Which database to choose for a new WordPress installation

Getting a fresh WordPress site up and running, or revamping an existing site, is an exciting and daunting prospect in equal measure.

One of the most important decisions of the whole process is which database solution to choose as the foundation for your latest creation. If you are a newcomer, you might feel overwhelmed by uncertainty in this scenario.

To help you make a breakthrough, here is a look at the way that databases work in a WordPress context and how this narrows your options and should guide your decision-making.


SQL solutions

WordPress is designed from the ground up to take advantage of SQL databases, specifically those in the MySQL ecosystem. This is a widely used management system variant that brings all of the benefits, and limitations, of its open-source origins along with it.

Before diving in, it is a good idea to get to grips with the internal workings of SQL server architecture. Being up to speed with elements like the way queries are handled and how hardware resources are leveraged is sensible since it will set you on the path to maximizing the impact of your database once it is up and running.

It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with potential performance issues that can crop up in SQL databases, as well as the steps to take to troubleshoot them. Performance is especially relevant in a web hosting context since a sluggish site will suffer search rank penalties, as well as having a tougher time converting visitors.


Compatible alternatives

At the moment, WordPress only officially supports one other database alongside the aforementioned MySQL, and unsurprisingly it is a close relative of it. MariaDB is also open source and actually had a lot of the same people behind it that were involved in the creation of MySQL in the first place.

Indeed MariaDB is closely compatible with MySQL, and so migrating to it or using it as the starting point for a new site is very straightforward. Where it differs is in its support for a broader swathe of storage engines, including options like Aria.

The reason that MariaDB emerged in the first place was that MySQL was sold to a corporate entity back in 2008. At the moment, MariaDB is not owned by one brand or organization, even though it has received funding and support from a whole host of third parties.

As well as being compatible with WordPress, this database management system is also harnessed for internal and external services at well-known companies including Google and Mozilla, which should give you confidence in its capabilities.


Making a choice

Until WordPress offers support for other databases natively, you will only have to pick between MySQL and MariaDB for your new installation.

If you have experience with any kind of SQL database in the past, then this is not too difficult of a decision to make, and over time even beginners will learn the ropes and ultimately grow their skills enough to harness either option effectively.

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