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Relational Vs Non-Relational Databases | What’s The Difference?

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There is no doubt that databases are a crucial element of any IT system. You may also know there are two main types of databases: Relational and Non-Relational. But could you tell the differences between them?

Let’s take a closer look!

What’s a Relational Database?

A Relational Database is a database that forms relations between tables that store data on specific entities. A relational database uses SQL – structured query language.

What’s a Non-Relational Database?

NoSQL databases are more flexible because the data on the object isn’t limited to the same table. Non-Relational databases use columns and rows to enter types of data and its values and identify objects with keys.

Pros and Cons

Pros of Relational Database

  • Simplicity
  • Data accuracy: as you need to sort through every piece of data
  • Easy access to data
  • Data integrity as all entries are checked on their validity
  • Flexibility: you can create new relations between tables without violating the existing data structure
  • Security.

Cons of Relational Database

  • They may have Performance issues
  • It’s setup could take a long time
  • There is no support for complex data types.

Pros of Non-Relational Database

  • Handling unstructured data
  • Agility: teams can quickly update documents.
  • Readability: when you need to get all data on a user, it’s enough to open an individual document. There’s no need to shift between multiple tables.
  • Most NoSQL solutions are open source.

Cons of Non-Relational Database

  • Dependency on a specific database management system
  • Limited functionality
  • Hiring difficulties

Examples of Relational Databases


MySQL is used by many content management systems, including: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and is perhaps the most popular relational database.

It is also used by YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and lots of projects our team handles.

Some of MySQL functionality include:

  • Performance monitoring
  • Support for Linux, Windows, Mac OS and other systems.
  • Password encryption
  • Great performance of up to 50 million data rows.

Though it is an excellent tool, it has some disadvantages:

  • Slow data transaction
  • Weak debugging algorithms.

Microsoft SQL Server

Its main functionality include:

  • In-memory analytics
  • BI semantic model
  • Customization capabilities
  • Integration with oracle databases
  • Error management and others.

Its disadvantages are:

  • Expensive licensing plants
  • Windows-based servers only

Oracle Database

Oracle hosted its database in the cloud. It is mainly used to transition to cloud computing and run cloud computing for web projects. This database provides four levels of data transaction protection, grouped transactions, real application cluster that allows connecting many servers to the same database and multi OS support.

It does have its cons:

  • High price
  • It’s difficult to find an Oracle database development team
  • It’s not so easy to learn and use.


IBM’s DB2 is one of the oldest and most mature relational database solutions. It’s key functionality include powerful SQL modification, efficient memory handling and support of IBM infrastructure.

Its disadvantages:

  • It requires a lot of necessary add-ons to unlock its full functionality.
  • The free IBM support is only available for the first 3 years then it becomes paid.

Examples of Non-Relational Databases


This is the most popular non-relational database and our team uses it often too.

Its functionality include:

  • The support of various data types
  • The ability to distribute data automatically between different servers.
  • MongoDB also boasts fast performance.

Its disadvantages:

  • MongoDB requires more memory increasingly
  • There is no control of duplication
  • We are noticing the lack of documentation


It’s managed and developed by Amazon. The database service can be integrated with MongoDB. Also, it provides database migration, monitoring capabilities, automatic updates and automatic storage increases.

As for disadvantages, Amazon document DB is very similar to MongoDB. So it also shares the same drawbacks:

  • There’s also no control of duplication
  • Scarce educational resources
  • The database isn’t organized well. It’s possible that as your project scales, documents will become a lot Messier.


It was created by the Facebook team. It is known for its scalability, support of unstructured, structured & semi-structured data and support for multiple data centers.

On the other hand, it has:

  • No acid support and aggregates support
  • Latency problems.

How Can You Choose a Database?

To make it easier, we prepared for questions based on our own experience:

#1 What type of data will you be analyzing?

If you are working with a lot of factual and numeric data, the SQL database will be a good bet. However, if your application is handling a large amount of messy data, you need to pick a flexible solution that doesn’t prioritize structure over performance.

#2 How much data are you dealing with?

If you are dealing with huge amounts of data, a non relational database is a better choice.

#3 Are you ready to invest time and budget in the setup of your database?

If you are ready to invest early on the project, you can choose an SQL solution. It’s harder to set up but later on, it pays off. Non-relational databases on the contrary are easier to set up but when it comes to long term support, you need to be sure that you have a reliable vendor.

#4 Do you need real-time data?

If you are working with real time data, no SQL databases will provide you with more flexibility and save a lot of time on the input stage. To conclude, the choice between relational and non-relational databases depends on your project’s priorities and team skills.

If you are in a struggle, EZtek database experts can help you make a choice. Moreover, we offer a wide range of services such as Software development, UI/UX design, testing and IT consulting.


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