SQLite vs MySQL: 16 Must-Know Differences Between The Two Leading Databases

SQLite vs MySQL: 16 Must-Know Differences Between The Two Leading Databases

There are two types of database management systems, relational and non-relational. In the open source relational database space, MySQL and SQLite are two of the leading names. The former is preferred where multi-access, high-workload, scalable databases are required.

Contrary to MySQL, SQLite is an ideal solution for instances requiring fast access and lightweight implementation. However, picking either MySQL or SQLite is rather tricky due to the several similarities they share. To begin with, both are the relational type of databases.

This article aims at making the reader well-acquainted with the important differences between MySQL and SQLite. Hence, making the pick among the two becomes clearer and easier. But before advancing let’s talk a little about the two relational database management systems.


Though now further being developed and managed by Oracle, MySQL was originally developed by MySQL AB, a Swedish software company. MySQL saw the light of day in May 1995.

MySQL is a database server. Hence, unlike SQLite, it can’t be directly integrated with the application. You need to first install it and then connect it with your app. The application connected makes use of the TCP/IP control to exchange data from the database.

The Good:

  • A galore of built-in security features

  • Capable to handle and manage high-traffic receiving websites

  • Feature rich

  • Robust user management ability

The Bad:

  • Low portability

  • Reliability issues

  • Slow development


Developed by D. Richard Hipp, SQLite debuted in August 2000. SQLite is a serverless relational database management solution. The most important aspects of SQLite is high-reliability and being a self-contained database management system.

Thanks to the latter, SQLite is able to handle different types of data in a relatively simplistic way. Instead of installing and then connecting with the application of choice, SQLite integrates directly with the application.

The Good:

  • High portability due to the file-based system

  • Ideal for development and testing

  • Serverless, requires no configuration and becomes much easier to set up

The Bad:

  • No network access

  • Unsuitable for large-scale and scalable applications

  • User management is unavailable

SQLite vs MySQL: Most Noteworthy Differences

    1. APIs

MySQL offers a proprietary native API. Unfortunately, SQLite doesn’t have an API to work with. Nonetheless, both MySQL and SQLite has the same access methods, namely ADO.NET, JDBC, and ODBC.

    1. Authentication and Security

SQLite lacks an authentication system. Moreover, the security offered is not robust. In fact, an SQLite database file can be read and updated by almost anyone.

MySQL comes with a superb authentication and security support. It has a diverse range of security features, as basic as username and password to advanced ones like the SSH (Secure Shell). The RDBMS follows the users with fine-grained authorization concept.

    1. Consistency Concept

MySQL follows the concept of immediate consistency. SQLite doesn’t follow a consistency concept.

    1. DBaaS (Database-as-a-Service) Offerings

SQLite has no provision for offering the relational database management system as a Database-as-a-Service. On the contrary, MySQL provides support for several of them. Two notable instances are:

    1. Azure Database for MySQL

    2. Google Cloud SQL

    1. Ease of Setting Up

Setting up MySQL is not an extremely difficult process. However, it consumes some decent time and requires a basic understanding of the database platform.

With SQLite, everything from installing to setting up and running is pretty straightforward. Even some newcomer can get it right for the very first time.

    1. Multi-Access

MySQL is specially designed to handle several concurrent users. As such, the relational database management system has an excellent user management module. Moreover, it does so with a clear distinction in the permission levels.

Unfortunately, there is no provision for user management in SQLite. This is probably a trade-off for keeping the RDBMS lightweight and fast.

Though SQLite is capable of handling multiple simultaneous access, it locks the complete database when two or more write requests are made at once.

    1. Partition and Replication Methods

Neither partition nor replication methods are supported by SQLite. Whereas, MySQL provides support for both partitioning as well as replication methods, which are:

      1. Horizontal partitioning

      2. Sharding with MySQL Cluster or MySQL Fabric (a partitioning method)

      3. Master-master replication

      4. Master-slave replication

    1. Portability

Another important deciding factor when choosing between SQLite and MySQL is portability. SQLite stores a database directly into an individual file. Hence, it can be simply copied or moved to transfer the database to some other platform than the original one.

Also, no configuration is required for doing the aforementioned. Support required from the new operating system, the one to which the switch is made to, is also nominal.

A MySQL database or databases can only be shifted from one platform to another once it is exported to a file. The time consumed in doing so depends on the size of the database(s), which is, typically, large. Additional configuration may be required at times.

    1. Programming Languages Support

Although both SQLite and MySQL provide support for a galore of programming languages, SQLite wins when it comes to the total count.

Both DB platform support Ada, C, C#, C++, D, Delphi, Haskell, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, OCaml, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Scheme, and Tcl programming languages.

Languages supported by MySQL but not by SQLite:

  • Eiffel

  • Erlang

Languages supported by SQLite but not by MySQL:

  • Actionscript

  • Basic

  • Forth

  • Fortran

  • Lisp

  • Lua

  • MatLab

  • R

  • Scala

  • Smalltalk

    1. Scalability

Not only MySQL is able to handle humongous loads of data, but it is also capable to be scaled as per the requirement(s) calls for. SQLite, on the contrary, is an impractical option when the dataset is huge as it requires too much memory.

Even if a big dataset is stored in an SQLite database, optimizing it for the best performance becomes extremely irksome and nearly impossible.

    1. Secondary Database Model

Also known as a document-oriented database, a document store is a form of a computer program that is designed for managing, retrieving, and storing data in the form of document-oriented information or semi-structured data.

SQLite doesn’t have a secondary database model while MySQL has it in the form of a document store.

    1. Server-Side Script and XML Support

While MySQL provides support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), SQL doesn’t. Also, the former supports server-side scripts while the latter doesn’t.

    1. Storage Size

One of the most important distinguishing factors between SQLite and MySQL is the size. As the name already hints, SQLite is meant to be lightweight. As such, the complete SQLite library weighs only 250 kilobytes while there is no server.

The MySQL Server in itself weighs about 600 megabytes, which is, obviously, way too much heavier than SQLite.

    1. Support for Data Types

MySQL provides support for a plethora of data types. Some notable ones are:

  • BLOB

  • CHAR

  • DATE





  • ENUM


  • INT


  • REAL

  • SET

  • TEXT



  • YEAR

Unlike MySQL, SQLite offers support for only a few data types that are:

  • BLOB


  • NULL

  • REAL

  • TEXT

    1. The Working

The way in which MySQL and SQLite works is comparably different. While MySQL requires a server for setup as well as operation, SQLite doesn’t demand such a requirement as it is a file-based, self-contained, serverless database.

Because SQLite is an embedded database, the database engine runs as part of the (SQLite) application. On the contrary, MySQL necessitates for a client as well as a DB server to interact with one another over the network.

    1. Type of Open Source Model

Any open source software is available for modification by the masses that use it. Both MySQL, as well as SQLite, follows an open source model approach. However, the type of being open source is one of the major differences between the two leading database names.

While MySQL is open-source, it is owned by Oracle. On the other hand, SQLite is not only an open-source project but one that is available as a public domain software.

Desirable Scenarios

SQLite is Best Matched for:

  • Applications that must read from or write to the files directly from the disk (some dedicated storage)

  • Developing and testing prototype applications

  • IoT-enabled devices

  • Small, lightweight apps not requiring any significant expansion

  • Standalone applications

MySQL is Best Matched for:

  • Apps that need to store a lot of data in the form of large, scalable databases

  • Applications demanding high-security and strong data access features

  • Distributed operations

  • Due to the rich configuration settings and operation modes, MySQL is ideal for highly-specific and customized solutions

  • Multi-user, high-concurrency applications

  • Web applications


Both SQLite and MySQL are effective and powerful relational database management systems. However, their specialization varies due to the differing features. A use-case that might be good for using MySQL may or may not be for deploying SQLite and vice-versa.

In order to make the right pick among SQLite and MySQL, one needs to clearly underline all database requirements. Hope so the aforementioned differences will help you make the better pick among the two.

Improve your database skills with these best MySQL tutorials or enhance your proficiency in SQL with these best tutorials.

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