WordPress is one of the easiest ways anyone can make a website, but there is still a lot of work required to make a good website. Even after you are done with the creation of your page, you still need to maintain it. One of the many things you need to keep up to date is PHP, which is one of the most important things a website has.
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What is PHP?
PHP is a server-side programming language that was used to write WordPress. All the PHP files that make your website have .php as an extension so that you can find them easily. To create a WordPress website, you don’t need to know PHP, but if you plan on making themes, plugins, and other items that WordPress users can use, you will need to learn a bit more about it.
Why Do I Need to Update PHP?
PHP is one of the most essential parts of the website, and as such, you will need to keep it up to date for multiple reasons. One of the most important reasons is security. Because of the popularity that this language has, the hacking attempts are extensive as well. By updating PHP, you will be safer and less prone to attacks.
This allows your users to have more confidence that your website will be safer for them and their data. Another very important reason for updating PHP is the loading speed. Having a fast loading website increases engagement, which is tremendously important as well. With every new update, the PHP becomes quicker, and your website as well.
Still, PHP is not enough to get your website from slow to fast; you still need to do a lot more optimization in order to have a faster page. Having a faster and safer website also improves your SEO, which is one of the most important things.
Having a good SEO will increase your ranking in search results, which then will be translated to more traffic to your page. Overall it would be best if you always looked at your SEO and where your website shows in related search results.
What to Do Before the Update?
Before you update the PHP in your WordPress page, you need to take a few measurements if things go sideways. Just keep in mind that problems while doing this update are rare, but it doesn’t mean they don’t happen.
In any case, taking these measurements is highly advised and should be the very first thing you do whenever you make significant changes to your website.
Back Up Everything
Backing up everything is a statement that can be said about many things. By doing this, you can save your website from a disaster. There are a few different ways that can be used for backing up your website. One of these ways is by going into the control panel that comes with your hosting provider and following the required steps.
Another method is by using plugins, one of the most famous ones is UpdraftPlus plugin; once you install it, and you can take the steps which are described thoroughly, you should be good to go. You can also perform a local backup on your pc, which could be safer since you will be the person responsible for it.
If you want to be even more cautious, you can do all of these methods, so if one or two of them fail, you have the third to fall back on.
Before you perform the backup, you should look if your theme and plugins require any updates. There are a few reasons why you should do this process. If you have themes or plugins that have many users and are updated frequently, there might be an update that supports the new version of PHP.
In some cases, your theme and plugins might not have gotten this update, so that you might face compatibility issues. Once you are at the update page, check for any other updates that your website might require. If there’s a WordPress update, you should do it since it might bring even more improvements to your website.
Check for PHP Compatibility
After you have updated everything, you should perform a PHP compatibility test. This will let you know if you could update your PHP or not. Or you might choose to do it even if something from your website isn’t compatible anymore; this will be in regards to how essential the incompatible item is.
Suppose it’s just a small plugin that is not very important. In that case, you can find an alternative, but if it’s something that the website can’t do without, you might want to think about it and maybe try again at a later moment, because who knows, perhaps it was updated and it’s compatible with the PHP version that you require.
For performing the PHP compatibility test, you can use a plugin called PHP Compatibility Checker. You can get this plugin for free by just going into Plugins, then Add New. Search for PHP Compatibility Checker, install it, activate it, and then go into it.
There you can select the version of PHP that you plan on updating too. You can choose between scanning for all themes and plugins or only for the active ones; after selecting everything, you need to press the Scan site button and wait for results.
When the results show up, you will either be clear to perform the update or have a compatibility issue with one of your themes or plugins. In that case, you can search for an alternative or wait for a compatibility update in the future.
How to Update PHP in WordPress?
Updating the PHP version is not a thing you can do on your WordPress dashboard; since PHP is set at a server level, you can do it on the web hosting control panel that your host provider uses. Because there are many hosting providers out there, this process can be different from provider to provider. The most popular web hosting control panels are cPanel and Plesk.
The update process for both is relatively similar; first of all, you need to log in to your control panel. After that, you will have to look for “Select PHP version” or “PHP Settings.” Once it’s opened, you will then see the version that your website is currently on.
There you can click the drop-down menu, which shows all the available versions.
Once you select the one you want to have on your website, you will have to press “Apply” or “Set as current.” After that, the PHP on your website should be updated.
The photos show how this process is on the Plesk control panel, while we have also mentioned the wording that you might find on cPanel. Disclaimer that you might find different wording on your control panel, and that is because every hosting provider uses different variations. Another method of updating your PHP is by directly contacting your host provider.
If you are having trouble with the first method, and your host provider has support, you can reach it, and they can do it automatically for you. It would be best if you still took all the measurements we talked about to prevent issues.
This method is more comfortable, and it’s more suited to people who are very unfamiliar with the website building world. If you want to learn more about this, we recommend doing the first method.
After you have updated the PHP on your website, you still need to do a complete checkup. Even though the theme and the plugins could’ve been compatible with the new PHP version, there could still be some issues. So checking everything out is a good idea, so you don’t get surprised down the line when you find problems on your page.
By doing this directly, you avoid dealing with these kinds of issues later. When you have checked everything, and it’s looking good, you are good to go.
Considering how beneficial updating the PHP for any website is, it’s worth it. But it would be best if you were careful every step of the way. Even if you take all the measurements to prevent problems, it’s better if they don’t happen.
Because if they do, you are going to add more work to yourself. There are a few different ways you can do this process, with the easiest one being the one where you contact support, and they do it for you.
Despite that, this whole process is not very complicated, so that you can do it yourself very quickly as well. As we have mentioned time and time again, be careful with everything that you are doing. And another thing to look at is how your hosting provider handles these kinds of things.
Since every one of them uses different web hosting control panels, things can be slightly other. After you are done with this whole process, your page should be ready and up to date on everything.