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Upgrading PHP on Your WordPress Website

WordPress PHP Updates – Done Professionally

WordPress is a set of scripts written in a programming language called PHP. From time to time, the PHP language gets upgrades, which are either new features, bug fixes, or even vulnerability fixes.

This means that the core WordPress software, plugins, add-ons, and themes all need to keep up with changes that happen with PHP. If they don’t, then that software may not work properly, work poorly, not work at all, or it might be subject to hacks/vulnerabilities. In addition, we’ve seen some speed increases with newer versions of PHP (which is always great) and you get a more secure version each time, so doing these updates is definitely worth it.

As you should be aware, WordPress updates come out from time to time and plugin updates happen weekly. The best way to help make sure your website doesn’t get hacked is to make sure you keep everything up to date. Our Website Care service is something our clients love because their websites are kept up to date and are checked over by our team weekly. We check to make sure pages load correctly, and forms or checkout pages work since sometimes these upgrades cause some website functions to break.

Beyond that Website Care service, going to a new version of PHP takes more work.

This is for a few reasons:

  • Sometimes plugin developers are slow to upgrade their plugins to be compatible with the new version of PHP.
  • Sometimes hosting companies do not have the latest version of PHP loaded on their server yet.
  • Maybe some versions of WordPress are very far behind, requiring upgrades to be done much more carefully.
  • Often, we see some plugins go “dead” (in terms of development) and new plugins must be found to replace them.

Or there could be more reasons.

Find Which Version of PHP Your WordPress Website is Using

In order to plan this work, you’ll need to find out which version you’re using and then which version you want to go to.

Inside your WordPress administration/dashboard, go to:

Tools > Site Health

Then click on the “Info” tab at the top, then open up the “Server” section:

How to find your WordPress PHP version in the dashboard

Next, go check out what the latest PHP version is.

It’s important to also find out what the latest version of PHP for WordPress is. You can do that by checking out the WordPress Requirements page.

Write all this down so you have good notes about the status of your website.

Why PHP Updates Need to Be Done Carefully

Many times, going to a new version of PHP is a lot more work than a regular WordPress upgrade since it must first be planned, then testing might need to be done before the upgrade, of course backups must be taken, then once the upgrade goes live, more extensive testing needs to be performed to make sure everything is working like it should. The more pages and the more functionality your website has, the more time is needed.

We might even get half way through an upgrade, find things that don’t work and have to restore from backup and try the next night. This probably happens a third of the time – even with a good plan in place.

Can You Do it Yourself?

You do not want to attempt to do this yourself because there’s a much higher chance that you’ll end up with a website that does not work. There’s a very high chance of this happening, actually – I’ve seen it many times. And you don’t want just any web developer out there doing it without having a solid plan and plenty of experience in place.

At Webstix, we’ve done lots of PHP upgrades and our team is well versed in knowing what to expect and how to deal with it. We do this work at night so that any downtime has a low impact. We, of course, take backups and can restore if necessary (while keeping tabs on seeing if any new orders happen to come in while we test or that sort of thing). And the testing must be very thorough since you don’t want to find out a few days or a week later that a contact form or checkout isn’t working.

If you need your WordPress site’s PHP update done, contact Webstix today and we’ll be happy to get you a quote.


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