PostgreSQL vs SQL Server – Which is Better? (Pros and Cons)

PostgreSQL vs SQL Server- Which is Better ( Pros and Cons).  Have you ever faced a situation where you had to select the best suitable database for your application? If you have chosen the wrong database and undergone the complexities, you must be careful when making a choice. In such instances, knowing the pros and cons of PostgreSQL vs SQL Server databases is much beneficial in decision making.

PostgreSQL Server and SQL server are two of the best and highly used databases that can be used in your future application. So we think it’s better to provide some comparative points about them for your reference.

What is PostgreSQL Server?

PostgreSQL is an object-relational database management system used for advanced tasks. It supports multiple databases and query languages like Structured Query Language (SQL) and procedural languages like PL/pgSQL (Procedural Language/PostgreSQL). It has table structures and other data types as it is an RDBMS. PostgreSQL has an authentication option with Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP ) and a Pluggable Authentication Module (PAM). They protect PostgreSQL database servers from thefts and attacks. There is another server-level security option that includes server listening address, certificate authentication, and host-based authentication. Furthermore, PostgreSQL has an Open Source Initiative Approved License.

PgAdmin is used as the open-source graphical management tool for PostgreSQL 

Pros of PostgreSQL Server

  • High Availability : PostgreSQL has better load balancing capabilities and replication features. Its architectural design supports concurrent working with multi-databases and helps to keep a server available if any primary server fails. There are many other solutions that make PostgreSQL highly available, such as disk failover and data partitioning.
  • Server Failure recovery : EDB Postgres automatic failover manager is responsible for failure detection of databases. Furthermore, it helps in load balancing and automatically alerts system administrators in case of a database server failure.
  • Performance : Additional tools support optimizing and monitoring performance. Higher performance is proven with OLTP (online transaction processing) and OLAP ( online analytical processing). There cannot be any deadlocks as it has MVCC (multi-version concurrency control)  to support simultaneous processing and facilitate a higher number of transactions. It helps for continuous performance without stalling databases.
  • Cross-platform: Supports a huge variety of platforms such as Windows Win2000 SP4 and newer versions, Mac OS X, Unix, UnixWare, AIX, IRIX, Tru64, Solaris,  NetBSD, OpenBSD, and FreeBSDOpen-source software
  • Data Security : Data is encrypted in different levels and allows using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates when data is transferred via the web or public networks. Thus, it ensures the safety of data and information and protects them from disclosing to unauthorized parties. PostgreSQL has server-level authentication methods, which include LDAP and PAM.
  • Community support for continuous improvements and providing solutions for users.
  • Easy and simple installation
  • Convenient maintenance and less administration
  • Compliant with ACID techniques (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability.)
  • Multiple language support ( Python, Java, Perl, C, C++  PHP, Tcl, Net, Delphi, JavaScript (Node.js), etc. )
  • Better concurrency management system compared to MS SQL
  • Supports JSON 
  • Ideal solution for data integrity as it supports Primary Keys, Secondary Keys, Explicit Locks, Advisory Locks, UNIQUE,  NOT NULL, and Exclusion Constraints
  • The availability of index types such as Generalized Search Tree (GiST), Space Partitioned GiST,  B-tree, hash, Generalized Inverted Index (GIN), and Block Range Index (BRIN).

Cons of PostgreSQL Server

  • Less support for many open source apps
  • Complex querying with JSON can be unwieldy
  • Horizontal scaling can be complex
  • Considered to be slow, hence not recommended for large enterprise applications
  • No option for data migration from other RDBMS to PostgreSQL
  • The inability to do column reordering
  • Hard to perform clustering and manage distributed processes
  • Need double storage for any upgrades
  • Primary nodes such as PostgreSQL Node and PostgreSQL Replica Node can fail
  • Failures in Replication can happen
  • Possibility of Data Corruption 
  • Not having a built-in task scheduler. If you need one, you have to use external tools such as Task Scheduler, pgAgent, etc.
  • Case sensitivity
  • Not having native geographic data types, while Spatial database extenders such as PostGIS can support geographic objects

What is SQL server?

SQL Server is one of the largest RDBMS (Relational Database management systems) by Microsoft. This product is being widely used among high-end companies such as Microsoft, Search overflow, and RBC Intuit. SQL Server is written in C and C++. Documentation of SQL server can be found here. SQL Server has a commercial licence since it is not free or open-source software.

SQL Server Management Studio is the software used for managing, configuring and also for administering SQL Server.

Pros of SQL server

  • High availability: SQL Server is highly available as it accepts other databases such as Oracle, MS Access, SAP HANA, and Adaptive Server. There are two architectures in the SQL server for availability. “Always ON Availability Groups” solution is the architecture that offers higher availability. This architecture requires cluster management. It is the Pacemaker in Linux environments while it can be found in (WSFC) Windows Server Failover Cluster in Windows environment. There is another architecture called “Read Scale Availability Group architecture” to manage the read-only workload. This architecture does not support cluster management
  • Higher scalability: SQL Server is flexible in creating, moderating, performing operations, dropping, and eliminating databases or tables. Sharding enhances the scalability of SQL servers.
  • Multiple Data security modes :There are two server-level security features. One is Windows Authentication Mode. This mode works well when there is a domain controller or when you are dealing with a local database instance. Both the application and the database instance are supposed to be in the same developing environment. Mixed-mode contains security processes by Windows server and MS SQL server.  It prevents most hacking events as the database is secured with Windows password policy.
    • Data encryption is done with TDE (Transparent Data Encryption) with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), column level, and other encryption methods.
  • The ability to manage a large number of records and handle mass transactions
  • Task scheduling can be done with SQL Server Management Studio.
  • SQL Server offers both clustered and non-clustered index types. 
  • Not case sensitive.
  • Compatibility with the geography data type, which is used to store geographic spatial data.
  • High security 
  • Providing a functional and graphical user interface
  • Convenient in creating queries to perform filtering 
  • Convenient backup and recovery 
  • High performance and better management in workload balancing
  • Offers various methods for analytical data interpretation.

Cons of SQL server

  • Not a freely available software
  • Not customizable to the requirements as PostgreSQL
  • Performance tuning and optimizing queries can be complex
  • Does not support other operating systems other than Windows, Microsoft Server, and Linux
  • Not hardware friendly as upgrades in GUI and database management applications requires hardware updates.
  • Lesser language support; only supports PHP, JavaScript, and C#
  • The installation process is slow as it requires additional downloads.
  • Does not have a better concurrency as in PostgreSQL. It is much based on locking resources to prevent erroneous actions.

PostgreSQL vs SQL Server - Which is Better Conclusion

PostgreSQL vs SQL Server are both the most popular and widely used databases in the field.  It can be summarized that both have mixed pros and cons that can differ from application to application. PostgreSQL can be a convenient option for a Linux-favored person, while someone with Windows experience would prefer SQL Server, especially because it comes with a GUI with advanced features. However, the final decision is solely based on your application, project domain, and assets. Hence we think that you got a clear and sound knowledge about the differences between these “must try” databases.

Avatar for Shanika Wickramasinghe
Shanika Wickramasinghe

Senior Software Engineer at WSO2 which is the 6th largest Open Source Software Company in the World. My main skills are machine learning and software development. I have 5+ years of experience as a Software engineer.

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