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The Most Popular Databases in 2024

Updated on: April 6, 2024

If you work with data – or if you want to start – you need a database that will answer your needs. Not sure what to choose? Don’t worry! In this article, you’ll find a list of today’s most popular and efficient databases, with 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 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.

There are many DBMSs on the market, and many of them use SQL. How can you choose the right database for your business? The good news is that you don’t need to know everything. You can get advice from people who work with database management systems daily. Their experience and best practices are shown in a few different popular rankings.

There are few well-known rankings that collect data each year or month and publish the results. In this article, we will focus on three we’ve followed for a few years: 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. Year after year, the rankings are full of different DBMSs – but the first few places have belonged to the same databases. This can give you an overview of what developers are choosing to work with.

Stack Overflow prepares a yearly survey where developers respond to questions about how they work, what tools they choose, and what they want to learn. The most recent report collected answers from over 90,000 people; that’s a lot of information worth reading. . The Stack Overflow Survey explores programming languages, Cloud platforms, and web frameworks as well as DBMSs.

In 2023, the survey started a new section that collects input on AI. Stack Overflow was curious about developers’ real sentiments behind this year’s surge in AI popularity – Does AI have an impact on their work? If so, how significant is this impact? If you want to dig deeper into what they found out, you can find the results on their dedicated website.

This survey is a good way to get to know what technologies are available. For now, though, I will focus only on the top five databases. Don’t hesitate to 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, from professional developers, and from learners. The votes are distributed differently, but the first five places belong to the same databases regardless of the category. The top 5 databases are:

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

Compared to last year, there are changes on the podium. PostgreSQL took first place over MySQL, but the others are unchanged.

When it comes to the details, we find that professionals have steadily said the best solution is PostgreSQL. Those who are learning SQL are more likely to choose MySQL (first place), MongoDB, and SQLite, leaving PostgreSQL in fourth place.

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 2024

Source: Stack Overflow Survey

In 2023, the summary of the most loved, most dreaded, and most wanted technologies was replaced with the Admired and Desired section. It shows the distance between the proportion of respondents who want to use a technology (“desired”) and the proportion of users that have used the same technology in the past year and want to continue using it (“admired”).

PostgreSQL, Redis, and Datomic are the most admired databases. Datomic has the least users, but this kind of admiration may push others to consider Datomic as a viable option.. Here’s the full result:

The Most Popular Databases in 2024

Source: Stack Overflow Survey

It is also interesting to look up “top paying technologies'' and see how earnings change over the years. But this year’s report doesn’t include databases in their compilation. The focus is on programming languages.

Next, let’s consider the DB-Engines ranking. This is updated monthly, so you can check the rank of your favorite database almost like checking the stock market. The top five look like this:

The Most Popular Databases in 2024

Source: DB-Engines

Notice that SQLite has fallen to ninth place, while Oracle has taken the top spot. A similar trend has continued for a year. You can follow it in the trend chart section.

DB-Engines ranking has a 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. For those even hungrier for knowledge, there is information about upcoming DBMS events at the bottom of the page.

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, Cassandra, MongoDB, and Microsoft SQL Server, with PostgreSQL coming in sixth.

The Most Popular Databases in 2024

Source: Red9

Comparing the Top 5 Databases

Now let’s have a short summary of the most popular database management systems. Comparing the three different rankings, five technologies come out on top.

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, our comprehensive SQL from A to Z in PostgreSQL learning track is your best choice. This is a set of 9 awesome interactive PostgreSQL courses that will have you working effectively with this popular database.

2.   MySQL

MySQL has been at the 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 enterprises and the 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, and 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.

You may wonder if, in the world of AI and Chat GPT, learning about DBMSs makes sense. For now, the answer is yes. The more skills you have, the less likely you’ll be replaced by AI. But also remember that 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!