How to Update PHP Version in WordPress
In the fast-paced world of web development, keeping your WordPress site up to date is crucial. This maintenance is essential to ensure that you’re running the latest PHP version. In this guide, we’ll explore why updating the PHP version of your WordPress site is necessary and provide you with a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it safely and efficiently.
Why Update the PHP Version of Your WordPress Site?
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a scripting language that powers WordPress and a significant portion of the internet. Here are some compelling reasons to keep your PHP version current:
1. Performance and Speed
Each new PHP version improves performance, making your WordPress site faster and more efficient. This is vital for user experience and SEO, as page loading speed directly impacts search engine rankings.
Outdated PHP versions can have security vulnerabilities, leaving your site susceptible to attacks. Regularly updating to the latest PHP version ensures you have the latest security patches and protections.
3. New Features
PHP updates introduce new features and functions, enhancing the capabilities of your WordPress site. Staying up to date allows you to leverage these features to improve your site’s functionality.
4. Compatibility and Support
As WordPress evolves, using a PHP version compatible with the latest WordPress releases and plugins becomes increasingly essential. Staying current ensures that you receive support and updates for your WordPress ecosystem.
How to Check Your PHP Version
Before you update PHP, it’s essential to know your current version. Here are two methods to check:
1. Check the PHP Version Using WordPress’ Site Health Tool
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- Navigate to Tools > Site Health.
- Under the Info tab, you’ll find your PHP version listed.
2. Check the PHP Version Using the Command Line
If you have access to your server’s command line, you can use this method:
- Open your terminal or SSH into your server.
- Enter the following command:
This will display your PHP version.
Steps to Take Before You Update Your Website’s PHP
Before diving into the PHP update process, follow these crucial steps:
Step 1: Backup Your Site
Create a complete backup of your website, including files and databases. This ensures you can revert to a previous state if anything goes wrong during the update.
Step 2: Check Your Server
Ensure your server meets the requirements of the PHP version you plan to update. This includes checking compatibility with WordPress, plugins, and themes.
Step 3: Update WordPress, Plugins, and Themes
Ensure that your WordPress core, plugins, and themes are up to date. This minimizes the chances of compatibility issues with the new PHP version.
Step 4: Test Thoroughly Before Upgrading PHP in WordPress
Set up a staging environment to test the PHP update before applying it to your live site. Test all functionalities and plugins to identify and address any issues.
How to Update PHP in WordPress
Now that you’ve prepared your site, it’s time to update PHP. The method you use may depend on your hosting environment:
1. Hosting Site Tools
Many hosting providers offer tools to update PHP directly from your hosting dashboard. Look for the PHP settings section and select the desired PHP version.
2. Updating PHP Using cPanel
If your hosting uses cPanel, follow these steps:
- Log in to your cPanel.
- Locate the Software or Software/Services section.
- Look for PHP Selector or Select PHP Version and choose the PHP version you want to update to.
3. Contacting Your Hosting Provider
If you’re unsure about updating PHP or encounter issues, don’t hesitate to contact your hosting provider’s support. They can assist you in the process.
What to Do If Something Breaks
In some cases, updating PHP may cause issues on your website. Here’s what to do if something breaks:
Steps To Take to Fix Your Website
Revert to the Previous PHP Version:
Suppose your website experiences compatibility issues, errors, or unexpected behavior immediately after updating PHP; the first step is to revert to the previous PHP version. Most hosting providers allow you to switch to the earlier PHP version from your hosting dashboard or control panel. This reversion can often bring your website back to its previous working state.
Check Error Logs:
To identify and address specific issues that caused the breakage, review the error logs on your hosting control panel or within the WordPress dashboard. Error logs provide valuable insights into the root causes of problems. Look for error messages, warnings, or notices that can guide you in troubleshooting.
Update Plugins and Themes:
Following a PHP update, outdated or incompatible plugins and themes are common culprits behind website issues. Ensure that all your plugins, themes, and WordPress core are current. Developers frequently release updates to address compatibility concerns. Update these components to their latest versions, which are more likely to be compatible with the new PHP version.
If you find it challenging to resolve the issues yourself or the error logs are too technical to decipher, don’t hesitate to contact your hosting provider’s support team. They are well-equipped to assist you with PHP-related problems and can provide guidance and solutions. Be prepared to share details about your website, your updated PHP version, and any error messages or symptoms you encountered.
Consult a WordPress Developer:
If issues persist despite your best efforts and support from your hosting provider, consider seeking assistance from a WordPress developer or expert. Experienced developers can perform in-depth troubleshooting, identify complex issues, and implement custom solutions to get your website on track. While this may entail an additional cost, it can be a worthwhile investment in restoring the functionality and security of your site.
Updating PHP is Crucial to WordPress Websites
Keeping your PHP version up to date is essential to maintaining a secure and high-performing WordPress site. With the proper preparation and understanding of the update process, you can ensure that your website runs smoothly, remains closed, and takes full advantage of the latest features. Don’t hesitate to contact your hosting provider or a WordPress developer for assistance if needed. For more WordPress-related guides, check out our comprehensive guide on How to Install WordPress.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to confidently navigate the process of updating PHP in WordPress, ensuring your website’s continued success.