MySQL is a free database management system that is widely used by many free and paid script-driven platforms. SQL stands for Structured Query Language, or in other words, content is stored in tables that are structured in a single database. When a user opens a website, specific content is called, or queried from the database, and is then displayed.
A few examples of script platforms that use MySQL databases are Joomla, WordPress, Drupal and all forum and discussion board scripts. Each visitor can see different content at the same web address based on their preferences, which is a huge advantage of script-driven sites over simple HTML ones – it is easy to create rich, dynamic websites.
Usually, MySQL databases are a part of the whole hosting service along with emails, domain management tools, cron jobs and so on. The more content is stored, the more space a database takes, and since a database server cannot be used for other hosting purposes, this part of the hosting is usually quite expensive. Most companies offer large hosting plans, but only a small amount of database space. Large databases also cause high server loads, which may affect the access to other clients’ databases on the same server. Other companies like NTC Hosting, however, use a cluster server system where the loads are being distributed between a number of servers. This allows them to offer unlimited database storage quotas, so no matter how many users a forum or a social network has, you will never run out of database space.
MySQL is managed via a command line, but there are also third-party applications to do this using a graphic interface. One of the most popular applications that are used with a number of hosting Control Panel tools is phpMyAdmin. This application allows you to log in to a database, to view, edit, export or import either the whole content or only specific tables.
These features are useful when you are moving from one web hosting company to another as all the content of the website will be exactly the same as long as the database is exported from the old host and imported to the new one. There are other applications as well, and many of them allow you to connect to a database on a hosting server from your computer, but for security reasons most hosting providers do not allow this.
A MySQL server can be installed on any server – something, which is supported by all hosting companies. You can even install a MySQL server on your local computer, create and develop a website, and once it is ready, you can purchase a hosting account and move the files and the database there to get the site online. This makes MySQL universal and the migration between different hosts very fast and easy.
A number of companies also offer dedicated MySQL hosting services where you can have only databases that can be connected to a script-driven website or you can use them with an application from your computer for different purposes. This service does not include files and emails, or any other feature typical of a regular web hosting plan.
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