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The 10 Best MySQL Tools

MySQL Tool
1 SQLyog Any web designer who works with MySQL would know how MySQL GUI software can make his/her life much easier. MySQL management can be a very difficult task without the use of a top-rated MySQL GUI software. Using such a tool can go a long way in meeting your database administration, web development and web design needs.

Widely considered as the easiest-to-use and most comprehensive MySQL GUI in the marketplace, SQLyog is a feature-rich GUI that’s used by big corporations like Boeing, Amazon, AT&T, Apple, Google, Xerox, eBay and Yahoo among many others. Using this GUI tool can save you plenty of time each day and greatly improve your web designing efficiency.

It can help you with data syncing and schema, allowing you to make changes to data and schema visually, moving from the testing phase to production. The checksum algorithm of SQLyog helps extremely quick replication of data. It also provides SSH and HTTP tunneling, thereby ensuring that you don’t get blocked from MySQL.

Scheduled backups is another very important feature of SQLyog. Using this feature, you can schedule automatic backups by just a click of a mouse button, and never worry about data loss thereafter. This GUI also facilitates easy import of external data (as long as it’s coming from an ODBC-compliant data source), thereby making migrations and transfers from such sources a very easy affair.

You can avail many additional features of SQLyog depending on the chosen plan. Possibly the only drawback of this GUI is that it’s only available for the Windows environment (at the time of writing this piece). You can even download a free-of-cost, trial version of SQLyog for your Windows computer/device, or even have a SQLyog team member come over to give you a demo. Anyone using Windows is highly recommended to use SQLyog for his/her MySQL management needs.

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2 Sequel Pro While SQLyog is an extensively used MySQL GUI by people who work with the Windows environment, anyone who’s into Mac cannot overlook the popularity of Sequel Pro. It works as the best GUI for management of MySQL databases, in a Mac OS X environment.

Sequel Pro provides an easy-to-use and quick Mac database for efficient management and working with the MySQL databases. One of its best features is that it allows you to access the MySQL databases on any of the remote or local servers. It implies that you can easily access and manage your MySQL databases from almost anywhere.

Sequel Pro is available in the form of an open source application for the Mac OS X. It works with MySQL 5, 4 or 3.x. You can download and install it very easily and quickly. There is even a demo video available to help you get started with it. The makers of Sequel Pro also offer a good amount of reading material to anyone wanting to make the best of his/her experience with this tool.

Sequel Pro is the ideal GUI for anyone who although owns a Mac device, is on a tight budget, and wishes to start ASAP.

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3 MySQL Workbench An efficient MySQL GUI software allows its users to better organize their data while working on multiple projects at the same time. There are many different paid and free MySQL GUI software available in the market, but only a handful stand tall above the rest. MySQL Workbench falls in that category.

It’s a top-notch MySQL GUI software that works very effectively and can be used in Linux, Mac OS X and Windows environments. Going by the details provided on their company website, many large corporations including, Zappos, Adobe, Google and Facebook use MySQL Workbench for powering their high-traffic portals.

In MySQL Workbench, database administrators, developers and database architects find a united visual tool that works perfectly well for various web development and designing tasks. MySQL Workbench helps users with development, design, database migration, database administration and performance improvement. Just like SQLyog, it also has multiple features specific to every subscription type.

One of the easiest and best methods of buying MySQL Workbench is by directly obtaining it from the Oracle store. Reaching out to their sales team can probably get you a handsome discount too (only if you purchase multiple licenses)!

No matter what device you’re working on, MySQL Workbench promises to be a top-contender in management of MySQL databases.

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4 Mycli Counted amongst the topmost tools for database administrators who work with MySQL, Mycli is essentially a command line tool that offers syntax highlighting and auto completion for MySQL command line.

Many a times security restrictions like two factor authentication and jump hosts leave MySQL database administrators with just command line access to their devices/systems. When faced with such circumstances, a GUI software like SQLyog, MySQL Workbench or Sequel Pro cannot be used. It’s in such situations that an efficient tool like Mycli can come to your rescue.

When talking about the command line, the immediate picture that comes to mind is that of the terminal world with everything ‘light on black’. However, the best aspect of Mycli is the richness of its syntax highlighting. For instance, it enables you to make a visual separation between operations and functions from the query strings in WHERE clauses. It may not be a huge deal in case of short, single line queries, but can become the game changer if you’re working with queries performing JOIN operations on more than two tables. Are you performing the JOIN using indexed columns? Are you filtering with the use of leading wildcards in your WHERE clauses? Mycli offers support for syntax highlighting and multi-line queries, enabling you to home in on the sections which hold maximum importance while you are optimizing or reviewing the queries. You’re allowed to select from many different types of syntax highlighting color schemes, and can even create/customize your own.

Smart completion makes another highly useful feature of Mycli. With it you can pick out the column and table names from a context-sensitive list by just providing their initial few characters. Hence, there would be no more abandoning of the current input so as to run SHOW CREATE TABLE just because you don’t remember the column name that you wanted in the WHERE clause!

Using Mycli you can set aliases for your favourite queries through \fs, for instance you can use \fs myAlias myQuery. It works very well as you can quickly execute the query through \f myAlias whenever required. Mycli project makes use of the BSD 3 License on Github, and has 5k stars, 1.2k commits and 44 contributors.

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5 PhpMyAdmin Easily the most mature and longest running projects when it comes to MySQL tools, PhpMyAdmin is an age-old solution used by people working with MySQL everywhere. It’s employed for easy administration of MySQL on the web. Using this tool database administrators can easily browse through and make modifications to the MySQL database objects such as indexes, views, databases, fields and tables. You can even carry out data exports using several different formats and make modifications to MySQL privileges and users. The most popular of all these features is execution of ad hoc queries.

PhpMyAdmin also has a status tab which dynamically plots processes/connections, questions and network traffic for the particular database instance, alongside an Advisor tab which acquaints you with the potential performance-related problems with solution recommendations.

PhpMyAdmin can be used through the GPLv2 license on Github. It’s a huge project that has 2.7k stars, 112 commits and over 100 contributors on Github. You can even go through an online demo offered at its official website.

Some of the popular features of PhpMyAdmin are:
- Easy import of data from SQL and CSV
- Web interface
- MariaDB and MySQL database management
- Easy export of data to different formats: PDF (through TCPDF library), Excel, Word, LaTex, XML, SQL, CSV and more
- Creation of database layout’s PDF graphics
- Compatible with various operating systems
- Easy administration of multiple servers
- Creation of multiple complex queries using QBE (query-by-example)
- Availability of live charts for efficient monitoring of MySQL server activities such as CPU/memory usage, processes, connections etc.
- Easy transformation of stored data into a format of choice, using predefined functions, for instance, display of BLOB-data in the form of a download link or image
- Global searches inside a database, or inside its subset

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6 Gh-ost Majority of MySQL database administrators fear making some alteration to a MySQL table and it having a significant impact on production. It is for all such DB admins that Gh-ost (Github Online Schema Migration) has been created. It allows for MySQL schema changes without the usage of triggers, without blocking the writes and with the possibility of pausing and resuming the migration.

Ever since MySQL 5.6 was shipped with the latest ALTER TABLE… ALGORITHM = INPLACE Data Definition Language (DDL) function, people could modify the tables without blocking the writes for common operations like addition of an index (B-tree). But there were some conditions wherein writes (DML statements) were blocked, most noticeably in the case of adding a FULLTEXT index, column type conversion and table space encryption.

Well-known online schema change tools like pt-online-schema-change (from Percona) work through implementation of three triggers (DELETE, UPDATE and INSERT) on the master, in order to maintain a shadow copy table well-synced with the changes. This leads to a small performance-related penalty because of write amplification, but most importantly needs seven instances of the metadata locks. It results in stalling of the Data Manipulation Language (DML) events.

As Gh-ost works using a binary log, it’s not vulnerable to trigger-based drawbacks. Gh-ost manages to efficiently throttle activity to zero events, enabling users to pause schema migration for a short while in case the server starts to struggle, and resume later on once the activity bubble moves on.

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7 Sqlcheck Developers and database administrators everywhere are all well aware that SQL anti-patterns slow down the queries. Seasoned DBAs and developers then need to pore over the code in order to identify and resolve such issues. Sqlcheck is based on the details offered in the well-known book by Bill Karwin titled “SQL Anti-patterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming”. There are primarily four anti-pattern categories detailed in this book:
- Query
- Application development
- Physical database design
- Logical database design

You can target Sqlcheck at different risk levels varying from low, medium to high risk. It proves to be very helpful in case your anti-patterns list is very large as it allows you to prioritize the queries that have maximum performance impact.

All that’s required to get started is a file consisting of all your distinct queries, and then passing them on in the form of an argument to the Sqlcheck tool.

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8 Orchestrator This one’s a replication management and high availability tool which allows you to find out the replication topology of a particular MySQL environment through the method of crawling up and down the chain, and identifying masters and slaves.

You can also use this MySQL tool for re-factoring your replication topology through the GUI that provides a drag-and-drop interface for promoting a slave to a master. It’s a highly safe operation overall. In fact, Orchestrator ensures the safety in a way that it rejects any illegal operation that can potentially break down your system.

Lastly, Orchestrator can aid recovery when the nodes experience failures, as it utilizes the state concept to intelligently select the best recovery method and figuring out the right master promotion process to be used. Orchestrator is the second useful tool developed and offered by Shlomi Noach on Github. The tool is offered through an Apache License 2.0, has 900 stars (at the time of writing this piece), 2780 commits and 34 contributors in total.

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9 HeidiSQL HeidiSQL is an open source and free-of-cost MySQL admin tool that was designed specifically for the web developers. It is meant for MySQL as well as its forks. Apart from that, it works for PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server too. The tool allows you to efficiently browse and edit data, apart from creating and editing tables, triggers, scheduled events, procedures and views. It’s a lightweight Windows-based interface that also enables you to export the data and structure either to the clipboard, SQL file or other servers.

Following are some of the main GUI capabilities and features of HeidiSQL:

Server connection
- Compressed server/client protocol for all compatible servers
- Offers multiple saved sessions with storage of credentials and connection
- Various parallel running sessions inside one single window
- Easily interfaces with servers through SSH (tunneling protocol), sockets (named pipes) or TCP/IP
- Has various query tabs, each one of which has many sub-tabs for batch results
- Easy export of databases to the SQL files, clipboard or other servers
- Easy management of per database and global user privileges
- Easy management of server users, allowing you to edit, remove and add users, including their credentials

Server host
- Easy viewing and filtration of all server variables like system_time_zone and others
- Editing of all server variables for the current session or with the global scope
- Killing of bad processes and analysis of executed SQL through currently running processes
- Easy viewing of command statistics along with percentage indicator bars for every SQL command
- Easy viewing of server statistical variables as well as per second & hour average values

- View of all the server databases and the ability to connect to any single database whose data and tables you wish to work with
- Creation of new or altering of existing databases’ character set, name; and collation, dropping (deleting) of databases
- View of the connected databases’ table as well as total size in terms of kb/mb/gb inside the tree structure of the table/database

Tables, events, procedures, views and triggers
- Viewing all the objects within a selected database, rename, drop(delete) and empty objects
- Editing of table indexes, columns and foreign keys. Support for MariaDB Servers’ virtual columns
- Editing trigger SQL settings and body
- Editing and viewing of settings and queries
- Editing procedure SQL parameters and body
- Editing the scheduled event’s SQL body time settings

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10 dbForge Studio dbForge Studio is a universal GUI tool for easy development, administration and management of MySQL and MariaDB databases. The IDE (Integrated Development Environment) enables efficient creation and execution of queries, development and debugging of stored routines, automation of database object management and analysis of table data through an intuitive interface.

You get a comprehensive set of instruments for complete server administration and management. Despite the fact that it doesn’t come for free and costs some money, its convenience and features give you excellent value for money and more than make up for the amount you pay. Some of its notable pros are:
- Comfortable and innovative user interface targeted at both advanced level as well as beginning users
- It offers an in built query profiler tool which allows you to profile and compare a query with others
- Step-by-step debugging of the query, using the familiar breakpoint, call stack and watch concepts
- Provision of a backup wizard which enables you to schedule database backups
- Comprehensive options for database privileges management and user management
- Excellent syntax checker and completion
- Provision of database and GUI query builder. You can use drag-and-drop to create your own customized queries as well as database schema
- Innovative UX and UI
- Highly efficient customer support


Before talking about MySQL and its various aspects, it’s very important to go over the term database first. And let’s talk a little bit about data before getting into the technical aspects of a database.

We deal with data on a daily basis in our lives. Whenever you wish to listen to your favorite songs, you reach out for your smart phone and open up your preferred playlist. In this scenario, the playlist is a database.

Whenever you take a photograph with your smart phone/camera and then upload it to a social media account of your choice, for instance Facebook, the photo gallery on that website is a database.

Furthermore, while browsing through an e-commerce website, looking for some jewelry, clothes, shoes etc., it’s the shopping cart of the website which is a database.

There are databases all over the Internet.

About database and RDBMS

A database is nothing but a structured collection of data. This data can be related to each other based on some aspect, for instance, products belonging to a certain product category and having their own corresponding tags.

In technical terms, database is an application which stores a collection of data. Every database features one or more number of distinct APIs for the purpose of creation, access, management, search and replication of the data held by it. You can also use other types of data stores, for instance, big hash tables in memory or files on the file system, however, the data writing and fetching process wouldn’t be equally fast in those system types.

Gradually, people have started using RDBMS (Relational Database Management Systems) for easy storage and management of large amounts of data. The reason why it is referred to as a relational database is because all the data gets stored inside different tables, and the establishment of relations happens through primary keys or other key types (referred to as foreign keys).

An RDBMS is a type of software which:
- Allows for easy implementation of a database consisting of columns, tables and indexes.
- Automatically updates the indexes.
- Is created in a way that the referential integrity between different tables’ rows is guaranteed
- Does the job of interpreting SQL queries and fetches information from different tables

What is MySQL?

MySQL is considered to be the most widely used open source relational database system which serves as the main relational data store for a good number of well-known commercial products, applications and websites.

Having been around for over 20 years and constantly supported and backed by a very solid development community, MySQL is widely believed to be the most secure, stable and reliable SQL-based database management system. It is perceived as ideal for many different use cases, including in case of dynamic websites, mission-critical applications and in the form of an embedded database for all kinds of appliances, hardware and software.

Despite the fact that MySQL is an open source software owned by Oracle, you are allowed to purchase a commercial license version of it, in order to avail premium support services. MySQL is also very easy to understand and master compared to other similar database software like Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database.

Advantages of MySQL

Ease of usage and better performance

A major reason why MySQL is favored by a great multitude of web developers is its ease of usage and productive features, including updatable views, stored procedures and triggers. MySQL offers utilities such as mysqladmin - an admin client, mysqldump - a backup program and MYSQL Workbench - a graphical user interface for migration and management related tasks.

MySQL has received a major boost in terms of its performance capabilities over a period of time, offering features like optimized nested-loop joins, thread-based memory allocation and B-tree disk tables with index compression. Consistent reads and row level locking in the storage engine provides even more performance advantages (for multi-user concurrency).

Higher level of security and reliability

The InnoDB transactional storage engine of MySQL is based on the ACID model, and has capabilities that boost data protection, including auto-commit and point-in-time recovery.

InnoDB provides for even higher levels of data integrity via support for foreign key constraints, thereby preventing data inconsistencies across multiple tables.

Coming to the security aspect of it, MySQL offers flexible and hardened security features, including password traffic encryption and host-based verification. Added security benefits are provided by InnoDB, with data-at-rest table space encryption, utilizing a twin-tier encryption key architecture.

Furthermore, MySQL comes with a guarantee of 24 x 7 uptime and provides a comprehensive range of high availability solutions, for instance master/slave replication configurations and special cluster servers.

Open source license

As MySQL is offered under an open source license (GNU - General Public License), it allows developers to use and modify its source code as per their requirements.

The large and global community of MySQL contributors, apart from a great multitude of MySQL enthusiasts offer several more long-tail and added benefits to people who use this database system. For instance, this community is constantly on top of all the bug fixes and security issues, contributing a great deal to the software’s overall resilience. There are mailing lists, forums, events and newsgroups that provide an effective network for support and education.

People who worry about the reliability aspect of open source solutions can rest assured because of the enterprise indemnification and 24/7 support offered by MySQL. On the whole, it works as a trustworthy and secure software that provides effective transactions even for the large-scale projects. Upgrades, debugging and maintenance become a breeze with MySQL, and thereby contribute a great deal to the end-user experience.

Total control over workflow

Offering an average download and installation time frame of under 30 minutes, MySQL is all about utility and business right from the word go. Whether you are working on UNIX, Macintosh, Microsoft or Linux platform, MySQL guarantees a comprehensive solution, offering a good number of self-management features capable of automating everything ranging from configuration, space expansion and data administration to data design.

On-demand scalability

It provides an unmatched scalability, which facilitates easy management of deeply embedded applications involving a smaller footprint, regardless of the size of the organization. In fact, on-demand flexibility is considered to be one of the major star features of MySQL. It’s an open source solution that offers complete customization to online businesses that often have unique database server needs (particularly e-commerce businesses).

Efficient transactional support

It is far ahead of the competition when it comes to the robustness of its transactional database engine. Offering features like durable, isolated, consistent, atomic transaction support; row-level locking without restrictions and multi-version transaction support, MySQL is considered as the go-to solution for many web developers as far as data integrity is concerned. It promises instant deadlock identification via server-enforced referential integrity.

Reduced ownership cost

Any enterprise that chooses to migrate its current database applications to MySQL stands to benefit from major cost savings on its new projects. The ease of management and dependability it offers can save plenty in terms of troubleshooting time, which otherwise often gets wasted in fixing of performance-related problems and downtime issues.