MySQL, pronounced “My S-Q-L” or sometimes “My Squirrel”, is the database management system used by WordPress.
MySQL is an open source product that was first developed in 1995 by Michael Widenius. The name comes from the first two letters of Michael’s daughter (My) plus SQL for Structured Query Language. Essentially, MySQL is a formalized way to add, modify, and delete information in a database.
If you’re new to WordPress, then you won’t have to worry about how MySQL works. Just know that every time information like a post, image, video file, page, or comment is added, deleted, or modified in WordPress, that information is stored in a MySQL database.
MySQL is a key component of both LAMP and WAMP stacks. LAMP stands for Linux (the operating system used by the host computer), Apache (the software program that makes the computer a server), MySQL (the database), and PHP (the scripting language). Most web hosts use LAMP because all four components are open source, but occasionally, some web hosts prefer WAMP (using the Windows operating system).
It’s important to understand that the MySQL database is actually separate from WordPress even though WordPress can’t function without it. Unless you’re hosting a WordPress installation on your home computer, the MySQL database will exist on your web host’s computer separate from your WordPress installation. In fact, MySQL is often one giant database that is read, modified, and edited by multiple websites.
In essence, a MySQL database is very similar to an Excel or Google Spreadsheets table. There are rows and columns where data exists. Your web host may offer a graphical interface for viewing your (section of the) MySQL database, most likely via a web application called phpMyAdmin that will allow you to see all the data that you’re storing there.