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For some website owners, they will have a surprise waiting for them if they try to update their version of WordPress to the scheduled new release of V. 5.2.

WordPress has announced that version 5.2 will be released and along with that, the minimum version of PHP required will 5.6.20. If you are using anything below this version of PHP, you really need to upgrade if you can – many hosting companies offer the ability to use different versions of PHP while some hosting companies require that you advise them of the need.

There are still quite a significant number of website owners and some hosting companies that have older versions of PHP (other hosting companies have eliminated them) and this could get quite messy for some of you if you are still using old versions of PHP.

Why Is WordPress Taking This Action?

For several reasons. Firstly though, older versions of PHP are not secure as newer versions. WordPress (and others) have been encouraging people for quite some time to migrate to newer versions of PHP – Version 7.* if possible – but has recognized that there are some who for whatever reasons – perhaps depending on an old plugin or some customizations written for older versions of PHP, are still depending on the old version to keep their site up and running.

But the fact is, if you are depending on older versions of PHP, you really are running some risks and in addition, switching to PHP 7 could significantly speed up your website!

For this reason, WordPress also says that this minimum requirement of PHP version 5.6.20 may not be the only new minimum to come out this year; there is a good chance that later in the year, they will make another version of WordPress that in order to update to, you will need to be running PHP 7.

What Does This Mean For You?

You should double check what version of PHP your website is running. If it is a version prior to V. 5.6.20, you need to upgrade, either through an option in your hosting control panel, or ask your hosting company to do it for you, immediately. You will also of course, need to check that your website has not lost any functionality, and if it has, you’ll need to figure out what plugin, theme, or other script(s) that could be causing the problem and get them upgraded or find a replacement that provides the same level of functionality.

Website Maintenance Is Important

We know that many potential clients come to us wanting an “easy to maintain” website that is “set and forget,” and while there are options available to make this happen (but with risks), we need to remind you that this is your business! Your business website needs to be maintained just like anything else; your home, your car, your bathroom plumbing. It needs to be maintained for both newer technologies and to prevent or reduce the risk of security breaches. In addition, Google likes to see regular website updates for search engine optimization purposes. A stagnant website, both in old insecure and slower technologies, and stagnant with no new content, may be a big issue with on-site SEO.

If you don’t know what version of PHP your website is running, we can help. If your website needs a tuneup, some maintenance, or some security upgrades and monitoring, give us a call today: (519) 940-3504.

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