PHP is the coding language that WordPress, plugins, and themes use. And it is ever evolving.
Support for version 7.1 will cease on December 1, 2019.
Failure to upgrade will leave your site with a security hole.
Discover how to check and change your PHP version right now.
Why We Have to Update Our PHP Version
Running out of date PHP opens a security hole on your site.
Plus, you’re missing out on the latest speed improvements too.
Most site owners never had to concern themselves with their PHP version until 2017.
That’s when active support dropped for PHP 5.6, which was the last version before making the leap to PHP 7.0. (It’s a long story on why we skipped v6.0.)
But ever since then PHP has been in rapid development – so rapid that WordPress and plugins have failed to keep pace – until recently.
WordPress Sets Minimum PHP Version and More
In Dec of 2018, with the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, WordPress announced that they were serious about site security.
To that end, they began rolling in parts of a bigger Site Health Check feature.
And, they began requiring a minimum PHP version of 5.6 for all themes and plugins.
There were a lot of complaints, as support for PHP 5.6 was over, but hey, they had to start somewhere. And the fact that WP was now requiring any sort of minimum PHP version put every theme and plugin developer on notice to get their wares compliant with not only the latest PHP version, but also the latest WP version, including the Gutenberg editor.
New PHP 7.2 Minimum for WordPress
Support for PHP 7.0 stopped in Dec 2018.
Support for PHP 7.1 will stop in Dec 2019.
And since WordPress 5.3 will be released in Nov 2019, they chose to set the minimum PHP version to 7.2 so that it would be actively supported for at least another year.
Various PHP Versions Available
Although PHP 7.2 is considered stable for production sites, and is the default PHP version for many hosts, I find it to be a bit buggy for some sites.
PHP 7.3 has been out for over a year and is considered stable to use on production sites.
The release of PHP 7.4 is scheduled for Nov 2019. However, it will not be considered stable enough to recommend for production sites. In fact, it may be mid 2020 before most host consider it stable enough to even offer.
What You Should Set Your PHP Version To
I would go for PHP 7.3.xx (whatever point version your host offers). That will keep you going for the longest, likely into 2021.
If that doesn’t work, then you’ll have to step down to 7.2.xx
Update PHP at Your Host
The PHP code is supplied by your host because they use it for running certain things on your server. And, they make it available for WordPress, plugins, and themes to use.
So, you have to update your PHP version from within your hosting account.
The easiest way to do that is via cPanel (your host’s control panel).
How to Check Your Site for Breaks
The good news is, if anything breaks during your PHP change, it will return to working the moment you go back to your original PHP version.
So, don’t be afraid to make this change.
That said – ALWAYS make a full backup of your site before making any changes.
READ: Backup Checklist to ensure your backup has everything you need to fully restore your site.
Step 1. See this video tutorial for how to check and change your PHP version on hosts with cPanel and on SiteGround (as long as you still have their version of cPanel and not their custom control panel yet).
Step 2. Open a new incognito window and check your site while logged out. Poke around all over.
Step 3. See this post on how to Delete Cache Everywhere and then check your site again.
If Your Site Breaks
If your site has issues with PHP 7.3, make not of them. If it’s a theme or plugin, contact the developer and ask when they plan to make their thing PHP 7.3 compliant. You can wait, or consider finding a substitute that is compliant.
If your site has issues with PHP 7.2, see this video tutorial on how to fix issues you may run into with PHP 7.2
If those don’t fix it, make note of what isn’t working and contact the developer. You can’t go any lower than PHP 7.2, so you NEED a fix, or you need to find a better plugin or theme that is keeping pace with WP’s minimum requirement.
Report Compatibility Issues
BlogAid informs a village of users.
If you encounter plugin PHP compatibility issues, let us know in the comments.
Help us help each other.
Site Audit Plus Clients Get Extra Help
I keep my Site Audit Plus clients super informed about major site changes via
- our private Facebook group
- free member site
- and live sessions
I know their sites are clean and current, and that they have received the base education which empowers them to DIY their sites through all of this.
We discuss which levels of PHP work best, and report issues to help the whole village get through these big site changes calmly.
If you’ve been struggling to make sense of your site tech, and all the site tech changes, consider getting an audit and the amazing education that comes with it. Not to mention all the free, extra support, and the comradery of an educated group of site owners just like you so you can stay WAY ahead of the curve with site tech changes and stop doing everything last minute, or after it becomes an issue.