Apache Drill vs. Presto: What’s the Difference Between Them?

Although Apache Drill and Presto, both are SQL query engines, there are a few differences. While Apache Drill can be said to be a Database tool, Presto can be classified as a Big Data tool.

Apache Drill vs. Presto: What's the Difference Between Them?
Published By - Kelsey Taylor

There are several SQL query engines in the market today. Developers are always on the lookout for practical and efficient SQL engines at all times.

Among the ones available in the market, Apache Drill and Presto are the most sought after engines. But what is it that makes these two such good engines? And why the one over the other and vice-versa?

For this, it is necessary to go through the comparison of both before deciding which one to opt for. Before jumping to the comparison, let’s take a look at the introduction of each one.

What is Apache Drill?

Apache Drill is a schema-free SQL query engine. It supports a number of Hadoop and NoSQL storage systems.

Apache Drill is an open-source framework that helps with interactive analysis in distributed applications.

Its pluggable architecture allows us to connect multiple data stores. It also features user and developer-friendly UI.


The average likelihood to recommend Apache Drill at TrustRadius is 8.9 out of 10. Some of the reviews mentioned by users over there are as below:

+ Connecting with 3rd party tools was easy, without any hassles.

–  The configuration is slightly complex.

What is Presto?

Presto is a high-performance, open-source, distributed query engine developed for big data. It was initially developed by Facebook to run large queries on their data warehouses.

However, in January 2019, the Presto Software foundation was formed. PrestoDB is maintained by Facebook and PrestoSQL by the foundation.

Presto is a community-driven open-source software. A single Presto query can pull data from different data sources.


The average likelihood to recommend Presto at TrustRadius is 6.6 out of 10. Some of the reviews mentioned there are as below:

+ Apt at handling data migrations easily as it is based on ANSI SQL.

  Resource allocation can be an issue here as the user doesn’t have control over defining priority.

A Quick Comparison of Apache Drill and Presto

Both Apache Drill and Presto are quite popular. Although both are SQL query engines, there are a few differences between the two.

Apache Drill can query any non-relational data stores as well. It provides you with the flexibility to work with nested data stores without transforming the data.

Presto was created to run interactive analytical queries on big data. Presto is targeted towards analysts who want to run queries that scale to the multiples of Petabytes.

Apache Drill is classified as a Database tool, whereas Presto is classified as a Big Data tool.

Even though it is well documented, installation and configuration for Apache Drill can take a long time. Presto, on the other hand, takes lesser time and gets ready to use within minutes.

At an enterprise level, Apache Drill is backed by MapR, whereas Presto is supported by Teradata.

To install Apache Drill, you will require Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® (RHEL) 5, 6, or 7, or CentOS 5, 6, or 7 or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11 or 12. It requires only 90MB of disk space.

For Presto, you will need at least 16GB of RAM for each node. It is recommended to have 64GB for optimum operation. Within the cluster, all the nodes need to have at least 10GB Ethernet. It can be installed on any Hadoop cluster that has been normally configured.

Tabular Comparison between Apache Drill and Presto

Tabular Comparison between Apache Drill and Presto


Apache Drill and Presto are both worthy SQL query engines. Hence are no doubt the top choices for industry professionals.

Even though they have certain differences among them, they both serve some very specific functions. Hence, professionals choose the SQL engine of their choice based on the operations they are planning to perform.

But for sure, when it comes to selecting an SQL query engine, you can opt for either of them, and you would not go wrong with them. They can add tremendous value to your enterprise.

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Kelsey manages Marketing and Operations at HiTechNectar since 2010. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Management. A tech fanatic and an author at HiTechNectar, Kelsey covers a wide array of topics including the latest IT trends, events and more. Cloud computing, marketing, data analytics and IoT are some of the subjects that she likes to write about.

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