One of These PHPs is Not Like The Other
Good day fine fellow! Do you speak the King’s?
You may be thinking to yourself, “why the devil is he opening like this? Just speak normal English, you mung.” Well, I’m trying to illustrate a point: If you suddenly were thrust back a few hundred years, you might find it difficult to talk with other English-speakers. Even words that seem familiar can take on different meanings as time passes.
Did you really expect to read a non-technical blog on Old English from your favorite WordPress geek? Sorry to disappoint, but there’s just so much in the web world to cover!
Your computers use languages too. On the internet, HTML provides the structure of a website and CSS adds some style and character; but they would both be rendered useless without PHP. PHP is the primary language of most servers and is used to interpret the HTML, CSS, and Java that your site uses.
Change comes much more quickly to computer languages than it does Human languages. In 2018, we saw the rise of a new script – PHP 7.0. This new PHP version was much different from the old 5.X standard.
PHP 7.0 streamlined backend processes, added new language and did away with inefficient script. Websites that are upgraded from 5.X could see site speeds increase up to 400%!
You’re probably thinking, “Well that sounds great, but isn’t this something for my host to handle?” Yes. Yes it is, but most hosts won’t. It feels like twisting arms getting some of the bigger hosts to update PHP versions. A lot of hosts still run on 5.6, which was released in 2014. It may seem strange to you that some of these Super Bowl Ad sized hosts are still running a version of PHP that saw it’s end-of-life back in December, but sadly this is all too true. If you have a host worth their salt like WP Engine or Flywheel, they may have already made the switch for you or are developing a plan to do so.
“So, what do I, the average WordPress admin, need to do about the new version of PHP?” It’s simple, really. Hop on to your Dashboard and do a quick once-over to see if all of your plugins are updated and that these plugins and your theme also support PHP 7.2+. You’ll then need to reach out to your host to ask that your environment be switched. If they refuse to help you with this, it may be time to start thinking about new hosts.
If you’re going to do this, v7.2-7.3 is ideal, as 7.0 has reached its end of support and 7.1 will soon follow in late 2019. Switching to 7.2-3 ensures that your site is golden for at least another 1.5 years.
So beware ye, WordPress adventur’r. Doth heed the word of PHP.
Your most humble servant –
Simon, son of Waepenedman
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