Why PNPM? A Comprehensive Comparison with NPM and Yarn Through Its Powerful Symlink Strategy

Why PNPM? A Comprehensive Comparison with NPM and Yarn Through Its Powerful Symlink Strategy


In the ever-evolving world of JavaScript development, the choice of package manager can profoundly affect productivity and efficiency.

While my company primarily used NPM, a companion of mine introduced me to PNPM during their migration of distributed frontend repositories to a monorepo. This sparked my interest in how different package management strategies impact development workflows.

PNPM, or Performant NPM, has gained attention not just for its name but for the significant performance improvements it offers over traditional tools like NPM and Yarn.

In this blog, I delve into PNPM to explore why it could be a game changer for developers looking to optimize their project setups.

Understanding PNPM

What is PNPM?

PNPM is a package manager for JavaScript that aims to supercharge the way packages are installed and managed.

The core philosophy behind PNPM is to save disk space and speed up installations by changing how modules are handled. Unlike traditional package managers that duplicate files across every project, PNPM creates a single version of a module and then references it through symlinks, drastically reducing disk usage and enhancing performance.

The Unique Approach of PNPM

One of the standout features of PNPM is its use of a content-addressable filesystem to manage dependencies. This means that PNPM stores a copy of each version of a module in a global cache. When a project requires a module, PNPM doesn't copy files into the project’s node_modules directory. Instead, it creates symlinks to the files in its global store. This significantly reduces the amount of disk space used and speeds up the setup process for new projects or when updating dependencies.

Comparing PNPM with NPM and Yarn

Detailed Comparison of PNPM, NPM, and Yarn

Here’s how PNPM stacks up against NPM and Yarn across several key aspects:

Installation SpeedVery fastModerate (slower in older versions)Fast
Disk UsageVery efficient (minimal duplication)High (due to duplication)Moderate (some duplication)
Dependency ManagementSymlink strategy (no duplication, allows multiple versions)Nested (can cause duplication)Flat or nested (optional flat mode)
Monorepo SupportNative support with efficient handlingRequires additional tools or configurationsNative support via Workspaces
CachingUses a shared content-addressable filesystemCaches downloaded packages (since v5)Uses a global cache to speed up installs
Community and SupportGrowing rapidly, less widespread than NPM/YarnLargest user base, extensive community supportLarge, active community, often innovating on features

Table Explanations

  • Installation Speed: Measures how quickly each package manager can handle the installation of dependencies. PNPM's strategy minimizes data transfer, making it the fastest.

  • Disk Usage: Evaluates how much disk space each package manager requires. PNPM excels by using symlinks instead of duplicating files, thus using minimal disk space.

  • Dependency Management: Looks at how each package manager deals with project dependencies, especially when different versions of the same package are needed. PNPM’s symlink strategy allows it to handle multiple versions efficiently without duplicating them in every project.

  • Monorepo Support: Indicates how well each package manager can handle monorepos, where multiple packages are developed in a single repository. PNPM provides robust support without additional configuration.

  • Caching: Describes how each package manager utilizes caching to speed up repeated installations. PNPM’s content-addressable filesystem is particularly effective.

  • Community and Support: Reflects the size and engagement of the community around each package manager, which can influence the availability of help and resources.

Advantages of PNPM

Benefits of PNPM's Approach

  • Disk Space Savings: By symlinking files from a central repository, the actual disk space used by multiple projects is significantly reduced. For developers working with multiple projects or large monorepos, the savings can be substantial.

  • Installation Speed: Installation times are much quicker with PNPM due to the reduced number of file operations. This is particularly noticeable in continuous integration (CI) environments where time savings directly translate to cost savings.

  • Reduced Duplication: The symlink strategy helps maintain a cleaner and more consistent project setup, which simplifies dependency management and reduces the potential for version conflicts across projects.


For developers looking for a fast, disk-efficient package manager, PNPM offers an impressive solution. Its unique approach not only saves disk space but also accelerates the installation process, making it an excellent choice for both small projects and large enterprise applications.

Call to Action

Ready to give PNPM a try? Start by installing PNPM and converting a small project to see how it performs. Share your experiences in the comments below or on social media to help more developers discover the benefits of PNPM.

Note from the Author:This article was crafted with the help of an advanced AI tool (Tech Blogger’s Friend) to ensure accurate information and to provide a comprehensive comparison of JavaScript package managers. This collaboration aims to leverage cutting-edge technology to enhance content quality and reader engagement.