Which PHP Version is Best for WordPress

Written by Technology Writer

July 10, 2023
Which PHP Version is Best for WordPress

Choosing the right PHP version for your WordPress site can be daunting. With so many different versions available, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you and your website.

Fortunately, there are some guidelines that can help make this decision easier. In this article, we’ll discuss what PHP version is best for WordPress and why it matters. We’ll also provide some tips on how to find out which version you should use and how to upgrade or downgrade if needed.

By the end of this article, you should have all the information you need to choose an optimal PHP version for your WordPress site.

So let’s dive in and get started!

What is PHP?

First, a little refresher course: PHP is a server-side scripting language used to create dynamic web pages and applications. It's an open-source language that powers many popular content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal.

It's important to note that WordPress websites require PHP for many of their functions. To ensure your website runs smoothly and efficiently, you need to choose the right version of PHP for your site.

PHP Versions and Their Compatibility with WordPress

WordPress is a powerful content management system (CMS) that works best with the latest version of PHP. It is important to ensure that your WordPress website is running the currently recommended version of PHP for optimal performance, security, and compatibility with plugins and themes.

The earliest version of WordPress to support PHP was 4.1 which added support for PHP 5.6. Since then, WordPress has continued to add support for newer versions of PHP, including 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 8.0 & 8.1 as of 2021. 8.2 is the latest release as of this writing.

What is The Recommended PHP Version for WordPress Users?

WordPress recommends using the latest version of PHP for the best performance, security, and compatibility. As of March 8th, 2023, the recommended version of PHP for WordPress users is 7.4.

Using an outdated version of PHP can cause compatibility issues with plugins and themes, as well as slow down your website's performance. Additionally, older versions may be vulnerable to security risks due to a lack of support from developers. To make sure your website is running optimally, it's important to keep your version of PHP up-to-date.

How to Check Which PHP Version You're Currently Running

If you don’t know what version of PHP your website is running, there are several ways you can determine this. The easiest way is to use a plugin such as WP PHP Version Display which will show the current version on your site’s dashboard.

WP PHP Version Display

Or you can simply go to Tools > Site Health on the dashboard and then click Info.

Open the Server section then you can see which PHP version you’re currently using where it says PHP version.

If you still can't find it, contact your hosting provider for assistance. They should be able to provide you with the information easily.

Once you’ve determined your current version, you can make an informed decision on whether to upgrade or downgrade to the recommended version of PHP (7.4) for WordPress websites.

What is the Impact of Using the Wrong PHP Version?

The impact of using the wrong PHP version can be severe. Using an outdated version of PHP can cause compatibility issues with plugins and themes, as well as security vulnerabilities -- more on that in a moment. It can also slow down your website and make it difficult to use certain features.

Using a newer version of PHP is beneficial for WordPress websites because it offers improved performance, better security, and more features. It also ensures that any plugins or themes you use are compatible with the latest version of PHP.

When deciding which PHP version to use for your WordPress website, you should consider factors such as compatibility with existing plugins and themes, performance improvements, security enhancements, and other features that are available in newer versions of PHP. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on your specific needs and requirements.

php versions

What Are Some Security Considerations When Running an Outdated Version of PHP?

If you can't get to updating your PHP version right this second, there are several security considerations to keep in mind. It is important to ensure that any code written for the outdated version is secure and up-to-date with the latest security patches. Additionally, it is important to check for any known vulnerabilities in the outdated version of PHP and take steps to mitigate them.

It is also important to be aware of any deprecated functions or features in the outdated version of PHP, as these can lead to security issues if used incorrectly. Finally, it is important to use a secure web server configuration when running an outdated version of PHP, such as using HTTPS and disabling unnecessary services.

How to Upgrade or Downgrade Your PHP Version

If you're using cPanel, upgrading your PHP version is as simple as selecting the new version from the dropdown menu in the cPanel interface. If you're running your own server, however, you'll need to manually install the new version of PHP and update any configuration settings that may have changed with the new version. You should also check with your web host if they offer automatic upgrades for their customers.

It's important to make sure that all plugins and themes are compatible with the new version of PHP before making any changes. This can be done by checking each plugin's documentation for compatibility information or by running a compatibility test on your site.

It's also always a good idea to make a backup of your website before making any changes so that you can revert back in case anything goes wrong during the upgrade process.

Once everything is ready, simply select the desired PHP version in cPanel. After that, it's just a matter of testing out all of your plugins and themes to make sure everything is working properly with the new version of PHP.

How to Troubleshoot Problems Related to Using the Wrong Version of PHP

We've already established that if you're using an incompatible version of PHP, it can lead to various problems such as slow loading times, errors when trying to access certain pages and other issues.

With this in mind, here are some tips for troubleshooting problems related to using the wrong version of PHP with WordPress:

  1. Try disabling any plugins or themes that may be causing conflicts with your current version of PHP. This is often the simplest way to resolve plugin and theme conflicts.

  2. Check the plugin or theme's documentation for compatibility information.

  3. Run a compatibility test on your website to ensure that everything is working correctly.

  4. Check your server logs for any errors related to the wrong version of PHP. This can help you pinpoint which plugins or themes are causing issues and whether the conflict is with an outdated version of PHP or a third-party plugin or theme.

  5. Try updating WordPress itself and all plugins and themes to their latest versions. This can help resolve conflicts with outdated versions of PHP.

  6. Try reverting to an earlier version of PHP if possible. Reverting to an earlier version can help you identify any problems associated with the current version of PHP and make it easier to troubleshoot the issue.

  7. Contact your web host if they offer automatic upgrades for their customers.

If all else fails, try reverting to a previous version of PHP and see if that resolves the issue.

By following these steps, you should be able to identify and resolve any issues related to using an incompatible version of PHP with WordPress.

Are You Using the Appropriate PHP Version for WordPress?

Using the wrong version of PHP can lead to a variety of issues with your WordPress site, from slow loading times to plugin and theme conflicts. But by following the steps outlined above, you should be able to identify any issues related to using an incompatible version of PHP and resolve them quickly.

And you can always improve your overall experience with dealing with PHP versions by investing in a hosting provider you trust. Verpex offers WordPress hosting services that keep your server up-to-date and ready for everything WordPress requires at all times. And if you need more hands-on service via managed plans, we've got you covered there, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What content management sytems use PHP?

All of the most popular content management systems are compatible with PHP including, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento

How secure is PHP?

PHP has an excellent security reputation and the developers are constantly making updates. Plus, you’ll benefit from additional security measures for your site by opting for a managed hosting package.

Can I contact the PHP developers?

Not directly, however, over on PHP.net you’ll find an extensive range of patch update information, forums, and articles that will answer the majority of your technical questions.

Who is responsible for PHP bugs and security issues?

Any fixes will primarily be covered by the PHP developers, and regular updates are pushed out. Under a managed hosting solution, Verpex will make sure any updates are applied to your site as soon as they’re ready.

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