Aurora vs. RDS: How to Choose the Right AWS Database for 2024

Comparing Amazon Aurora and RDS, AWS's fully managed relational database services. Highlighting key differences, Aurora is cloud-native with serverless support, while RDS offers superior customization and supports more database engines.

Aurora vs. RDS: How to Choose the Right AWS Database for 2024
Aurora vs. RDS 


Hey there, tech trailblazers! In the ever-evolving realm of cloud computing, choosing a suitable database can feel like navigating a maze. Fear not, for today, we are diving deep into the AWS universe to demystify the age-old debate: Aurora vs. RDS! Strap in because, by the end of this ride, you'll be armed with the knowledge to choose the perfect database for your 2024 endeavors.

What's the Buzz About Aurora vs. RDS?

Why the buzz? Picture this: you're building the backbone of your application on AWS, and you're faced with the monumental task of picking between Aurora and RDS. It's like choosing between pizza toppings – both are tempting, but one has to be the champion on your plate!

The Aurora Glow

AWS Aurora often hailed as a "MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database engine," boasts exceptional performance and scalability. Aurora sets a high standard for relational databases on AWS with features like auto-scaling and read replicas.

Performance on Steroids!

  • Aurora boasts lightning-fast performance, leaving other databases in the dust.
  • With read replicas and automated failover, your application stays up and running, no matter what.

Serverless Sleight of Hand

  • Aurora Serverless lets you kiss capacity planning goodbye! Pay only for what you use, and let AWS handle the rest.
  • This fact makes it perfect for unpredictable workloads, like when your app hits the front page of the internet.

Compatibility Magic

RDS Realness

Amazon RDS is a fully managed relational database service on the other side of the spectrum. Supporting multiple database engines, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle, RDS offers a versatile platform catering to diverse business needs.

Database Variety Show

  • RDS takes the crown in supporting relational databases by accommodating all mainstream options: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, SQL Server, Oracle, and IBM DB2. On the other hand, Aurora, while powerful, is limited to MySQL and PostgreSQL.
  • If you're a fan of flexibility in choosing database versions, RDS is the way to go. It allows you to select from a wide range of upstream versions.

Fully Managed Flexibility

  • RDS takes care of the nitty-gritty details, from backups to security patches, letting you focus on your code.
  • Scale up or down quickly, and let AWS handle the heavy lifting.

Multi-AZ Mastery

  • Multi-AZ deployments ensure high availability. RDS smoothly shifts your workload to a healthy zone if one zone goes haywire.


AWS DB architecture

Regarding architecture, RDS takes a conventional approach, running standard database engines on the cloud. In contrast, Aurora stands out as a cloud-native database service. Its architecture capitalizes on the cloud environment by intelligently separating computing and storage. Moreover, Aurora utilizes Amazon S3 for data persistence, leading to a novel approach that significantly boosts performance, ensures high availability, and scales seamlessly.

This unique cloud-native design in Aurora provides a distinct edge in terms of efficiency and adaptability, making it a compelling choice for those seeking advanced cloud-native capabilities in their database service.


Both Aurora and RDS share certain limitations common to cloud databases:

Semi-Super User Constraint:

  • Users in both Aurora and RDS are restricted to semi-super user status, limiting certain administrative privileges.

No Access to Server File Systems:

  • Neither Aurora nor RDS allows direct access to the database server file systems. In MySQL, this means using LOAD DATA LOCAL for the data import from the local file system is permitted, while importing from the server file system using LOAD DATA is not.

Storage Engine Variances:

  • Despite being a proprietary technology, Aurora primarily diverges from vanilla MySQL/PostgreSQL at the storage engine layer. For instance, Aurora for MySQL exclusively supports InnoDB, while RDS supports older engines like MyISAM (although MyISAM is less commonly used for new projects).

Codebase Divergence:

  • Aurora's codebase deviates more from vanilla MySQL/Postgres than RDS. This divergence implies that updates from the upstream may experience more delays in the case of Aurora.


According to the official website, Aurora boasts impressive performance metrics, offering up to 5 times the throughput of MySQL and three times that of PostgreSQL.

Aurora excels in both write performance and read scalability:

Write Performance:

  • Aurora enhances "write performance" by minimizing write amplification. It achieves this by sending only the redo log to the remote storage service, eliminating additional writes during the transaction commit path, including the notorious double-write buffer.

Read Scalability:

  • Aurora supports up to 15 read replicas, leveraging a log-based architecture, surpassing RDS, which can only accommodate 5. The limitation in RDS is attributed to the performance penalty associated with classic streaming replication on the primary. Additionally, Aurora experiences lower replication lags, especially in scenarios with intensive write loads.

It's important to note that RDS utilizes EBS, and disk performance varies based on the chosen storage types.

In summary, Aurora exhibits substantial performance superiority over RDS. However, individual workload characteristics should be considered, and benchmarking against specific use cases is recommended.


When it comes to elasticity, the options vary across RDS and different configurations of Aurora:

RDS Elasticity:

  • RDS has limited elasticity, primarily relying on burst capabilities if using gp2 SSD storage. Beyond bursting, RDS does not inherently provide extensive elasticity.

Standard Aurora Elasticity:

  • Standard Aurora demonstrates moderate elasticity with the ability to provision read-replicas efficiently. However, apart from read replicas, it does not inherently offer broad elasticity features out of the box.

Aurora Serverless Elasticity:

  • Aurora Serverless, especially in its Serverless v2 version, excels in elasticity. It provides dynamic scaling capabilities, allowing seamless adjustments to computing resources based on workload demands. This elasticity makes it particularly well-suited for fluctuating workloads.

High Availability

Amazon RDS and Amazon Aurora provide High Availability (HA) solutions with different SLAs and mechanisms:

SLA Comparison:

  • RDS offers a multi-AZ (Availability Zone) HA setup with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) of up to 99.95%.
  • With its log-based architecture, Aurora offers a higher SLA of up to 99.99%, surpassing RDS in terms of availability commitment.

Replication Lag Challenges in RDS:

  • RDS faces challenges during failovers due to higher replication lag, especially under write-intensive loads. This lag can impact the effectiveness of failovers in RDS, making it less suitable for scenarios with intense write operations.

Aurora Global Databases:

  • Aurora introduces Global Databases, allowing low-latency global reads and providing a robust disaster recovery mechanism. This feature enables applications to seamlessly read from and write to multiple regions, enhancing performance and resilience.

Use Cases and Workloads Comparison

Aurora Advantages:

High-Performance Workloads:

  • Aurora excels in demanding scenarios requiring high performance, especially for read-heavy workloads.
  • The architecture allows efficient read scaling with minimal latency.

Mission-Critical Applications:

  • Businesses with mission-critical applications benefit from Aurora's durability and availability.
  • It ensures robust performance, which is crucial for applications that require 24/7 uptime.

RDS Strengths:

Cost-Effective Non-Scaling Workloads:

  • RDS is a cost-effective solution for non-scaling workloads that can be managed manually.
  • Optimal for use cases with budget constraints.

Versatility Across Database Engines:

  • RDS supports various database engines, providing versatility for different workloads.
  • It is ideal for businesses requiring flexibility in their database choices.

Aurora Preferred Use Cases:

E-commerce Platforms and Data-Intensive Applications:

  • Demand high query performance and throughput.

Content Management Systems and Analytics Platforms:

  • Require horizontal scalability and read replicates to handle growing read traffic.

Mission-Critical Systems:

  • Aurora's replication across availability zones ensures data availability even in AZ failure, making it ideal for mission-critical systems.

High Concurrency or Frequent Write Operations:

  • Applications with high concurrency or frequent write operations benefit from Aurora's distributed design and optimized storage engine.

RDS Preferred Use Cases:

Small Web Apps and Company Systems:

  • It is suited for minimal performance and scalability needs.

Cost-Effective for Non-Scaling Workloads:

  • It is a cost-effective choice for workloads that don't require scaling and can be managed manually.

Use Cases with Price Constraints:

  • It is preferred in scenarios with budget constraints, as it is generally cheaper than Aurora.

Standard Database Environment:

  • It is ideal for applications needing a standard database environment without requiring Aurora's enhanced features.

Pricing Considerations

When comparing the pricing of Amazon Aurora and Amazon RDS, several factors come into play:

Aurora vs. RDS Pricing Structure:

  • Aurora may appear cheaper than RDS in specific configurations, especially when using the AWS wizard for production templates. However, Aurora's additional cost for I/O is a crucial consideration, which is not initially included in the pricing estimate.

Aurora I/O-Optimized Improvement:

  • Aurora addressed the concern of unpredictable costs in 2023 by introducing Aurora I/O-Optimized. This enhancement incorporates the I/O cost into the storage pricing, providing more predictability for users and avoiding unexpected charges.

Instance Tiers and Classes:

  • RDS offers a more flexible starting point with free-tier and low database instance tiers, beginning from the small  db.t3.micro.  In contrast, Standard Aurora starts from the larger db.t3.medium. Aurora Serverless v2 allows specifying a minimum of 0.5 ACU, where 0.5 ACU equates to 1 GiB of memory and corresponding compute and networking resources.

Database Selection Recommendations

When choosing between AWS Aurora and RDS, the selection depends on the business stage and specific requirements:

Startup Stage:

  • Test Instance: RDS without High Availability (HA)
  • Prod Instance: RDS with HA

RDS is a suitable and economical choice for bootstrapped or small businesses where cost-effectiveness is crucial.

Growth Stage:

  • Test Instance: Standard Aurora without HA
  • Prod Instance: Standard Aurora with HA
  • Prod Instance with Fluctuating Traffic: Aurora Serverless with HA

As the business expands, Aurora becomes more favorable, especially with the added flexibility of Aurora Serverless to optimize costs.

Considerations for Migrating from RDS to Aurora:

Migrating from Amazon RDS to Aurora is a strategic decision that should be carefully considered based on various factors. Here are critical considerations for making this transition:

Increased Database Load:

  • Transforming to Aurora can enhance query processing if your RDS database faces a growing workload, resulting in insufficient performance. Aurora's ability to scale storage up to 128 TiB supports increased data demands.

Scalability Requirements:

  • Aurora is beneficial for horizontally scaling databases to handle growing data volumes and user loads. It provides flexible scaling options and efficient replication management.

Data Storage Costs:

  • Aurora offers more efficient data compression and storage management, potentially reducing overall database expenses and making it an attractive option for cost optimization.

High Availability and Fault Tolerance:

  • Aurora excels in providing maximum availability and fault tolerance with features like multi-availability zone replication and automatic recovery after failures, which are critical for maintaining business continuity.

High Transaction Volume:

  • Applications with many transactions benefit from Aurora's higher throughput and lower query latency due to auto-scaling, ensuring optimal performance under high transaction loads.

Large Data Volumes and Analytics:

  • Aurora is equipped with efficient tools for handling complex data processing and analytics tasks that involve large data volumes, making it suitable for data-intensive workloads.

Business Growth:

  • For expanding businesses anticipating increased data volumes and database workloads, transitioning to Aurora ensures scalability and accommodates growth.

Security and Compliance Requirements:

  • Aurora provides enhanced security features, including data encryption and auditing capabilities, meeting organizations' stringent security and compliance requirements.

Comprehensive Analysis:

  • Before migration, thoroughly analyze your current infrastructure and project requirements. Evaluate the benefits and costs to make an informed decision aligning with your business goals.

FAQs: Your Burning Questions Answered

Q: Which is more cost-effective for a startup on a budget?

  • If you crave simplicity and predictable costs, RDS might be your go-to.
  • Aurora Serverless can be budget-friendly for sporadic workloads, but keep an eye on those ACUs!

Q: Can I migrate my existing MySQL or Postgres database to Aurora seamlessly?

  • Absolutely! Aurora is MySQL/ PostgreSQL -compatible, making the migration process smoother than a jazz melody.

Q: Is Aurora's performance as jaw-dropping as they say?

  • You bet! The secret sauce lies in its distributed, fault-tolerant architecture, ensuring optimal speed.

Q: Does RDS support more database options for diverse applications?

  • Without a doubt! If your app has a specific database flavor, RDS caters to a variety, from Oracle to MariaDB or SQL Server.

Q: How do I choose between Aurora and RDS for an unpredictable workload?

  • Aurora Serverless shines in unexpected scenarios, automatically adjusting to your application's demands.
  • With its flexible scaling options, RDS is a solid choice for adapting to varying workloads.

Simplify Database Migration and Synchronization with DBConvert software.

Whether you are transitioning from MySQL or PostgreSQL to AWS RDS or Aurora, DBConvert software emerges as a valuable tool for streamlining the migration process. This versatile software offers flexibility and efficiency, making it well-suited for handling diverse database environments.

  • DBConvert Studio is designed to facilitate cross-database migration and sync, allowing a smooth transition from MySQL or PostgreSQL to AWS RDS or Aurora.
  • DBConvert Streams is an innovative distributed platform for homogeneous and heterogeneous database conversion and real-time CDC data replication. It simplifies complex data migration tasks and provides real-time data replication across different databases.

Conclusion: Choose Your Database Adventure!

As we wrap up this adventure into the enchanted realms of Aurora and RDS, remember that there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Your choice depends on the unique needs of your application, budget considerations, and, of course, your personal preferences.

So, whether you're vibing with Aurora's dazzling performance or cruising with RDS's all-encompassing flexibility, make your selection wisely. It's not just about databases; it's about crafting an AWS experience that suits your 2024 aspirations. Happy cloud computing, fellow pioneers! Aurora vs. RDS: how to choose the proper AWS database for 2024 – the adventure begins now!