PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (or PHP) is a scripting language used for websites to add functionality to the website. This includes contact forms and animations, as well as other useful functions such as database support. It is estimated that 4 out of 5 websites use some PHP in their coding. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Joomla are built on PHP scripting. Here is how PHP affects your web hosting.

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

As mentioned above, PHP is a scripting language used to add features to your website. When the internet was still new, websites were coded using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which allowed you to create links, images and text, but not much else. As the internet became more popular and mainstream, there was a need for more functions and design options. This is why PHP (originally, PHP stood for Personal Home Page) was developed.

PHP allows for the use of several functions that HTML could not, including everything from mailing forms to database connectivity. Most CMS uses PHP to manage your content using databases, including WordPress and Joomla. Most contact forms and mailing systems are also built on the PHP language

PHP Versions

PHP follows an annual release cycle, meaning that a new version of PHP is released every year (typically late November). Each version is supported for two years, with an additional year of security updates, meaning there is always three versions that are current at any time.

While most browsers still support older versions of PHP, these versions often contain security vulnerabilities that can threaten your website, databases and your server. For this reason, most web hosts will disable older versions that are no longer being maintained. If your website is built with an older version of PHP, it may not function correctly with a new version, as some functions may be removed in newer versions or replaced with better ones.

For this reason, it is important that you keep your website up to date to ensure that it is compatible with newer versions of PHP. If you use a CMS, typically keeping it up to date will keep it on par with new PHP versions.

Most differences between minor versions are simple security updates and optimizations, there major versions updates contain changes to core parts of the code. While upgrading your PHP from one minor version to the next (for example, from PHP 7.1 to PHP 7.4) is usually safe, updating between major versions (PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.0) can cause issues.

PHP Updates

From your cPanel, you can choose which version of PHP your website will use. This is done in the MultiPHP Manager. You can find more information on it here. However, updating the PHP version in your cPanel is only half of the battle.

You also need to ensure that your website is updated and compatible with newer versions of PHP. Every new PHP version comes with some new features and optimizations, but more importantly, new security updates. Keeping your website compatible with the latest PHP versions will help keep your site secure and lower your risk of downtime.

While most browsers are compatible with older versions of PHP, most CMS are not. If you are using a CMS such as WordPress, keeping it up-to-date should keep it compatible with the newest PHP versions. If you had someone build your site for you, you may need them to update your site from time to time to keep the site updated.

As older versions become obsolete, they start to become a security issue as they are no longer being patched. For this reason, we will, from time to time, remove older versions of PHP from our servers. If your site is still using an outdated version of PHP that has been removed, you will be updated automatically to the new default version. If your website is not compatible with this new version, your website will no longer function.

While we strive to never remove a PHP version with ample warning, there may be a time when a version of PHP becomes too large of a threat to leave on our servers. In this case, we may need to remove the version swiftly and without warning to protect your account and our servers. If your website was only compatible with that version, your site will not work until it is updated. This is another reason why you should keep your site updated.

When updating your PHP version, it is relatively safe to upgrade within an major release. For example, if you are upgrading from PHP 7.0 to PHP 7.4, you should be fine. However, if you are updating from PHP 5.2 to PHP 7.4, you are more likely to run into issues. It is recommended that you update to the last minor version of a release before updating to a newer major version. In the above example, you would want to update from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.6 first. If you do not have any issues with PHP 5.6, next try to update to PHP 7.0 (there is no PHP 6). If still good, proceed to the newest PHP 7 version (7.4). If your site is not compatible with version 7.0, you will need to revert it back to PHP 5.6 and then update your website coding.

If you are still having issues, and need further support, please reach out to our support team using any of these methods.

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