PhpStorm performance optimisation tips

My first experience of JetBrains products was back in 2006 with IntelliJ when I was doing Java development. Over the last few years I’ve been using PhpStorm, but I’m always looking to optimise it’s performance.

My work computer is a pretty neat Samsung laptop with an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 128GB solid-state drive. The SSD has made the noticeable performance improvement over previous computers I’ve worked on.

However, with the latest version of PhpStorm (8.0.1 at the time of writing this), I’ve noticed that it feels quite sluggish when working with relatively large projects. I primarily only PhpStorm for front-end web development, consisting of HTML, CSS (Less), JavaScript and Mustache templates. So I could really be using WebStorm, but I previously did a lot of PHP development and I still like to occasionally view PHP source code in the projects that I’m involved with.

After doing some research, I found two tips which were applicable to my environment which includes Windows 8, as well as using TortoiseGit and Grunt with numerous plugins. Here are the tips:

  • Exclude the node_modules directory with a project in PhpStorm. Due to the large number of files in this folder (over 5,000 in one of my projects), these are all accessible and appear in search results whenever you use the built in search or navigation functionality. For example: when you navigate to a file CTRL + SHIFT + N or find/replace in path CTRL + SHIFT + F/R. So to prevent all those files from being accessible in your project, right click on the node_modules folder within the Project window and select “Mark Directory As…” and then choose “Excluded”.
  • Disable icon overlays by TortoiseGit in your operating system. Within TortoiseGit, browse to Settings → Icon Overlays → Status cache: “None”.

Thanks to the answer provided on Stack Overflow and to the article on Frickelblog respectively for the tips.

The “responsiveness” of PhpStorm on my laptop has definitely increased with these changes that I made. Finding and navigating to files feels instant again, which is something that I sorely missed after upgrading to version 8. I’m not sure if it’s related to something in my environment, or if it is part of a change in version 8 of PhpStorm, but there was definitely a noticeable decrease in the overall performance on my laptop.

As always, it is great when developers share their findings and are able to help out people in need. Keep it up!