PHP 5 and 7.0 will soon reach end-of-life. This means that these versions will no longer receive updates of any kind, including fixes for security issues. To ensure the on-going compatibility and security of your WordPress sites, you will need to upgrade to PHP 7.2.
The Current State Of PHP
- The current version is 7.2. This is the currently recommended version for use with WordPress.
- Support for PHP 7.0 ended on Dec 3 2018, which means that you really should be using at least version 7.1.
- Support for PHP 5.6 ends on 31 Dec 2018.
- PHP 7.3 is due for release on Dec 6 2018.
- All WP NET servers currently support PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1 or 7.2.
- We are planning to remove support for PHP 5.6 and 7.0 on April 1 2019, but this date may change.
- PHP 6 was never released. This version was skipped.
Most of WP NET’s customers are already using PHP 7.1 or 7.2, but there are some still on 5.6 or 7.0. In the near future we will be contacting these customers by email, and informing them of the importance of upgrading their site to PHP 7.2.
Why Upgrade To PHP 7.2?
Once PHP 5.6 and 7.0 reach end-of-life, they are no longer supported with security fixes. That means that even if a vulnerability is discovered, it won’t be fixed, leaving your website vulnerable.
PHP 7 has many improvements over PHP version 5, including performance and security enhancements. PHP 5 has many known bugs that relate to performance, memory and security.
The good news is that you are probably going to see a nice performance improvement when you switch to PHP 7. You may need to deal with a few incompatibilities. But once you have resolved those and updated to PHP 7.2, you can rest assured that you will continue to receive security updates until November 30, 2020.
How Can I Find Out My PHP Version?
Thanks to our nifty little WP NET Info Dashboard Widget, finding your PHP version is super easy. It’s displayed right there, on your WordPress Dashboard. If you’re site is using a PHP version below 7.2, it will be highlighted red:
If you’re already using PHP 7.2, then you have nothing to worry about — you’re using the recommended version of PHP! If you’re using PHP 5.6, 7.0 or 7.1, read on for help with upgrading to PHP 7.2.
Will My Site Work With PHP 7.2?
Most themes and plugins that are actively maintained have been updated to support PHP 7.2, but if your theme has not been updated for a while, or if you’re using old plugins that are not actively maintained — you may run into compatibility issues.
A common scenario that we’ve come across is sites with premium plugins that have expired licenses, meaning auto-updates aren’t available and users are unaware that there are version updates available. It’s important to keep your premium plugin licenses current, so you always have access to the latest version of the plugin. This will ensure you have the latest features, bug and security fixes and compatibility with the latest version of PHP.
Update Your Theme
Ensuring that you have the latest version of your theme installed is a good first step. If your theme supports auto-updating, you should make a full backup, and then run the updater. Otherwise, contact your theme author and ask them how you can obtain the latest version. While your at it, you may as well ask them whether the latest version of the theme is compatible with PHP 7.2.
Update Your Plugins
It is very important that you make sure that your plugins are also compatible with PHP 7.2. If you are using an unmaintained plugin, you may encounter warnings or errors due to incompatibilities. If you encounter any problems, contact the developer of the plugin and ask them for an urgent fix. Remind them that PHP 5.6 and 7.0 reach end-of-life very soon and that you must update to PHP 7.2.
What if My Theme or Plugins Do Not Support PHP 7.2?
PHP 7.1 was released 2 years ago. If your plugins or theme do not support PHP 7.1 or 7.2 at this point, it is quite likely that the software is no longer supported. If the software was being supported, then they would have had many users report problems within the last 2 years, which they would have fixed.
Using unsupported software is a bad idea because it means that security vulnerabilities are not being fixed. So if you do encounter incompatibilities when upgrading to PHP 7.2, this may be a red flag and may indicate you should move on to using an alternative theme or plugin that is being actively supported.
Please note that WP NET will remove support for PHP 5.6 and 7.0 on April 1 2019.
How Do I Change My PHP Version?
We recommend cloning your site to a staging domain for testing a new PHP version. If you do make the change on your live site, try to do it at a time when there are no users visiting your site, such as late at night. If your experience problems with your site after switching PHP version, you can always simply switch back while you work at getting your site compatible.
Once your confident that your site is ready for PHP 7.2, you can change PHP version on your live site.
See our Knowledgebase for instructions on how to change your site’s PHP version.
Test Your Site
After switching PHP version, it’s important to test your site and check that it’s working OK. Be sure to check the front-end (public facing) site and also the WordPress Admin. If you experience any broken functionality or white-screens, switch back the PHP version you were using previously and then check your error logs. They should contain information about the errors that occurred and show you the files that caused the error(s).
Managed WordPress customers can access error logs directly in the Plesk Panel. Managed Server customers can access logs by logging into the site via SFTP.
WP NET Support is here to help, just open a support ticket and we’ll help with testing your site. Our scope of support does not include resolving any PHP compatibility errors, but we’ll help identify them and advise you on the best course of action.