Running the latest version of PHP on your website provides a lot of benefits. If you are not running the latest version of PHP, your website load speed is drastically hurting. Previous studies have shown that if your website takes more than 6 seconds to load, your website traffic can suffer as much as 53% loss.
In this guide, we will discuss several reasons on benefits of upgrading to the latest version of PHP and how to update PHP on your WordPress to the latest version.
When you first start looking through WordPress plugins repository, it can get overwhelming because there are thousands of plugins available, both free and paid. In this step by step guide, we will guide you on how you can install a WordPress plugin.
How does PHP affect WordPress?
This may be a silly question to start with, but does WordPress rely on PHP? Absolutely! WordPress is build using PHP, which is a server-side scripting language. Since the beginning of WordPress, it has gone through a lot of updates and versions. At the same time, PHP has come a long way in development, as well. As such, it’s very important to make sure using the latest version of WordPress is important.
PHP is the backbone of WordPress and how its plugins functions, adding it a lot of different unique functionality to the CMS. With PHP, there’s a lot that you can do.
What is PHP?
PHP is a server-side scripting language that is used primarily for creating dynamic web pages. PHP does things like generating interactive content, collecting form data, authenticating users, and sending information to visitors (such as you, vieweing this blog post).
Benefits of Updating to the Latest PHP
Improvements to Load Speed
You could install a page speed plugin as well as through other techniques, but updating to the latest PHP version should be your first step. By upgrading to the latest PHP version, you will experience performance up to three times faster than previous versions (PHP version 7.3).
Improvements to Security
With both WordPress and PHP being open source software, it makes them incredibly popular. At the same time, it also makes them potential targets to hackers. Upgrading to the latest PHP version is an absolute must to make sure you’re taking advantage of the latest safeguards. For example, if you are on PHP 5.6, you are lacking a lot of security features, as such, are not secure enough to really harden your website.
At HJI, we make sure that your websites are running the latest version of PHP supported and your overall security is closely kept an eye on. If you host your website with HJI (included in every plan), you can rest assured that your website and code are on the latest PHP version.
Improvements to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engines take load times as one of the factors to ranking your website. This means that a faster website can help you rank higher in search results, thus helping to covert into better user experience, and even conversions.
How to Check Your WordPress Website’s Current PHP Version
If you want to check to see what PHP version your website has, there are multiple ways to do this. Let’s go over these options.
Use a WordPress Plugin
The first option is, of course, from with the WordPress ecosphere. The easiest way to go about this is to use the Display PHP Version plugin from the WordPress repository.
All you have to do is go to your WordPress admin panel and install the plugin. If you want to. know how to install a plugin on your website, we have a guide ready for you to see.
Head on over to the Plugin menu, install the plugin, and activate it. Once activated, all you have to do is go back to your WordPress Dashboard and check under At a Glance. You will see text that says, Running PHP version: right in that widget. That will tell you what PHP version you are currently running.
If you see that your server is running the latest PHP version, there’s nothing you need to do other than be relieved that you don’t have anything to worry about. Perhaps even eat some chocolate to celebrate?
Check Your Webhost’s Management Panel
If you are not able to check through your WordPress admin area, then your next step would be to check with your web hosting provider. Specifically, you can get in touch with your hosting company to ask about what PHP version you’re running. Alternatively, if there’s a option for you to check from within your web hosting panel, you should do so.
Updating to Latest PHP Version
After checking your WordPress site, if you found out your PHP version isn’t the latest, it’s highly encouraged you update to the latest supported PHP. Depending on what control you have over your website, you could either get in touch with your web hosting company to upgrade your WordPress website to latest PHP version or if you have control within your web hosting panel, you could upgrade yourself.
Before you proceed to updating your PHP version, there’s a few steps you should take.
Back Up Your Website and Then Update Everything
The WordPress community is a strong advocate for encouraging the use of latest PHP version. As such, whenever there is a new version of WordPress released, it’s made sure to work with the most up-to-date PHP version.
That being said, now that you want to update to the latest PHP version, you need to first back up your website. You never know how your website’s code will respond to the latest PHP version, so having a full back up of your website is a must.
Back up everything and then hit the upgrade button on your PHP version.
Check for Compatability Issues With a WordPress Plugin
Now that you’re done upgrading your PHP version to the latest available, it’s time to check and make sure your website is still operating as expected.
Go to the Plugin section of your website and install the PHP Compatability Checker plugin. Once installed, head on over under Tools and then click on PHP Compatability. From this area, you will be able to scan to see the status of your plugins and themes after upgrading to the latest PHP.
Once the scan is done, you’ll be presented with a list of errors and warnings currently being experienced by your website. If you do see errors, make sure to address them accordingly. For example, if there is a plugin you don’t need and is causing compatibility issues, you can safely deactivate and/or delete the plugin from your website.
Summing Up Everything
WordPress and PHP have a very close relationship. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your website is running the latest version of PHP. By running the latest software, you’ll be able to take advantage of increased security and speed.
In this guide, you learned about PHP and why it’s important in relation to WordPress. If you followed the guide and took the time to understand everything, good job!
If you’re on HJI plan, rest assured that your website is running the latest stable PHP version. We want you to focus on running your website or business, not have to worry about anything under the hood of your website.