What Difference Between NPM and NVM

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What Difference Between NPM and NVM

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March 14th, 2024

Have you ever been unsure about the contrast between NPM and NVM? In Node.js development, these tools have different but related jobs. Let’s explore what NPM and NVM do, their benefits, and when it’s best to use each.

What is NPM?

Think of NPM as an app development tool for JavaScript programmers. It’s like a big library where you can find useful things to add to your projects. These things could be pieces of code, like functions or tools, made by others. NPM makes it easy for you to find, install, and use these pieces of code in your projects.

Functionality of NPM:

NPM mainly does three things:

Installs Packages: 

When you need a particular piece of code for your project, NPM can fetch it from its library and add it to your project.

Updates Packages: 

Sometimes, the code you’ve added might improve, or newer versions might emerge. NPM helps you update your code to these newer versions easily.

Removes Packages: 

If you don’t need a piece of code anymore, NPM can help you remove it from your project, keeping things clean and organized.

Understanding NVM

NVM, or Node Version Manager, is helpful for companies like The App Founders that work with Node.js. It’s all about managing different versions of Node.js on your computer. So, if you’re working on different projects that need different versions of Node.js, NVM helps you switch between them smoothly.

Functionality of NVM

NVM does a few key things:

  • It lets you easily download and set up different versions of Node.js on your computer.
  • Depending on which project you’re working on, you can switch to the specific version of Node.js that the project needs for mastering user interfaces without any hassle.
  • If you don’t need a certain version, NVM helps you cleanly remove it from your system.

Key Differences between NPM and NVM

While both NPM and NVM are integral to Node.js development, they serve distinct purposes and exhibit notable differences.

Version Management:


Think of NPM as your tool for handling the different tools and packages you use within Node.js. It helps you manage and install these packages efficiently.


Now, NVM is like a magician that helps you juggle between different versions of Node.js itself. It lets you switch between various versions easily, depending on your project’s needs.

Installation Process:


When you install Node.js, NPM usually comes bundled with it. So, you get NPM automatically.


However, NVM requires a separate installation. But once you have it, you can control Node.js versions more flexibly, installing and switching between them independently.

Advantages of Using NPM 

One of the primary advantages of NPM is its extensive package repository, which provides developers access to a vast ecosystem of open-source packages. Additionally, NPM simplifies development frameworks, streamlining the integration of third-party libraries into projects.

Advantages of Using NVM

NVM offers developers unparalleled flexibility in managing Node.js versions, allowing them to switch between different versions seamlessly. This versatility is invaluable for projects that require compatibility with specific Node.js versions or necessitate testing across multiple environments.

Disadvantages of Using NPM 

Despite its advantages, NPM is not without its drawbacks. One potential downside is the risk of dependency conflicts, particularly when integrating packages with overlapping dependencies. Additionally, NPM ‘s reliance on a centralized repository may result in downtime or connectivity issues.

Disadvantages of Using NVM

Similarly, while NVM offers significant benefits in terms of version management, it can be challenging to maintain multiple Node.js installations, leading to potential conflicts or inconsistencies across projects. Additionally, NVM’s separate installation process may introduce complexity for beginners.

Choosing Between NPM and NVM

When deciding between NPM and NVM, it’s essential to consider the specific requirements of your project and the level of flexibility and control you need over Node.js versions. For projects focused on package management and dependency integration, NPM is the ideal choice. However, NVM offers unparalleled versatility if your project demands compatibility with specific Node.js versions or requires testing across different environments.

Use Cases for NPM 

NPM is indispensable for projects that rely heavily on third-party dependencies, such as web applications, APIs, and command-line utilities. By leveraging NPM ‘s extensive package repository, developers can streamline development workflows and accelerate project delivery.

Use Cases for NVM

NVM is particularly valuable for projects that require compatibility with specific Node.js versions or necessitate testing across different environments. This includes projects with legacy codebases incompatible with the latest Node.js releases or applications targeting specific runtime environments.

Compatibility Issues

One potential challenge when using NPM and NVM is compatibility issues between Node.js versions and package dependencies. It’s essential to thoroughly test your application across different Node.js versions to ensure compatibility and mitigate potential issues.

Best Practices for Using NPM and NVM

To maximize the benefits of NPM and NVM, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Regularly update NPM and NVM to leverage the latest features and improvements.
  • Document your project’s dependencies and Node.js versions to facilitate collaboration and troubleshooting.
  • Use NPM shrinkwrap or package-lock.json to lock package versions and prevent unexpected updates.
  • Test your application across different Node.js versions using NVM to ensure compatibility and identify potential issues early on.


Is NPM included with Node.js?

NPM is included with Node.js by default and installed alongside it.

Can I use NPM and NVM together?

Yes, NPM and NVM can be used together to manage a project’s packages and Node.js versions.

How do I install NVM?

You can install nvm by following the instructions on the official GitHub repository or using a bundle manager such as Homebrew or Chocolatey.

What is the difference between NPM install and NPM CI?

NPM installs dependencies based on the package.json file, while npm ci installs dependencies based on the package-lock.json or npm-shrinkwrap.json file, ensuring deterministic builds.

Can I use NVM on Windows?

NVM is compatible with Windows, although some features may be limited compared to Unix-based systems.


NPM and NVM are really important tools in the Node.js world. They each do different jobs but work well together. NPM helps manage the packages your project needs and makes sure they all work together. NVM is great for handling different versions of Node.js and switching between them. Knowing how NPM and NVM are different can help developers work better, make projects run smoother, and ensure everything works no matter where it’s used.

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