Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of MySQL and TimescaleDB so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how MySQL and TimescaleDB perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
MySQL vs TimescaleDB Breakdown
Time Series Database
MySQL uses a client-server model with a multi-layered server design. It supports the SQL query language and offers various storage engines, such as InnoDB and MyISAM, for different use cases. MySQL can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a managed service.
TimescaleDB is built on top of PostgreSQL and inherits its architecture. It extends PostgreSQL with time-series-specific optimizations and functions, allowing it to manage time series data efficiently. It can be deployed as a single node, in a multi-node setup, or in the cloud as a managed service.
GNU General Public License v2 (for the open-source Community Edition)
Timescale License (for TimescaleDB Community Edition); Apache 2.0 (for core PostgreSQL)
Web applications, e-commerce, data warehousing, content management systems, business applications
Monitoring, observability, IoT, real-time analytics, financial market data
Supports vertical scaling by adding more resources to a single node; horizontal scaling can be achieved through replication, sharding, and third-party tools
Horizontally scalable through native support for partitioning, replication, and sharding. Offers multi-node capabilities for distributing data and queries across nodes.
MySQL is an open source relational database management system that was first released in 1995. It is one of the most popular databases worldwide due to its ease of use, reliability, and performance. MySQL is widely used for web applications, online transaction processing, and data warehousing. Oracle Corporation acquired MySQL in 2010, but it remains open source software with an active community of contributors.
TimescaleDB is an open source time series database built on top of PostgreSQL. It was created to address the challenges of managing time series data, such as scalability, query performance, and data retention policies. TimescaleDB was first released in 2017 and has since become a popular choice for storing and analyzing time series data due to its PostgreSQL compatibility, performance optimizations, and flexible data retention policies.
MySQL for Time Series Data
MySQL can be used for storing and analyzing time series data, but it will not be as efficient as a dedicated time series databases. MySQL’s flexibility and support for various indexing techniques can make it a suitable choice for small to medium sized time series datasets. For large-scale time series data workloads, with high write throughput or use cases where low latency queries are required, MySQL will tend to struggle unless highly customized.
TimescaleDB for Time Series Data
TimescaleDB is specifically designed for time series data, making it a natural choice for storing and querying such data. It provides several advantages for time series data management like horizontal scalability, columnar storage, and retention policy support. However, TimescaleDB may not be the best choice for all time series use cases. One example would be if an application requires very high write throughput or real-time analytics, other specialized time series databases like InfluxDB may be more suitable.
MySQL Key Concepts
- Table: A collection of related data organized in rows and columns, which is the primary structure for storing data in MySQL.
- Primary Key: A unique identifier for each row in a table, used to enforce data integrity and enable efficient querying.
- Foreign Key: A column or set of columns in a table that refers to the primary key in another table, used to establish relationships between tables.
TimescaleDB Key Concepts
- Hypertable: A hypertable is a distributed table that is partitioned by time and possibly other dimensions, such as device ID or location. It is the primary abstraction for storing time series data in TimescaleDB and is designed to scale horizontally across multiple nodes.
- Chunk: A chunk is a partition of a hypertable, containing a subset of the hypertable’s data. Chunks are created automatically by TimescaleDB based on a specified time interval and can be individually compressed, indexed, and backed up for better performance and data management.
- Distributed Hypertables: For large-scale deployments, TimescaleDB supports distributed hypertables, which partition data across multiple nodes for improved query performance and fault tolerance.
MySQL is a relational database management system that uses SQL for defining and manipulating data. It follows the client-server model, where a MySQL server accepts connections from multiple clients and processes their queries. MySQL’s architecture includes a storage engine framework that allows users to choose from different storage engines, such as InnoDB, MyISAM, or Memory, to optimize the database for specific use cases.
TimescaleDB is an extension built on PostgreSQL, inheriting its relational data model and SQL support. However, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL with custom data structures and optimizations for time series data, such as hypertables and chunks.
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MySQL supports transactions and adheres to the ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) properties, ensuring data integrity and consistency.
MySQL can scale both vertically and horizontally, depending on the storage engine and configuration.
Replication and high availability
MySQL supports various replication techniques, including master-slave and master-master replication, to provide high availability and fault tolerance.
TimescaleDB automatically partitions time series data tables using hypertables and chunks, which simplifies data management and improves query performance.
Time series focused SQL functions
TimescaleDB provides several specialized SQL functions and operators for time series data application scenarios, such as time_bucket, first, and last, which simplify querying and aggregating time series data.
As mentioned earlier, TimescaleDB extends PostgreSQL’s query planner for writing and querying time series data, including optimizations like time-based indexing and chunk pruning.
MySQL Use Cases
MySQL is a popular choice for powering web applications, content management systems, and e-commerce platforms due to its flexibility, ease of use, and performance.
Online transaction processing (OLTP)
MySQL is suitable for OLTP systems that require high concurrency, fast response times, and support for transactions.
While not specifically designed for data warehousing, MySQL can be used for small to medium-sized data warehouses, leveraging its support for indexing, partitioning, and other optimization techniques.
TimescaleDB Use Cases
Monitoring and metrics
TimescaleDB is well-suited for storing and analyzing monitoring and metrics data, such as server performance metrics, application logs, and sensor data. Its hypertable structure and query optimizations make it easy to store, query, and visualize large volumes of time series data.
IoT data storage
TimescaleDB can be used to store and analyze IoT data, such as sensor readings and device status information. Its support for automatic partitioning and specialized SQL interfaces simplifies the management and querying of large-scale IoT datasets.
TimescaleDB is suitable for storing and analyzing financial data, such as stock prices, exchange rates, and trading volumes. Its query optimizations and specialized SQL functions make it easy to perform time-based aggregations and analyze trends in financial data.
MySQL Pricing Model
MySQL is available in multiple editions with different feature sets and pricing models. The MySQL Community Edition is open source and free to use, while the MySQL Enterprise Edition includes additional features, such as advanced security, monitoring, and management tools, and requires a subscription. Pricing for the Enterprise Edition depends on the number of server instances and the level of support required.
TimescaleDB Pricing Model
TimescaleDB is available in two editions: TimescaleDB Open Source and TimescaleDB Cloud. The open-source edition is free to use and can be self-hosted, while the cloud edition is a managed service with a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on storage, compute, and data transfer usage. TimescaleDB Cloud offers various pricing tiers with different levels of resources and features, such as continuous backups and high availability.
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