Your WordPress site will be faster and more secure.
I recommend my clients be sure to host their WordPress sites with “Managed WordPress,” an upgrade that offers better security and automatic updates. Your hosting company doesn’t offer it? Then get new hosting. In addition, the hosting company should be backing up your site every single day. This is why I recommend one of the three hosting companies mentioned here.
What is PHP?
PHP is an open-source programming language that runs on your hosting company. It is one of the most popular languages for web development; all WordPress sites run on PHP. PHP is a server-side script, meaning that it is executed on your hosting server, contrary to HTML, which is executed in the browser. By combining PHP with HTML, you can create dynamic websites with WordPress.
What are the benefits of updating?
- Better security – The most obvious reason to update is security. Newer versions are better at countering hackers, for example, because deprecated (outdated) code is no longer supported.
- Faster websites – Newer PHP versions are faster. On average, sites using PHP 7.3 run 9% faster than sites using PHP 7.2.
- New features and improvements – As with all updates, a newer version includes new features and improvements on how to do things, for example, error handling.
And then there are a number of secondary benefits:
- A faster WordPress website will be rewarded by search engines, so you’ll rank higher in search!
- A faster website will retain visitors better (they’ll leave if it takes too long to load), making your website more effective.
- A more secure website is better protected against hackers, and the cost and reputational damage associated with a hacked website.
What can I do to prepare my website?
Since a PHP update is unavoidable, it’s a good idea to be a pro-active and make sure your site is ready.
- Make sure that you have updated your website to the latest version.
- Remove plugins, themes or old installations that you don’t use.
- Change the PHP version from the control panel, at a time of your convenience, and check if everything is working.
- Fix any errors that occur. You can either do it yourself or ask me to help.
There are a couple of steps you should take to mitigate any risk before proceeding:
- Make a backup of your website: A backup will let you revert your site to how it is right now in the event anything goes wrong.
- Update WordPress, themes, and plugins: from your WordPress Dashboard, head to Updates, and then update all. You should do this regularly anyway. When done, check your site is working as expected.
- Check PHP compatibility: install the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin to check your themes and plugins for possible issues. This plugin isn’t perfect and may miss items or flag false positives, but it does work in most cases.
- Fix any PHP compatibility issues: if the PHP Compatibility Checker plugin picks up any issues, get in touch with the theme or plugin developer and ask them to investigate. This is never a problem with my Divi sites.