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PHP Performance Tuning: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated on October 10, 2023

6 Min Read
PHP Performance

Getting your web application to the highest performance level is quite impossible. You need to apply different tactics at different points according to the nature of the application.

What Exactly Is Good PHP Performance?

Good PHP performance refers to the efficient execution of PHP scripts and applications, ensuring that they run smoothly and respond quickly to user requests. PHP, a popular server-side scripting language, powers countless websites and web applications.

A well-performing PHP application should provide rapid responses to user requests, minimizing loading times and ensuring a snappy user experience. Responsiveness can be measured using tools like load testing and profiling to identify bottlenecks and optimize code accordingly.

Factors That Influence The Optimization of PHP Performance

Factor Description
PHP Version The specific version of PHP being used in the application. Newer PHP versions often offer performance improvements and better features, so keeping PHP up to date is crucial.
Server Configuration The configuration settings of the web server (e.g., Apache or Nginx) that hosts the PHP application. Proper server configuration can significantly impact performance.
Caching Mechanisms The implementation of data and page caching, including techniques like object caching, page caching, and opcode caching. Caching reduces redundant work and speeds up content delivery.
Database Optimization The optimization of database queries, indexing, and schema design. Efficient database operations are crucial for PHP applications that interact with databases.
Server Resources The availability and allocation of CPU, RAM, and disk space on the server. Sufficient resources ensure that the server can handle incoming requests effectively.
Content Compression The use of compression algorithms like GZIP or Brotli to compress web content before transmission, reducing bandwidth usage and improving page load times.
Request Handling The efficiency of handling HTTP requests, including request routing, request parsing, and minimizing unnecessary processing.
Code Profiling and Monitoring The utilization of monitoring and profiling tools like New Relic or Xdebug to identify bottlenecks, slow code sections, and other performance issues.
Third-party Libraries The efficient integration and use of third-party libraries and packages. Careful selection and utilization of libraries can impact performance positively or negatively.
Session Handling The optimization of PHP session management, including session storage, cleanup, and minimizing session usage when not necessary.
Load Balancing The distribution of web traffic across multiple servers using load balancing techniques. Load balancing helps prevent server overload and ensures responsiveness.

Tips for Optimizing PHP Performance Tuning

There are a few simple tips you can use in your code for making your application perform well. Like, you can take advantage of native functions, use JSON except for XML, use caching systems, configure OPcache, PHP-FPM, Memcached properly. You can also close the DB connection and limit the DB hits.

For asset management, you can add CDNs for fast content delivery. Integrate HTTP2/SSL certificates for better security optimization and can also read various other PHP security tips here. While if you are using PHP frameworks like Laravel and Symfony, you must enable profilers in them to track what’s going wrong in code.

Here are some key tips for PHP performance tuning:

Improve Code for Better Process

Code improvement is another important thing for performance optimization. You must avoid writing messy code and should try to optimize it by using more native functions. Utilize JSON data types instead of XML, never repeat variable declarations, always use isset() as it is much faster.

Do not make your controllers fat and model thins, always write business logic in controllers and let models handle the DB things. Avoid redundant functions and classes and try to write a standard class and inherit it in others.

Always disable debugging options on live servers, close the DB connections and avoid writing SQL queries in loops like foreach(). Also, limit your DB hits and do not make so many requests at once

Enable OPcache on PHP server

OPcache is one of the building block element of PHP performance because it works directly with the code compiling process. Imagine if you are creating a request to the server and it is compiling the code every time and then sending you responses, the practice will eventually make your loading time slower. Thanks to OPcache which will cache the pre-compiled code and does not let it compile on later requests.

Conducting the PHP performance test after integrating Opcache, some experts claim that PHP performance will be 3x faster and the load time will reduce much impressively. So tracking these grounds, the importance of Opcache cannot be ignored.

Cache and Minify Static Assets

Working with PHP doesn’t mean you are working with a sole tool. Instead, you will be working with a lot of other tools by side including HTML, CSS, JS and other scripts, as they bring significant improvement in the performance of the apps. Therefore, I always recommend minifying the static scripts so that the processing time can be decreased. You do not need to do this manually every time, as you can find a lot of online tools to ease this job for you:

This will minimized the HTML and CSS of my PHP website and after doing the PHP performance test here is the result of load time lowering down from 756 ms to 546 ms. It can also low down more if I will minify all the scripts

Configure Memcache For Database

Memcached is a distributed memory caching system. It speeds up websites having large dynamic databases by storing database object in dynamic memory.

A Memcached layer reduces the number of times database requests are made. Memcached stores the values (v) with the key (k) and retrieves the values (v) with the key (k) without even parsing the database queries and stays away from all these hassles.

You can easily install Memcache by running the following Sudo command:

sudo apt-get install memcached

After then just echo phpinfo() function and see if it is running.

But if you are a Cloudways customer you don’t need to do this. All you need to do is go to the “Manage Services” section and enable it by a toggle button.

Deploy PHP on Cloud Hosting

After completing development on dev servers, the next step is to deploy PHP apps on to the hosting servers. Hosting also plays a vital role in the speed and performance of PHP applications. If your server is powerful and highly optimized then your requests will be processed fastly.

The most important thing is that all the services which I defined above are available on single clicks and you don’t require any manual configuration of it. Whether it is, GIT, Composer, Apache, Nginx, Memcache, Opcache, Elasticsearch, Varnish cache, PHP versions, etc.

Also, if you don’t know how to create LAMP stacks on cloud servers, then don’t worry, because at Cloudways you can launch servers and applications on these servers within a few clicks. Just select custom PHP app from the dropdown and launch it.

PHP Performance Tuning Tips from the Community

In order to clarify the issue to some extent, we had an interactive session on social media with the community to know what they think about PHP performance and benchmark level.
Here’s what different developers on Twitter had to say on this topic:

Final Words!

These were some of the valuable inputs I have gathered from Twitter and Reddit, that defines the valuable insights of the developer community. As what they think about PHP performance tuning and what it takes to optimize it more to get the optimum benefit out of apps. So what is your opinion about this topic? Do let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Q. Why is PHP so fast?

PHP is much faster than other options (such as ASP) because of its faster load time as a result of its own memory space that removes most of the overhead in execution.

Q. How does PHP measure performance?

You can use a host of tools to measure the performance of PHP code. The tool options include code profilers, app performance management tools, user monitoring, and server log analyzers.

Share your opinion in the comment section. COMMENT NOW

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Inshal Ali

Inshal is a Content Marketer at Cloudways. With background in computer science, skill of content and a whole lot of creativity, he helps business reach the sky and go beyond through content that speaks the language of their customers. Apart from work, you will see him mostly in some online games or on a football field.


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