Recently one of our users contacted us about a notice they received from BlueHost (one of the recommended WordPress hosting providers) about upgrading to PHP 5.4. We thought it would be beneficial to cover how this affects WordPress users and website owners. In this article, we will explain how PHP updates by your web host impact your WordPress sites. We will also discuss the things you can do to avoid any conflicts or downtime on your website.
A PHP update by your web host is supposed to go smoothly, but it can also go terribly wrong. It all depends on your web host, and how they configure their servers. This is why we recommend our users to choose the best WordPress hosting, so they know that there are top-notch engineers who are looking after those servers. Choosing an unreliable web host for your WordPress site can cause unexpected downtime during or after the update and there is pretty much nothing you can do about it except switching to a better host.
WordPress and PHP Updates
WordPress is developed using the open source programming language PHP. At the time of writing this article, WordPress requires PHP version 5.2.4 or greater. The current stable version available for PHP is 5.5.7.
Most shared hosting providers are currently offering PHP version 5.4.* installed on their servers. Some web hosts may even allow you to change your PHP version from their control panel. There are various reasons for not using the bleeding edge and the newest stable versions of PHP by web hosts, but the most common reason is that the latest versions can sometimes break some PHP applications. However, they also don’t want to stay far behind. Currently PHP 5.4.* is used by pretty much most shared WordPress hosting providers.
Things You Need To Do When Your Host Updates PHP
Your web host is probably already hosting thousands of WordPress site. They will take every precaution they can to make sure that everything goes smoothly and customers don’t feel any glitch in the service. The notice you have received allows you to be informed about the update and keep a look out to see if anything goes wrong. Although it is unlikely that this update will break things, it is always good to have a fallback plan.
First of all, we always recommend our users to regularly backup WordPress sites. If you do not have an automatic backup solution in place like BackupBuddy, VaultPress, or BackWPup, then it is time to install one of them or at least create a manual backup of your website.
After backups, the next thing you need to do is to make sure that you are running the latest version of WordPress. Also make sure that all your plugins and themes are up-to-date. Go to Updates screen and install any updates available.
WordPress itself and most popular WordPress plugins will not be affected by PHP update. However, it is possible that some plugin may stop working. If a plugin on your site has stopped working due to a PHP update, then you need to contact the plugin author for support or find an alternative.
What to Do if a PHP Update Breaks your WordPress Site?
There are very little chances of a PHP update breaking your WordPress site. However, with the abundance of free and paid plugins, a single line of poor code can result into an error. The first thing you need to do is make sure that it is not a plugin or theme causing this error. To do that deactivate all your WordPress plugins and switch to a default WordPress theme.
If this does not solve your issue, then contact your web host’s support team. There is a good chance that the issue you are facing will already be in their notice, and they will be able to assist you.
If your web host is unable to help you out, then try to install a fresh copy of WordPress and then restore your WordPress site from backup.
If none of this helps, then perhaps it is time to change your WordPress Hosting.