What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) that allows you to add, access, and process data stored in a computer database. The term is the combination of its co-founder Michael Widenius’s daughter (My) and the abbreviation for Structured Query Language (SQL).


What are relational databases?

Relational databases are types of databases that store data in a structured and straightforward way, i.e. rows and columns in a series of tables. This style is based on the relational model of data, an intuitive and efficient way of representing data in tables as described by computer scientist Edgar F. Codd. They are called relational because the data are related to each other. These databases also provide access to data in relation to another piece of data in the database.

Difference between MySQL and SQL

As defined above, MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS). Structured Query Language, or SQL, on the other hand, is a specific type of programming language used to communicate with a database. You would use SQL to access, maintain, or update data in your database, as SQL is the language to ‘query’ databases. MySQL is the database product that keeps the data in the database organized.

MySQL use in WordPress

WordPress uses MySQL as its default database management system. MySQL is what allows the database to store information and provide users access to it, or alter and delete it. Whenever any of these need to be done to data, WordPress will send instructions to MySQL about the database on the specific data in question and what needs to happen to it. WordPress stores textual data in the database, such as post and page content and metadata, comments, settings, user data, and media metadata. Media files, such as images, audio, and videos, are not stored in the database. Rather, they are stored in the wp-content folder, while the data about them (metadata) is stored in the WordPress database.

WordPress abstracts the database access using the Wpdb class. This abstraction’s main goals are avoiding plain SQL queries in WP code, sanitizing input for security, and maintaining version control etc.

phpMyAdmin and MySQL

phpMyAdmin is a web-based software that allows you the ability to interact with your MySQL databases. phpMyAdmin is an easy way to run MySQL commands as well as database operations, like browsing and changing data tables, or importing, exporting, or deleting data. It especially is useful when you want to perform maintenance on data and backup or edit information in the case of WordPress itself not functioning properly. However, keep in mind that phpMyAdmin won’t work properly if the database is misconfigured or broken.