What is PHP? Why do I care?
Why Upgrade To PHP 7.2?
What is PHP?
It’s a language; PHP is the language running your website. It’s Open Source, meaning it’s freely available to anyone.
Like English, PHP grows and expands. In the case of English new words and updates are made each year. Prior to the debut of PHP 7 in December 2015, the PHP language had not been updated in over a decade. And because the language hasn’t had a foundational upgrade, this upgrade brings many significant changes. In fact so many that the language has updates to 7.2 with 7.3 being tested by hosting companies for availability in Summer 2019.
In December 2018 the support, updates and security patches for the older language versions PHP 5.0 TO 7.0 we’re ended.
There are quite a few reasons to switch over to PHP 7.2 if you use WordPress.
The minimum PHP requirements for WordPress core have increased, and many plugins and themes may soon become incompatible with older versions of PHP.
Meanwhile, those past versions of PHP and WordPress have been discontinued and no longer receive security fixes, which could leave your site exposed to hackers.
These security vulnerabilities are leading to changes in how Google indexes sites. Lowering visibility and impacting how and when your business is viewed.
As you can see, making the switch to PHP 7 is essential. At the same time, there are a few issues to watch out for during the process, such as non-compatible scripts. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you along.
WordPress & PHP 7.2
PHP 7.2 drops many deprecated functions in favor of new, modernized features. These additional capabilities include anonymous classes, throwable errors, and type declarations. Updates such as these are a much-needed refresher, keeping PHP competitive as a programming language. And to keep it working on the newest technologies.
Overall, PHP 7 is faster, more secure, and significantly more resource efficient than older versions. To give you an example, a site running PHP 7 can handle twice as many visitors as PHP 5 can, using the same amount of memory. And 7.0, no longer supported, is slower than 7.2 or 7.3; 7.3 was released in 2018.
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.
How Many Sites Are Already Using PHP below 7.2?
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.