PHP factor 30 performance difference from Linux to Windows

Cover Image for PHP factor 30 performance difference from Linux to Windows
Matheus Mello
Matheus Mello
published a few days ago. updated a few hours ago

🚀 Boosting PHP Performance: Linux vs. Windows

Are you experiencing a major difference in PHP performance between your Linux and Windows servers? 😮 Don't worry, you're not alone! Many developers face this issue when deploying WordPress plugins or other PHP applications. But fear not, as we're here to help you understand the problem and find solutions! 💪

The Problem: Windows Slows Down PHP

One user reported that their WordPress installation on a Windows Server 2008 RC2 was drastically slower than on their Linux servers. Page generation time increased from an average of 400ms to a whopping 4000-5000ms! 😱 However, they noticed that the speed for delivering static resources by Apache was about the same on both Linux and Windows.

Investigating the Issue

To tackle this performance difference, the user followed a step-by-step process:

1️⃣ Eliminating Interference: The user made sure no antivirus software or Windows domain services were interfering with the server's performance.

2️⃣ Collecting Profiling Data: Profiling was done using XDebug to identify the time-consuming parts of the script execution. They discovered that evaluating regular expressions (using preg_match) took significantly longer on Windows, around 3000ms, compared to just 90ms on Linux.

3️⃣ Testing Different Setups: The user tried various server and hardware setups to pinpoint the exact cause of the performance difference.

4️⃣ Checking Server Configuration: They also double-checked both Apache and PHP configurations for any obvious errors or misconfigurations.

The Culprit: Regular Expressions and More

The profiling results revealed that the main time killers on Windows were evaluating regular expressions, object caching in WordPress, and translations.

1️⃣ Regular Expressions: The user discovered that the method _get_browser in the WordPress plugin wp-slimstats spent most of its execution time evaluating regular expressions. Windows took around 3000ms, while Linux only required 90ms to process 10,000 regular expressions.

2️⃣ Object Caching: Another bottleneck was WordPress's object caching function, which caused delays in script execution.

3️⃣ Translations: Loading translations in memory also took extra time, contributing to the performance difference.

Test Your Configurations

The user tested different server setups, including Linux and various versions of Windows, in virtualized and non-virtualized environments. However, the results remained consistent: Windows was consistently slower than Linux.

Finding Solutions

At this point, you might be wondering how to bridge the performance gap between Linux and Windows. Fortunately, the user mentioned a workaround that noticeably improved performance on Windows: running PHP as an Apache module instead of using FastCGI.

However, no definitive solution was found for optimizing the script to run at the same speed on Windows as on Linux. The focus was on understanding the cause of the performance difference and narrowing down possible solutions.

The Call to Action 📢

If you've faced similar performance issues with PHP on Windows, we'd love to hear your experiences and solutions! Share your insights in the comments below and help fellow developers overcome this challenge. Let's make PHP perform equally well on all platforms! 💪

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