WordPress, as you may know, is written in the PHP programming language, which requires updates to the most recent version in order to remain secure and functional. However, before upgrading to the latest version, test PHP updates to ensure they work with the other components of your WordPress website.
Because PHP is open source, anyone with access to it can look for vulnerabilities within it. These flaws can then be exploited to compromise a website. But don’t be too concerned about this. Developers are constantly working to improve its security and integrity.
What exactly is PHP?
PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It has gone through several iterations along the way. PHP was founded in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. It has come a long way since then, and each new version improves on the previous one.
PHP’s first version was simply a collection of Common Gateway Interface (CGI) binaries written in the C programming language. It is now the tenth most popular web programming language and one of the most widely used to build websites today. PHP is an open-source scripting language that can be embedded in HTML pages.
What might happen if PHP updates are not tested?
The most common problem with upgrading to a newer version of PHP is that your site will start throwing deprecation errors.
If you see these errors, your coding is deficient, and you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and update it. However, if you’re running the most recent version of WordPress, you should be fine with PHP 8.0. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as when you have out-of-date plugins or a theme on your site.
Checking your PHP Version
You can easily check your PHP version through your cPanel hosting account. If you do not remember your cPanel account log-in
information. You can contact HA support with your primary email address and have these details emailed to you, or you can login to your client area.
Once you’ve logged into your cPanel, go to the “Software” and click on “MultiPHP Manager”.
This page will display the current PHP Version. After selecting your domain, click the PHP Version drop-down menu, select the most recent PHP version, and apply.
Plugin/PHP Compatibility Check
Check your plugins for PHP compatibility if you have a site that throws deprecation errors and you’re running the most recent WordPress version. Navigate to the WordPress dashboard. Then, on the left-hand side, select Plugins. Select View details for the plugin causing the errors from this menu.
This will bring up a dialogue box with the plugin information. You can see what version of PHP that particular plugin is compatible with on the right.
If the PHP version is not compatible with the most recent PHP version, you should look for a replacement plugin, as using an outdated plugin will cause problems down the road. Similarly, if it is a theme PHP deprecation issue, you should definitely invest in a new theme.
Aside from the standard security measures you can take to secure your site, PHP is definitely one you should look into — running out-of-date anything can and usually will bite you in the tail.
Running the most recent PHP version is a simple and effective way to help ensure your site is secure and appealing to the masses.