With well over 10 million installations, MySQL is probably the most popular database management system for web servers. Developed in the mid-1990s, it’s now a mature technology that powers many of today’s most-visited Internet destinations.
One reason for its success must be the fact that, like PHP, it’s free to use. But it’s also extremely powerful and exceptionally fast—it can run on even the most basic of hardware, and it hardly puts a dent in system resources.
MySQL is also highly scalable, which means that it can grow with your website (for the latest benchmarks, see http://mysql.com/why-mysql/benchmarks).
A database is a structured collection of records or data stored in a computer system and organized in such a way that it can be quickly searched and information can be rapidly retrieved.
The SQL in MySQL stands for Structured Query Language. This language is loosely based on English and also used in other databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. It is designed to allow simple requests from a database via commands such as
SELECT title FROM publications WHERE author = 'Charles Dickens';
A MySQL database contains one or more tables, each of which contains records or rows. Within these rows are various columns or fields that contain the data itself. Table 8-1 shows the contents of an example database of five publications detailing the author, title, type, and year of publication.