PHP - A Ticking Time Bomb
Will Outdated PHP Language be the Reason?
First - What is PHP?
PHP is the language behind your website. Your website is running PHP on it’s servers; hosting various design applications – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc.
For a number of years the PHP “language” was not updated. While technology has been advancing – quickly – at the speed of light.
Think of it as the difference between a flip phone on 2G and a smart phone on 4G. Now the “language” equivalent of 2G (PHP 5.6 to 7.0) has been discontinued. So your website (flip phone) is now trying to run on the (4G) PHP 7.2 & 7.3 network which is slowing your website’s progress and impacting the search engine results your clients receive.
We fix the progress delay and improve your clients experience. #PHPRisk
ShelleRae Creative's PHP Update strengthens your website infrastructure by ensuring your website is running recommended and stable infrastructure.
As PHP 5.6, Still Used By Upwards of 70% of Websites, Approaches Its End of Life Deadline, Yoast is announcing WordPress is finally arriving at 5.6.
PHP 5.6 and 7.0 are shortly coming to the end of the support period for security patches, so what plans have you made to migrate code and sites to newer platforms?
With apparently huge numbers (70%)of sites still running PHP 5.6, there appears to be little industry acknowledgement of the issue.
Is there a ticking PHP Time Bomb waiting to go off?
Created by all the issues of these long delayed infrastructure rebuilds.
There is another issue out there. Hosting companies like Rooster Grin and even old GoDaddy plans aren’t on servers with 7.2. This means small time, often “local” website designers and developers are not using 7.2. in some cases I’m seeing development still on PHP 5.4.
Will your site need a complete rebuild. Yes, many will. Especially if website maintenance has been placed on the back burner. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in small businesses. If maintenance has been consistent and updates are automatic versus several versions behind, your site might make it through.
It’s a simple but downright scary process to update. And some sites just won’t make it.
A Ticking Time Bomb
We at ShelleRae Creative walk our clients through the process. It’s just what we’ve found to work best. We can also do it for you. 707.456.7645
That said; our process is truly simple.
We use ManageWP to create at least 15 backups over 15 to 30 days, longer is better but time is short. We download and store 3 backups. If our clients have 3 from 3 different months it’s wonderful. Not always possible. Then we remove all bloat and unused plugins. Update everything as far as it will go. Review for breaks in the programming and user experience (UI), then roll the PHP forward to 7.2 and see what breaks. If need be we roll it back. And fix, and rebuild, and create a strategy based on that experience.
PHP is used by over 82 percent of active websites today. Of all known sites using PHP, only 5.2 percent are running on version 7.2. Considering that PHP 7 has been available since December 2015, this means adoption of the update is moving slowly.
Google is now forcing the change by lowering sites rankings and indexing.
This is likely due to a general lack of knowledge about PHP and version updates. Not all website owners are also developers, and many are simply unaware of the available upgrades. Hosting companies can also be slow to update because they want to avoid dealing with potential code incompatibilities, despite the major advantages that come with making the switch. Industry giants such as Google and Yoast are making a strong push to teach users about their options, and encourage more upgrades to PHP 7.2.
Personally, we are seeing sites, sites like yours, drop in Google rank by significant numbers due to running security risky infrastructure.
Support for PHP 5.6
Each PHP branch goes through the same life cycle after its initial release – 2 years of support, and bugs and security issues are actively fixed during this time. An additional year when only critical security updates are provided. These changes are released on an as-needed basis, depending on whether any security issues have been found and reported.The three year mark, after initial release, the branch is no longer supported in any way.
PHP 5.6 stopped receiving active support on January 19, 2017, and has now moved onto the critical security phase. These security updates ended on December 31, 2018. PHP 7.1 support will end December 2019.
This means all feature upgrades and fixes for PHP 7.1 ends forever December 2019. Only the most serious security holes will receive upgrades, if they are found and properly reported by the PHP development community.
In other words, you’ll want to make the switch to PHP 7.2 right away in order to reap the benefits of continued active development.
The simplest way to upgrade to PHP 7 is by asking your hosting company to update it for your account. Of course, this means you’ll need to be working with a hosting company that supports PHP 7 in the first place. Some companies make it easier to upgrade to PHP 7 than others. We’ve found a simple call to your hosting company will take care of this. But before you do this, a few precautions are warranted.
If you administrate your own server, you can also perform the upgrade process yourself. However, proceed with caution! You should always backup your server and ensure your existing site is compatible with the update before moving forward.
Should your hosting company decline your request, or if it turns out they don’t offer PHP 7.2 support, it may be time to seek out a new place to host your website. We have a few hosting companies we recommend.
First, you should ensure that your site’s code is compatible with PHP 7.2.
Next, backup your website.
Then send a request to your hosting team, asking for the upgrade.
By following these steps, customers can upgrade to PHP 7.2 while reducing the chance of something going wrong.