An Extensive Checklist Of PHP Performance Optimization Techniques

PHP is solely responsible for powering a large segment of the web. It is affluently driving various popular websites in which Yahoo and Facebook are the best examples to consider. A huge web segment relies on PHP which clears the fact that PHP performance optimization is important for giving birth to more flawless and improved solutions.

Employing PHP optimization can enhance a website’s performance and leverage the design by increasing its capacity. Writing your software code in PHP is beneficial as it builds highly scalable solutions and applications. Now, you can understand that writing PHP code benefits in a number of ways, therefore when we precisely optimize the PHP code what would be the results!

Yes! You are getting it right. Optimizing PHP makes your code much lighter to load and provides flawless performance throughout the life. Slow website loading is the most critical problem which one can resolve by embracing the best code optimization practices. It has been seen that developers confront many critical situations while testing or running the code post PHP development. Practically, if the majority of developers improves their coding ways and implement a couple of proven coding techniques given by experts, they can succeed in running the software/application meticulously on client servers.

We have an idea that how important it is for a server to administer peaks of PHP website load. This blog is prone to outline all these issues and place favorable solutions to optimize the performance of PHP web presence.

Performance optimization is mandatory to measure the performance of each server-side script. This can be done using suitable tools for different environments. However, PHP is a fast programming language but still, it needs a few techniques to fine-tune the code performance. Here, we will be discussing that why tuning with PHP is beneficial to find out all the bottlenecks and fixing them to renovate PHP webpages.

Let’s figure out the best coding styles in order to optimize and speed-up the PHP code:

Working On The Latest Version Of PHP

PHP updates bring with it considerable improvements that can be in terms of speed and overall performance. Older versions may result in lower website performance. So, it is advised to work with the latest PHP programming version if you want to expedite PHP based websites.

PHP 7 has been launched in the market and it claims to be one of the faster version for sterling website development.

Use of Double Quotes (“) & Single Quotes (‘)

It is a debatable topic which is in heat nowadays among developers. They usually argue for which one is faster to make their point valid. Being a developer, you must have a clue that double quotes (“) used to check the presence of variables in a code. It also adds a bit of overhead when used with strict strings. But when it comes to working with normal assignments, concatenation or loops with fewer iterations, double quotes show no difference.

If we talk about single quotes (‘), they run relatively faster in larger strings or in code with huge iterations. Definitely, these micro changes will not affect your coding style or performance. But still, you should use single or double quotes sensibly wherever needed.

Release All Resources

Code in PHP should be well-framed and there should be nothing that is not taken care. We usually see that closing file handler, unsetting large arrays, closing a curl request or database connections are a few iterations that developers overlook while coding. This results in occupying larger memory for resource maintenance.

You must be thinking that why we should do it when there is a garbage collector which does it all for us. Actually, we follow it because we don’t know when the resource is called. So, it would be better if all the resources and iterations get released on time.

Avoid Using Relative Path For Files

At the time of code processing, the system makes efforts to change the relative path to an absolute path. It is an additional step which can be cut-down by giving an absolute path to all the included files.

Moreover, to speed up your PHP performance, you can initiate the code by defining a WEB_ROOT which can be further used globally in the entire code.


When it comes to comparing the returned value with a specific number, you should prefer using isset() in place of strlen(), count() and sizeof(). ISSET is safer and eliminates the developers’ hassle.

For example: If we have a condition (strlen($foo) < 50), we can modify it by (!isset($foo{50})). Doing this, you will see a visible improvement in your PHP code performance.

Lower The Usage of Global Variables

If you are trying to access a global variable, it will be accessed like a local variable and would be costlier for you in terms of consuming a lot of time. If you have declared a global variable in your PHP script, it will certainly add up a large amount of overhead. So, it is suggested to limit the use of global variables to gear-up your PHP performance.

Don’t Use Count In Condition Section

To describe the use of count completely, we are taking an example here.
If we use – for ($x = 0; $x < count($array); $x++), the count function in this condition called each time when the loop gets iterated. The process continues till infinity.

In place of the above statement, if we declare the variable naming $count = count($array); then the final statement will be for ($x = 0; $x < $count; $x++) which will automatically save a lot of code processing time.

Maximize The Use of Static Methods/Properties

In coding languages, static methods/properties perform faster than non-static methods. Similarly, when it comes to using methods in PHP programming, it would be better if you prefer integrating static properties.

In case, when an object is predefined and the function calls a non-static property from the same objects, non-static methods execute faster. There is only a minor difference between static & non-static properties that non-static skips the crucial step of object initialization which makes them faster over static ones.

Include foreach > for > while

As per the coding standards using foreach loop results in faster code processing in comparison to for loop and for loop wins over while loop as it processes slower than it.

It is a cycle which needs to be followed as per code requirements.

Incorporate Echo, print, comma, printf, and sprintf

If you have figured out, echo is a language construct and printf is a function used for displaying final code output. Language construct is stronger than functions which describe that echo is faster than printf in all cases. Today, most of the programmers prefer using echo in spite of printf to get quick and accurate outputs.

You can consider it a modern programming trend that developers concatenate the strings using a comma (,) and not the period (.) operator. When you go through the modern websites, you might see a noticeable difference in code format.

For example:

echo $a, $b, $c; is faster than echo $a . $b . $c;, but echo $a . $b . $c; is faster than print $a . $b . $c.

Here, you can clearly identify the scope, benefits and difference in all the syntax.

Pre & Post Increments

Both pre and post increments act differently in different programming languages & environments. When you are using post incrementation in PHP, it means you are storing a temporary variable.

++$i is known as pre-incrementation which distinctly depicts that $i is incremented and return with a new variable value.

$i++ is referred as post-incrementation which shows that the value of $i is copied to an internal variable. When it gets executed, $i is incremented by the next value and that internal variable with the old value of $i is returned.

However, there are minor differences in using both of these. Without getting affected with the micro changes, it is recommended to use the increments as per development requirements.

Make Use of Identical Operator

If you remember then developers also use equality operator (==) by temporarily converting the data type to find out if the operands are equal or not.

Here, with identity operator (===), you don’t need to perform any kind of conversion to find out the results. This operator performs faster even after making lesser efforts.

Apart from the aforementioned PHP optimization tips, we have come up with some of the useful additional coding tricks to uplift your PHP coding style.

Influential yet time-saving performance optimization tips for PHP:

  • To know the exact time of start and end of script execution, $_SERVER[’REQUEST_TIME’] is used to get accurate output.
  • Avoiding magic like _set, _get, _autoload would be beneficial in terms of increasing site speed.
  • Setting the maxvalue prior starting for-loops (not in the for-loops) is a better way.
  • Try to use strncasecmp, stripos and strpbrk in place of regex to frame better code.
  • Remember str_replace works faster than preg_replace and strtr is 4times faster than str_replace. It is up to you what you want to use.
  • Using switch statements is a great way than including else if and multi if statements.
  • An added advantage of incorporating @ in PHP code helps slow down the error suppression.
  • Writing $row[’id’] processes 7 times faster than $row[id].
  • Try to use the methods from derived class (as they as faster) instead from base class.
  • Creating your strings by using‘ instead of ” will help interpret the code a bit faster.
  • As you know that PHP scripts recompile continuously till the entire script gets cached. It would be great if you install a PHP caching tool which eliminates compile time and improves code performance by 25-100%.
  • Like class, implement every data structure using arrays as these are also important too.
  • Spitting methods is fine but don’t do it unnecessarily if not needed.
  • If your code has various time-consuming functions then better to define them as C extensions.
  • Code profiling is one of the optimal ways to find out the code area that takes too much time to process and what are the bottlenecks. You can make it happen with Xdebug debugger.
  • For better results turn the apache’s mod_deflate on.
  • When it comes to count the processing time, a PHP script processes 2-10 times slower than HTML static pages. So, using more static HTML pages and fewer scripts would be a better idea.
  • While using strings in your PHP code, it is necessary to check that the used string is of a certain length. Otherwise, you should use strlen() function.
  • It is not mandatory to code in OOP as it is too much overhead and consumes a lot of memory.
  • Use innumerable predefined functions to run PHP code flawlessly.
  • Integrate mod_gzip (an Apache module) in your code to instantly compress your data and reduce it to transfer up to 80% data conveniently.
  • Consider using the Singleton Method for building complex PHP classes.
  • Instead of using GET use POST for all values that wind up in the database and responsible for TCP/IP packet performance.
  • During debug, use error_reporting (E_ALL).
  • Consider database logic like (queries, views, joins, procedures) to simplify loopy PHP.
  • To Improve Apache performance for accessing files & directories, set Apache allowoverride to “none”.
  • You can use shortcut syntax in your code for SQL insert when you are not using PDO parameters. For instance: INSERT INTO MYTABLE (FIELD1,FIELD2) VALUES ((“x”,”y”),(“p”,”q”));

The Verdict:

As you can see there are countless ways to amplify the performance of your PHP environment. You only need to put a little effort on implementing these with optimum precision. Also, if you add the fine tips of code enhancement in your code list, surely you will succeed in reducing the processing time of your PHP code created for any web presence. So, implement the proven steps to render a classy & flawless solution.

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