How to Update Your WordPress Site’s PHP Version

PHP, widely regarded as one of the most beginner-friendly programming languages, continues to evolve rapidly with each new release. In order to embrace the change, this blog will focus on how to upgrade a WordPress website to PHP 8.0.

Previously, the speed optimization upgrade for PHP 7 was extremely helpful in achieving higher SERP rankings. Continuing the legacy, PHP astonished its fans with the release of PHP 8.0 in November 2020, which had a slew of new capabilities that completely transformed the way programmers worked.

With interesting enhancements and improvements to prior RFCs, PHP 8 allows you to create compact code and build more excellent applications. With all of the new features, it would be a shame not to upgrade your WordPress site’s PHP version to PHP 8.0.

Before we jump towards the steps to upgrade your PHP version to PHP 8 on WordPress, we will give a brief PHP 8.0 overview to help you get acquainted with the update.

PHP 8.0 – An Overview

PHP (an acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor) is a popular open-source scripting language used by coders worldwide for web and application development. This high-level programming language is easy to learn, hence preferred by starters and novice coders. Still, it is also complex enough to cater to the needs of a professional programmer.

PHP 8.0 is the latest update of PHP and has come up with new features, functions, and methods to facilitate the developers and provide the best user experience.

Previously, PHP had released 7.4 in November 2019, ending the support of PHP 7.1. The later version, 7.2, was also discontinued with the release of 8.0. Currently, PHP supports only 7.3, 7.4, and 8.0 versions.

PHP 8 Compatibility With WordPress

With every update come compatibility issues. If you want to have a hassle-free PHP 8.0 experience, we recommend opting for the latest WordPress version or going with at least 5.6 or any later versions.

Are you running your website on an older WordPress version but are skeptical about upgrading in fear of getting errors? Don’t worry; you can test your website via a staging environment and proceed with upgrading your live website safely to a newer WordPress version.

If you get any errors in the staging environment, then we’d recommend getting the help of a professional WordPress developer to diagnose and debug the errors before you move ahead with the update.

PHP 8 – Themes & Plugins Compatibility

Discomforts accompany every change; similar is the case with PHP 8. While PHP 8 offers extensive features to support its users and provide them with an ideal user experience, it brings the themes and plugins incompatibility issues.

PHP isn’t the player to be blamed here, as the themes and plugins should be updated to work with the latest software versions. If your favorite and irreplaceable plugin or theme is making problems with PHP 8, then try out the following solutions.

  1. Rollback to the previous PHP version. (A boring option)
  2. Contact the theme or plugin’s support team and inform them about the compatibility issues to boost the optimal user experience with the latest versions of both.

PHP 8 on WordPress: Installation Prerequisites

Before upgrading to PHP 8.0, it’s wise to check the current PHP version that your WordPress site is running.

Using an older version? You can upgrade the PHP version to enjoy the new features and improvements. But not so fast! Remember, safety always comes first. When we talk about security, we consider the “what ifs.”

What if your site is not compatible with the latest version, and you end up losing or corrupting your data in the process. Nope, you don’t want that.

Don’t lose hope; you can create a clone of your website to test it on the latest version.

If the clone website works smoothly after upgrading to PHP 8.0, you can move ahead with updating your actual site. This portion will list out the steps to create a clone website to test it under PHP 8.

Clone a Website via Your Web Hosting Provider

Fortunately, managed WordPress hosting solutions like allow the users to create their site’s duplicate without dealing with any complexities. Follow the steps below to create your website’s clone

PHP Supported Versions on WordPress

WordPress supports the following seven PHP versions ranging from PHP 5.6 to the latest version 8.0.

  • PHP 5.6
  • PHP 7.0
  • PHP 7.1
  • PHP 7.2
  • PHP 7.3
  • PHP 7.4
  • PHP 8.0

Note: Keep in mind that you won’t receive any PHP security updates if you are not using the latest PHP version. We recommend using the 8.0 PHP version.

What’s preventing users from upgrading to PHP 8.0?

The major reason that’s holding back users from upgrading to PHP 8 is the incompatibility of their favorite themes and plugins with PHP 8.

That said, every savvy user would like to enjoy the latest PHP features and RFC improvements. Anyone who wants to stay back and keep working with the legacy software would abstain from upgrading their PHP version.

Using the latest PHP versions allows for better and easier development of new features and also facilitates maintenance. Even if some of the themes and plugins are not working on PHP 8.0, they will eventually be updated

Why Should You Upgrade to PHP 8?

Imagine using an outdated image editing tool for making logos or editing photos. While the world has moved to the latest version and is saving time and getting better quality and performance with the latest edition, you are still doing it the old way. Not really a smart decision, right?

Similarly, why would anyone abstain from upgrading to a newer PHP version when the new upgrade is specifically introduced to bring ease to the user’s end. You should definitely upgrade to PHP 8 if you want to benefit from the latest features, get better error handling, improved RFCs, and optimizations.

PHP 8 will remain in support till November 2022, and its security support will extend till November 2023. This longevity makes this newest version a lot more trustworthy and secure than the previous versions.

Most of the popular WordPress plugins and themes have accepted PHP 8 and are now compatible with it.

Source: Loader Test of PHP 8.0

The average response time for the same WordPress website is 164 ms, and total success response counts are 3836.

Sadly, only 1.3% of the WordPress sites are using PHP 8.0. As per our experience, WordPress delivers the best performance with PHP 8.0 and gives better speeds than the previous PHP versions. It’s a good practice to use the latest versions, so the number of people migrating from 7.4 to 8.0 is gradually increasing with time.

PHP has worked on the issues reported by the users in the previous versions, and the latest version is free from many recurring problems and has introduced new features.

To enjoy the services at their full potential, you will have to upgrade to the newest WordPress PHP version, as the older versions may eventually fade out or will be declined by most themes and plugins.

Source: PHP Supported Versions

Using Older PHP Versions on WordPress Has Its Drawbacks

All PHP versions before to 7.3 have reached the end of their support lifecycle, and it is recommended that you upgrade to the most recent version if you are still using one of the earlier versions, as you will be subject to unpatched security vulnerabilities. Even 7.4 will be phased out on November 28, 2022.

Why would you put your website at danger of security flaws when you can simply upgrade to the current version and take advantage of the new features and improvements?

Using earlier PHP versions will not only cause security risks, but will also have a negative impact on the performance of your website.

In this competitive environment, where everyone is adopting best practises to enhance their site’s performance and grab their users’ attention, who would compromise performance?

Stop using earlier PHP versions and upgrade your WordPress website’s PHP version to 8.0 to improve website performance and security.

Final Thoughts

This blog covers PHP 8’s compatibility with WordPress and the steps to upgrade your PHP version to 8.0. The information shared in this guide will help you make the right decision to upgrade to PHP 8.0 on your WordPress site and enjoy the benefits of the newest update.

Ranging from the supported versions, disadvantages of using the old PHP version, and the reasons to upgrade to 8.0; we have tried to cover it all. Still, if any questions are popping up in your head, please feel free to comment with your queries; and we will answer all of them ASAP.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can WordPress use PHP 8?

Yes, WordPress can use PHP 8, and it is recommended to use PHP 8.0 with WordPress 5.6 or higher version for compatibility and better performance.
If you are using an older WordPress version, you can test your site with WordPress 5.6 in a staging environment. If you don’t experience any issues, then upgrade your live WordPress site to enjoy using PHP 8.0 on WordPress.

Is WordPress compatible with PHP 8?

Yes, WordPress is compatible with PHP 8.0. However, only WordPress 5.6 or higher versions are compatible with PHP 8. If you are using an older WordPress version, you can upgrade it to at least 5.6 to enjoy using PHP 8.

Should I upgrade to PHP 8?

Yes, if you want to benefit from the latest features, better error handling, improved RFCs, and optimizations, you should upgrade your PHP version to PHP 8.

What version of PHP should I use for WordPress?

We recommend using PHP 8.0 with WordPress if you are using at least WordPress 5.6. The oldest PHP version that we recommend using with WordPress is PHP 7.3.

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