PHP Memory Usage

PHP memory utilization is always an issue with web applications. As of version 5.2.0 there are two useful functions available to help determine application memory usage.

The functions are memory_get_peak_usage() and memory_get_usage().  The documentation is rather sparse but the usage of the functions is simple and straightforward.  The main difference between the functions is when memory usage is reported.  memory_get_usage() reports usage when a script is invoked while memory_get_peak_usage() reports peak usage during execution.  The latter function also accepts a boolean value to determine whether or not to calculate the overhead of the memory profiler in the total.

For the purpose of example consider the following function:

function log_mem() {
    $mem_real = memory_get_peak_usage();
    $script = $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];
    if(phpversion() >= 5.2.0) {
        error_log("Script $script memory usage: $mem_real bytes",0);
    } else {
        error_log("Your PHP version does not support memory_get_peak_usage()",0);

This can be placed into an include file or into the body of a script.  The function call that does the work is then placed at the end of the script being profiled:


Profiling information is then logged to the error_log for the domain.

A more in depth discussion of these functions can be found at the IBM Developerworks website.


If mod_php is in use, similar logging can be enabled by modifying the LogFormat Apache directive:

LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\ \"%{mod_php_memory_usage}n\"" php_memory_log