In the world of database technology, there are two main types of databases: SQL and NoSQL—or, relational databases and non-relational databases. The difference speaks to how they’re built, the type of information they store, and how they store it.

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used by database architects to design relational databases. In an SQL database like MySQL, Sybase, Oracle, or IBM DM2, SQL executes queries, retrieves data, and edits data by updating, deleting, or creating new records. SQL is a lightweight, declarative language that does a lot of heavy lifting for the relational database, acting like a database’s version of a server-side script.

NoSQL databases are document-oriented. This way, non-structured data (such as articles, photos, social media data, videos, or content within a blog post) can be stored in a single document that can be easily found but isn’t necessarily categorized into fields like a relational database does. It’s more intuitive, but storing data in bulk like this requires extra processing effort and more storage than highly organized SQL data.

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