How to Update Your PHP Version in WordPress
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How to Update Your PHP Version in WordPress

For an app that’s straightforward to use, WordPress has many moving parts. It’s a complex Content Management System (CMS) that must be maintained regularly. Updating your PHP version in WordPress is a task you may not have considered before.

Although hosting providers provide automated options to update your PHP version, it’s also good to learn the steps. This lets you update your time and terms rather than leaving it in your host’s hands.

Given this, the following post will show you how to update your PHP version in WordPress. First, let’s give you more information on how WordPress and PHP intertwine.

The Relationship Between PHP and WordPress

As we noted, WordPress is based on lots of moving parts. These ‘cogs’ combine to provide the features and functionality you’re used to. In addition, while WordPress is a modern way of publishing websites, it’s built on top of old (yet popular) tech.

PHP is a ‘server-side language’. In other words, it’s used to make changes to the server rather than the front end of a website. For developers, PHP gives a website dynamic functionality rather than Flash graphics (such as JavaScript).

Most WordPress is coded with PHP, which is also found on your server. Updating this will give you security, performance boosts, and potential new features like any other software. We’ll talk more about this next.

Why You Should Update Your PHP Version in WordPress

Updating your PHP version on the server comes with the same benefits it provides to your other software. For example:

  • An update could patch bugs found since the last release.
  • Updates will sometimes fix security issues, including large-scale vulnerabilities.
  • An update often includes several new features, performance boosts, and security provisions.

Overall, updating is often wise. However, this raises the question of how to know when an update is available. We’ll look at this in the next section.

How to Check Your Current PHP Version

Before you dig into your host to check for PHP updates, you’ll want to know if one is available. Often, you’ll have an email from your host noting an update will be incoming. There may be any of the following signs:

  • Your host could write a blog post discussing an upcoming update.
  • There could be a newsletter talking about the PHP update.
  • You might get a notification in your hosting dashboard telling you about planned maintenance.

There may be none of these notifiers for minor updates. Often, though, your host will give you ample warning of any significant updates.

You’ll want to access your host to check your current PHP version. It will be different depending on your host and your plan. Often, there will be a clear option for managing your PHP version:

php version wordpress

On this screen, you’ll see the current PHP version. In simple terms, this is what your server is running:

php version panel

We’ll move on to how to update your PHP version later. First, we’ll offer some tips for a safe update.

What You’ll Need to Update Your PHP Version

As with any permanent change to your site, a few aspects must be in place before you start. The good news is you don’t need lots of technical knowledge to get the job done:

  • Check your compatibility. Most PHP upgrades will be fine, as a host won’t let you make updates that will compromise your site. Still, it’s worth noting whether your site is compatible with the new PHP version before continuing.
  • Update your core software. The most current WordPress core update is used when updating PHP. Since this will have been developed with new PHP versions in mind, the most current will be the best option.
  • Update your themes and plugins. Older versions of your themes and plugins will support newer versions of PHP, much like your core WordPress files.
  • Create a clean, current backup. If the worst happens, you’ll be grateful for a backup to help you restore your site to normal.

Once you have these in place, everything will be set to update your PHP version in WordPress.

How to Update Your PHP Version in WordPress

If you’ve followed along, you’ll be at a screen noting your current PHP version, with a few other options. If not, you’ll need to access the screen that tells you your current PHP version. This should also offer some choices of the version to update.

Lots of hosts have different options to choose from here. Still, the core functionality – updating your PHP version – will be in place.

If the host is super-conscious about security, there will be a small subset of PHP versions to choose from:

php drop down

These will be based on what the host supports and what it deems stable. Depending on your host, there may also be some ‘bleeding edge’ versions of PHP. This means you’ll have early access versions of PHP, but they won’t be used for most sites.

Our advice is to check the documentation, blog posts, and newsletters you’ve seen to determine what version of PHP you should upgrade to. Your host can assist you through its support channels if you’re still struggling.

To carry out the update, click the relevant button. It could be Change PHP Version, Update, Okay, or another affirmation. Regardless, updating your PHP version often takes a button click.

Wrapping Up

You get many notifications when WordPress elements, such as core files, themes, and plugins, need an upgrade. However, you might not have the same help with PHP. This is because PHP is more deliberate for a site owner. Hosts will often automate updates for you based on their judgment on security and stability.

Still, you can do this yourself; the good news is that it’s simple. Most hosts offer a dedicated screen that lets you select a new PHP version, which takes one click to upgrade.

Do you need to upgrade your PHP version, and will this post help you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Author Bio:

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When not putting his fingers on the keyboard, he can take photographs, write music, play computer games, and talk in the third person.

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