How to Update PHP on WordPress [In 5 Minutes]?

PHP is a scripting language used to create responsive and interactive websites. WordPress is developed using PHP. PHP Developers fix vulnerabilities and provide several improvements with every PHP update. Staying updated with the latest version of PHP secures your website from cyber-attacks and gives an immense boost in performance. 

You should update PHP on WordPress if,

  1. Your site is slow
  2. Your site undergoes a lot of online attacks
  3. For improved performance and security

Using this guide, you will update PHP on WordPress to the latest version and make your site faster and secure. 

Advantages

1. Improved security – Average PHP vulnerability fixes per year are 30, which are great opportunities for infiltrators to exploit your website if left unfixed.

2. Improved performance – Every PHP update gives a boost in performance. Some updates provide massive improvements than the others. 

For example, PHP 7 operates at half the latency of PHP 5.6. That’s 50% improved performance and the number of requests made/ second is double that of PHP 5.6

3. Better support – Older PHP versions cannot be supported by developers for a prolonged period and have a higher chance of being abandoned.

If a core functionality of your website runs on an older version of PHP, in addition to less security and slow performance, it is hard to find support if your site runs into an issue. It’s impossible to fix your site without any support.

You get support with newer PHP versions, and your site becomes compatible with a vast array of plugins.

Prerequisites

1. Update Plugins and Themes

It’s a good practice to update your WordPress core, themes and plugins which helps to stay on top in terms of security and performance. 

Note: If you’ve made any changes to your live theme’s code, create a child theme and replicate those changes. This will avoid loosing the data during the update.

2. Backup your website 

Updating your PHP version could break your site if something goes wrong. As a safety measure, it’s better to backup your entire site. I recommend Updraft Plus for easy site backups. 

3. Check your current PHP version  

Knowing what version of PHP you’re running on will serve as a guide for updating it.

To find the current PHP version:

I. Log on to your WordPress dashboard

II. In the Tools tab, click “Site health”.

Tools>Site health
Click Site health

III. Click Info

Info
Click Info

IV. Click Server. You can find your PHP version here.

Server>PHP version
Your website’s PHP version can be found here

4. Check PHP compatibility

You’re going to check if all your plugins and themes support the latest version of PHP using a plugin called PHP Compatibility checker. 

1. Download PHP compatibility checker and activate it.

Install PHP Compatibility checker
Install the plugin

2. In your installed plugin dashboard, find this plugin and click “Start Scan”.

Click Start Scan from Plugin dashboard
Click Start Scan

3. Click on the latest PHP version. Choose a “Plugin/ Theme Status” depending on your requirements. Click “Scan site” to perform a scan. 

Choose your scan options
Select your desired options

The scan time may vary depending upon the number of plugins and themes you use. 

4. Once the scan is complete, each plugin is denoted with three possible results.

i. Compatible – The plugin fits with the desired PHP version

Compatible result
Compatible Result

ii. Error – The plugin is not compatible, and you’ve to start looking for an alternative plugin or contact the developer to find if the plugin will support your desired PHP version soon.

Error result - Not compatible
Error Result

iii. Unknown – This isn’t an error. As the size of the plugin was too large, it is skipped. Google or contact the developer to find if the plugin supports your desired PHP version. If not look for other plugins with similar functionalities and higher PHP support.

Unknown result - Because of the huge plugin size
Unknown Result

Unless you’re clear that all your plugins and themes support the latest PHP version, DO NOT proceed further. Updating your PHP without following the above requirements will more likely break plugin functionality or the entire site.

Shared Hosting – Using CPanel to Update Your PHP 

Updating PHP varies amongst different hosting providers. Here’s a generalized procedure on how to update your PHP.

1. Login to your CPanel dashboard.

2. In the search bar type in “PHP”. Click on the result that matches with “Select PHP version”.

Search for select PHP version

3. Choose your desired PHP version under “Current PHP version” and click “Set as current”. Your PHP version is updated.

Choose your desired PHP version
Choose PHP version and click “Set as current”

4. Now, php is updated to latest version. To ensure there are no errors, Navigate through your website to spot errors and missing functionalities. In most cases, there would be none. If such an error exists, find the plugin that causes it and replace it with one that offers a higher PHP support.

Dedicated Hosting – Using Web Host Manager

1. Log in to your WHM(Web Host Manager) dashboard as the root user.

2. In the search bar type in “easy” and click on the “easy-apache”.

Find Easy Apache
Click EasyApache

3. Click the “customize”.

find customize option
Click Customize

4. Click on “PHP versions”.

find PHP versions

5. Click the slider to install your desired PHP version. In this case, it’s PHP 7.2.

update php on wordpress
Install slider

6. Finally click review (from the left sidebar) to update. The process may take a few minutes to complete. You’ll now be displayed with a list of changes you’re about to make. Click the Provision button to proceed. Wait for a few minutes.

Finally hit Provision to finish

7. A message stating Provision process is complete is displayed. This marks the end of the PHP update. Click Done to finish the process.

Getting Help From Your Hosting Provider

If the above guide doesn’t support your hosting provider, you can find hosting specific tutorials on how to update your PHP in WordPress.

Alternatively, you can send an email with this context to your hosting provider to update php on WordPress.

Conclusion

To summarize, you’ve updated your PHP version in WordPress.

You’ve also improved your WordPress speed and security by updating the PHP version of your website.

Feel free to comment if you’ve any questions.

FAQ

1. How to update PHP on WordPress Bluehost?

2. How to downgrade the PHP version in WordPress?

Repeat the process of updating your PHP, but choose a lower PHP version instead of choosing the higher one that your WordPress site supports. It is not recommended unless it’s necessary.  

3. Some of my plugins don’t support the latest PHP version. Should I replace them before updating or vice versa?

I recommend replacing them with plugins that support higher PHP versions, or you can contact the developer to check if they could offer support for the latest PHP version soon. DO NOT update your PHP until all your plugins are compatible.

4. What is the latest version of PHP for WordPress?

Though PHP 7.2 and 7.3 are supported, WordPress.org recommends PHP 7.4 which is the latest version of PHP for WordPress.

5. How long does it take to update PHP on WordPress?

Updating your PHP in WordPress takes less than 5 minutes and you won’t experience any downtime.

6. How can I check my PHP version?

You can check your PHP WordPress in WordPress -> Tools -> Site Health -> Info -> Server. You’ll see the version of the PHP which your site is using.

7. Should I update PHP?

Yes, Its recommended to update PHP to latest version always to avoid any security and stability issues.

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