As I understand, helpers are singletons in Magento. I was wondering what the life span of the singleton is in Magento. Is only 1 instantiated for the life of the app (web server process start to finish) or is it per request? Or is it something else?

I have a helper that memoizes some data, and I was wondering how long it would hold on to it. I figured it would be for the life span of the helper.

  • 1
    What are you using to "memorize" the data?
    – mbalparda
    Jun 2, 2015 at 19:16
  • It's stored in the instance of the object with $this->_variable
    – Shilpam
    Jun 2, 2015 at 20:23

2 Answers 2


Most variables in PHP last as long as the page request or an execution lasts. So, if you instantiate a helper object for a certain page request or a script execution in command line, the helper will retain the cached $this->_variable variable for that request only. When you refresh the page or run the script again, it will re-create itself. Consider the following dummy helper.

class My_Extension_Helper_Data extends Mage_Core_Helper_Data
    protected $_temp = null;

    public function getTemp()
        if (!isset($this->_temp)) {
            $this->_temp = rand(0,10);

        return $this->_temp;

Call $helper->getTemp() and see what variable it returns. You'll see that it changes on every single run or page request.

  • Pretty much what i have said in my answer
    – Shaughn
    Jun 3, 2015 at 10:31

As you can see below, the helper is set in registry:

 * Retrieve helper object
 * @param string $name the helper name
 * @return Mage_Core_Helper_Abstract
public static function helper($name)
    $registryKey = '_helper/' . $name;
    if (!self::registry($registryKey)) {
        $helperClass = self::getConfig()->getHelperClassName($name);
        self::register($registryKey, new $helperClass);
    return self::registry($registryKey);

which basically sets a static var. That being said and more simply put, the helper will only be instantiated and initialised for the life of the app. Once the helper is called in a new process, the data previously set will be lost.

If you are looking to store data to be reused later on, you could use core/sessions else implement a session class of your own.

  • Is a new process guaranteed per request or per stop/start of the webserver?
    – Shilpam
    Jun 2, 2015 at 22:20
  • 2
    Php guarentees a full clean up at request shutdown. Only things that can circumvent this is extensions written in C as they can override the request destructor - this is how persistent connections to databases are maintained. Semantics: php is only a new process per request in the old days of plain CGI. These days, several requests are handled by fastCGI interface (php-fpm) or apache module (mod_php).
    – user4351
    Jun 2, 2015 at 23:33

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