Five Free Open-Source Database Managers for MySQL, PostgreSQL, and More
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Database managers provide a user-friendly interface for interacting with your data as an alternative to managing and querying your databases from the command line. This article lists some of the most popular general-purpose database managers that are open source or free to use.
The database managers listed in this article support most popular databases including MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Snowflake, Redis, MongoDB, SQLite, Google BigQuery, and Firebase.
Database management software use cases and advantages
The most common use cases for database managers are:
Importing and exporting data between databases
Importing and exporting data to and from files (often for backup purposes)
Manually editing and correcting data
Comparing databases and verifying backups
Database managers are designed to make databases more convenient to administer and query. They save time by providing shortcuts to otherwise complex tasks and reduce errors by providing forms for inputting data, making it:
Much easier for non-technical users who are not familiar with SQL syntax
Much easier for technical users who don't want to have to write and debug SQL syntax
Faster and more secure when connecting to databases with credentials management
Easier to get an overview of a database's contents, users, and permissions
Easier to see useful information like query execution time and the size of query responses, helping you optimize your queries
Easier to debug your complex queries and spot problems with them before you run them with syntax highlighting and linting
It's worth noting that, while general-purpose database managers are better for most users than working on the command line, they’re not always the best tool for non-technical users working with important data — more on that later.
Managed databases are not database managers
It's easy to get "database managers" and "managed databases" confused, for obvious reasons. Managed databases are a different product to database managers entirely: they are a service that hosts and maintains your database servers for you, so that you only have to worry about the data inside them. Managed databases are a great way to outsource some of your infrastructure overhead if you don't want to host database servers yourself. Examples include MongoDB Atlas, Amazon RDS, Azure SQL Database, and Google Cloud Databases.
Regardless of whether you are self-hosting or using a managed database, you can use the database managers on this list to connect to it.
Comparing five popular free open-source database managers
Below, we compare five free-to-use, open-source database managers, including the pros, cons, and what databases they support.
OmniDB: Firebird, MySQL/MariaDB, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and Microsoft SQL Server
OmniDB is a collaborative open-source database manager that’s available as a hosted version or as a stand-alone app. The application is built keeping simplicity in mind, making it one of the most user-friendly database managers.
OmniDB supports multiple tabs, so you can connect to multiple databases in one session and write clean code. Its smart SQL editor offers code linting and auto-complete.
Use cases: OmniDB is perfect for collaborating with a team or for remotely managing databases.
Support for multiple databases like MariaDB, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL
Support for SSH terminal
Monitoring dashboard: it provides a graphical interface to monitor all your configured units using Python scripting and other configuration files
Dark theme support
No support for NoSQL databases
HeidiSQL: MySQL/MariaDB, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, SQLite, InterBase, and Firebird
HeidiSQL is extremely user-friendly. It is also one of the most capable database managers and enables you to create tables, create logs, and manage users on MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and SQLite databases and other database technologies.
You can export your data into formats like CSV, Excel, HTML, SQL, LaTeX, wikitext, and PHP arrays. You can also edit multiple tables together by using the bulk edit option. Additionally, it includes monitoring tools that let you kill processes that may have hung or are impacting your database servers.
Use cases: This is the best database manager for the Windows operating system and is popular with developers.
Supports multiple database technologies including SQLite
Exports data in multiple formats
HeidiSQL's UI is minimal, which may not be to everyone's tastes
No support for NoSQL databases
Studio 3T: MongoDB
Studio 3T, formerly known as RoboMongo and Robo 3T, is an open-source GUI client for MongoDB. The application is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.
Studio 3T is one of the most popular projects on GitHub, which means there's an experienced community to help you out. Since it uses the default MongoDB shell, it is very light on resource usage, so running complex queries is less impactful on server performance.
Use cases: Few database managers are dedicated to MongoDB, so choices are limited if you want something tailored to this database platform — this is the best of them.
One of the fastest database managers
The UI becomes cluttered sometimes
Navicat: MySQL/MariaDB, Redis, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle, SQLite, and MongoDB
Navicat is another powerful database management and design application that supports multiple drivers and databases. It comes as a standalone application for Mac, Windows, and Linux and allows you to manage many different databases including MySQL, Redis, SQL Server, SQLite, Oracle and PostgreSQL.
This application comes with a lot of extra functionality like exporting data to Excel, stored procedures, scheduling, and data transfer. One of the most interesting features is data transfer, as it allows you to transfer tables from one database to another even if they’re not on the same server.
Use cases: Navicat is perfect for developers who work on different operating systems or with different database technologies and want a consistent set of tools.
Support for multiple databases and drivers
Data transfer functionality
Available on all platforms
It’s not open source, but it is incredibly popular and free licenses are available for open-source projects
We’ve included it here because it’s one of the few database managers with Redis support and because we think it’s worth highlighting that it isn’t open source, as it’s not always clear to readers evaluating their options
phpMyAdmin: MySQL, MariaDB
phpMyAdmin is the stalwart of free open-source database managers. It’s been around forever, and it’s just plain good at what it does — providing a graphical interface for fully managing every aspect of MySQL databases. It’s built using PHP and runs in the browser.
Use cases: phpMyAdmin is widely used by web hosting companies to provide interfaces to their managed databases and developers who want a simple tool for managing their MySQL/MariaDB databases.
Fully manage every aspect of MySQL from users and permissions to databases and tables
Runs in a browser for remote management and remote query execution
Can be annoying to set up, especially on a server serving multiple PHP applications with different requirements
The interface is a bit utilitarian
What about the rest?
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. There are many other database management software packages out there, including MySQL Workbench, DBeaver, and pgAdmin. We’ve chosen these database tools because they cover the most common database systems and use cases, but if you find they aren’t meeting your needs, be sure to explore further or consider building your own database user interface — it’s easier than you think.
Don’t put your data at risk: when you definitely should NOT use a database manager
For most users, database managers are far more convenient than manually writing queries. However, they are designed for technical team members to maintain and interact with database systems, not for end users to perform data entry:
Database managers require an understanding of how databases work under the hood
They have no guardrails and limited data validation, which means they let you make mistakes
They have general-purpose interfaces that are not optimized for specific tasks
Granting users access to vital data using database managers can easily lead to them accidentally deleting or corrupting data, and if they don't notice they've done so, business can be interrupted and the whole database can be rendered valueless. Think about how easy it would be for a tired (or careless) user to do the following with a database manager:
Accidentally drop a table
Accidentally delete a row ID and break relationships
Access data they shouldn't see (risking a GDPR violation)
Accidentally disclose their database credentials to a phishing attack
Any one of these happening, just once, would be catastrophic to your business. Manually managing each user's database permissions is not enough to protect against this, as if you're granting access to many users with different levels of access it's still far too easy to make a mistake. You should not be granting users direct database access for the purposes of managing your e-commerce system, CRM, or internal records, or for other common data management tasks.
App platforms are the tool you use to build your own interfaces for your data. You can build interfaces that enable safe and fast data entry and, in many cases, add automation to further speed up your business processes.
App platforms let users interact with your vital data, without the risks
Modern, data-driven businesses cannot risk having their data corrupted or lost due to simple operational mistakes. App platforms like Appsmith allow you to build fully bespoke interfaces to every database mentioned in this article, other platforms like Shopify, Airtable, Snowflake, and Google Sheets, as well as REST and GraphQL APIs by using integrations.
Appsmith solves the security and data reliability issues associated with database managers (whether they are free, open source, or proprietary) by:
Keeping database credentials secure — users authenticate with your app, not your database
Enforcing access and showing your users only the data they should be allowed to see
Optimizing workflows with interfaces tailored to a specific purpose with fields presented in a layout that makes sense to the user and buttons to automate common tasks
Implementing data validation and user guardrails to help prevent accidents from damaging data
Allowing you to present data from multiple sources in the same place, making for reliable transfer of data between systems
You can also build data visualizations and dashboards alongside your data entry interfaces, making Appsmith the perfect tool for handling all of the internal tools for your organization — a single app to integrate all of your business data and processes. All you need to do is connect your database — we even automate the process of building your first data entry forms for you.
You can start building now on our free, cloud-hosted version, or deploy Appsmith to your own infrastructure using Docker.