Free PHP Encoders, Accelerators and Obfuscators

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Free PHP Encoders, Accelerators and Obfuscators

If you write PHP scripts for clients, or perhaps sell PHP scripts, you may want to encode your PHP code or even just somehow obfuscate it so that others who have a copy of your script cannot modify them or otherwise adapt it for use on machines that are not licensed to do so. Or perhaps you want to distribute a demo script that times out after a period of time. It is for such purposes that the PHP encoders and obfuscators listed here are useful.

PHP encoders precompile your PHP source code into a binary code for execution with the help of an intermediate code interpreter. PHP accelerators speed up the execution of your script by precompiling and caching it. PHP obfuscators, on the other hand, merely take your source code and change the names of your variables, constants and user-defined functions to obscure strings of characters. With obfuscators, your code remains in source code form and are still potentially decipherable.

If you don't mind paying for commercial software, the encoder I use (when I need one) is the ionCube PHP encoder.

Update: most of the software formerly listed on this page appear to have gone extinct. Sorry. For some reason, there doesn't seem to be much interest in development of such software (at least, for free). The only free programs still available (at least at the time I write this paragraph) are accelerators and obfuscators.

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Free PHP Encoders, Accelerators and Obfuscators

PHP eAccelerator (Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris)

The PHP eAccelerator is a fork of the Turck MMCache project (see elsewhere on this page). It aims to speed up the execution of PHP scripts on a web server by caching them in their compiled state and executing them from the cache. It also optimizes the script to speed its execution. It requires you to have the Zend Optimizer installed on your server. Your server must have PHP installed as a module (rather than executing scripts in CGI mode). It also works in FastCGI mode and PHP-FPM. It works with PHP 5.1 to 5.4; I don't know if it works with later versions. You will need to have access to your web server's PHP configuration to make changes to incorporate eAccelerator.

YAK Pro (Linux)

YAK Pro is an open source PHP obfuscator that takes your original code and removes its comments and indentation, replaces conditions (eg, "if/else/elseif, for, while, do while") with "if, goto", obfuscates string literals, scrambles names for things like variables, function names, namespaces, etc, and shuffles statements. You can control what it obfuscates and what it ignores (including things like names/prefixes to ignore, etc) with a configuration file. The program can also handle multiple files, recursively working through a project's directory, and even having the ability to only re-obfuscate files that have changed since the last run.

Turck MMCache and TurckLoader (Windows, Linux)

This is an open source PHP accelerator, optimizer, encoder and dynamic content cache. It precompiles your script to binary form, and with the help of its loader, executes the binary version at runtime. The software has been tested under PHP 4.1 to 4.3.x, and requires an Apache web server with the Zend Optimizer preinstalled. You also have to either modify your server's php.ini to install the Turck MMCache software or use its standalone loader, TurckLoader. This program was last updated in 2003, and does not appear to be maintained any more.

POBS PHP Obfuscator (installed on server) (no longer available)

(Update: this software is no longer available.) This PHP obfuscator changes the names of user-defined functions, variables and constants with cryptic 8 character names (obtained from MD5 keys). In addition, it can also concatenate lines, remove comments and indentation to make it look messier (although of course this change is easily reversible using an appropriate source code beautifier). This program is no longer being maintained. Caution: as with the other obfuscators listed on this page, your program can still be deciphered, albeit with a little effort, since it's not actually changed into binary form.

Raizlabs' PHP Obfuscator and Encoder (Windows) (no longer available)

(Update: this software is no longer available.) This open source PHP obfuscator and encoder obfuscates things like function names and variables so as to make your PHP source code harder to read and decipher. You can mark portions of your code where you don't want the obfuscator to modify. All of your PHP code remains in source code form, but with long strings of meaningless characters for user-defined function names and variables. The program works only on Windows XP and higher, and may be used to produce free and commercial programs. (Note though that your program can still be read, albeit with a little effort, since it is not actually changed into binary form.)

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