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Articles :: PHP Source Code Encoders/Protectors

What are PHP Encoders?

PHP Encoders are programs designed to protect your intellectual property by encoding and/or obfuscating PHP application source code, and optionally providing license management, limiting installations to target server/domain/IP, and providing time limit features (useful for trial versions).

Why do I need to encode PHP sources before the distribution?

Distributing unencrypted PHP applications is not secure. Source code can be easily copied, changed, partly used in another application whithout you being notified or credited. Moreover providing product sources makes your application more vulnerable, since source code may reveal some weak points of your application.

What solutions are currently available on the market?

If you consider the PHP Encoding market, solutions broadly fall into:
  • Source Code Obfuscators
    Source code is obfucated to make it hard to understand and make any changes. Example of obfuscation can be removing line breaks, spaces, comments, renaming variables, function names, etc. where applicable, as well as very simple source code encoding. Restoring obfuscated source code is trivial. These solutions are truly insecure, can result in sever performance degradation, and don't offer 100% code compatibility. None the less such solutions do have a place in the market and are suitable for some people (mostly because they are cheap, about $20, or available for free). You'll find a bunch quering search engines for "free php obfuscator".
  • Encoders
    Obfuscate (some can also optimize) PHP source code, compile it to bytecodes, and eliminate the source code. Such solutions are stable and extremely hard to reverse-engineer. Depending on the solution price these will provide you with options to manage licenses, generate files to expire on a given date or after a time period (trial period).

    Roughly saying solutions of this type consist of two main parts:
    • Encoder - program which obfuscates, encodes/encrypts source files
    • Loader (decoder) - these programs are designed to decode encrypted sources and feed PHP engine with decoded sources to execute. End user will need to have decoder (loader) installed on their server in order to be able to run your encoded application. Loaders are available for free download.
Most stable solutions are from Zend ($799), IonCube ($199 - $348), SourceGuardian ($250) and PHPShield ($99).

Features range varies depending on the price. Some can protect not only PHP source code, but also images, HTML, and other resources.


January 7, 2008
New and good encoder www.phpion.com
May 10, 2008
November 20, 2015
You can try YAK Pro - Php Obfuscator http://www.php-obfuscator.com , freely available on https://github.com/pk-fr/yakpro-po ...