Feature image NoSQL vs Relational_ A Complete Comparison

NoSQL vs Relational:
A Complete Comparison

By Laurent Mauer · November 7, 2022 · 6 min read

When planning a new project or application, database requirements are often discussed. What kind of database to use? What is the difference between a relational database and NoSQL

In this article, we will compare NoSQL databases with relational databases based on their pros and cons. 

Relational databases, or relational database management systems “RDMS” store information in tables. Often these tables share information, resulting in a relationship between the tables forming. This is where relational databases get their name.

The most common way to interact with a relational database system is to use SQL (Structured Query Language). Developers can write SQL queries to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations. On the other hand, a NoSQL database is a fixed-structured tableless database intended to store data.

Technically, all non-relational databases may be known as NoSQL databases. Examples of NoSQL databases consist of MongoDB, DynamoDB, SimpleDB, CouchDB, CouchBase, Orient DB, Infinite Graph, and more. Since a NoSQL database is only sometimes a relational database, it could be installed in no time and with little planning.

The ranking engines are relational databases, including the top four – Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL.

NoSQL pros

  • Query speed

NoSQL queries need to be normalized. Therefore, without the worry of records duplication, all the facts wanted for a selected question are typically saved together. This approach that joins is optional. Therefore, looking is less complicated while coping with huge volumes of records. NoSQL may be very rapid for easy queries.   

  • Continuous availability

For NoSQL databases, the data is spread across different regions and multiple servers, so there is no reason to fail. This makes NoSQL databases more flexible and stable with no downtime and constant availability.

  • Agility

This database gives builders sufficient flexibility to enhance their productivity and creativity. They are dynamic and will cope with multi-dependent, semi-dependent, dependent, and unstructured statistics. They aren’t related through rows and columns, and their schemas no longer want to be predefined.  

Application builders can, in reality, cross in and begin growing databases while not having to spend effort and time on preliminary planning. It lets in abrupt change while modifications in necessities or brand new statistics desire to be added. This flexibility makes this database perfect for businesses with various statistics and ever-converting features.

  • Low-cost scaling

It pays less to expand as the NoSQL database grows horizontally. Instead of expensive hardware upgrades, the difference with this database is that you can scale cheaply by simply adding cloud instances or commodity servers. Additionally, many open-source NoSQL databases provide inexpensive options for many businesses.

Advantages of relational databases

  • ACID compliance

Atomicity, consistency, isolation, and endurance (ACID) is a standard that ensures the reliability of database transactions. The rule of thumb is that if a modification fails, the entire transaction will fail, and the database will remain in the state it was in before the transaction was made.  

This is important because some transactions will have real consequences if not completed in full, for example, banking transactions.

  • Data Accuracy

By using primary and foreign keys, you can ensure that there is no duplicate information. This enhances data accuracy as there will never be repeated information.

  • Normalization

The normalization process involves ensuring that data is organized to reduce or eliminate data anomalies. This, therefore, reduces storage costs.

  • Simplicity

RDMS, or SQL, databases have been around for a long time, so many tools and resources have been developed to help get started and interact with relational databases. SQL’s English-like syntax also allows non-developers to create reports and queries from the data.

Disadvantages of relational databases

  • Scalability

Previous RDMSs was designed to run on a single machine. This means that if the machine’s requirements are insufficient due to increased data size or frequency of access, you will need to upgrade the machine’s hardware, also known as vertical scaling.

This can be extremely expensive and limited, as the costs ultimately outweigh the benefits. In addition, there will be the possibility that you will need help to obtain hardware that can host the database. The only solution is to buy a machine with better hardware support, but both are costly. 

  • Flexibility

In a relational database, the schema is rigid. You define the columns and the data types for those columns, including restrictions such as format or length. Common examples of constraints include the size of the phone number or the min/max length of the name column.  

While this means that you can more easily interpret the data and determine the relationships between the tables, it does mean that modifying the structure of the data is very complex. You have to decide in advance what the data will look like, which is only sometimes possible. If you want to make changes later, you must modify all the data, which means the database is temporarily offline.

  • Performance

Database performance is closely related to the complexity of the tables, their number, and the amount of data in each table. As this increases, so does the execution time of queries.  

There are many reasons to use non relational databases over relational databases.

  1.  Nonrelationl databases are suitable for both operational and transactional data. 
  2. They are best suited for big unstructured data.
  3.  Non Relational databases provide excellent performance and availability.
  4. Flexible schema makes it possible for non relational databases to store more data of various types that can be changed without significant schema changes. 


At RestApp, we’re building a Data Activation Platform for modern data teams with our large built-in library of connectors to databases, including MongoDB, data warehouses and business apps.

We have designed our next-gen data modeling editor to be intuitive and easy to use.

If you’re interested in starting with connecting all your favorite tools, check out the RestApp website or try it for free with a sample dataset.

Discover the next-gen end-to-end data pipeline platform with our built-in No Code SQL, Python and NoSQL functions. Data modeling has never been easier and safer thanks to the No Code revolution, so you can simply create your data pipelines with drag-and-drop functions and stop wasting your time by coding what can now be done in minutes! 

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Laurent Mauer
Laurent Mauer
Laurent is the head of engineer at RestApp. He is a multi-disciplinary engineer with experience across many industries, technologies and responsibilities. Laurent is at the heart of our data platform.

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