The Era of Open Source: Migrate your Data from MS SQL to MySQL

Thursday Sep 9th 2004 by Staff

Despite the fact that MS SQL and MySQL both have their own strengths, a significant number of businesses have shifted their databases to MySQL because they keep finding good reasons to take advantage of it's openness. Allen goes on to describe the best way to convert MS SQL to MySQL.

by Allen

One of the very common questions appearing on various developer forums is that of comparing the pros and cons of MySQL and MS SQL. While comparisons have been made by many, mostly on technical issues, I personally find that they are difficult to compare, especially regarding their performance.

It is not true that MS SQL is better than MySQL or vice versa. Both products can be used to build stable and efficient systems. The stability and effectiveness of your databases vitally depends on your experience rather than the database itself. Both of database have their own advantages over the another. When deciding which server to use, it truly depends on your needs.

Despite the fact that MS SQL and MySQL both have their own strengths, a significant number of businesses have shifted their databases to MySQL because they keep finding good reasons to take advantage of MySQL's openness.

The era of Open Source

While proprietary software still has a larger portion of the market share, Open Source Software is waiting to conquer the market and has the potential to do so. Netcraft reported that although Apache is one of the more recent web servers, it has more market share than other web servers, put together do. Linux is also increasing in numbers; it is estimated as the fastest growing operating system. While exact numbers are indeed difficult to ascertain, most researchers estimate around 8 to 10 million Linux installations. Among the millions of installations, the number of exact users may even exceed this figure, as Linux is a multi-user system. This number is growing at around 40% per year. With such rising figures, we should admit that Open Source Software does have its advantages over closed software.

A Typical Example - NASA

In 2000, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center finished the transition of the NASA Acquisition Internet Service to MySQL. Representatives from NASA admitted that it may be unconventional for federal agencies to use open-source software, however, due to the limited budget on its massive data repository, MySQL is definitely the most robust product available.

You may wonder why this open source revolution has been occurring in recent years. The most visible influential reason is the Internet. The Internet makes numerous processes possible, which are essential for the growth of the open source movement. Among the major advantages, the Internet makes for a wonderful accelerant of code and idea dissemination. This includes spreading the idea that open source is good.

Why shifting to use Open Source Software?

Now, Open Source Software becomes a compelling alternative to commercial software due to the following advantages:

Cost Effective:
Open Source Software is often distributed free or under the General Public License. Reasonable and inexpensive prices are charged for commercial organizations. The cost saved can be spent on other development and support.

Because you can access the source code, you can always find out how the code is working. It enables unlimited tuning and improvement of a software product. In addition, it makes it possible to port the code to new hardware and to adapt it to changing conditions such that it integrates perfectly with your existing systems.

Open Source Software generally offers good reliability and stability. This is due to a worldwide group of contributors who help to debug the software. Any bugs found will tend to affect the product on a more superficial level and require less recoding.

Take Action Now

If you are ready to experience the rewards of Open Source Software, why not migrate your MS SQL to MySQL? Conversion of MS SQL to MySQL can be complicated with lengthy commands. If you do not feel comfortable with the black-and-white command prompt, you can try out some MySQL database administration GUIs available on the market.


Navicat is a powerful MySQL database administration and development tool. It provides a powerful set of tools, which help you to administer MySQL databases locally or remotely. It also contains import features, which allow the user to import files into MySQL databases from ten different formats, including MS Access, MS Excel, MS Word (RTF), HTML, XML, TXT, CSV, DBF, etc.

Data migration of MS SQL to MySQL

  • Click the Import Wizard in the Table View.

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    Table View

  • From the list of file formats available, choose ODBC.

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    Import Wizard View, Step 1

  • Click the browse button to list the available ODBC sources.

    Import Wizard View, Step 2

  • In the Provider tab, choose "Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server"

  • In the Connection tab, enter the server address, username and password of the connection. After the correct information has been entered, you will be able to see the available databases on the server from the pull down list.

  • After you have confirmed your settings, you will see the tables of the chosen database in the Navicat Import Wizard, Step 2.

    Import Wizard View, Step 2, filled out

  • Navicat will make some guesses on your table's field types; you can always change it. Please note that from Step 2 to Step 6, the import wizard will take a couple of seconds to load, depending on your database size and connection speed. Normally, it will finish loading within one minute.

    Import Wizard View, Step 6

  • Click Execute to start the Import.

    Import Wizard View, Step 10

  • Import has finished successfully.

    Import Wizard View, Finished screen

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    Navicat 2004, directory screen

    With the help of Navicat, transferring data from MS SQL to MySQL is a piece of cake. Navicat not only helps to migrate data from MS SQL to MySQL, it also helps generate reports, exports files to various file types and many other basic database administration options.


My intention here is to point out how MySQL is advantageous over MS SQL in the aspect of its openness. In addition, I have illustrated how easy MS SQL data can be migrated to MySQL with Navicat. Open source has substantial advantages that will be recognized by more and more people with time.

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