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Top SQL Tools for 2020: Part One

Data has become an important part of the digital world, and as such, we need ways to manage and secure it so it can be used to its maximum effect. This is where databases—places where you can store, manipulate, and organize data, as the name implies—come in. And, as we’ve talked about before, you don’t want to spend a long time manually managing them. Your needs will dictate which SQL tool you’ll need, so today, we’re looking at the top five SQL tools for 2020 and see which one is right for you. This is part one of a four series blog.

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studios

The name is a mouthful, so we’ll call it SSMS from now on. Microsoft’s SSMS is an integrated environment that lets you manage any SQL infrastructure. It comes with tools that facilitate configurations, monitorization, and administration of SQL servers and databases, including many extended features. It also has an integrated script editor, object explorer, new activity monitor, template explorer, and query and text editors.

The current SSMS version works with all supported versions of SQL Server between 2008 and 2019 (15.x). It also supports the latest cloud features in both Azure SQL Database and Data Warehouse. If you’re running SSMS 18.x, you can install it along with SSMS 17.x and 16.x, or SQL Server 2014 and earlier. For details on integration and which versions are supported, check out the SSIS Catalog.

SSMS’s biggest advantages are:

  • Easy to install and update. Run the installation wizard, and SSMS automatically updates once installed.
  • Security Features. Data compliance is at the forefront of current needs, and SSMS’s security policies help it stay that way.
  • Compression and encryption. SSMS comes with transparent, built-in data compression and encryption, so you don’t need anything else to compress and secure your data.

Like we said above, it’s free! Which is impressive for such a robust tool.

The biggest downside is that SSMS doesn’t run on Linux and MacOS. You need to be running Windows 8.1 or 10 (both the 64 bit versions), or Windows Server releases between 2008-2019 (64 bit as well), with Server 2016 and Windows 10 requiring version 1607 or later.

MySQL Workbench

MySQL Workbench is another top SQL tool for database developers and architects alike, and runs on Windows, Linux, and MacOS X. It has both free Community and paid Enterprise versions, and like SSMS, it’s a very robust tool even in its basic version.

MySQL offers plenty features in the terms of Visual SQL Development, Visual Database Administration, Performance Tuning, User and Session Management, Connection Management, Object Management, Visual Data Modelling, Reverse and Forward Engineering, Schema Validation, and more.

In terms of advantages, it boasts Data Security, On-Demand Scalability, Transactional Support, Workflow Control, and the fact that it’s open-source. It’s also compatible across Windows, Linux, and MacOS, including 32-bit versions.

Oracle SQL Developer

Oracle SQL Developer is another free SQL development environment. Like with SSMS and MySQL Workbench, it offers “complete end-to-end PL/SQL database development, a worksheet for running queries and scrips, a DBA console, a reports interface, a complete data modeling solution, and more.

It’s portable, scalable, supports object-oriented programming and the development of web applications, and it has high performance and productivity. Oracle provides plenty of comprehensive video tutorials, so even if you’re not familiar with their framework, their channel will likely have the answer. They even have a dedicated page to migrating your database from Microsoft’s SSMS to Oracle’s. So if you find it easier to follow video tutorials than reading documentation, Oracle has your covered!


A mobile SQL database engine, SQLite is “small, fast, self-contained, high-reliability, and full-featured.” Because of that, it’s built to run on mobile phones as well as desktop computers and is wildly used around the world.

It doesn’t offer as many features as the tools above, but if you’re looking for a free database engine that doesn’t need a separate server process, SQLite is the way to go, since it writes directly onto disk files. And, because it’s so popular, it’s easier to find solutions when you run across a problem, since someone is bound to have run into it before.

Its database file format is cross-platform, enabling you to copy databases between 32 and 64-bit systems, or between big and little-endian architectures. It’s also the recommended storage format for the Library of Congress, is very compact, and comes with great documentation. It’s open-source and in the public domain, so you can modify its code if you want to.


Still on free database management tools, we have DBeaver from Eclipse. It puts usability first, letting you manipulate data as you would on a spreadsheet, creates reports based on reports from different data storages, and exports in the appropriate format. It also comes with an SQL editor, admin features, data and schema migration, monitoring sessions, and more.

Stay tuned for part two of the Top SQL Tools series!