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The Top 7 Free and Open Source Database Software Solutions

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UPDATE: 05/10/2017: This post has been updated with new options and additional information based on comments and feedback from readers since the original version went live. We’ve also included summaries of user reviews to better reflect actual users’ experience with different systems. Several existing solutions have had their descriptions changed to better reflect their current functionality.

I like pizza.

Just kidding. I love pizza. Especially if it’s free.

I even like things that look like free pizza. Just the other day, a package came in the mail for me and it was delivered inside of a pizza box. Five stars out of five for that Etsy shop owner. I’m keeping the box. They had good taste in pizza shops.

Free pizza was one of my favorite things about college. Fliers advertising new clubs and organizations on campus always included a small note about free pizza at their meetings. And I was there. Because duh.

Unfortunately, as I’ve learned whilst navigating this endless maze called adulting, pizza isn’t always free. That sweet taste of zero-cost cheese is long gone.

free database software

But not so for the database management software world, where free database software and open source solutions are as abundant and mouthwatering as a cascade of tomato sauce and pesto.

Because when IT departments are operating on miniscule budgets, cutting costs is great for both staying in business and keeping IT afloat. Everyone likes free stuff.

Sounds pretty delicious to me.

So let’s take a step back to your formative college years, when the world was as free and dreamy as melted mozzarella, and check out these five fantastic free database software and open source DBM solutions to keep your department on budget.

CUBRID

free database software

CUBRID is a great free and open source option optimized specifically for web applications, useful when complex web services process large amounts of data and generate huge concurrent requests. This solution is implemented in C.

Pros

  • Multiple granularity locking
  • Online backup
  • GUI tools and drivers for development languages:
    • JDBC, PHP, Python, Perl, and Ruby.
  • Auto-failover feature with 24/7 online web service
  • Supports native DB sharding for horizontal/vertical scalability
    • Large systems divide data over multiple database instances
  • Database replication and transaction consistency

Cons

  • Doesn’t work with Apple systems
  • No script debugger
  • Manual only comes in English or Korean
  • Discussions on their forum tend to be dated (most are from several years ago)

What users say

Leave a review for CUBRID here.

Firebird

free database software

This relational database has been used in production systems (under a variety of names) since 1981 and features many ANSI SQL standards. Firebird is capable of running on Linux, Windows, and various Unix platforms.

Pros

  • Trace API for real-time monitoring
  • Windows-trusted authentication
  • Four supported architectures:
    • SuperClassic, Classic, SuperServer, and Embedded
  • Variety of development tools:
    • Commercial tools: FIBPlus and IBObjects
  • Automatic sweep option to clean database
  • Event notifications from database triggers and stored procedures
  • Free support through Firebird’s large global community

Cons

  • Integrated replication support isn’t included (only as add-on)
  • Lacks temporary tables and integration with other database systems
  • Windows-trusted authentication lacking in comparison to other OS solutions

What users say

Leave a review for Firebird here.

MariaDB

free database software

Made by the original developers of MySQL, MariaDB is used by tech giants like Wikipedia, Facebook, and even Google. MariaDB is a database server that offers drop-in replacement functionality for MySQL. Security is a top concern and priority for MariaDB developers, and in each solution release, the developers also merge in all of MySQL’s security patches and enhance them if need be.

Pros

  • Alternate storage engines, server optimizations, and patches
  • Extensive knowledge base compiled over the 20 years MariaDB has been operating

Cons

  • Missing password complexity plugin
  • No memcached interface
  • No optimizer trace

What users say

Leave another review for MariaDB here.

MongoDB

free database software

MongoDB was founded in 2007 and is known as the “database for giant ideas.” Developed by the people behind DoubleClick, ShopWiki, and Gilt Groupe, MongoDB is also backed by popular investors such as Fidelity Investments, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., and Intel Capital. Since its inception, MongoDB has been downloaded 20 million times and is supported by more than 1,000 partners. These partners are dedicated to this free and open source solution’s belief that coding and databases should be simple and natural.

Pros

  • Document validation
  • Encrypted storage engine
  • Common use cases:
  • Real-time apps with in-memory storage engine (beta)
  • Reduces time between primary failure and recovery

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit applications needing complex transactions
  • Not a drop-in replacement for legacy applications
  • Young solution: software changes and evolves quickly

What users say

Leave another review for MongoDB here.

MySQL

free database software

MySQL has been around since 1995 and is now owned by Oracle. While open source, there are also several paid editions available that offer additional features, like cluster geo-replication and automatic scaling. Because MySQL is an industry standard, it’s also compatible with just about every operating system and written in both C and C++. This solution is a great option for international users since the server can provide error messages to clients in multiple languages, encompassing support for several different character sets.

Pros

  • Host-based verification
  • Can be used even when no network is available
  • Flexible privilege and password system
  • Security encryption of all password traffic
  • Library that can be embedded into standalone applications
  • Provides server as separate program for client/server networked environment

Cons

  • Acquired by Oracle:
    • Users feel MySQL no longer falls under free and OS
    • No longer community driven
    • Members can’t fix bugs and craft patches
    • Falls behind others due to slow updates

What users say

Leave another review for MySQL here.

PostgreSQL

free database software

With more than 15 years of active development, PostgreSQL is another stellar open source option, running on all major operating systems, including Linux, UNIX (AIX, BSD, HP-UX, SGI IRIX, Mac OS X, Solaris, Tru64), and Windows. PostgreSQL is also fully ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliant.

Pros

  • Create custom data types and query methods
  • Framework enables definition and creation of own custom data types
  • Runs stored procedures in more than a dozen programming languages:
    • Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, Tcl, C/C++, and its own PL/pgSQL
  • GiST (Generalized Search Tree) system
    • Brings together different sorting and searching algorithms:
      • B-tree, B+-tree, R-tree, partial sum trees, and ranked B+-trees
  • Creation of extensions like CitusDB for more parallelism without modifying Postgres code

Cons

  • MVCC system requires regular “vacuuming”
    • Problems in high transaction rate environments
  • Development is done by broad community
    • Fair amount of effort for improvements added

What users say

Leave another review for PostgreSQL here.

SQLite

SQLite

Self-proclaimed as the most widely deployed database in the world, SQLite began in 2000 and has been used by notable companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. Each release is carefully tested to ensure reliability. Even if there are bugs, the developers of SQLite are honest about potential shortcomings by providing bug lists and chronologies of code changes for every release.

Pros

  • No separate server process
  • File format is cross-platform
  • Compact library: runs faster even with more memory
  • Transactions are ACID compliant
  • Professional support also available

Cons

  • Not recommended for:
    • Client/Server applications
    • High-volume websites
    • Large datasets
    • High concurrency

What users say

Leave a review for SQLite here.

Thoughts?

Did I miss a few essential pros and cons to the solutions listed above? Think there are better free database management software alternatives? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking for IT Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best IT Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Jennifer Champagne

Jennifer Champagne is a writer for Capterra, specializing in IT, hospitality, and real estate management. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Comments

Hi Jennifer,
I am trying to build a application which needs around 20-22 tables with large number of records. I would like to know which database system will support faster response to queries and comes free of cost.
Help on this will be appreciated. Please ping back if you have any questions.

Thanks
Rakesh

Rakesh can you please define what you mean wirh a larges numer of records ( multiple 100k, a few milion, 100 milion+)?
And when you say faster queri response, faster than what?

I never heard of CUBRID or Firebird. Thanks for sharing, I will read more about them.

However, I am surprised to not see on SQLite on the list. SQLite is a totally self contained database engine and could easily power something like a personal wiki, just to give one example. Any particular reason why it did not make a list?

Thanks

Dennis,

Definitely adding SQLite to my list. Couldn’t include all of them, but I’ll be updating this post in the future with even more free and OS database options. Stay tuned!

Dear Jennifer,

I am completely newbie to Database system, and I want to use MySQL at the production environment.
Can I use without paying a single penny ?

Dear Jennifer,

I am completely newbie to Database system, and I want to use MySQL (Community Edition) at the production environment.
Can I use without paying a single penny ?

Pratik,

MySQL’s community edition is absolutely free and is commonly deployed in production environments, so you should be in good company.

Hi Jennifer,

I want to build a db that has 10-15 tables, some of which (5 max) will need to hold upto 4millions records each week, cumulatively. I need something ideally free of charge, at best low cost, that provides decent performance via usual RDBS management, but also needs to have additional reporting type software, so I can build forms, reports, etc. Ideally the latter would be web-based. Any advice of course much appreciated.

Been using Access from Office 2000 with XPPro – Now using W10.

What is the best way for me to continue using my Access data bases?

Thanks.

@Pratik,
you don’t have to pay for MySQL but that still doesn’t that there’s no price.
The price is stated by GNU license under which MySQL community edition is released meaning that you need to reveal you source code under the same terms and give it to the community.
Be aware of that fact if you plan to use for commercial project.

@Dick Flickinger make a complete backup of your database and try the free database in OpenOffice. If OpenOffice doesn’t handle your Access DB adequately, I would suggest merely installing a newer version of Office. I would suggest Office 2010 or 2013. I wouldn’t recommend 2016, it seems sluggish in general in comparison with 2013.

It would be helpful to have DBs listed by their ability to perform certain tasks.
I assume all will do multiple simple fields like a phone/address book.
I need a DB that will allow writing a full page of text (like a page in Word), searchable.

I want it to keep a “diary” or journal, searchable, inventory of 2 apartments and our house, plus my hobby stuff.
I would like it to keep my medical records, linking a text page with basic simple fields like that address book.
Can one database file cover all of this, quickly moving from a daily journal to a medical record, for example?

I loved the database in the Apple II Appleworks program, text based, fast, easy to learn and use.

My question is… I’ve been using Access to keep track of serial numbers of the parts we use to manufacture our products for about 3 years. We started attaching pictures of each unit we ship for warranty reasons, about a year ago. We very quickly came to the 2 Gig limit on attachments in Access. So I need to move to something else, but we only have about 2 to 3 users at any one time and spending $800 – $1000, plus the cost of CALs seems excessive for what we used it for. What Open Source DB is the easiest to migrate to from Access?

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for providing this information – I have found it most useful. I am currently undertaking an evaluation of Open Source Software using the CapGemini model. I was wondering where you would recommend the best place to source all the necessary information for this evaluation would be?

Regards,

Elizabeth

whatabout Gupta SQLBase?

Hi Jennifer,

This was very informative, but still I could not come to a conclusion on which DB should I be using.

I have Iseries (AS400 server) with huge data by huge I mean 5 Million records (2 GB to 50GB size in different tables) in approx 10 tables, increasing by half a million every year.

We need to move to another platform basically for web integration, so Iseries data would be needed to be synced real time to the new server (approx 1 million Add/Update/Delete per day). Sync would be achieved via some developments.

There would be multiple API using the new server (100,000 hits per day mostly reads) and some applications too (read/write/update 25000 hits per day)

Now my new server requires a DB which should be able to hold on to the volume of data transferred from my Iseries server and also the daily load.

What would you recommend me to use ?

Jennifer,

I have combine several .sqlite files which has data recorded from several handheld devices. I would like to copy all data from each of these 50 devices into one database to run queries for analyzing data. which open sources database(s) from the list above would you suggest to store and run analytics ?. I will either need to build an automated solution copy data into one storage DB or use the available to import data from sqlLite.

Suggestions or directions are very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Natarajan

Hi Jennifer.

Long story, but ran a business for over 20 years, semi retired and now returning to start a small consulting company, The Result Consult Shop. (just all in process to set up websites etc.)

Main objective is specific consulting for branding and naming of companies and products (lots of experience in that, using The Slogan Factory and The Name Game as working names for now.)

In my former compny (7 employees) we used Maximizer, in those days called a database program, which had a very good text processing part, allowing me to write books etc right inside the database.

Are you aware of any program which can offer me similar components?

I have been reading reviews, websites, etc for the last three days and am ready to start using a paper ledger, lol.

Your help is much appreciated.

BTW, I am just downloading Srivener to start writing some books etc.

Best regards

Mack

Hi Jennifer,

What database software should I user if im gonna do a database where ill make a hyperlink in under their names and after I click their names will show all of their records?

Thanks!

Hi Jennifer,

What database software should I use if im gonna do a database where ill make a hyperlink under their names and after I click their names will show all of their records?

Thanks!

I see there have not been any answers to the questions posed on this site in quite some time, so I would suspect that Jennifer is no longer monitoring this site or she has no more interest in this. It would be great to have the DBs ranked in order of best to worst and how many records each will handle.

G’day, I am considering database options for a startup recruitment company and would like advice on which of the open source systems might be best? As a startup we would have approx 800 records initially, but would need to scale that to a few thousand rapidly. Also, being a recruitment firm we would need to be mindful of confidentially of personal information – so some assurance of security would be critical. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

It seems that you have only included MongDB as your only NoSQL option? The rest are all SQL variants. I think that there is a trend towards using NoSQL databases like Cassandra, RethinkDB for document stores and graph stores like Titan (now JanusGraph) amongst others.

Thanks for the info, very helpful. I’m working on an application for a school I teach at. What we’re looking for is pretty simple data base wise (students, classes, assignments linked to classes and students being able to web lookup assignments based on their classes).

The main thing I’m looking for is easiest/best set of tools to develop web front end without programming. I’d like to make simple forms and reports to enter/edit/delete/display records. Does this exist in the open source world? I don’t need it to be beautiful and I’m not looking for super power features. I’d be happy knowing of the best easiest version, and then a suggestion for a more powerful version to look towards if I want to get more complicated.

Thanks!

“The rest are all SQL variants” Technically they all are intended to implement the SQL standard ( although some are more limited than others

I’m retired now, but when I was a working programmer I really enjoyed using MS Access 97 and MS Access 2000 using MySql as the database backend. It scaled really nice and I never ran into any limitations. MS Access as a front end for forms and reports is a dream to work with, and using MySql allowed me unlimited users and it even worked over a broadband internet connection. I used VPN routers to secure WAN connections.
There were a few things I had to learn the hard way, but once these fixes were in place my programs ran for years without error.
1. All tables need a timestamp field and if importing data, initialize the field with unique values.
2. All forms should have a refresh event set for around thirty-minutes. MS Access forms that are left open by users will drop the table connection, so refreshing the connection keeps it alive – I’ve had forms open over a year without error.
I also used Windows 2000 Server for my clients on systems that needed to run 24/7/365. The Server version was very stable.
To minimize network traffic and maximize performance, static tables were stored on the client computer. Only tables that required record entry/updates were on the MySql server.
And I really enjoyed using passthrough queries to execute MySql commands on the server. That meant that I rarely had to spend time in front of the server. It also allowed me to totally automate the porting process and I could move a MS Access application from Access tables to MySql tables with the push of a button and downtime for conversion was minutes not days, weeks or months.

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you so much for featuring MariaDB on this list. However, the link provided in this article sends readers to the MariaDB Foundation site (.org); if they would like to learn more about the products and services offered by MariaDB, the correct website is mariadb.com. Could you please update this article accordingly?

Thank you,

Christine

We are a non profit sectorial Association. we do lot of industry specific technical seminars, events & exhibitions.

We have year on year exhibitor directories of various events as well as pre registered visitors & on site visitors.

We require help is selection an online or offline database software, where we can import various xls / access files from our previous exhibitions and the information can be searched on the basis of query (event/location/etc)

Waiting for your positive response

Thanks & Regards

Jaideep Das

hi jennifer, im a student . i want to know which app is the best,simple and easy for me to record the student’s disciplinary record for my college?

Thanks 🙂

Hi Jennifer, I used Dataease a long time ago(’87 or so) to make a simple database which I used to estimate printing jobs for my print shop. Is there one of your product choices simple enough for me to make a list of approx. 500 big band songs with a dozen characteristics to sort by?
Thanks. Ron

DB2 Express is free. Oracle XE is free. SAP DB became MaxDB but I do not think it is available anymore. Informix Cloudbase was acquired by IBM that then sent it to Apache where it is called Derby. SQL Server Express is free and fast. It uses only a single CPU 10GB size limit but if you are clever that can always be worked around that. SQL Server Express is not crippleware and has all the features of the pricier versions. If the size limit is a bottleneck then you should buy something bigger and better. Never run a business on freeware, pay for support. In the long run it is worth it.

I would stay away from MySQL it has too many limitations.

SQL Server 2016 will join between itself and Hadoop so the big data. Finally Teradata has an express version that runs inside of VmWare player.

I was wondering what program there is to use that you are able to fill out contact information into a data base and then it would automatically link up into your email contact list. Also is it possible for it to be exported to multiple people.

I am trying to make an application on unity. I want to store my datas in a database. Which database should i use? I need an free database for now.

I currently have a copy of MS Access 2010 that I use at home for simple purposes such as cataloguing my music collection. Do any of the products listed above have the capability of importing my existing Access database files and giving me the same sort of ability to add data and set up queries. I haven’t any experience of writing software for PCs

Nice review of the options. One way to improve this analysis is to add the pros and cons of each in the areas of security and encryption. Do any of these have this functionality and how much. Can any of them encrypt data, tables, columns, etc.

I am starting up a direct selling party plan business and need document recording of a warm market,their contacts,sales dates and future follow up reminders.
I have been searching for a databased recording system that is easy to understand .
Would someone be kind enough to point me in the right direction please

I need a DB option to track approximately 6000 employees (number varies frequently). I need to be able to track training certification dates, when current certifications will expire, and approximately 20-30 other categories of info on each user. Currently this is being done in Excel. It isn’t going well. I need an easy to learn/use option as I’m not trained on DB applications. And we have no money to purchase a program. Any help would be appreciated

something about brekeley db

also about couch db

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