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The guide to choosing the right database for my project: MongoDB vs. MySQL

This conceptual blog will try to make your decision-making process less tedious, with a special focus on MongoDB and MySQL, two of the most popular and competitive databases in their own field for web applications.

MongoDB versus MySQL

This article is a comprehensive guide to help you adopt the right type database for your use case

Written by Zoumana Keita


Constant changes in data types such as relation and non-relational are one of many challenges faced by companies in their journey of implementing data-driven applications, which consequently makes it harder to choose the right type of database.

This conceptual blog will try to make your decision-making process less tedious, with a special focus on MongoDB and MySQL, two of the most popular and competitive databases in their own field for web applications.

We will first provide a clear definition of what each database is. Then, we will deep-dive into guiding you in choosing the right one for your use case. In the last section, we will introduce a technology that can help you easily and efficiently manage the administration panel of your application.

A Quick Overview of MongoDB and MySQL

Before diving into the comparative analysis, let’s understand what MySQL and MongoDB databases are.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open-source relational databases management system (RDBMS for short) that stores data in tables and rows. MySQL interacts with data using the Structure Query Language (SQL) paradigm to access and transfer data. The following table can be an illustration of relational data.

A SQL table content example.
Imaginary candidates’ information in a structured format (Image by Author)

MySQL was originally created back in 1995 and is currently owned and maintained by Oracle. “My” from MySQL is a shortened name of one of the developers’ daughters.

What is MongoDB?

MongoDB is an open-source, non-relational database management system (DBMS for short).

MongoDB was first created in 2007 to provide scalability, and agility to store humongous amounts of data. The “Mongo” term was derived from the “humongous” aspect.

It is document-oriented meaning that it makes it possible to store data within a single document. These documents are JSON-like, as shown below.

A NoSQL content example.
Imaginary candidates’ information in an unstructured format (Image by Author)

When should you use MongoDB or MySQL?

Both MongoDB and MySQL are great databases and provide outstanding benefits for enterprises and small businesses. So the choice between them highly depends on the use case they’re being applied to. In this section, we will help have all the tools to make the right choice.

When should you use MongoDB?

MongoDB should be the to-go for a database when:

→ 🤷🏻‍♂️ You don’t know how your application is going to evolve in the future. In this case, you might need a dynamic data structure so that you can add new data when required without worrying about the impact of a simple change that might break your whole system.

→ ✅ You want to build modern web applications with instant access and data recovery requirements. This is important because MongoDB keeps a redundant copy of the same data within different servers across the globe, which makes it fault-tolerant because a single server failure does not impact the application.

→ 🚀 Speed is your biggest concern, since MongoDB stores information within a single document which makes read and write actions faster than when dealing with a relational database that may require multiple joins to retrieve the desired data.

→ 💵 You are concerned with pricing and don’t have enough budget since MongoDB is open-source, it is able to be implemented completely for free.

→ 📈Your application needs to scale in demand. This can be guaranteed by MongoDB because it scales across multiple servers to store and process data in order to automatically adapt as performance requirements and data volumes grow instead of investing in very expensive mainframes.

→ 🌏 You need your application to be deployed as a service. This feature is offered by MongoDB Atlas which helps users to consume MongoDB as a database-as-a-service through multiple cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, without worrying to go through the process of managing databases.

Some of the use-cases implementing MongoDB are the internet of things (IoT), mobile applications, real-time analytics, product catalog, etc.

When should you use MySQL?

Similarly to MongoDB, MySQL’s most popular use cases are also web-based applications. However, you should go for MySQL when:

→ 🎯 You are dealing with a fixed relational data schema, and you are sure that it will not change for a long period of time.

→ 🎬 You are at an early stage of your business and do not have much scalability and distribution constraints, nor much expertise in database management, because MySQL is easy to use, and requires lower customizability, meaning that there are fewer chances for users to need complex support.

→ 💵 You are concerned with pricing and don’t have enough budget, since MySQL is also open-source, which makes it possible to implement it completely for free.

→ 🔐 Security is a big concern for your application because even MySQL surpasses MongoDB when it comes to data consistency and reliability.

In addition to web application development, another primary use case for MySQL is storing transactional databases, e-commerce portal development, proof of concept projects, etc.

What if you don’t want to worry about managing databases?

Whether you are dealing with MongoDB or MySQL, you will have to deal at some point with managing your database.

What if you just want to focus on your business expertise, and not worry about managing databases?

→ Here is where tools like Forest Admin come in handy!

After all, Forest Admin is a tool that automatically generates an admin panel on top of your database, and it can be customised according to your business needs. You don't need to code features like CRUD, search, filters, exports, or charts – they are available out-of-the-box.

Nowadays, data privacy is a big concern for any organization. This issue is tackled in ForestAdmin using an architecture that transfers your data straight to your browser making it invisible to the servers.


This conceptual blog covered MongoDB and MySQL by providing a global overview of how they work. Then, it has provided a step-by-step to help you choose the right database for your use case. Finally, it covered one of the greatest technologies for efficiently managing your application.

Forest Admin is available for the majority of the most popular databases, including MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Try it now to free!

You can further your reading from the following links:

MySQL documentation

MongoDB documentation

How to build a MongoDB admin panel

MongoDB Cheat Sheet