is 65535 bytes.
  2. TINYBLOB: The maximum size of 255 bytes.
  3. LONGBLOB: The maximum size is 4,294,967,295 bytes.
  4. MEDIUMBLOB: The maximum size of 16777215 bytes.

MySQL, SQL and Stored Procedures from Beginner to Advanced

How to Install MySQL Database Server?

To install MySQL on your Windows system, follow the below-mentioned procedure in step by step fashion.

The first step is to download the MySQL Installer.

Download MySQL Installer

The MySQL installer helps you to install MySQL along with some other vital components namely, MySQL Notifier, sample databases, documentation, available connectors, MySQL server, and important tools for Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Excel.

To download, visit the below-stated link:

You will find two files here. If you wish to install MySQL online, then use:


On the other hand, if you wish to download it in offline mode, use this link:



Step 1:

Go to your MySQL installer file and double-click on it to initiate the MySQL configuration.

Next, choose a setup type. Tap on the Full option for installing the MySQL products as well as features associated with them.

MySQL Graph 1

Step 2:

Click on Execute to install all the products.

MySQL Graph 2

Step 3:

Now, click on the Standalone MySQL Server/Classic MySQL Replication checkbox. Hit Next. Select the InnoDB Cluster according to your requirements.

MySQL Graph 3

Step 4:

The next display asks you to select the Config Type and shows connectivity options. Click on the Config Type option and select the Development Machine option. Now, set Connectivity as TCP/IP, and Port Number as 3306 as shown below in the snapshot.

MySQL Graph 4

Step 5:

Choose the first option in the Authentication Method wizard and set an appropriate MySQL root account password. Set a strong password.

MySQL Graph 5MySQL Graph 6

Step 6

Another wizard will show up on your screen, asking you to apply the server configuration. Check the configuration and select Execute.After the configuration completes successfully, your screen will display the below-shown pop-up. Tap on the Finish button once done.

MySQL Graph 7

Step 7

The next step is Router Configuration. Select Next and then Finish.

MySQL Graph 8

Step 8

This step asks for the root password that you had set earlier. Once you enter the password, check if your connection is successful or not. If yes, click on the Execute button.

MySQL Graph 9

With this step, your configuration is now complete!

Step 9

The below-shown screen appears on the display. Tap Finish.

MySQL Graph 10MySQL Graph 11

Now the installation is complete. You may click the Finish button to step out of the installation wizard box.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed the MySQL database server.


So, what is MySQL? It’s one of the most incredible and reliable technologies in the big data ecosystem.

Due to such frequent usage of MySQL, people working in the IT sector would benefit by learning the MySQL basics.

MySQL is essential for many software organizations to build and maintain data from web applications to giant,data-driven B2B services. Do you want to expand your MySQL knowledge? Consider exploring a MySQL tutorial.

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By Vijay Singh Khatri

With 5+ years of experience across various tech stacks such as C, C++, PHP, Python, SQL, Angular, and AWS, Vijay has a bachelor's degree in computer science and a specialty in SEO and helps a lot of ed-tech giants with their organic marketing. Also, he persists in gaining knowledge of content marketing and SEO tools. He has worked with various analytics tools for over eight years.

View all post by the author

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