Today, we’re talking about PHP, the programming language and rock upon which your WordPress website runs. Before we look at why it’s important to keep it up to date, let’s first discuss what PHP actually is.
What is PHP?
…That’s a lot of technical jargon, essentially the PHP language is used to create dynamic content and adapt to visitors as they interact with a website. For example, how visitors filter blog posts, make online purchases or login & manage their account.
Why do you need your PHP version kept up to date?
So much of WordPress runs on PHP. It’s super important your website is running the latest stable (or at the very least a still supported) version of PHP for speed and security reasons.
As new versions of PHP are released, the code gets more refined and faster at processing functions. Which ultimately means faster at serving web pages.
And I don’t need to tell you that, the longer your website takes to load, the more chance a visitor is going to get frustrated and just leave without even viewing your website.
Building on that, Google and other search engines take website speed into account when deciding their rankings. A slow website will be marked down compared to a fast website.
All of this will directly impact the leads/sales your company gets.
Technology needs to develop and adapt with the growing threats of malicious attacks and cybercriminals.
Each version of PHP is supported for around 2-3 years. During that time period, security patches are released when bugs/loopholes are found. Afterwards, the developers of PHP assume you’re moving on to the next supported version, so stop releasing updates.
The security patches can include measures to prevent DDoS, code execution, memory corruption, XSS (cross site scripting) and bypasses.
You can find the most up to date and supported PHP versions and their schedules here.
What can you do?
If your WordPress website is regularly maintained and kept up to date, then you shouldn’t encounter any issues upgrading the PHP version. That being said, it’s always best to test upgrading PHP versions in a staging environment, just to be on the safe side.
If you’re stuck or need help, speak to us for assistance or check with your web hosts.