WordPress Ends Support for PHP Versions Below 5.6

WordPress Ends Support for PHP Versions Below 5.6: Addressing Critical Security and Performance Concerns

WordPress recently announced that it will no longer support PHP versions older than 5.6. This change is being made to ensure WordPress sites remain secure and performant as PHP continues advancing. While this may require effort to upgrade for some site owners, it is a critical move to protect WordPress sites from potential threats down the line.

Understanding the Reason for the Change

The WordPress team made this decision because security flaws and performance limitations exist in older PHP versions that simply can’t be addressed anymore. PHP 5.6, released in 2014, was the last PHP version to receive security patches and ongoing support.

By ending support for versions below 5.6, the WordPress team can focus fully on utilizing the improved security, speed, and features of more modern PHP versions like 7.x and 8.0. Continuing to support severely outdated versions of PHP would hold WordPress back considerably.

Keeping your site’s PHP version up-to-date is crucial for site security, performance, and preparing for all future WordPress updates.

Potential Consequences of Continuing to Use Older PHP Versions

Using an outdated PHP version puts your site at risk for a few key reasons:

  • Security vulnerabilities – Old PHP versions have known security flaws that will never be patched but can still be exploited. This creates openings for attacks.
  • Performance issues – PHP 5.6 and higher include important fixes and improvements to PHP’s overall speed and capabilities. Older versions are unable to leverage these.
  • Site crashes/downtime – Updating WordPress or plugins on older PHP can lead to sudden site failures due to incompatibilities.

By upgrading to PHP 5.6 or later, you ensure you can still receive security updates and avoid preventable threats to your site’s security and user experience.

Steps to Upgrade to PHP 7 or Later

Upgrading your site to PHP 7 or later will ensure ongoing WordPress support and optimal site performance. Here are key steps to take to upgrade:

  • Check your current PHP version – Determine which PHP version your WordPress site is running on currently. This is found in the site’s wp-config.php file or by installing a version checker plugin.
  • Consult your hosting provider – Your hosting provider can determine the most seamless way to upgrade your site’s PHP version based on their infrastructure. This may involve migrating your site to newer server hardware they offer.
  • Install/activate PHP 7+ on your server – If self-hosting, you will need to manually install and configure a newer PHP version like 7.3 on your server. Hosting providers should handle this.
  • Update wp-config.php – Sometimes the wp-config.php file needs PHP version information updated after migrating servers or installing a new PHP version.
  • Test and troubleshoot – Test your site thoroughly after upgrading PHP versions to spot any areas of concern and proactively troubleshoot issues.

Enlisting Hosting Provider Assistance

Work closely with your hosting provider to upgrade PHP versions, as they have the server access and expertise to smoothly transition your site while avoiding downtime.

Managed WordPress hosts like WordaThemes offer PHP 7+ as standard and can migrate your site for you once signed up. Their technical expertise makes the process much easier.

Maintaining a Secure and High-Performance Website

Upgrading your PHP version is only one part of keeping your WordPress site in top shape. Be sure to:

  • Update WordPress and plugins regularly to patch vulnerabilities
  • Install security plugins like Wordfence for added protection
  • Enable auto updates for hassle-free security
  • Monitor site performance and speed with tools like Pingdom
  • Create regular backups of your site

Staying current, monitoring closely, and utilizing best practices will keep your site in the best health possible moving forward!

Call to Action

We encourage you to work with your host right away to upgrade your PHP version to 5.6 or later. This will enable you to continue leveraging the latest WordPress updates and features for your site’s growth and security.

Check out our guide on how to upgrade to PHP 7 for more step-by-step details to make the process smooth and simple.

Don’t leave your WordPress site at risk! Take action today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new minimum PHP version for WordPress?

The new minimum PHP version will be 5.6. You should upgrade to PHP 7.0 or newer if possible for optimal security and performance.

What happens if I keep using an outdated PHP version?

Your site will become increasingly vulnerable to security threats, experience performance and compatibility issues, and potentially crash when updating WordPress or plugins.

How difficult is upgrading PHP versions?

The process is straightforward with the right guidance. Managed hosts can handle the upgrade seamlessly on your behalf. Self-hosted sites may require more technical work to migrate servers and configure new PHP versions.

What resources are available to walk me through upgrading PHP?

Our PHP upgrade guide provides a step-by-step walkthrough. Hosting providers generally also provide excellent support. The WordPress forums contain many discussions as well.

Will upgrading PHP impact my site or cause downtime?

In most cases, there should be no visible impact or downtime. However, it is wise to create a full backup beforehand. Some sites may experience brief downtime during migration to new servers.

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