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Yarn vs NPM: Which Package Manager to Choose in 2024?

22nd May, 2024
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    Yarn vs NPM: Which Package Manager to Choose in 2024?

    Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It is quite popular and has witnessed a boom during the past years. If you’re looking for popular courses to learn Node.js, check out this Node JS Tutorial and Projects course

    When you work with NodeJS, you will come across two popular package managers – NPM and Yarn. A package manager is a tool that helps you handle dependencies in a project automatically. Yarn vs NPM has always been a point of argument. This article will give the differences between Yarn and NPM, their advantages and disadvantages, speed and performance, security, and decide which package manager is better. 

    Difference Between Yarn and NPM

    Let us now discuss the difference between Yarn vs NPM in a more detailed way. 

    A. Yarn vs NPM: Dependency Management 

    It uses the yarn add command to install dependencies.It uses the npm install command to install dependencies.
    It installs dependencies in parallel.It installs dependencies sequentially.
    The version lock file is known as yarn.lock.The version lock file is known as package-lock.json.
    It supports the Plug’n’Play feature where it generates a .pnp.cjs file containing the map of dependencies for the project.NPM doesn’t support any such feature.

    The package-lock.json file, created by NPM, is also supported by Yarn, making it easy to migrate version data from NPM to Yarn.

    B. Yarn vs NPM: Performance and Speed

    It installs dependencies in parallel.It installs dependencies sequentially.
    It is faster when installing large files.It is slower when installing large files.
    It supports Zero-Install feature that allows you to install dependencies offline with almost no latency.It doesn’t support any such feature.

    Below image shows a comparison of time taken to install dependencies in various situations by NPM and Yarn.

    C. Yarn vs NPM: Security

    While downloading packages, it runs a security check in the background by making use of the package license information to avoid downloading dangerous scripts or causing dependency issues.In early versions of NPM, security was a major concern. Since version 6, every time you install a package, NPM does a security audit to avoid vulnerabilities and assures that no dependencies are incompatible.
    It verifies packages using checksum.It verifies using the SHA-512 stored in the package-lock.json file.  

    Below image shows a comparison of time taken to install dependencies in various situations by NPM and Yarn.

    With NPM, you can also perform a manual audit to find any vulnerability and resolve it. To find vulnerabilities, you can use npm audit and to resolve them, you can use npm audit fix.

    D. NPM vs Yarn: Popularity

    While Yarn is newer than NPM, it appears to be gaining popularity quickly.

    In the below image, you can compare the number of downloads of NPM and Yarn in the last two years.

    You can clearly see that NPM is the winner here.

    However, if you compare the number of stars of both NPM and Yarn on GitHub, the trend will be something else.

    Even if Yarn is newer than NPM, it has almost 7 times more stars than NPM. 

    E. NPM vs Yarn: When to Use

    There are various factors to choose between NPM and Yarn, here are few points to keep in mind:

    Package management
    Yarn uses a lockfile to ensure installed packages are consistent across various environments.
    NPM uses a package shrinkwrap file for this purpose.
    Yarn is popular because it installs stuff faster and stays more reliable
    NPM has a large and active community contributing to its development
    offline mode and automatic resolution of conflicting versions
    larger ecosystem of plugins and packages, making it a more versatile option
    Community support
    Yarn is still a relatively new technology, and its community is growing.
    It has a larger community of developers, making it easier to find support and resources for any issues you might encounter.

    The choice between Yarn and NPM depends on your specific project requirements and preferences. When deciding, consider the above factors we discussed to make a correct decision.

    What is NPM?

    NPM, or Node Package Manager, is the default package manager for Node.js and ships pre-installed when you download Node.js on your system. With NPM, it is quite easy and simple to install, manage and remove Node.js dependencies in your project.

    NPM involves three things: 

    • A website for managing various aspects of your NPM experience 
    • A registry for public database of Node.js packages 
    • A CLI for interacting via terminal 

    Since, Node.js ships with NPM, to verify if you have NPM installed, run the following command in your terminal: 

    npm -v 

    To update NPM on your system, run the following command: 

    npm install npm@latest -g 

    What is Yarn?

    Yarn, or Yet Another Resource Navigator, is a relatively new package manager developed by Facebook. It was developed to provide more advanced capabilities that NPM lacked at the time (such as version locking) while also making it safer, more reliable, and more efficient.

    NPM has introduced several important features ever since Yarn was released. Yarn is now more of an alternative to NPM than a replacement in its current version. 

    Since Yarn doesn’t come pre-installed with Node.js, it needs to be installed explicitly as: 

     npm install yarn -g 

    Once installed globally, you can use it on a per-project basis by setting the desired version inside our project as below: 

    yarn set version <version-name> 

    Features of Yarn

    1. Plug’n’PlayStarting from Yarn version 2, it no longer uses node_modules folder. Instead, it generates a .pnp.cjs file that maps dependencies for the project. This results in more optimal dependency trees and quicker project launch and package installation. 
    2. Zero-Installs: This feature works in conjunction with Plug’n’Play, which uses the .pnp.cjs file to map packages in the offline cache. This allows you to quickly retrieve and install packages that have been saved. 
    3. License checker: Yarn comes with a built-in license checker which is used during downloading and installing packages.

    Yarn and NPM Commands

    Let us see the different commands for NPM and Yarn in different scenarios: 




    Initialize project 

    npm init 

    yarn init 

    Run script 

    npm run 

    yarn run 

    Run tests 

    npm test 

    yarn test 

    Install dependencies 

    npm install 


    Install packages 

    npm install <package-name> 

    yarn add <package-name> 

    Uninstall packages 

    npm uninstall <package-name> 

    yarn remove <package-name> 

    Install packages globally 

    npm install -g <package-name> 

    yarn global add <package-name> 

    Uninstall packages globally 

    npm uninstall -g <package-name> 

    yarn global remove <package-name> 

    Update packages 

    npm update <package-name> 

    yarn upgrade <package-name> 

    Interactive dependency update 

    npm run upgrade-interactive 

    yarn upgrade-interactive 

    Check for outdated packages 

    npm outdated 

    yarn outdated 

    Manage local cache 

    npm cache clean 

    yarn cache clean 


    npm login/logout 

    yarn login/logout 

    Publish package 

    npm publish 

    yarn publish 

    Update package manager 

    npm update 

    yarn upgrade 

    Run package remotely 

    Not Supported (but npx) 

    yarn dlx 

    Check licenses 

    Not Supported 

    yarn licenses ls 

    If you notice, the commands for NPM and Yarn are quite similar. 

    Similarities Between Yarn and NPM

    Yarn and NPM have several common features: 

    1. Both Yarn and NPM automatically generate a version lock file that keeps track of the exact list of dependencies used for the project. 
    2. Both Yarn and NPM offer the option of saving dependencies in offline cache allowing you to install dependencies even if you’re offline. 
    3. Yarn and NPM both support workspaces, allowing you to manage dependencies for numerous projects from a single repository. 
    4. Using the npx command in NPM and the yarn dlx command in Yarn, you can run scripts remotely in both managers.

    Which One is Better: NPM or Yarn?

    To decide which package manager to choose, let us quickly look at the advantages and disadvantages of both Yarn and NPM.

    A. Advantages and Disadvantages of Yarn

    Yarn AdvantagesYarn Disadvantages
    Supports features like parallel installation, Plug’n’Play and Zero-Install resulting in better performanceDoesn’t work with older versions of Node.js (lower than version 5)
    More secureProblems with installing native modules
    Large active user community

    B. Advantages and Disadvantages of NPM

    NPM AdvantagesNPM Disadvantages
    Ease of use, specially for developers used to the workflow older versionsRequires network access to install packages from online registry
    Optimized local package installation to save hard drive space.Security vulnerabilities are still there

    Which One to Choose? NPM vs Yarn

    NPM is preferred by developers who are used to the workflow of the older versions and happy with the current workflow. It offers a decent user experience while also saving hard drive space. Yarn, on the other hand, has advanced features such as Plug’n’Play and Zero-Install to offer that improves performance and security marginally but at the cost of hard disk space. 

    While NPM was the first to be introduced, Yarn has rapidly gained popularity in the JavaScript community. It took a lot of cues from NPM, especially overcoming its flaws, to create a package management tool that developers would love. Similarly, NPM has continued to counter with each new release, improving its capabilities to satisfy the needs of developers.

    Ultimately, it’s your choice to choose one between them. If you are satisfied with the current workflow, go for NPM. If you want more advanced features, go for Yarn. Just choose Full Stack certification and move ahead on your journey. 

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    In this article, we learned about package management tools in Node.js. We deep-dived into the two most popular package managers for Node.js – NPM vs Yarn. We compared their features in detail. I hope now you will have a clearer understanding of what both Yarn and NPM have to offer and which package manager suits your requirements. Now you’re ready for the KnowledgeHut Node JS tutorial and projects course takes you all the way from the basics of Node.js to creating a complete web application. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Is Yarn better than NPM?

    In terms of speed and performance Yarn is better than NPM because it performs parallel installation. Yarn is still more secure than NPM. However, Yarn uses more disk space than NPM.

    2Can I use NPM instead of Yarn?

    Yes, you can use NPM instead of Yarn if you are satisfied with the current workflow. However, if you wish to have better performance, speed, and security, it is better to choose Yarn.

    3What is the major difference between NPM and Yarn?

    The major difference between NPM and Yarn comes in terms of security performance. While NPM installs packages sequentially, Yarn performs parallel installation resulting in better speed and performance. NPM has tried to fix vulnerabilities, but still, Yarn is considered more secure than NPM. Yarn also comes with advanced features like Plug’n’Play and Zero-Install. 

    4What is NPM?

    NPM is the default package manager for Node.js and ships pre-installed when you download Node.js on your system. With NPM, it is quite easy and simple to install, manage and remove Node.js dependencies in your project.

    5What is Yarn?

    Yarn is a relatively new package manager developed by Facebook to provide more advanced capabilities that NPM lacked at the time (such as version locking) while also making the product more safe, reliable, and efficient. 


    Ashutosh Krishna


    Ashutosh is an Application Developer at Thoughtworks. Apart from his love for Backend Development and DevOps, he has a keen interest in writing technical blogs and articles. 

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