Sharding vs Partitioning

Posted May 2, 2023 by Rohith and Anusha ‐ 2 min read

Sharding and partitioning are both techniques used in database management to break up large databases into smaller, more manageable parts. However, there are some key differences between the two approaches

  • Conceptually, sharding is a subset of partitioning. Partitioning is the process of dividing a large database into smaller, more manageable parts, while sharding is a specific form of partitioning where each shard contains a subset of the data that is independent of the other shards.

  • Sharding is often used in distributed systems, where multiple servers are used to store the data. Each shard is stored on a different server, and each server is responsible for a subset of the data. Partitioning, on the other hand, can be used in both centralized and distributed systems.

  • Sharding typically involves horizontal partitioning, where the data is divided into subsets based on some key or attribute. Each shard contains a subset of the data that matches a particular range of values for the key. Partitioning can be done using horizontal partitioning, but it can also be done using vertical partitioning, where the columns in a table are split into separate tables.

  • In sharding, each shard can be managed independently of the other shards, allowing for greater scalability and availability. However, this can also introduce additional complexity in terms of data consistency and management. Partitioning, on the other hand, is generally simpler and easier to manage, but may not provide the same level of scalability as sharding.

Overall, sharding and partitioning are both useful techniques for managing large databases, and the choice between them will depend on the specific requirements of the system in question.

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