Milan Babuškov Milan Babuškov - 2 months ago 12
PHP Question

Which compression method to use in PHP?

I have a large amount of data to move using two PHP scripts: one on the client side using a command line PHP script and other behind Apache. I POST the data to the server side and use php://input stream to save it on the web-server end. To prevent from reaching any memory limits, data is separated into 500kB chunks for each POST request. All this works fine.

Now, to save the bandwidth and speed it up, I want to compress the data before sending and decompress when received on the other end. I found 3 pairs of functions that can do the job, but I cannot decide which one to use:



Which pair of functions would you recommend and why?

UPDATE: I just read zlib FAQ:

The gzip format (
gzencode
) was designed to retain the directory information about a single file, such as the name and last modification date. The zlib format (
gzcompress
) on the other hand was designed for in-memory and communication channel applications, and has a much more compact header and trailer and uses a faster integrity check than gzip.

Answer

All of these can be used. There are subtle differences between the three:

  • gzencode() uses the GZIP file format, the same as the gzip command line tool. This file format has a header containing optional metadata, DEFLATE compressed data, and footer containing a a CRC32 checksum and length check.
  • gzcompress() uses the ZLIB format. It has a shorter header serving only to identify the compression format, DEFLATE compressed data, and a footer containing an ADLER32 checksum.
  • gzdeflate() uses the raw DEFLATE algorithm on its own, which is the basis for both of the other formats.

All three use the same algorithm under the hood. gzencode() adds the ability to include the original file name and other environmental data (this is unused when just compressing a string). gzencode() and gzcompress() both add a checksum, so the integrity of the archive can be verified, which can be useful over unreliable transmission and storage methods. If everything is stored locally and you don't need any additional metadata then gzdeflate() would suffice. For portability I'd recommend gzencode() (GZIP format) which is probably better supported than gzcompress() (ZLIB format) among other tools.

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