PHP versions, what are they? And why should you be interested in them?
Just as you may speak English, Swahili, Igbo, Kiryinwanda, Yoruba, Hausa, French, or one of the many other languages in the world. There are also various programming languages.
One such language is PHP, and WordPress is predominantly written in PHP. So what is the relationship between PHP and WordPress?
Just like WordPress, PHP is also open-source, PHP is server-side scripting and programming language that is primarily used for web development.
It is one of the most popular scripting languages on the web today. According to W3Techs, PHP is used by over 79% of all the websites that use a server-side programming language. The bulk of the core WordPress software is written in PHP, making PHP a critical language for the WordPress community.
The current version of PHP supported by WordPress is PHP 7x. The “x” refers to the different versions of PHP 7, which currently represent 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4.
PHP 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, and 7.2 have reached their “end of life” (EOL) and are no longer being updated with security patches.
Version 7.3 is scheduled to reach its EOL on December 6, 2021. That means it will no longer receive security updates as well. Because of that, it will become a potential security liability for any site still using it if a vulnerability is discovered in the future.
The current and most up-to-date version of PHP 7.x is version 7.4. PHP 7.4 reaches its EOL on November 8, 2022, so your site can safely run on this till next year.
In other words, WordPress users have about 16 months to decide on when to update their PHP version to PHP 8x. In practice, however, most WordPress users should be able to update to PHP 8x well before that time.
The two main reasons for updating to a higher version are security and speed.
Just as you upgrade WordPress to make sure you are protected against security vulnerabilities, you should do the same with PHP.
In addition, upgrading PHP produces a significant speed increase. For instance, PHP 7.0 was a giant leap forward – more than doubling the performance of WordPress websites compared to 5.6. In fact, with version 7.3, another 20% – 25% increase was seen compared to 7.0. And 7.4 is also showing performance improvements over 7.3.
PHP 8.1 is currently in active development and will be released on November 25, 2021.
Version 8.0 did not manage to convince developers to switch to a new version. Maybe PHP 8.1 will make it so. Let’s just wait!
Got questions? Contact us!