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What's in the Article

  • What is a PHP Update?
  • Do I Need an Updated PHP?
  • How Do I Know if My PHP is Up to Date?

What is a PHP Update and Why is it Important to Get One?

PHP is probably the most popular server-side programming language being used online today. In fact, your website probably wouldn’t even exist without PHP. Unfortunately, too many website owners forget about the PHP update, which can be a problem with security and performance issues.

Let’s take a look at why PHP is such an important piece of the website security and performance puzzle.

What is PHP?

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It was created for building websites back in 1994, but like everything online, it has evolved over the years. Now, it is the fully-fledged, high-quality programming scripting language of choice for many organizations. PHP is very flexible, has a lot of innovative features and works on all major operating systems. More than a language, it’s part of an important ecosystem with pre-built solutions that can save you in the long run.

And the best part? It’s much easier to troubleshoot problems with PHP compared to other languages making it very user-friendly.

Did You Know:

As many as 82% of websites are built on PHP, one of the most popular programming languages, including Facebook, Wikipedia and WordPress.

All websites are running on code. The major difference between PHP and other programming languages is that PHP can be used on the server-level. All this means is that the action is taking place in the back-end of your WordPress website to turn your web pages into a readable HTML format that users see on the front-end.

Simply put: PHP is responsible for making your website function.

Do I Need an Updated PHP?

If performance and security are important to you (which they both should be), the answer is simple: YES.

Security

There are many benefits to upgrading, the biggest is protection. For any business, website security is a must. If you’re not updated to the latest version of PHP, you could be putting your site in a vulnerable position. Outdated PHP versions are basically welcome mats for website hackers.

PHP is constantly evolving and improving. Every new version brings enhanced security and repairs that can directly impact the overall stability of your system.

Performance

PHP is central to your website’s performance and provides functionality. Updates can help to keep your website scalable as it grows (ex: add more web pages), increase page speed and protect your site from viruses with built-in security layers. Any sites still using outdated PHP versions can also experience performance issues such as slow load time, which is a vital metric for conversions and SEO.

Skipping this upgrade would be a costly mistake.

How Do I Know if My PHP is Up to Date?

Since PHP evolves so quickly, it’s important to know the version of your PHP server. Here’s a snapshot of a few WordPress PHP versions:

  • PHP 5.2 (released in 2007) for example, is the minimum requirement for all WordPress websites, but is full of security issues.
  • PHP 5.4 (released in 2014) introduced several performance optimizations and is widely supported. But, as technology evolved, it lacked in bandwidth, latency, memory, and speed.

Did you know that PHP version 5 went through so many iterations that they decided to skip version 6 and jump to version 7.

  • PHP 7 (released in 2015) boasts twice the speed as previous versions, and can execute twice as many requests per second. Combine speed with added security and updating to
  • PHP 7 is a no-brainer if you want to keep your users and your site safe.

Best practice is to always keep your themes and plugins updated.

Did You Know:

40% of users will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. PHP 7 offers a drastic improvement in performance speed over its previous version.

Here’s how to check your version.

One quick and easy way to check which version your host is currently running and help you determine if it’s time for a PHP upgrade right within WordPress. Go directly to your dashboard and navigate to Tools > Site Health. If your website is using an outdated version of PHP, it will be noted here.

According to WordPress, unfortunately, 20% of WordPress users are still on PHP 5.6 or lower (and putting themselves at risk). Why?

Too often, it’s because business owners simply don’t understand the advantages of updating PHP or even know what version they’re using. It also requires significant time, effort and resources to update code that supports new versions of PHP (plugins, themes, etc). This has led to too many sites running on outdated versions, which can lead to security issues and poor performance.

The good news is that the PHP developers at CMDS can help. We always recommend you run the highest available PHP version, which, at the time of this article, is PHP 7.4.8 (released July 2020).

Get Results with a Top Rated PHP Development Agency

As you can see, updated PHP is a crucial part of a fast, secure and high-performing WordPress website. A key component to keep your site compatible with new PHP versions is to stay on top of WordPress maintenance.

At CMDS, we offer website maintenance and develop custom PHP upgrades that give our clients the solutions they need to enhance conversions and retention rates.

Ready to update? If you’re looking for an economical PHP solution with a user-friendly workflow – and one that is SEO friendly and W3C compliant – we’re your PHP experts.