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MH Tsai

Difference between npm, yarn, and pnpm

If you're a JavaScript developer, chances are you've used one of the popular package managers, npm, yarn, or pnpm. While they all serve the same basic purpose of managing packages, they have some differences in terms of speed, disk space usage, and other features. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the differences between npm, yarn, and pnpm, and when to use which.


npm is the default package manager for Node.js and is used by millions of developers worldwide. It's well-known for its vast library of packages and ease of use. One of the key benefits of using npm is that it comes pre-installed with Node.js, which means that you don't have to install it separately.


Yarn is a newer package manager that was created by Facebook to solve some of the issues with npm, particularly around speed and stability. Yarn uses a shared cache and parallel installation to speed up the process of installing packages. It also has a lockfile, which ensures that the same versions of packages are installed across all machines.


pnpm is a relatively new package manager that takes a different approach to package installation. Rather than installing each package separately, pnpm creates a single shared folder for all packages, which reduces disk space usage and speeds up installation times. It also has a caching mechanism that allows it to reuse packages across different projects, further reducing disk space usage.

When to use which?

While all three package managers can be used for any JavaScript project, there are some cases where one may be more suitable than the others.

Use npm if:

  • You're working on a small project with few dependencies.
  • You're already using Node.js and don't want to install another package manager.
  • You're not concerned about disk space usage.

Use yarn if:

  • You're working on a large project with many dependencies.
  • You need to ensure that the same versions of packages are installed across all machines.
  • You're looking for a faster and more stable package manager.

Use pnpm if:

  • You're working on a project with many dependencies that would take up a lot of disk space.
  • You're concerned about disk space usage.
  • You're looking for a package manager that installs packages faster and with less disk usage.

In conclusion, npm, yarn, and pnpm are all popular package managers for JavaScript projects. While they all have their strengths and weaknesses, choosing the right package manager for your project depends on the size of your project, the number of dependencies, and your disk space and speed requirements. By understanding the differences between them, you can make an informed decision on which one to use for your next project.

2024 ❤️ MH (Frank) Tsai