Node.js vs PHP — Which one would simplify your life as a backend developer?

The life of a backend developer is hard, as it is. But when one needs to pick and choose technology for the next project, things can get pretty confusing.

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The decision to pick one over the other defines the ease, flexibility, scalability and future of the project. Today, let's look into PHP and Node.js and compare it to see which backend technology should you pick for your next project out of two. But before we begin, here's a quick overview.

PHP and Node.js are two of the most popular backend technologies for modern web development. Although PHP has been there longer, Node.js has its own fanbase. Both technologies have been a choice of many popular startups and big names in tech because of their robustness, growing community, and modularity.

There has been a burning debate around PHP vs Node.js for a long time. Let's look at the pros and cons of choosing one over the other:

PHP — The Traditional Choice of Developers

PHP is an open-source server-side scripting language designed for web development by Rasmus Lerdorf.

Since it came into the picture, PHP has been the first choice for Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. PHP also has strong support from all modern frameworks such as Laravel and Symfony.

But what makes PHP so popular among the dev community?

Its flexibility and synchronous nature, for sure, is a gamechanger.

PHP is synchronous with multi-threading blocking. One can easily connect PHP to many databases such as MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, etc. Furthermore, this language establishes an easy connection to the SQL database and has no hosting limitations.

How PHP works in backend development?


PHP use cases: When to use PHP?

A. When you’re working on a central server

PHP will be perfect if you do not plan to scale your application across multiple servers. You can use the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack. It might change depending on project requirements and growth.

B. When affordability, flexibility & portability are important

The cheap costs of web hosting and the servers' availability for PHP are comparable to none. PHP can run on almost any platform with Apache, IIS, and a supported database system installed. CMS like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla all support PHP. Naturally, PHP applications are cheaper, portable, and easy to deploy.

C. When you need stable database connectivity,

It is easy to connect with almost any type of database with PHP. This gives more freedom to the developers to select the desired database. With relational databases, PHP is recommended.


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Popular PHP Frameworks







  • Using PHP for your next backend project — Pros

  • Extensive Codebase: Can fit in for virtually any assignment
  • Stability: Highly stable code with minimal chance of bugs/surprises
  • Flexibility: Works on any server or platform
  • Endless Integrations: Supports thousands of libraries, frameworks, and CMS
  • Community: Strong community of developers
  • Using PHP for your next backend project — Cons

  • Outdated client-server model: Better and more agile technologies available in the market
  • Limited use cases: PHP is primarily a web-oriented technology
  • Limited MVC applicability: Increases the complexity of the solution
  • Poor error handling: Central log depending on log configuration
  • Security flaws: Being an aged technology comes with its security risks.

Node.js — The Powerful Backend Solution for Async Coding

Node.js cross-platform server-side runtime environment was introduced by Ryan Dahl in 2009. It is a JavaScript programming language built on Google Chrome's JavaScript V8 engine. Node.js runs on the server and is designed to build scalable network applications and dynamic web pages.

The emergence of Node.js in 2009 made it possible to perform asynchronous coding with JavaScript. Its unique architecture allows it to handle multiple CPU-intensive tasks with ease. Also, Node.js uses an event-driven non-blocking I/O model that makes it efficient and lightweight.

How Node.js work in backend development?


Node.js use cases: When to use Node.js?

A. When you are working on multiple stacks/technologies simultaneously

Node.js will be the correct choice to use if your project involves multiple stacks such as MEAN stack ( MongoDB, ExpressJs, AngularJs.), dynamic single-page applications, server-side technologies, and front end technologies like AngularJs, Backbone.Js, or React Js. This makes it easier to have the same language (Javascript) across your whole stack.

You can also use the Typescript library of Node.js in the case of an Angular project to make it easier for the developers. Mean stack is also easier to scale than LAMP stack across multiple servers.

B. When your application needs real-time data

Node.js is great for applications that require real-time data.

However, avoid using Node.js for financial applications as JavaScript itself is unreliable when it comes to numbers. Everything is an integer or float in Node.js. Not much segregation is there between the type of numeric variables. Therefore, a more dynamic language is recommended when working on financial applications that require a lot of computing or a reliable library.

C. When you need applications optimized for speed

Node.js is faster than PHP in execution speed. Therefore, if speed is required for your application (maybe a browser-based multiplayer game or a chat application), Node.js is a better choice than PHP.

Popular Node.js Frameworks






  • Using Node.js for your next backend project — Pros

  • Lightweight: Node.js is lightweight for backend servers
  • Asynchronous: Node.js supports async coding with JavaScript
  • Quick response time: Node.js is faster than PHP
  • Real-time data: Node.js can be used for apps that require real-time data
  • Greater integrations: Can work on multiple stacks simultaneously
  • Serverless Support: Node.js supports serverless architecture like AWS Lambda. No need for server configuration and reduced server costs
  • Using Node.js for your next backend project — Cons

  • Limitations with file size: Does not handle bigger files well
  • Relatively new: Lack of resources compared to PHP
  • Limiting nature: Not ideal for CPU based tasks
  • Limited library: Not a great solution for developers looking for deep library support
  • Database problems: Dealing with a relational database is a pain
  • Single-threaded framework: Node.js is single-threaded. It is not suitable for multiple requests, simultanously. It needs some alternative or configuration.

Comparing PHP vs Node.js: Which one should you choose in 2022?

Runtime EnvironmentPHP has a ready to install feature to use on the server-sideNode.js is a runtime environment for Javascript on the server-side.
Powered By Two EnginesPHP is powered by Zend enginesNode.js is powered by Google’s V8 javascript engine
Complexity Of UsePHP is much simpler to use compared to Node.js.Node.js is not too complex to use but requires more lines of coding and a basic understanding of closures and callback functions.
JSONPHP uses it lesser than Node.js PHP makes use of json_encode() and json_decode() functionsJSON works better with Node.js than PHP. Node.js uses JSON.stringify() and JSON.parse()
ConcurrencyPHP uses multithreaded blocking I/O to carry out multiple tasks to run parallels alongside each otherNode.js uses event-driven non blocking I/O execution model
ExecutionPHP is synchronousNode.js is asynchronous
Execution SpeedPHP is slower than Node.jsFaster than PHP and also lightweight compared to PHP
FrameworksLaravel, Symphony, CodeIgniter, CakePHPMVC and Express Frameworks, Total.js, Hapi.js, Koa.js
Web ServerPHP runs on the Apache web server. It can also run on an IIS web server in the case of a windows machine.NPM does not need a web server. It runs on its own runtime environment.
Package ManagerComposer package manager is widely used.Node Package Manager (NPM) is widely used.
DatabasePHP has inbuilt database supportDatabase connection through NPM libraries


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Final Words

Both Node.js and PHP are great server-side technologies for web and mobile app development better. However, it is tough to select the right one in an instant. You should carefully weigh the pros and cons and see if one suits your requirements.

Also, PHP and Node.js are not the only available options for backend development. Let's connect If you're not sure which technology suits best for your project, Contact Us for a free consultation.

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