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I have a website with static HTML files on a VPS server.

The site's response time is very fast and was built with a FrontPage template, so every template change updates all the HTML files and requires uploading all the pages to the server.

I am considering using a PHP template (with PHP includes).

Will using a PHP template slow down the page's response time and if so, by how much?

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How specific of an answer are you looking for here? Sure serving PHP documents is inherently slower, technically, but you're on the scale of milliseconds… – Su' Dec 20 '12 at 22:51
You can still cache the entire output too (if necessary). – pritaeas Dec 21 '12 at 10:28
Based on all the information we have about your VPS setup, what your templates are going to look like, and your current given response time of "very fast", I'd say your page response time will most definitely slow down by 3.622. Unfortunately, I don't know what unit that's in (maybe Libraries of Congress per fortnight?). But I'm fairly confident about that number. – Lèse majesté Jan 21 '13 at 8:01

Theoretically something purely static is going to be faster than dynamically generated content. In practice the difference is very often negligible.

You have to consider that most servers cache the output of PHP scripts you can even specify for how long by file-type or per-file even. This means that in most cases, for PHP that generates largely the same output over-and-over, the server serves static content because it serves it from the cache.

Now there are times when things can be noticeably slower but I'd say those are rare for a site that can be statically generated. In other words, if you can have the same site in static HTML and generated by PHP (or anything else), you probably do not have a case where a difference is visible to your visitors. Consider that the dominant latency comes from the network and not serving the pages for anything which is not so resource intensive.

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Yes, using PHP would slow down the response time, but most of the time you will not realize the difference.

Maybe you should try a CMS and have fun with it. I don't know how long you would take to learn PHP, but if you are new, using a CMS is a good starting point to understand what is PHP, or generally, the web all about.

The web is not only about how fast your website is, but also how many features your website has.

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PHP integration with web hosts is generally very efficient. Provided you have caching set up correctly, it should not be a problem.

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