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Why You Should Keep Your Website’s PHP Version Up to Date

Why You Should Keep Your Website’s PHP Version Up to Date

If you’re engaged in eCommerce or otherwise operate a website for your business, you’re probably fairly diligent about keeping abreast of the latest developments in digital marketing, right?

Well, have you updated your PHP lately?

Probably not, because research suggests that the vast majority of websites that use PHP are using outdated versions. In fact, more than 40 percent of PHP websites are still using Version 5—launched in 2004—and its 5.2-5.6 derivatives. A large percentage are also using Versions 7.0-7.2. None of these versions are supported any longer, which makes websites using them vulnerable to security issues. Additionally, these versions lack the performance improvements offered by the latest Versions 7.4 and 8.0, as well as numerous new features for those using WordPress. 

Wait a Minute, What’s PHP?

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what PHP is, as the term, as well as its application, is not as familiar to digital marketers as other elements of the field, such as SEO. Simply put, PHP is the most popular scripting language used in the development of websites. All WordPress websites use PHP and more than 75 percent of all websites that use a server-side programming language use PHP. The acronym was initially used to denote “Personal Home Page,” but now serves as a stand in to mean “Hypertext Preprocessor.”

PHP was invented by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdforf in 1994 as a means to build simple, dynamic web applications. While not designed with the intent of becoming a new programming language, it evolved into one organically to become the primary code for website development. The most recent version—8.0—was released in November 2020, with a tweaked 8.0.1 version released at the beginning of March. 

How Updating PHP Can Help Your Website

While older 5.0-7.2 PHP versions obviously still work, their continued use means sacrifices in security, performance, support, and compatibility. And the older your website’s version, the more you might be sacrificing. This holds especially true if you operate a WordPress website.

Let’s look at what you might gain by updating your PHP:

Security—the newest PHP versions have built upon the previous versions to provide the most comprehensive security possible. Vulnerabilities identified in previous versions have been corrected and the widest range of potential threats are neutralized. New versions are covered by full support for two years and security support for three, which means that bugs and security issues are corrected and patched on a regular basis. Version 7.3 lost active support in December 2020, and will lose security support this coming December.

Performance—the newer the version the faster it operates. PHP Version 7 was able to execute twice as many requests per second as PHP Version 5.6. Cut to Version 7.3, which executes almost three times as many requests per second as Version 5.6. We’re not sure yet how fast Version 8.0 is, but Version 7.3 was also nine percent faster than Version 7.2.

Support—as mentioned, PHP-version-specific support has a two-year lifespan (three years for security), but plugin and theme developers will continue to work with older versions . . . up to a point. More and more websites using older Version 5-range PHP are running into functional troubles, though, and, when due to the PHP age, the developers are less able to correct the issue(s).

Compatibility—Not only are older PHP versions sometimes unable to work with newer plugins and themes, but the newest PHP versions offer numerous features to ease website development and maintenance. This holds especially true for WordPress websites.   

Turn to Moxxi Marketing to Consult on Your Website’s PHP

If the thought of trying to update your website’s PHP sounds daunting, or, if you wouldn’t even know where to begin, Moxxi Marketing can help. We have extensive experience building and maintaining websites for businesses and can ensure that you are getting the best performance from your website and digital marketing efforts. Contact us today at 239.330.6236.

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