MQTT vs REST in IoT [Which should I choose? ] (2023)

The Internet of Things IoT allows you to automate processes and increase efficiency in any environment. But none of this would be possible if it couldn't communicate with the device. For this, some form of language must be established to establish mutual understanding between clients and entities. This is where MQTT and REST come in.

MQTT vs. REST is a debate that resonates in the IoT community. Both allow communication between devices in your IoT project. But what is better?

On the one hand, MQTT has been praised for ensuring the reliability of messages, being extremely lightweight and easy to run on battery power. Whereas REST, used with HTTP or COAP to implement RESTful IoT services, is easy to use, scalable and language neutral.

Both have their advantages, of course. But where do they land? Finally, which one should you choose for your IoT project? Let's begin.

MQTT and REST APIs: What's the difference?

MQTT is a network protocol originally developed by IBM for IoT projects.

It allows communication between devices via TCP/IP and has a "publish-subscribe" model, which is good for projects with devices with low computing power and limited battery.

The "Publish-Subscribe" method in MQTT requires an "MQTT Broker". A broker is software running on a computer that acts as a sort of post office where entities can send data and receive data they "subscribe" to.

If you want to learn more about MQTT, check out our blog"What is MQTT in IoT and should I use it?'

Unlike MQTT, REST is not actually a messaging protocol. It is an architectural style for developing web services. REST stands for Representational State Transfer, and since it is an architectural style, it can be used with a variety of protocols, such as HTTP or CoAP.

You will often see MQTT appreciated for its simplicity, but it can also be a disadvantage. While MQTT primarily sends and receives very simple forms of data, the REST API can handle components such as files, objects and media. You can also use them with POST, DELETE, PUT and GET methods.

You can learn more about REST by reading our articleThe complete guide to IoT REST APIs.

MQTT: When to use it?

Now that you know the language, let's get into scenarios where you can use these IoT solutions. First MQTT.

Scenario 1: You are using a small or power-constrained device

The Internet of Things industry is growing, and with it comes a host of small, inexpensive products that can send and receive data with little processing power. MQTT is suitable for environments where these types of objects exist.

because? Because the MQTT protocol header is only 2 bytes long and because MQTT can be implemented with only a few lines of code. Therefore, the protocol maximizes the amount of power the battery can use by not sending or receiving unnecessarily large amounts of data. This reduces how often you have to replace the battery.

Scenario 2: You are in a remote location with limited connectivity

Another advantage of MQTT's lightweight nature is that since MQTT messages are small, devices can communicate with each other even with a poor Internet connection.

This can be beneficial for IoT projects that are in outdoor environments that are susceptible to issues like rain or where connections are often spotty. This is no surprise. MQTT was developed specifically for the oil and gas industry and is therefore designed to work in the desert.

So if you need reliable messaging no matter where you are, MQTT can be a good protocol choice.

Scenario 3: You need to ensure the delivery of messages

If your IoT project requires delivery confirmation of messages, MQTT may be the best solution. Let's take an automated farm as an example. Here, the object responsible for watering the products can only do so after the object responsible for monitoring the land notifies that the time has passed. Otherwise, you will drown the product.

MQTT has three indicators, called QOS (Quality of Service), which are classified as follows:

  • QoS 0: At most one delivery
  • QoS 1: delivery at least once
  • QoS 2: Exactly once delivery

You can apply these flags to any message you think needs it. So you can be sure to receive important messages.

REST: when should you use it?

what about rest When can you use the most common kind of API? We will wait and see.

Scenario 1: Can be used to integrate with COAP

CoAP is an internet protocol for limited devices that allows communication between devices over the internet.

If you have small devices in your IoT project and HTTP+TLS/SSL might be too big a protocol for them, you can use REST to integrate with CoAP and still use RESTful programming for small devices.

You can learn more about CoAP by reading our blog,Websockets vs. MQTT vs. CoAP: What is the best protocol?

Scenario 2: You need data flexibility

Using REST with HTTP or CoAP allows you to work with components such as files, objects, and media on specific IoT devices.

This means that using REST allows you to communicate with many types of data across devices, rather than being limited to simple small messages like using MQTT. If you think your IoT project has more complex devices and you need to handle larger data types, then REST is the best option for you.

Scenario 3: You are already familiar with the REST API

If you've ever worked in web development and have experience with RESTful services, it should be easy for you to learn how to apply REST to IoT projects. Time is precious in everyone's life, if you can take past knowledge and apply it to a new situation, why not?

Using REST in your IoT project will make it work in a more standard and understandable way, and also allows you to use POST, GET, PUT and DELETE methods in database systems like SQL through CRUD.

This will also be an advantage, as knowledge of the architecture allows you to make fewer errors, find their causes faster and develop solutions more efficiently.

MQTT vs. REST: How do they compare in the areas that matter most to IoT developers?

Now that we've seen when you might use MQTT or REST, let's see how they perform in the key areas that matter most to IoT developers.

These include:

  • Latency and responsiveness
  • one-to-many communication
  • Security
  • privacy
  • easy for developers

Latency and responsiveness

Regardless of the scope of your IoT project,low latencyResponsiveness must be a top priority.

Even if you have a relatively small project, you should aim for its reliability and not waste your (or anyone else's) time. MQTT suffers from high latency for the same reason that it is suitable for low bandwidth: it is suitable for small devices with low processing power.

This means that things like opening a locked door can take seconds, if not minutes, or controlling a security camera can be unreliable because instructions about moving locations can take seconds.

On the other hand, REST does not suffer from high latency due to its client-server model. Latency may not be an issue for some projects, but it can be a major problem in industry or healthcare. In general, REST is the best choice for IoT projects where latency and responsiveness are a priority.

Winner: Rest

one-to-many communication

MQTT provides a publish and subscribe system that makes synchronous communication between devices very easy. An MQTT broker allows multiple devices to receive data as soon as another device changes state or decides to send data to the broker.

This makes MQTT ideal for projects that require one-to-many communication. Using a publishing subscription system, you can individually change the temperature of each room in your house as the outside temperature changes, or you can turn on each light bulb as the brightness outside drops.

So if your IoT project has many devices that need to communicate with each other continuously, automatically and simultaneously, MQTT can help you achieve this easily.

Winner: MQTT

Security and privacy

Neither HTTP nor MQTT have built-in security.

For HTTP, this can be solved by adding TLS/SSL. But if that's too much for your device, Nabto Edge has CoAP+DTLS built in. This gives REST a clear advantage inOvercoming IoT Security Challenges.

In terms of privacy, MQTT also lags behind. It does not provide end-to-end encryption. This leaves user data vulnerable as it passes through the cloud. But with Nabto Edge, all data is end-to-end encrypted and never needs to leave the device. Thus, the end user retains control and privacy over the data. REST is the clear winner.

Winner: Rest

easy for developers

Results in this category should come as no surprise. As mentioned above, REST is a familiar architecture for most of the back-end services that power the World Wide Web. So developers can choose and share with each other very easily.

MQTT, on the other hand, requires developers to jump through several hoops. Require:

  • Configure central services
  • Decisions about the seller
  • Regular management and maintenance
  • Overall, it's troublesome.

While some developers are frustrated by REST's limited architecture, it remains the most popular API for one reason: simplicity.

Winner: Rest

MQTT vs. REST: Konklusion

We declare REST the winner: REST-based solutions are more developer-friendly, have lower latency, and have better IoT privacy and security. Plus, with Nabto Edge, you can turn REST into a better API for your IoT devices.

contact us todayLearn more about Nabto Edge and our various IoT solutions.

Read our other resources

We publish various IoT resources to the community, including:

  • Comparison of IoT protocols, which provides a comprehensive comparison of the main available protocols and standards.
  • Purchase and construction of an IoT platform, which discusses how to choose the best solution for you.
  • our guideHow to develop IoT applicationsand which platforms are available to you.


MQTT vs REST in IoT [Which should I choose? ]? ›

This means that working with REST can allow you to have communication between devices with multiple types of data, instead of being constrained to simple small messages like with MQTT. If you feel that your IoT project has more complicated devices and needs to work with bigger types of data, REST is your best option.

Should I use MQTT for IoT? ›

Deploy MQTT in your IoT network

MQTT is hands down the best messaging technology to deploy for your IoT network. It is low cost, fast, lightweight, and scalable. It has its security issues, but a tie-up with a reliable cellular partner can ensure your IoT network uses MQTT securely and without any hassle.

Is MQTT faster than rest? ›

As per the analysis and test reports, MQTT data transfer can transfer data at a rate 20 to 25 times faster than REST Calls. The number of message transaction highly depends on the number of connections the server can accept in the stipulated time.

Why is MQTT most preferred protocol in IoT? ›

Smart sensors, wearables, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices typically have to transmit and receive data over a resource-constrained network with limited bandwidth. These IoT devices use MQTT for data transmission, as it is easy to implement and can communicate IoT data efficiently.

When should I use MQTT? ›

MQTT is used for communication between many consumer IoT devices. This could include everything from smart home devices like thermostats, appliances, or security systems as well as wearable devices like smart watches, fitness trackers, health monitoring tools, or your smartphone.

What are the disadvantages of MQTT? ›

One of the disadvantages of MQTT protocol is its lack of native support for data formats and semantics. MQTT messages are binary blobs that can contain any type of data, but the protocol does not specify how to encode, decode, or interpret the data.

What is the downside of MQTT? ›

Another disadvantage of MQTT is that it has limited features and standardization. The protocol is designed to be simple and lightweight, which means that it does not support some advanced features that may be useful for some IoT applications, such as message acknowledgement, message ordering, or message expiration.

What is the difference between REST and MQTT? ›

REST is a representational state transfer architectural style designed as a request/response model that communicates over HTTP. MQTT is a publish/subscribe model that runs over TCP/IP sockets or WebSockets. MQTT over WebSockets can be secured with SSL.

What are advantages and disadvantages in MQTT? ›

Pros of the MQTT Protocol in IoT
  • Ensures message delivery. Some IoT devices are moveable objects and some are battery-powered devices. ...
  • Lightweight. ...
  • Battery Friendly. ...
  • MQTT Can't Support Video Streaming. ...
  • Not 'Developer Friendly' ...
  • Issues with Latency. ...
  • Security Not Built In. ...
  • Super low-power devices may lack resources to run MQTT.
Jan 4, 2021

Is MQTT obsolete? ›

MQTT was previously known as the SCADA protocol, MQ Integrator SCADA Device Protocol (MQIsdp), and WebSphere MQTT (WMQTT), albeit all of these names, have since become obsolete.

What is the most used protocol in IoT? ›

Most common protocols
  1. AMQP. Short for Advanced Message Queuing Protocol, AMQP is an open standard protocol used for more message-oriented middleware. ...
  2. Bluetooth and BLE. Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that uses short-wavelength, ultrahigh-frequency radio waves. ...
  3. Cellular. ...
  4. CoAP. ...
  5. DDS. ...
  6. LoRa and LoRaWAN. ...
  7. LWM2M. ...
  8. MQTT.
Mar 30, 2022

Which protocol is more suitable for IoT application? ›

IoT systems using CoAP are driven by HTTP protocols and uses a protocol UDP (user datagram protocol) for the implementation of lightweight data. Its restful architecture and binary data format make it a perfect fit for applications related to automation, mobile phones, and microcontrollers.

Which language is most preferred in IoT? ›

In the IoT world, Java language is used for embedded development. It is object-oriented, features the least hardware dependency and supports a vast number of libraries, which makes it one of the best options for IoT solutions.

Why is MQTT popular? ›

MQTT was developed by Andy Stanford-Clark and Arlen Nipper, who were working at IBM's Cambridge software lab. The protocol has become very popular with the Internet of Things because it provides a publish and subscribe model, making it easy to create connectivity between various devices or sensors.

What is a real life example of MQTT? ›

It enables computers, smartphones, cars, refrigerators, thermostats, wearables, remote sensors, and other smart devices and machines to talk to each other and exchange information. This technology is referred to as Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT).

What is the alternative to MQTT in IoT? ›

RabbitMQ, REST, XMPP, Google Cloud Messaging, and Kafka are the most popular alternatives and competitors to MQTT.

Does MQTT work over WiFi? ›

MQTT allows the complete line of NCD WiFi sensors to communicate via the internet to any MQTT Broker service using a WiFi connection. It only requires network connection credentials, connection information about the MQTT Host Broker, and authentication information for the MQTT connection if applicable.

How much data can MQTT handle? ›

The MQTT protocol itself defines a MQTT PUBLISH payload size limit of 256MB.

How to use MQTT with REST API? ›

How to Access MQTT Data with a REST API
  1. Download and Install the Open Automation Software and Start the OAS Service. If you have not already done so, you will need to download and install the OAS platform. ...
  2. Configure Your MQTT Data Source. ...
  3. Configure Your Tags.
  4. Access Data with the OAS REST API.

What is the difference between REST and RESTful in IoT? ›

Put simply, there are no differences between REST and RESTful as far as APIs are concerned. REST is the set of constraints. RESTful refers to an API adhering to those constraints. It can be used in web services, applications, and software.

Is MQTT synchronous or asynchronous? ›

MQTT is based on asynchronous messaging that follows the publish-subscribe paradigm: Senders and receivers are decoupled from one another in synchronicity, time, and space and one-to-many relationships are possible.

How secure is MQTT? ›

MQTT is after all a messaging protocol. However this type of encryption doesn't protect passwords (if used) on the connection itself. Because it doesn't involve any broker configuration or support this is likely to be a very popular method of protecting data.

Can Kafka replace MQTT? ›

TL;DR. Choose MQTT for messaging if you have a bad network, tens of thousands of clients, or the need for a lightweight push-based messaging solution, then MQTT is the right choice. Elsewhere, Kafka, a powerful event streaming platform, is probably a great choice for messaging, data integration, and data processing.

Is MQTT used in industry? ›

The main reason why is MQTT's open-source design and lightweight stature make it well suited to connect disparate devices to supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems as well as other industrial networks.

What is the maximum length of MQTT? ›

The MQTT protocol allows messages with a maximum size of 268435455 bytes approx 260MB. This is obviously a very large message size and one that most brokers,especially public brokers, will restrict.

Is MQTT still being used? ›

Although MQTT started as a proprietary protocol used to communicate with supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems in the oil and gas industry, it has become popular in the smart device arena and today is the leading open source protocol for connecting internet of things (IoT) and industrial IoT (IIoT) ...

What is the difference between MQTT and HTTP for IoT? ›

They both run over TCP connections, and are both client-server in architecture, but MQTT allows messages to pass in both directions between clients and servers whereas HTTP servers only respond to requests from clients.

Why is MQTT not secure? ›

An MQTT broker can require a valid username and password from a client before a connection is permitted. The username/password combination is transmitted in clear text and is not secure without some form of transport encryption.

Does Tesla use MQTT? ›

The MQTT function within TeslaMate allows useful values to be published to an MQTT broker.

Does Kafka use MQTT? ›

Use the HiveMQ Kafka extension,which implements the native Kafka protocol inside the HiveMQ MQTT broker, to forward the MQTT messages to the Kafka cluster on Confluent Cloud. There it will be made available for consumption by a large number of enterprise applications.

What is the difference between API and MQTT? ›

REST is a representational state transfer architectural style designed as a request/response model that communicates over HTTP. MQTT is a publish/subscribe model that runs over TCP/IP sockets or WebSockets. MQTT over WebSockets can be secured with SSL.

Which language is used for MQTT? ›

ImplementationDeveloped byProgramming language
Paho MQTTEclipseC, C++, C#, Go, Java, JavaScript, Python, Rust
PubSub+SolaceC, C#/.Net, Java, JavaScript (NodeJs), Python, Go
SharkMQTTReal Time LogicC
ThingstreamThingstreamC, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Go
36 more rows

Is MQTT a TCP or UDP? ›

MQTT relies on the TCP protocol for data transmission.

Why is the REST API better for the Internet of things? ›

Language-independent. Developers can use any language that uses HTTP to make web-based requests. This is another reason why REST APIs are so popular with developers. They give you the power to program using a language you're comfortable and familiar with to develop your IoT app.

Is MQTT better than HTTP True or false? ›

MQTT is better than HTTP for sending and receiving data. Explanation: We will use MQTT to send and receive data in real time through internet, instead of HTTP as MQTT is much lighter than HTTP. Sanfoundry Certification Contest of the Month is Live.


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