NoSQL grudge match: MongoDB vs. Couchbase Server

Which document database? From ease of installation and backup flexibility to index design and query capabilities, a few key differences point the way

NoSQL grudge match: MongoDB vs. Couchbase Server
At a Glance

Choosing the right database for the job can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re entertaining the full space of SQL and NoSQL options. If you’re looking for a flexible, general-purpose option that allows for fluid schemas and complex nested data structures, a document database might be right for you. MongoDB and Couchbase Server are two popular choices. How should you choose?

MongoDB combines the benefits of immense popularity, support for simple graph searches, and the ability to perform SQL queries via a BI connector. Couchbase has its own large community of users, a performant key-value architecture, and a SQL-like query language capable of navigating nested document structures.

In short, both MongoDB and Couchbase are powerful and flexible document-oriented databases with plenty of extras. That said, they have important differences that tilt the balance one way or the other, depending on your needs. To help you decide, we’ll march these databases through the gauntlet of key considerations, covering how each performs with regard to installation and setup, administration, ease of use, scalability, and documentation.

This discussion is based on MongoDB 3.4 and Couchbase Server 4.6. You might also check out my stand-alone reviews of MongoDB 3.4 and Couchbase Server 4.0.

Installation and setup

Installation and setup can be viewed from two perspectives: developers working against a local instance and infrastructure engineers setting up an initial production cluster. Many NoSQL databases have strong stories around developer friendliness, increasing the chances of a developer trying out the product and introducing it to their systems. A straightforward local setup is a strong selling point. On the other hand, the database will ultimately prove its worth in production, so the production setup is just as important to get right.

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