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Introduction to MySQL – Step 1/3

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Servage


With well over ten 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. In fact, in a comparison of several databases by eWEEK, MySQL and Oracle tied for both best performance and greatest scalability.

MySQL Basics

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 searched quickly and information can be retrieved rapidly.

The SQL in MySQL stands for Structured Query Language. This language is loosely based on English and is also used on 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.

Summary of Database Terms

The main terms you need to acquaint yourself with for now are:


The overall container for a collection of MySQL data.


A subcontainer within a database that stores the actual data.


A single record within a table, which may contain several fields.


The name of a field within a row.

I should note that I’m not trying to reproduce the precise terminology used in academic literature about relational databases, but just to provide simple, everyday terms to help you quickly grasp basic concepts and get started with a database.

Accessing MySQL via the Command Line

There are three main ways in which you can interact with MySQL: using a command line, via a web interface such as phpMyAdmin, and through a programming language like PHP.

Starting the Command-Line Interface

The following sections describe relevant instructions for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

Windows users

If you installed the Zend Server CE WAMP as explained in Chapter 2, you will be able to access the MySQL executable from one of the following directories (the first on 32-bit computers, and the second on 64-bit machines):

C:\Program Files\Zend\MySQL51\bin

C:\Program Files (x86)\Zend\MySQL51\bin

If you installed Zend Server CE in a place other than \Program Files (or \Program Files (x86)), you will need to use that directory instead.

By default, the initial MySQL user will be root and will not have had a password set. Seeing as this is a development server that only you should be able to access, we won’t worry about creating one yet.

Sources for further reading

Introduction to MySQL - Step 1/3, 4.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
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