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FireBase vs MongoDB: Which is the Best NoSQL Database for You?

In this age, businesses cannot get away with failing to incorporate technology into their operations. The technology space is growing wider by the day, and business owners are always left with the dilemma between various service providers today. One of the most vital parts of any technology is the backend that stores the data and offers a stable platform for the entire solution. This is the database, and today, we are going to review two of the best databases in the market today; Firebase vs MongoDB.

We are going to look at the features they offer while highlighting their upsides and downsides to help business owners pick the right one for their needs.

Main Differences Between Firebase vs MongoDB

The main differences between Firebase vs MongoDB are:

  • Firebase is a Backend-as-a-Service solution, whereas MongoDB Atlas is a Platform-as-a-Service solution.
  • Firebase offers a pay as you go payment model, whereas MongoDB provides a free version when you configure on-premises with the paid version coming into play when you get a serverless setup.
  • Firebase offers a superfast CDN for static websites, whereas MongoDB is flexible as it does not need a unified data structure across all objects.

Overview

firebase

Firebase is a software development platform established in 2011 by Firebase Inc. Google acquired it in 2014 as a real-time database, but it has evolved into a full-fledged Backend-as-a-Service solution for both web-based and mobile applications.

A BaaS solution is a cloud service model where developers outsource all the behind-the-scenes aspects of web or mobile applications so that they only have to write and maintain the frontend. Some of the services offered by a BaaS service provider include cloud storage, user authentication, hosting, and database management, among others.

In a nutshell, the service provider takes care of all the server-side functionalities so that businesses that use this solution only focus on the frontend and their application code. This is achieved using dedicated APIs for different services.

MongoDB is a NoSQL database owned and managed by MongoDB Inc. It is an open-source non-relational database that offers flexibility and functions to handle indexing and queries accordingly.

Former directors of DoubleClick established it and it, initially started as a Platform-as-a-Service solution. The owners intended to create an open-source PaaS that had distinct features but did not find a reliable database that met their requirements.

As a result of this, they moved to develop their database. They soon realized the potential behind this database and put in more work to improve on some of its features. It was eventually released in 2009.

Recap on Databases

firebase google

To help point out the differences between Firebase and MongoDB, we will move to explain a few concepts about databases. We are going to use an example where you have to develop an application for your users.

Doing this is not easy as you will need to consider all the users on iOS, Android, and Web applications. Besides, you will have to come up with a secure and robust database to store data and support these applications.

With time, you will need to scale and find a way to accommodate more traffic, which has a ripple effect on the backend. All these functions are tied to your database, and this is why you need to get it right.

Some of the main challenges that businesses face with databases include;

  • It is hard to design a database from scratch due to the resources needed and the steep learning curve.
  • Databases consume a lot of bandwidth from traffic between the storage units to the application front end.
  • It is tricky to manage database hostage, and it consumes a lot of resources for startups.
  • It is hard to maintain a bespoke authentication system for entities that lack knowledge and experience to do so.

The issue between SQL and NoSQL databases is also important in this comparison. In the past, SQL databases were prominent, but over time, as applications and business needs became complex, SQL databases started posting significant limitations.

These databases rely on the fixed schema, which made it hard for businesses to adjust to new requirements. Attempting an unprecedented change of schema proved difficult and time-consuming. Besides, SQL had significant performance limitations compared to the latest versions making scalability a considerable issue.

NoSQL databases are ones that do not rely on the SQL language. This allows for more flexibility when querying for both unstructured and unrelated data in a database. Consequently, the speed and scalability are improved, making them easy to extend to a preexisting program.

Both Firebase and MongoDB are NoSQL databases. Now that we know a few basics about databases let us dive into the features.

Features of Firebase

firebase

Since Firebase is a comprehensive BaaS platform, it has more features than what a regular database would typically have.

Its services are divided into three categories, namely; app building services, testing-maintaining services, and business instruments. The core services are in the app-building services category, and these are the products that we are going to focus on in this review.

Realtime Database

This was the first product to be launched under the Firebase brand, and it is the most stable and primary service across the whole platform.

It is a NoSQL cloud storage service that can be integrated with applications to offer real-time access to data across various platforms. One major upside of this service is that it is available offline through a caching service that synchronizes it with the primary storage once it is connected to the internet.

Data is stored in JSON form, and security is permission-based. This can be configured using the Firebase Authentication feature, which allows you to define your security rules and user identity protocols.

Cloud Firestore

This is a different cloud-hosted real-time NoSQL database. It is different from Realtime Database since it is made for enterprise use, which incorporates complex data models, enhanced querying models, and ease of scalability. When you use Firebase console, you can view data in both databases.

3. Cloud Storage

This is not another database as it is a simple app for users to generate content.

Firebase Authentication

This is the primary authentication feature designed for all the Firebase applications. It lets users use existing or make their custom authentication protocols for the management of the individuals who are going to be allowed to use the services.

Hosting Service

This service is critical for those building applications. It is a static web hosting service that allows one to host applications built-in CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. It is secured using SSL and HTTPS protocols.

Some of the secondary services include;

Cloud Functions

This is an integration of another Google product into the Firebase platform. It is a tool used to run the backend code from the cloud-based on events. It works on a serverless architecture model where applications are built as a set of different functions, stored in the cloud differently, and connected through APIs.

Machine Learning Functions

Here, the ML kit offers machine learning capabilities to your mobile applications. It is tailored to mimic most of the Google products that have machine learning features such as Google lens.

Firebase testing services

This is a collection of services that allow you to test your apps in real-time environments before deploying them. The test lab offers access to virtual and physical devices to test your application in real settings and can be integrated into existing environments. It will give you crash results, and it has a bot that can crawl your app to point out bugs and show vulnerabilities.

Crashlytics is a built-in crash reporting tool for rapid and easy troubleshooting of any application’s stability. Crash reports will be organized, and issues will be prioritized into a list of issues that relate to the cause of the problem. This makes it easy to fix a problem with your application.

Other features include;

  • Cloud messaging is a service that lets you send notifications between the server and end-user devices.
  • Dynamic links help to transition users between platforms, by saving personal data and showing users what they were browsing before.
  • Remote configuration helps you to update an application without republishing it
  • Firebase prediction is a machine learning extension that uses your analytical data to set user groups and provide you with insight regarding the same.
  • Firebase A/B testing helps to run marketing experiments in the form of A/B tests.

From the Firebase features, it is evident that it is a big platform with a host of services. For long, it was seen to be limited and not able to replace the whole backend, but with the recent releases, it has improved a whole lot.

Features of MongoDB

MongoDB

MongoDB is one of the best open-source NoSQL databases today. It has a variation called MongoDB Atlas that is a full-fledged Platform-as-a-Service solution intended for people who do not want to waste time managing the database. It is available on a cloud service provider of your choices such as Azure, AWS, and GCP.

Some of the key features include;

Database Provisioning and Maintenance

Here, the platform handles all the heavy lifting behind the scenes and allows you to focus on using their friendly User Interface or API to deploy your clusters. Just pick the configuration you want, and you will be good to go. All the security patches and upgrades are automatically applied in a rolling fashion to reduce any impact on performance on your applications.

Backup and Restore

MongoDB Atlas offers a dedicated managed data backup service and restores features to ensure that your data can always be recovered in case of a disaster.

You have nothing to worry about even if you are making a mistake, as you can always restore your data at any point in time. A new feature, called resilient backup snapshots, you have little to worry since a snapshot will always be taken even if your cluster is in an unhealthy state.

Consumption-Based Service

With MongoDB Atlas, you pay for what you use since it is billed on a consumption-based model. It is easy to downscale through a few clicks on the cluster configuration editors, and you can pause clusters for a while and only be charged for the storage.

With the new cluster tier auto-scaling feature, you can opt-in for automatic downscaling and upscaling of your cluster tiers within specified limits depending on specific utilization metrics.

Performance Advisor

This feature shows index recommendations depending on slow query logs of your database collections so that you can improve performance without being a MongoDB expert.

It is continuously updated to make it more intelligent, and the UI was recently enhanced to add a create to click index functionality for novices to use their resources on MongoDB intelligently.

Unique Data Distribution Model

Besides the automation, MongoDB Atlas offers unique capabilities for distributing data across the physical resources to optimize performance.

All the clusters are deployed as a minimum three-node replica set and spread across different zones to ensure that the database is available by default.

If you want to check up on other databases that might be best for you, check out Dynamob vs Mongodb and make the right choice…

The Good and Bad

Pros of Firebase

  • Has various user-friendly features such as push notification, Google, and Facebook authentication.
  • The user interface and ready-made application program make it easy to synchronize with existing systems.
  • It is easy to manage instant updates of data without refreshing
  • Flexible payment plans
  • Backup is hosted by Google cloud services
  • It has robust support and offline mode features
  • Guarantee of no rapid meltdown during heavy traffic

Cons of Firebase

  • Does not support relational queries
  • It is not possible to export user data as it has no bespoke servers
  • Data migration is difficult
  • Limited capabilities to tackle queries
  • SQL chops are not compatible enough to be transferred
  • Perfect for small scale applications

Pros of MongoDB

  • The configuration of MongoDB is free on your server
  • High data security since there is no risk of SQL injection
  • Enhanced administration of mistakes and failures
  • It is schema-less which allows it to keep various documents in one collection
  • Robust scaling ability
  • Can store files of any size

Cons of MongoDB

  • Does not have robust indexing and searching features
  • Hard to maneuver when dealing with complex queries
  • Does not have stored functions or procedures
  • Possibility of data being corrupted or lost with time

When To Use Firebase vs MongoDB

MongoDB

  • Firebase is ideal for meeting real-time data of an application while MongoDB is used when high-speed logging is a concern
  • Firebase is perfect when you need to frequently scale up an application quickly while MongoDB is good when caching and scaling is required
  • Firebase is the best choice for online streaming games, social networking, and instant messaging purposes while MongoDB is useful for comprehensive applications

FAQs About MongoDB vs Firebase

Which is better MongoDB or Firebase?

MongoDB is a robust document database known for high performance, whereas Firebase is a full-fledged backend as a service managed by Google. For those that require a flexible solution that they can tweak to their needs, then MongoDB is the best choice. Those that require a managed solution that will handle all their needs on the backend so that they only focus on building applications are better suited to Firebase.

Is Firebase better than SQL?

Firebase is based on a data structure that is used by the NoSQL database, but different from those used in relational databases. It addresses most of the initial disadvantages of using SQL, thus making it better than SQL databases.

Which Big Companies Use Firebase?

Examples of companies using Firebase include Instacart, Twitch, Stack, ViaVarejo, and Bepro Company, among others.

Bottomline

From the features above, there is no doubt that both Firebase and MongoDB are excellent choices for an entity looking for a reliable backend to support their technological solutions. However, they are different in some way, and this is what draws the line between the best choice for you.

Google Firebase is perfect when it comes to building small web and mobile applications. It offers real-time updates between your backend and frontend, and it is easy to learn and implement.

It has the required level flexibility for small web and mobile application projects, but in cases where you are making SaaS-based applications where performance, queries, and data relations matter, it can quickly come up short.

MongoDB is an open-source solution, something that implies that you can tweak a lot to suit your specifications. If your project database is expected to handle a wide variety of unstructured queries in real-time, then it should be the obvious option for you.

However, you will need a lot of technical knowhow to set it up and manage the backend as well, something that can easily discourage people who only want to focus on app building from opting for this database.

The comparison points are numerous, and your preference should determine the best pick. In purely database terms, MongoDB has the edge over Firebase, but only just. This way, it stands out as the best NoSQL database here. Don’t forget to learn more about the importance of proper data protection. Ger to know more about Venyu / colocation services here.

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