PHP Version in WordPress: Why It Matters
Some background on PHP and PHP versions
PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor and is the programming language that WordPress is written in. WordPress requires at least the 5.2.4 version of PHP released in August 2007 to run on. Despite the fact that it reached its official end-of-life in January of 2011, many websites still continue to use it. Official end of life date is the date that the PHP Group stops supporting a particular version of PHP. PHP 5.3 reached its end-of-life in August 2014 yet 38 percent of WordPress site are still using that version. September of 2015 PHP 5.4 reached its end-of -life. The most recent version of PHP is 5.6 released in August 2014. PHP 7 (PHP6 is being skipped) is scheduled for release November 2015. People have been reluctant to update the version of PHP they use. Sometimes this is because they consider it technically challenging and beyond their abilities, some aren’t aware there is a newer version and for others it is because a newer version may not be possible with their hosting service (for enriching your website productivity you can learn about BuddyPress customization as well).
Many website owners follow the “if it’s not broke, why fix it” school of thought when it comes to updating the version of PHP they use on their site. Almost a third of WordPress sites use a version of PHP that stopped receiving support over seven years ago. There are a number of reasons for updating to a newer version including:
- Security – The PHP Group will no longer repair any security holes or problems themselves. Operating system vendors/developers will continue to work on security issues when found, but security will be better if you update to a version supported by the PHP group.
- Performance – Newer versions of PHP perform better in many areas. They will improve your website speed while at the same time consume fewer resources which reduces operating expenses, improves SEO, and increases income.
- Compatibility– You will be less likely to experience compatibility issues with supported versions of PHP
- Bug fixes – Bugs in newer supported versions of PHP are fixed by the PHP Group.
Having a more secure website that performs faster and more efficiently with less problems and better support seems like a convincing argument for updating the WordPress PHP version you use if you are using a version that is no longer supported (read about Zendesk Api PHP, which might be a great help for you too).
It is understandable why some people don’t want to update to a more recent WordPress PHP version. If they have never experienced problems with the version they currently use, then why change. But just because you have never had security issues using a PHP version that is no longer supported doesn’t mean you never will. WordPress websites using older unsupported versions of PHP are hacked at a higher rate than those using supported versions. Increasing your websites speed is pretty much assured by using a more recent version. Even if you don’t go with the latest PHP version, it is a good idea to at least use a version that is still supported by the PHP Group.
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