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MongoDB vs Redis

If you're looking for a NoSQL database, there are two very powerful options to choose from, but which is right for your needs?

Emma White

By Emma White

Business Development Manager Emma White helps BairesDev grow at a global level by expanding the client base and overseeing of growth projects.

10 min read

NoSQL databases are ideal for massive troves of unstructured data and are most often the first choice for cloud-native development or any project that depends on very large amounts of varying information.

But when trying to choose which NoSQL database to use, you’ll find the options can be a bit daunting. Which is right for your project, and what are the benefits? As soon as you start down the NoSQL rabbit hole, you’ll find quite a few options to select from. Of those options, two very often rise above the rest: MongoDB and Redis. 

At first blush, you might think, “A database is a database, so it really doesn’t matter.” However, that line of thinking can get you into trouble. Imagine selecting the wrong database from the start, only to realize halfway through the software development lifecycle that the choice you made will not serve your project best. At that point, you might have to start over, wasting precious time.

Both MongoDB and Redis are outstanding NoSQL solutions, but they are not the same. Let’s dive in and see what makes each of these solutions unique and why you might want to use one over the other.

Redis or MongoDB? When to Use Each

When comparing MongoDB vs. Redis, you’ll want to take a look at four different aspects:

  • Speed
  • System requirements
  • Scalability
  • Storage

Let’s see how both of these NoSQL databases stack up.

MongoDB Redis
Speed Leverages on-disk storage by default, so it’s slower than Redis. Because it’s an in-memory database, Redis is faster than MongoDB.
System Requirements Requires less RAM but more disk storage. Requires more RAM but less disk storage.
Scalability Distributed architecture allows you to scale out across multiple nodes and geographic regions through ranged, hashed, and zoned sharding. Redis Cluster allows Redis users to scale through hashed sharding.
Storage On-disk storage in binary JSON (BSON) leveraging a flexible document data model. In-memory, key-value storage model that treats the data as a single collection.

 

The choice between MongoDB and Redis is actually much easier than you might think. Although these are both NoSQL databases and can serve you, your company, and your application well, you need to consider two very important factors.

Complexity of Queries

If you’re looking at a use case that will require complex queries, MongoDB is the best choice. Why? Because by design, Redis only allows for primary key access, limiting query functionality. The advantage to the primary key access model of Redis however, is that it responds to queries much faster than MongoDB. 

So, if you want an easier development trajectory for an app with complex queries, MongoDB is your choice. If you don’t mind the extra work up front and need super fast query results, Redis is your database.

Ease of use

There’s no way around this: MongoDB is easier to use than Redis. MongoDB not only offers a much more shallow learning curve, but it’s also easier to install. The caveat to this is that Redis is much more flexible. So, if you want to implement a NoSQL database that won’t have your development team pulling out their hair, MongoDB is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you want a lightning-fast database that offers greater flexibility (but a more challenging process), Redis is what you’re looking for.

Benefits of Using Redis and MongoDB — Comparative Chart

Let’s simplify this even further with a chart that displays the benefits of using each database.

MongoDB Redis
Ease of use Speed
Cost Great as a cache
Scalability with flexible sharding strategies  Great as a session management system
Documents have a flexible schema Great as a message broker
Open-source Open-source
Can be installed on Linux, macOS, and Windows Can be installed on Linux and macOS. For Windows, you must use WSL.
Free to use Free to use

How to Select the Best for My Project

When should you use MongoDB? MongoDB is ideal for rapid prototyping, startups, and hackathons, when serious performance isn’t an issue. MongoDB is also ideal for situations when you will need to change a schema as you iterate on your data models and schema. MongoDB makes practically zero assumptions on your data and optimizes it without you having to define the schema.

Redis is ideal for caching and when your software development lifecycle offers enough time to really consider the design of your databases. In other words, if you need to get up and running quickly, MongoDB is the best choice. If, however, you have plenty of time up front for design and development, Redis is a great option. Redis is also the best choice if performance tops your list of needs. You simply cannot beat the performance levels found in Redis.

Emma White

By Emma White

Emma White is a Business Development Manager at BairesDev with a background in tech company expansion through client base growth. White helps to expand BairesDev's business at a global scale while managing new market research, overseeing growth projects, and generating leads.

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