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The Most Popular Databases in 2023

Have you heard about databases but you’re not sure which database to work with? In this article, you’ll find a list of today’s most popular databases and a quick summary of what each one does.

Businesses run on data. But to get the most from that data, it needs to be stored in a structured way – usually in a database. If there’s a lot of data or if you need to do more than just basic analysis, Excel or any other spreadsheet might not be enough. This is why we have Database Management Systems (DBMSs).

DBMSs help you store, organize, access, and analyze your data using SQL. The most popular databases usually model your data using multiple tables, which are made up of rows and columns. This structure makes processing and data querying efficient, which means you can easily access, manage, modify, and update information as needed.

What Databases Are the Most Popular?

There are many DBMSs on the market, and many of them use SQL. How can you choose the right database for your business? One way is to look at the most popular databases and compare them.

There are few well-known rankings which collect data each year or month and publish the results. We will now focus on three of them: Stack Overflow Survey, DB-Engines Ranking and Red 9. It is a good practice to compare data from different sources. If a database is ranked high in every survey, it must mean something.

Reading the Stack Overflow Survey can be addicting. It explores not only types of databases but also programming languages, Cloud platforms, and web frameworks and technologies. This is a good way to get to know how many technologies are available. For now, though, I will focus only on the top five databases from these surveys. You can always check the surveys for yourself if you want to learn more.

The Stack Overflow report divides its results into three categories: data from all respondents, professional developers, and learners. Votes are distributed differently, but the first five places belong to the same databases regardless:

  1. MySQL
  2. PostgreSQL
  3. SQLite
  4. MongoDB
  5. Microsoft SQL Server

When it comes to the details, we find that professionals said the best solution is PostgreSQL. Those who are learning SQL are more likely to choose MySQL. All responders were answering the question: “Which database environments have you done extensive development work in over the past year, and which do you want to work in over the next year?”.

The Most Popular Databases in 2023

Source: Stack Overflow Survey

This Survey also has an interesting summary of the most loved, most dreaded and most wanted DBMSs. Here the biggest difference between loved and dreaded went to PostgreSQL. Here’s the full result:

The Most Popular Databases in 2023

Source: Stack Overflow Survey

It is also interesting to look up the “top paying technologies''. The first five spots don’t have any databases that were ranked as most loved or popular. A less popular database likely means fewer professionals know it, which can make it more profitable. PostgreSQL is in 9th place on this list, followed by Microsoft SQL Server, SQLite, Oracle, and MongoDB. Professionals working with these databases earn from a bit under $60,000 to over 70,000 USD per year.

The DB-Engines ranking is updated monthly, so you can check the rank of your favorite database almost like the stock market. The top five looks like this:

The Most Popular Databases in 2023

Source: DB-Engines

Notice that SQLite has fallen to ninth place, while Oracle has taken the top spot.

DB-Engines ranking has few nice features. After clicking on a database, you can see a description of it. You can also choose two different databases to compare them via a summary.

The Red9 ranking also allows you to compare database popularity, but it shows the data on a graph. It too is updated monthly and offers a short description of every ranked system.

According to Red9, first place belongs to Oracle, followed by MySQL, MongoDB, Cassandra, and Microsoft SQL Server, with PostgreSQL coming in sixth.

The Most Popular Databases in 2023

Source: Red9

Comparing the Top 5 Databases

Now let’s have a short summary of the most popular database management systems.

1.   PostgreSQL

This is an open-source, free object-relational DBMS that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. An increasing number of major companies are using this DBMS. It works on all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and some versions of Linux and Unix. PostgreSQL has a very active community of users developing plugins and libraries. If you think that this system might be for you, you can find out more in our article on how to practice PostgreSQL.

And if you want to learn PostgreSQL, SQL from A to Z in PostgreSQL is the best choice. This is a set of 9 awesome interactive PostgreSQL courses that will have you working freely with this popular database.

2.   MySQL

MySQL has been on top of many rankings for years now. Red9 says that it is the world's most popular database for the web. It is used by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WordPress and comes with a solid pack of useful features.

MySQL is a really good choice for beginners. The basic version is available as an open-source system and it’s just fine for taking your first steps with SQL.

If you want to learn MySQL, start with the basics as covered in our SQL Basics in MySQL course. If you can already write sophisticated queries and are looking for more challenges, reach for Advanced SQL in MySQL 8.

3.   Oracle

This is one of the most popular and stable relational databases for enterprise and web. It works for structured and semi-structured data, supports blockchain tables, facilitates lightning-fast transactions, and helps create online analytical processing and transaction processing in a single database instance. Huge companies like eBay, LinkedIn, Netflix use it for their transactions. However, this DBMS is not open source and or low-cost, which makes it less suited for beginners or small businesses.

4.   Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft’s database is also a paid system used mainly in enterprise applications. MS SQL Server gained popularity over the years and has an advantage over Oracle in price.

To learn more about Microsoft SQL Server and see how it differs from PostgreSQL, read this interesting comparison of the two DBMSs. It should help you understand which solution is better for you.

If you’re interested in working with an MS SQL Server database, start with our SQL Fundamentals in MS SQL Server course.

5.   MongoDB

Last but not least is a database system that’s a bit different. MongoDB is not a relational database management system like the ones mentioned above. This is a document store (also called a document-oriented database system) based on the NoSQL model. It stores data inside a collection of documents – not in rows and columns like most other databases.

MongoDB is one of the most popular non-relational databases. It is available as a fully managed Cloud service and for deployment on self-managed infrastructure. It is used by Google, Facebook, Adobe, and other companies.

Which Database Is for You?

It’s one thing to know which are the most popular databases, but what you need depends on your own situation. How will you use your database? What are the requirements in your job or business? If you are preparing for a specific job or career, you might want to check what system is used in your future company or role.

It’s best to learn and develop your skills with tools that will really benefit you. You can start now with Standard SQL, MS SQL Server, or PostgreSQL. Go all in and achieve your goals!