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Comparison of Node.JS vs PHP: Performance, Benefits, and Everything in Between

Comparison of Node.JS vs PHP: Performance, Benefits, and Everything in Between | SolidBrain

Our life is full of controversies, ranging from the challenging choice of a movie for a cozy evening to critical life-changing decisions. Although the world of technologies differs from real life, it is also associated with multiple options, especially when it comes to choosing the right tech stack for your next market-leading solution. Luckily, we are going to resolve one of these controversies related to PHP vs Node.js performance. Today we will consider the specificities of these technologies in order to help you choose between PHP and Node.js  technologies so that your business does not suffer from the final result. So, Node.js vs. PHP? Let's delve into this eternal controversy together.






PHP vs Node.js: A Basic Overview 


Needless to say that every successful investigation always starts by exploring the origins. For this reason, the first step of our PHP vs Node.js research path is associated with identifying the core definitions of PHP, Node.js, and allied topics. 



The World before JavaScript


A few decades ago, websites were created with the use of HTML and CSS. Even though JavaScript existed, it was not popular among programmers. In fact, JavaScript was introduced to bring web pages to life by creating animations and adding various interactive elements. Then, a few full-stack developers used it because the language was controversial: from browser to browser, the same language constructs worked differently or did not work at all. Moreover, Flash was considered a more convenient technology for creating animations. Clearly, that the old programming methodology significantly differs from the modern approaches most of us are used to working with. No JavaScript, just HTML, CSS, and PHP. Sounds boring, right?


Yet, everything has dramatically changed thanks to Google and Ryan Dahl. First, Google killed Flash. Yes, they did it only in 2021, but the process was already started in 2017, and all web developers understood that it was time to switch to JavaScript. Second, Google played a crucial role in introducing the Chromium browser, based on which, later, more than 70% of all modern browsers will work. Think at least of Yandex Browser, Google Chrome, Edge, or Opera. Since all browsers run on a single core, problems with the JavaScript language began to disappear while more and more features were added. Finally, Node.js was born — Ryan Dahl created Node.js based on Google's V8 JavaScript engine.







Node.js in Simple Terms


Merely stated, Node.js is one of the most popular development technologies. It is a server-side implementation of the JavaScript programming language, but it should not be confused with Java. Even though Node.js is similar to JavaScript, it can still be used outside the browser. According to the Node.js manual, it is “an open-source and cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment” suitable for developing almost any kind of project. Created by Rayan Dahl in 2009, Node.js development has been growing in popularity as an open-source full-stack development language.


In general, Node.js helps professional developers with the following tasks:


  1. Developing dynamic page content.

  2. Handling files on a server by creating, revising, reading, writing, deleting, or closing them. 

  3. Accumulating form data.

  4. Editing information in a database.







PHP: The Story Behind


Typically, the older the technology is, the less convenient it is for experienced developers. Old technologies tend to die because of irrelevance or loss of popularity, and all these tendencies lead to a rise in the cost of programmers. Over time, more convenient tools appear for solving specific problems, which are often cheaper than the previous ones. Therefore, in the 2000s, PHP displaced Perl from the pedestal of the best full-stack development language for creating websites.


Unlike Node.js, which was created for multiple purposes, including mobile application development, PHP aims at developing websites and web applications. The language was introduced in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, a Danish-Canadian programmer, for the sole purpose of creating websites, and in 2023 its primary goal did not change. Now, PHP has a large community of developers, who constantly introduce new technology’s abilities. Their day-to-day contribution makes PHP one of the most popular programming languages.



PHP in Simple Terms


 As reported by the PHP manual, “PHP is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web application development and can be embedded into HTML.” This open-source programming language was developed by enthusiastic programmers from all over the world. It has a simple syntax, partly similar to Java and C++. According to statistics, 77.5% of all websites were created with PHP.


In general, PHP helps developers with the following tasks:



  1. Developing dynamic page content.

  2. Handling files on a server by creating, revising, reading, writing, deleting, or closing them. 

  3. Accumulating form/act data.

  4. Transmitting cookies.

  5. Editing information in a database.

  6. Managing user access.

  7. Encrypting data.





Speed & Performance: Node.js vs. PHP


Once we come to the point of Node.js vs PHP performance comparison, Node.js seems to offer a faster solution. There are a few factors that have contributed to this.


  1. The main difference here lies in the fact that Node.js is developed for handling a lot of requests. PHP is quite the opposite here because of its ability to process one request at a time.

  2. In Node js vs PHP comparison it's equally vital to remember the fact that Node.js is built on the V8 JavaScript engine that is also known for its high level of performance. 

  3. Node.js. uses non-blocking I/O and event-driven architecture that allows it to beat its competitors in speed. So, if you are thinking about whether to use Nodejs or PHP for a real-time application such as messaging app, online game, or live streaming – Node.js will be a better choice.






Pros and Cons: Node.js vs PHP


When it comes to the comparison of PHP with Node.js, it is essential to consider the key features,  benefits and drawbacks of these technologies. Nevertheless, it will take the whole article to mention all the advantages of Node.js vs PHP, so let's concentrate on its core features instead. In case you wonder which other programming languages can be compared with Node.js, check our recent article.



The Benefits of Node.js


1. Dwell into the Nature of Node.js Fast 

If you worked with JavaScript, learning Node.js would not become a matter. As we have already sorted out, these technologies are similar. Thus, by using Node.js as the back-end foundation of your solution, you automatically obtain all the advantages of full-featured JavaScript development, including cross-platform nature, free & powerful tools, and fast performance. 


2. A Perfect Choice in Terms of Microservice Architecture

Node.js may be described as a lightweight and straightforward programming environment, which also means that it can become an excellent solution for the so-called microservice architecture. In a nutshell, microservice architecture turns a single application into a collection of small services, each running its own operations and interacting with specific mechanisms such as the HTTP Resource APIs.


3. Reduced Efforts due to NPM

Another crucial advantage of Node.js is NPM, which stands for Node Package Manager. It is like an App Store but in the world of programming. Thanks to the App Store, you can easily download an app published and designed by any iOS developer or development team from anywhere in the whole world. The same with NPM: it enables programmers to get any package created and published by any Node.js developer. As a result, developers can insert these packages into their own projects.


4. Lightweight Architecture

Node.js is built on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, which compiles JavaScript code into machine code at a runtime​​. This improves the execution speed, thus, making this technology an ideal choice for developing apps that require high performance and low resource usage. Services like real-time applications, microservices, streaming services, high-traffic websites, and other services that handle a large amount of data require lightweight components, and Node.js can fully satisfy this need.


5. Scalability

When the number of users, requests, or workload increases, Node.js-based platforms easily cope with it without downtime. This is due to the features such as asynchronous execution, which allows handling multiple requests at the same time. As a result, when processing one request, the programme doesn’t need to wait for a response from another one, which leads to better application’s performance. 






The Drawbacks of Node.js


1. Unstable API

In fact, unstable APIs pose a wide range of disadvantages related to the development process. For instance, APIs are constantly changing, so they can come up with a number of incompatible transformations. Consequently, developers are forced to add modifications to the available codebases to guarantee compatibility with the latest version of the Node.js API.


2. Poor Library Support System

JavaScript does not provide a vast and robust library system, compared to most programming languages. In most cases, developers are forced to implement the shared library support, making it challenging for them to manage even common programming tasks, such as image processing or object-relational mapping. 


3. Avoid Complex Web Apps

Node.js is not suitable for designing large web applications or handling complex programming tasks because it does not support multi-treated programming, associated with improved server responsiveness and throughput. 


4. Single-treated Performance

If you are thinking of designing a CPU-bound application, Node.js might not be the best choice. It is based on single-threaded event loop architecture, which implies that only one task can be processed at a time. Consequently, when you need to process large amounts of data or perform complex calculations, this technology might become unresponsive and slow down the whole platform performance.


5. Callback Hell

Last but not least, Node.js is asynchronous in nature. This means that multiple requests are placed into each other and can be compiled at the same time. While asynchronous programming can improve performance, it can also make code lines difficult to read. As a result, it leads to callback hell when chains of callback functions become challenging to maintain, consequently difficult to debug.







The Benefits of PHP


1. Open-Source Programming Language

The open-source language implies that many web libraries are free to use. Hence, PHP developers can significantly reduce the development time using already made solutions, consequently saving costs. As a customer, you also shouldn’t worry about unexpected maintenance expenditures, as there’s no licensing fees associated with using this programming language.


2. Easy Code Maintenance

While it is pretty easy to develop web apps with PHP (at least most developers think so), another significant advantage of PHP code is that it is maintained automatically. Moreover, thanks to MVC architecture, files are split for each module separately.  


3. Cross-Platform Nature

With PHP, various operating systems are not a limitation but rather another promising opportunity. This is because PHP is compatible with all platforms (from Windows, Unix, and Linux to macOS), most servers (Apache, Microsoft IIS, Netscape, iPlanet, Caudium, Xitami, and Tornado), frameworks, and a wide array of databases. If you wonder which PHP framework, Symphony or Laravel is better for your business, visit our recent study.


4. Flexibility in Each Step

It is not a secret that flexibility is pivotal to a programming language because functionality can be modified anytime during the course of development. In this regard, PHP has undoubtedly succeeded as it allows making changes to the existing code whenever needed. 


5. Good Performance

PHP programming language can cope with large amounts of data efficiently. However, it’s not the very technology’s merit, but PHP has built-in support for commonly used databases such as MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL. These databases were designed to handle big data, and PHP can efficiently interact with them. 



The Drawbacks of PHP


1. Security Issues

Returning to the basics, open-source code is usually free to edit. In particular, there are no guarantees that other people will not misuse your ASCII text file for their own (not always good) purposes. All in all, it poses a noteworthy security danger for your PHP-based solution. 


2. Weak Frameworks

While most frameworks enable the performance enhancement of your web solution, PHP frameworks are associated with poor behavior compared to other scripting languages. It gives complicated solutions, executes the same code repeatedly, and duplicates the Web Server Functionality. As a result, your PHP application’s  functionality and overall performance may suffer. 


3. It Is not Highly Modular

To put it simply, it is challenging to utilize PHP for the development of large apps. It can be extremely problematic to maintain complex projects with this programming language. In addition to this, PHP cannot support a vast bunch of apps.


4. Poor Error Handling

One of the major PHP drawbacks is its slow testing process. This technology doesn’t have many debugging tools that detect flaws in real-time and notify the developer. As a result, this factor slows down the testing process consequently the development time increases.


5. Slower Development Process

If you compare PHP with Node.js, PHP may lack some modern features such as built-in support for asynchronous programming, which is helpful for developing high-performance web apps. It can also be slower than other programming languages, especially when it comes to designing complex solutions that require significant processing power.






Node.js vs PHP Performance from the Perspectives of (A)Synchronicity, Modules, Code, and Hosting


As we have already clarified the fundamental advantages & disadvantages of PHP and Node.js, it is time to introduce a brief comparison of PHP vs Node.js performance.







Old (since 1994)

Young (since 2009)




Synchronous programming process which means that each operation happens one after another. This often leads to time-consuming development. 

Asynchronous programming process that enables you to handle multiple operations at a time. As a result, the development process is fast.


Integrates extensions to add functionality and as a result has a larger library.

Uses NPM as its package manager, which allows easier installation, but has less choice. Contains a set of basic modules that supply you with essential functionality. 


Originally made for web development, it is mostly used by specialists for creating websites. 

Developed for handling a lot of requests and will be a match for real-time applications.

Code Lines

Longer scripts because of the style of programming that requires boilerplate coding.

Shorter code due to its asynchronicity.





Used for back-end web development.

Used both for back-end and front-end development.


Supported by many shared hosting providers and also matches with VPS hosting. 

Less suitable for shared hosting, but VPS hosting can be used.



From the Node js vs PHP comparison above you can see that they are oriented toward covering different requests. So, it's better not just to look at Node.js vs PHP performance, but to consider such questions as:

  • What type of project are you engaged in?

  • Do you need to handle multiple operations at a time?

  • Is there a request for anything extensive or do you need just basic functionality?

If you're looking for more information comparing PHP with Node js, you can look through the Node js vs PHP answers.






Summing Up: Which Is Better, Node.js vs. PHP?


After all is said and done, it is time to make a choice — Node.js vs. PHP. On the one hand, PHP is a powerful programming language with a long-term history behind its title. It provides a vast suite of opportunities in terms of development, especially when it comes to hosting or compatibility. On the other hand, Node.js is a robust runtime environment of a new generation. It is associated with fast terms of performance and easy-to-learn techniques. After all, PHP vs Node.js?


Unfortunately, no specific method exists to identify whether you should choose Node.js or PHP. Hopefully, we have managed to provide you with all the necessary knowledge about Node vs PHP performance, features, and allied characteristics, so you can easily decide what you need. Yet, please do not jump to conclusions because we do have a valuable piece of advice to help you. Instead of estimating which technology outshines the other, just try to map out the basic requirements of your solution so that it would be easier to choose the technology that fits these unique needs.


Do you still have any questions about PHP vs. Node.js, or the differences between other innovative technologies? At SolidBrain, we have dealt with PHP-based software applications development a lot, so our talented tech experts have answers to all your requests. Just submit the contact form below and stay tuned for our awe-inspiring tech insights.





Benefits: PHP language is highly scalable. It can be used for the development of both small applications and more complex web solutions. It’s an open source programming language, meaning that a lot of web libraries are free to use. Some libraries allow working with graph databases as well. This technology makes handling large amounts of data possible and can be easily integrated with other ones such as web servers, databases, and programming languages. Drawbacks: Since it’s an open source language, it’s free to edit, meaning that there’s no guarantee that someone might not misuse your ASCII files. This language also lacks essential debugging tools to ensure proper software functioning. As a result, software maintenance could be better. As for frameworks, PHP is associated with poor behavior compared to other scripting languages. It gives complicated solutions, executes the same code repeatedly, and duplicates the Web Server Functionality. Apart from that, if you plan to develop a large-scale project, opt for more flexible technology. This programming language has some restraints changing the core functionality.

For sure. The number of Node.js-based applications has significantly increased over the last 4 years, and this trend continues in 2024. As it’s easy-to use open source technology, many startups around the globe choose it over other available options.

PHP exceeded Node.js in popularity by a huge margin however, figures say nothing when you need a custom solution. Whereas PHP would fully satisfy e-commerce project demand, Node.js would open the potential of the real-time collaboration tool. But how to figure out which technology to pick? The answer is easy: contact our tech experts. They will study your business idea and provide advice on the technology that would open its potential to the fullest.

This technology is highly popular, so no wonder a lot of websites you have spotted over the internet are PHP-based. They are: WordPress, Slack, Facebook, MailChimp, Pfizer, Wikipedia, Canva, Spotify.

If you need to build a real-time data streaming platform like Netflix, collaborative tools like Trello, instant messengers like WhatsApp, or apply this technology to the development of IoT devices like fitness trackers, Node.js is a good choice. With its ability to perform several tasks simultaneously, this programming language would fully open the potential of a data-driven application.

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