MySQL is the world's most popular open-source database. A previous article looked more at SQL, the language you use to interact with it. This very similar article looks at the database aspects.
What is MySQL?
As noted in the previous article, it's a database management system that is developed, distributed, and supported by Oracle Corporation.
Your WordPress hosting service will provide your MySQL database. PHP programming stores and retrieves data from it. The web application phpMyAdmin lets you manage your database using a graphical interface. You will rarely if ever, need to do so.
MySQL organizes, stores, and retrieves all the critical parts of your site like pages, posts, user profiles, and images in the database.
How Does MySQL Work?
To use data in a computer database, you need a database management system such as MySQL Server. I am going to let Oracle handle the technical explanation of the system.
"MySQL databases are relational. A relational database stores data in separate tables rather than putting all the data in one big storeroom. The database structures are organized into physical files optimized for speed. The logical model, with objects such as databases, tables, views, rows, and columns, offers a flexible programming environment. You set up rules governing the relationships between different data fields, such as one-to-one, one-to-many, unique, required or optional, and "pointers" between different tables. The database enforces these rules, so that with a well-designed database, your application never sees inconsistent, duplicate, orphan, out-of-date, or missing data."
This diagram courtesy of WP Explorer illustrates the data flow of a WordPress site and how it interacts with a MySQL database.
When a visitor goes to your site, the WordPress core queries the database. The database then returns the requested data. WordPress core combines the retrieved data and executes its PHP code to dynamically generate an HTML page. That page is served to your visitor's browser.
Its connectivity, speed, and security make MySQL Server perfect for accessing databases on the Internet. And that is why WordPress uses it.
Again according to Oracle, "the MySQL Database Software is a client/server system that consists of a multithreaded SQL server that supports different back ends, several different client programs and libraries, administrative tools, and a wide range of application programming interfaces (APIs)".
I am by no means a database expert but I hope this article has been helpful for understanding how MySQL works with your WordPress website. You will most likely never have to interact with your database, but it's nice to know about the role it plays. More helpful information is in the recommended resources below.
- Official MySQL Site - https://www.mysql.com/
- Official Reference Manual - https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/8.0/en/
- Beginner’s Guide to WordPress Database Management with phpMyAdmin - https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/beginners-guide-to-wordpress-database-management-with-phpmyadmin/
- Using MySQL with WordPress - https://wpengine.com/resources/mysql-wordpress/
- LAMP, the WordPress Software Stack – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAMP_(software_bundle)