Node.js Vs PHP – 9 Key Differences – Performance, Speed & much more

Node.js Vs PHP – 9 Key Differences – Performance, Speed & much more

PHP is one of the oldest and most reliable server-side technologies used by Facebook, Tumblr, and Wikipedia. Although it’s synchronous, it has a large community that provides abundant resources and libraries to make the development of projects easy. On the other hand, released in 2009, Node.js is used by Medium and Netflix. It has become popular due to its asynchronous nature giving it an edge in speed and efficiency in handling requests. 



Launched in 2009 Launched in 1994
Open Source JavaScript runtime environment Backend programming language
Asynchronous in nature Synchronous in nature 
Faster performance Slower performance
Requires more lines of code Requires fewer lines of code
Supports with NoSQL databases Supports traditional and relational databases
Growing Community Larger Community
More relevant to today’s web development needs More relevant to older web development needs
Wide range of applications Web Oriented
A newer ecosystem with modern features A larger ecosystem with multiple features
Used by LinkedIn, Medium, and Netflix Used by Facebook, Tumblr, and WordPress

Comparative Study – Node.js VS PHP

Node.js and PHP are two of the majorly used backend technologies in web development. Out of the two, PHP has been around since 1994 hence naturally has a larger community. Although, this community has started to notice the lack of relevance and updates about PHP. Due to this Node.js slowly and steadily is generating a stronger user base across web developers for modern-day web projects.

Both these backend technologies were released at different times and technology environments. Yet they still have some key points like they are open source and strong technologies for backend development of web applications.
Here are 9 main features based on which one can differentiate between Node.js and PHP:

1. Coding

If the syntax is simple to write, easy to understand, and well structured. Then one will be able to develop more only with a few lines of code.


Node.js requires more lines of code to execute the same functions as that of PHP. However, the development environment is programmed in JavaScript, so knowledge of only one language is required.


As PHP has been around for a long time hence has significantly improved over these years. It requires relatively fewer lines of code to perform a function in comparison to Node.js. But it depends on how well versed the developer is in Linux, MySQL, Apache HTTP Server, and PHP.

2. Speed

Higher the execution speed, quicker the development process, and more cost-efficient is the web project.


Node.js has an asynchronous development environment making it stand out from other languages. As it is asynchronous, one does not need to wait for the next module to load as multiple modules get executed simultaneously. This drastically reduces the execution time thereby improving the user experience.


PHP, like most technology, is synchronous meaning each module is executed in a specific order. If one function is not able to get executed then the following ones will not start until the previous execution is complete.

3. Node.js vs PHP Performance

A high-performance technology yields better outcomes and has a great effect on the UX. It is the standard of how the script is written and its effect on different KPIs. Both Node.js and PHP make use of Just-In-Time compilation.


As Node.js is asynchronous and event-driven, it has a faster execution speed with quick startup time. Due to concurrency, there is still a slight difference in the beginning and completion times. This occurs even if both the units are utilizing the same resources and are executed in the same environment.


On the other hand, PHP has a slow loading with no concurrency. By using HHVM Virtual Machine along with PHP one can drastically improve the performance of the web application by 75%.

4. Request handling

Any technology should swiftly deal with client-side requests and execute these requests accurately using minimal resources and time. The presence of error handling would help us decide which technology best optimizes UX.


The system does not wait for one process to complete before starting the next one, this is all thanks to the asynchronous processing of Node.js. Due to this Node.js can handle multiple requests reducing CPU and RAM usage. The only problem here is that if there is an unresolved error, then this error could interfere with the other lined-up requests resulting in a pan-system error.


Being synchronous, PHP can only handle one request at a particular moment. Due to this, it exhausts more resources on CPU and RAM. Every request is executed through a silo. This helps in eliminating cross-contamination of request errors but on the other hand, this creates a delay in the system.

5. Database

The technologies used for backend development should easily connect with the database and should be compatible with the type of database, traditional or rational. Databases normally store data in a hierarchical or navigational format.

Relational databases store data tables like format making it easy to understand relationships and dependencies within the different attributes and tables. Nowadays, NoSQL is slowly creating a place in the database community. It allows storage of data in the form of graphs, documents, and key-pairs.


With the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), Node.js uniquely interacts with NoSQL databases like CouchDB and MongoDB. Node.js perfectly synchronizes with all forms of databases, supports graph databases, and even has modules to access SQL databases.


As PHP is older, it has been designed to work with rational and traditional databases like MySQL. Although it is possible to work with NoSQL databases by importing different modules, this process is tedious and results in wastage of processing time.

6. Frameworks

Frameworks help to give attention to the minute details of the web project. The more extensive is the framework, the lesser is the redundant code in the project.


Even though Node.js has been recently released, it has a rich collection of libraries and frameworks like Sails, Express, and Meteor. These frameworks help to increase productivity by reducing the consumption of resources and time spent in development. As the frameworks are developed in JavaScript, it makes it easy to maintain consistency on the frontend and backend logic of web development.


As PHP has been around since 1995, it has a massive library of frameworks like Phalcon, Laravel, and CakePHP. These frameworks were developed to import features like non-blocking which improves the performance of the web project.

7. Community

The strength and expertise of any community help to understand the updates and their results of different modules, frameworks, and libraries being released. Usage of popular libraries helps to tremendously reduce development time thereby increasing productivity. A larger community can contribute more projects and resources hence providing more guidance. 


Noje.js is relatively new as compared to PHP hence its community is smaller. Although the projects and resources developed by this community are based on the development requirements of today. The majority of the projects are indexed on registry and they focus on adding unique functionality to Node.js


Since PHP has been around for a long time, it naturally has a bigger community and a wide range of projects. But in comparison to Node.js, the recently developed projects seem uninteresting and irrelevant.

8. Hosting

As a developer, one should know about the compatibility of their used technology stack with different hosting service providers. The hosting expenses of a project are directly affected by the number of alternatives available. While selecting a host, one should always consider the speed and the security of the web project.


Node.js has a wide range of hosting alternatives. For instance, Joyent maintains Node.js and provides a SmartOS system. This makes it great for debugging, improving performance, and easing the deployment process. Heroku and Nodejitsu are also good hosting services.


79% of the internet, directly or indirectly, is powered by PHP. Due to this, the technology is made to be compatible with all the major hosting services. The LAMP stack helps to fulfill most of the requirements of the majority of the hosting server.

9. Ecosystem

A technology’s ecosystem includes all its APIs, modules, libraries, frameworks, and projects developed by its community at any given time. The ecosystem greatly depends on the community of the technology.


The ecosystem has an exclusive collection of open-source libraries and frameworks but they lack in numbers in comparison to PHP. Although Node.js lags in quantity, it makes up for its diversity in projects. There is a wide range of cases to choose from as JavaScript is used for both backend development and server-side programming.


The majority of the contribution to the PHP ecosystem comes from WordPress. It runs a large number of websites showing PHP’s massive reach. Even PHP’s community has developed a large number of resources and supporting training material to aid the new developers. 

When to opt for Node.js?

If you are focused on the following features, then Node.js is the optimal choice for your web project:

  • Efficiency: For dynamic web projects, you will require technologies such as AngularJS or Express and NoSQL databases like MongoDB. All these tech stacks are highly compatible with Node.js hence providing optimal performance and easy development. Additionally, if you know JavaScript then you can create a frontend application and combine it with Node.js for a full-fledged web project.
  • High Speed: Node.js has an asynchronous nature which allows quick execution thereby improving the performance of the application. This property makes Node.js a great technology for real-time applications which require a lot of user-side as well as server-side requests. 

When to Opt for PHP?

PHP is your optimal technology for your project if you are looking for the following properties for your application:

  • Portability: PHP provides great portability among various servers with the help of Apache, IIS and other various database helping functions. One can also collaborate with content management systems like Drupal or WordPress for quick development. 
  • Centralized Server: If you are going to use a centralized server for your web application rather than scaling it over a wide range of servers then PHP is the perfect technology for your stack. 


There is no perfect method to identify whether Node.js is better than PHP or vice versa. Although depending on your project requirements, you can select the technology which is best suited and compatible with the stack you are going to use. With pros, there always come some cons. Hence while using a particular technology ensure to compensate for their drawbacks.

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