Top 10 Open Source Database Softwares

10 Jan, 2024

Almost all modern apps and programs need a place to keep their data. A database is a vital part of the wheel that makes web apps going forward.

When choosing a database, there are a few aspects to consider. The most important thing is how much it costs, but how flexible it is and how well it works with other software are also important. The best thing to do is to use an open-source database for many reasons.

For example, an open-source database won’t cost you money, and you won’t have to follow the rules about how you can use it. In the same way as a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, open-source tools can be compelling and helpful. Even better, some of the most popular databases are open source.

Let’s look at a few open-source database programs and see what they offer.

A Brief Overview of Open Source Databases

A database is the storage part of an application, like, for example, a web app. This is the type of app I’ll be talking about the most in this blog post. You’ll also find the core files for your site, any media files you use, and the configuration files on your server.

The database is one of your site’s endpoints in a broad sense. I have a few examples.

1 – Your website’s pages will communicate with the server via HTML and PHP.
2 – The server will connect to the database on your behalf (a completely seamless procedure), fetch or push data, and deliver it to the frontend.
3 – Your site’s content will be displayed or updated based on the database.

It is a critical component of your site’s and server’s technology. As such, you’ll want your database to have as much flexibility and knowledge as feasible.

This brings up your first cause of concern: whether to use an open-source or proprietary database.

With an open-source database, you will have complete access to the codebase and capabilities of the system. In comparison, a fully closed proprietary system will not provide the same complexity or flexibility unless the developer explicitly enables them.

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Specific databases, such as MongoDB, operate on a “source-available” basis.

This, however, provides an excellent balance for specific developers. While there are many enthusiasts of the “NoSQL” database, those supporters will still face limitations in their ability to use a source-available or closed-source database. In comparison, an open-source solution will be more adaptable to your specific requirements.

Uses of Open Source Databases

It’s worth mentioning that the license type does not always dictate the programs used with it. Nonetheless, an open-source database has a few specific use cases that correspond to the license:

WordPress: Due to the lack of constraints, WordPress’ open-source core works well with an open-source database. This enables you to construct a robust and customized application tailored to your specific requirements, especially with the REST API.

Specialized Technologies: Numerous technology applications use various open-source tools, such as databases. Artificial intelligence (AI), graphing, and other niches can work with an open-source database in the same way WordPress can (without restriction) and use the database’s flexibility.

Key-Value Storage: You’ll discover that key-value storage is a resource-intensive process that occasionally requires the subtle touch of an experienced developer to optimize. A developer can dive into the code and fine-tune it to perfection with an open-source database solution.

Data Storage: Because an open-source database is safer than a proprietary database (due to the viewable codebase), it’s also an excellent choice for data storage that prioritizes privacy. This will be increased when the database is combined with additional privacy-focused solutions, resulting in an incredibly secure configuration that is scalable and affordable.

Data Science: This is another area where an open-source database excels. Again, popular languages in this space, such as Python and R, perform best with MySQL, MariaDB, and MongoDB but do less well with proprietary solutions.

These use cases have in common that an open-source database imposes few constraints. As a result, you may harness the database software’s power and tailor it to your specific requirements.

This takes us to the reason why employing an open-source database may be beneficial to you.

Why Use an Open Source Database?

So, now you know a database is a necessary component of any web application. Without one, it would not be easy to develop anything useful. However, you may not immediately notice the benefits of using an open-source database.

You’ll realize that you’d use an open-source database for the same reasons that you’d use an open-source content management system (CMS), such as WordPress. I will give you some examples here:

1 – The data you store in the database is entirely yours, without restriction or compromise.
2 -Like WordPress, you can build on top of the database software. This opens up nearly limitless possibilities for accomplishing and presents exciting opportunities.
3 – Using an open-source database is an incredible strategy to scale and move an application or business forward without incurring additional licensing or purchasing costs. You may concentrate on making the database work for you rather than licensing problems.

You can know at this point why an open-source database is an arguable winner over proprietary or even source-available alternatives. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most outstanding solutions available.

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10 Examples of the Best Open Source Database Software

The following is a brief list of open source databases. There will be many more alternatives than we can mention here, so I’ve compiled a list of our favorites.

Our first entry is likely the most well-known open-source database solution, so let’s begin there.

1 – MySQL

MySQL Open Source Database

If you take a moment to look for databases for applications, MySQL will likely be near the top of many listings. It’s the same here because it was a long-standing default option for many developers.

Oracle created it as a relational database management system (RDMS). This means you’ll be storing data in tables, and the stored data types may be linked somehow.

MySQL’s origin was to take an older (but still popular) proprietary database system, retain most of its compatibility, and open-source the resulting code. Due to the ease with which developers may migrate to it without relearning MySQL, it has been a backbone of application development for decades.

Many of the features seen in other databases are based on MySQL or are derived from it. For instance, you’ll work with the database relationally using Structured Query Language (SQL) and connect to it using nearly any computer language.

MySQL does not require extensive knowledge of SQL, and the learning curve is not painful. You may access the database via the command line, and MySQL is compatible with practically any operating system (OS).

Overall, MySQL is an excellent choice for most use cases, as it is a robust, fast, and stable jack-of-all-trades. As a result of this and its historical positioning compared to alternative solutions, most hosts will support MySQL databases. However, there are some disadvantages to consider as well:

1 – There have been cases of data corruption; however, this is not a severe problem.
2 – Additionally, it could enhance its debugging capabilities compared to other (even private) solutions.
3 – While MySQL is generally efficient, it can be slower when dealing with massive databases.

It’s hard to list too many disadvantages because, on the whole, MySQL is a stable and dependable database that works well with the majority of applications. However, some consumers investigate other solutions for various reasons that we will discuss next.

2 – MariaDB

MariaDB Open Source Database

Although Oracle currently owns MySQL and continues to offer it an open-source option, Oracle’s reputation isn’t among open-source evangelists. When Oracle acquired MySQL, one of the creators forked the database to form MariaDB.

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Since it is a fork of MySQL, compatibility is nearly 1:1. Additionally, the developers of MariaDB prefer to preserve compatibility near that of its fork. As such, you can use MariaDB as a “drop-in” replacement for MySQL and quickly switch to it.

While MariaDB is a fork of MySQL, it appears to be making its way. There are a few noteworthy aspects of the open-source database that you should be aware of:

1 – The Aria storage engine handles MariaDB’s sophisticated SQL queries. This provides a performance gain over MySQL.
2 – We can use dynamic rows to create table columns, which increases flexibility and adaptability.
3 – MySQL does not include several specialized storage engines for specific use situations. For example, you can create distributed storage and transactions and a variety of other features.

Due to the tight compatibility, you can use MariaDB in any environment that supports MySQL. As such, similar to its predecessor, you can consider it “all things to all apps.” It’s worth mentioning, though, that compatibility is one-way, which means you’ll need to select between MySQL and MariaDB. This open-source database inspires devotion!

3 – PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL Open Source Database

If your only experience is with PHP and WordPress, you presumably have little knowledge of PostgreSQL. However, it is an open-source relational database that many developers utilize in the data science, graphing, and artificial intelligence fields. With its compatibility with Python and Ruby applications, you could also use PHP.

In comparison to MySQL’s robust denim, PostgreSQL is more similar to fine silk in that it is a thoughtful, open-source database with numerous outstanding features:

1 – Asynchronous replication is possible.
2 – Native support for document storage in the JSON format, key-value storage, and XML.
3 – You can perform full-text searches on your database.
4 – Numerous built-in data types, such as locations, arrays, and ranges, will be invaluable in some applications.

As yet, you should handle PostgreSQL carefully, as it is not as adept as other platforms at handling read-intensive workloads. For example, suppose you frequently generate reports from existing data. In that case, PostgreSQL’s document storage may suffer due to such a massive dataset.

This same document storage approach, on the other hand, is perfect for incorporating NoSQL-style features on a hybrid basis. Native support for key-value and document storage saves time and allows you to move fast through a project.

4 – Redis

Redis Open Source Database

Redis is differentiated from the other open source databases on this list because it is not used for nearly all the same applications.

It is a database structure that permits data organization as key-value pairs. This is comparable to associative arrays in PHP or dictionaries in Python – it’s a means to link data to access it later quickly.

Speed is a critical concept here, as Redis is the de facto caching database. There are a few possible explanations for this:

1 – Because Redis is an “in-memory” storage solution — meaning it is entirely in RAM — read-write speeds are blazingly fast.
2 – You can provide string-based expiry times, a fundamental caching component.
3 – You can pick up the fundamentals of Redis in a matter of minutes and begin storing items immediately.
4 – A unique Pub/Sub feature uses Redis as a message buffer between sender and receiver. Rather than directly connecting these endpoints, the sender will publish to a specific Redis channel, which will forward it to the recipient (and vice versa).

This means that Redis is an excellent choice for distributed data storage and caching. It is not optimal for more sophisticated applications, but this is outside its scope. Rather than that, you’ll utilize it in conjunction with another database, such as MariaDB. That will allow it to support the rest of your application.

5 – SQLite

SQLite Open Source Database

The name of this relational, open-source database provides a clue to its primary selling point: SQLite is a small, lightweight database engine library.

Due to its lightweight characteristics, it is frequently used in small devices such as cell phones. Indeed, the entire database is contained within a single .sqlite file that can reside anywhere on your device. SQLite does not require installing any server software or connecting to other services.

Despite the database being a lightweight tool, it is possible to have databases in the hundreds of terabytes, with a maximum row size of a gigabyte. SQLite remains quick even with files this massive.

You’ll discover that there are numerous compelling reasons to utilize SQLite as your database:

1 – Developers of small applications will appreciate SQLite because it is a straightforward option.
2 -SQLite is well-suited for low-traffic websites due to its minimal requirements.
3 – It’s ideal for Internet of Things (IoT) applications where a sysadmin or developer is not (or cannot) be present.
4 – While we mainly discuss online applications here, desktop applications can also benefit from SQLite’s high performance.

Due to the structure of SQLite, it will perform poorly on high-traffic sites. Additionally, this smaller open-source database is missing a few critical functionalities. For example, you cannot use a client such as MySQL or MariaDB to query the database.

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6 – Neo4j

Neo4j Open Source Database

The majority of open-source databases on this list are relational. Neo4j, on the other hand, is a graph-based database.

This is ideal for some of the more recent online applications available. Neo4j is nearly the only solution available for developing a graph-based database.

Data does not come in a logical array of tables, rows, and columns in most cases. We organize it in this manner using relational databases. However, it’s challenging to reproduce the natural connectivity of modern web applications, such as social networking, using SQL. It is unstructured, implying that it is the total opposite of SQL.

As a result, Neo4j is a unique database capable of supporting practically any application, and it provides numerous benefits:

1 – Neo4j is also an excellent choice for transactional applications.
2 – It’s nice to transform tabular data into graphs and then enable the analytics that result.
3 – A specific query language (Cypher) is included to assist you in locating and working with data efficiently.

However, performance can be a concern due to the database’s structure. For example, in contrast to other systems, you can only sort data using hash indexes. This can put a strain on your system’s resources and degrade performance.

Neo4j, on the other hand, can be used to construct a graph-based database. It’s an excellent open-source database if you utilize it properly.

7 – OrientDB

OrientDB Open Source Database

Although we stated that there were almost no other graph-based open source databases available, this does leave some room for others. Among them is OrientDB. Although ownership has changed over time, it remains a fantastic approach to construct a graph-based database in your online application.

OrientDB can work with various models, including objects, graphs, documents, and key-value pairs. Despite this, it is classified as a NoSQL system. Because there are direct connections to records, it functions as a graph-based database at its core.

The primary advantage of OrientDB is its scalability and flexibility. Much like Neo4j, it’s fast but comes with limitations about performance. OrientDB, on the other hand, is more adaptable and is developing more indexing algorithms to assist users.

You’ll discover that OrientDB is just as competent as Neo4j across the same set of applications — such as social networking, banking and finance, and traffic management, to name a few.

8 – CouchDB

CouchDB Open Source Database

Apache also develops CouchDB. Similar to SQLite, this is a compact, subtle open-source database that serves as the backbone for many projects.

This open-source database is designed with reliability in mind. The concept is that data is stored in a cluster of remote computers. Some of these nodes will be offline for an extended period, during which they will keep data until they come back up. Subsequently, the entire data set is supplied into the cluster and replicated to other nodes.

To illustrate, consider a database that contains data generated on a mobile device. Because there is no certainty that this device will connect to the internet, the data will remain there until its node reconnects.

Thus, CouchDB is a battle-tested and dependable database that should be a primary consideration if offline tolerance is required.

The most significant advantage of CouchDB is also its greatest disadvantage. It must keep duplicate copies of data, resulting in increased file sizes. Additionally, you’ll notice that write rates are slow, making it unsuitable for use cases that require a speedy response.

However, being an open-source database optimized for offline use, CouchDB is a front-runner for applications that fulfill the bill.

9 – FirebirdSQL

FirebirdSQL Open Source Database

Although FirebirdSQL is not as well-known as the other databases on this list, it can play a critical role in certain situations.

We can find many of the features and functionality of other SQL databases in FirebirdSQL. It’s also effortless to use and fully compatible with MySQL. It’s possible that not many people like the database because it looks too much like other platforms. There are many ways it can stand on its own:

1 – FirebirdSQL can be used as the database for a desktop application that requires scalability, such as LibreOffice.
2 – It has a tiny footprint, advantageous in areas with limited space.
3 – The database is cross-platform and hardware-independent. This makes it an excellent choice for running large databases.

Additionally, there are notable users of FirebirdSQL, such as National Rail in the United Kingdom. Despite the prominence of competing options, FirebirdSQL may be an excellent choice for your project as a lightweight yet efficient open-source database.

10 – BigchainDB

BigchainDB Open Source Database

Guess what kind of industry and application BigchainDB excels in! Blockchain technology is incorporated into this open-source solution to provide a better user experience.

Immutability, decentralization, and multi assets are essential parts of the blockchain. BigchainDB uses them to help you manage your data.

You may configure your network using various advanced permissions settings, custom assets, and more. The database can also be used in decentralized configurations, although applications focusing on security or privacy provide the most compelling use cases.

For example, you’ll discover that it’s a vital ally when it comes to protecting intellectual property (IP) rights and validating user credentials. By comparison, you’ll find that BigchainDB is unsuitable for more conventional applications and may even be overkill for many web applications.

BigchainDB, like Neo4j or OrientDB, will suit if you have a specific use case and require it. It can bring unique features to your privacy-focused online application. So it might function with your core open-source database to improve your service.


A database is required to construct any application. Web applications require at least one database – you may need multiple databases to store all of the data you handle in various use cases.

While numerous databases are available under various licenses, an open-source database will be your best bet in most situations.

Similar to open-source solutions like WordPress, an open-source database will provide you with fundamental flexibility, scalability, and security. Additionally, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and Redis are all open-source, popular, and supported by many web providers.

Which open-source database on this list is your favorite? Let us know why you’ve chosen this as your favorite in the comments section below!

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Jafar Muhammed

Jafar Muhammed has 10+ years of experience in WordPress, web hosting, domain names, DNS, CDN, server administration, etc. He is an open web advocate. He is the CEO of Rovity, the fastest-growing premium shared hosting startup in India.