Enhancing the speed and security of your WordPress site is no easy task, but running an up-to-date version of PHP is a simple step that can yield immediate results.
While the future of PHP has its share of naysayers, this open source scripting language has remained a steady fixture on the server-side of WordPress development for nearly two decades. As newer versions have been released in recent years, PHP has arguably become even more ingrained as an indispensable framework for building sites and improving performance.
At WP Engine, we work hard to ensure our customers have access to the latest versions of PHP, and we typically make those versions available as soon as we’ve completed the necessary testing for all of our customers’ sites.
While PHP 7.4 was made available to all WP Engine customers after its release last year, we’ve now made PHP 8.0 available for all WP Engine customers who want to update.
As of today, customers have the option to self-select PHP 8.0 as their version of PHP. Customers using PHP 7.4 can continue using it on existing sites, however, PHP 7.3 will be deprecated as of November 2021.
Making the switch to PHP 8.0 is easy—as always, our award-winning support team is ready to answer questions about upgrading, and if need be, they can help walk you through the process.
As with any major PHP version release, there are some backwards compatibility issues that may need to be tested before moving your sites to PHP 8.0.
That said, performing the update on your own is a simple process—just log in to your user portal and follow the steps provided here. Still have questions? Check out this helpful guide or login to your account to contact support.
What Are the Benefits of PHP 8.0?
There are a number of improvements and new features that come with PHP 8.0, including:
- Named arguments
- Union types
- Stringable interface
- Constructor property promotion
- Match expression
- Nullsafe operator (vs. null check conditions)
- JIT compilation
- Type system and error handling improvements
While in general, running an up-to-date version of PHP will speed up your site (as mentioned above, the upgrade to 7.4 last year saw a significant speed increase across our customers’ sites) it also prevents bad actors from taking advantage of security vulnerabilities that could be lurking in older PHP versions.
While no major security vulnerabilities have been flagged with PHP 7.4, it’s considered a best practice to run the latest version of WordPress as well as up-to-date versions of components such as PHP.
Just like any piece of software, older versions typically aren’t actively supported, so they’re not guaranteed to be patched as quickly as newer versions. By updating to PHP 8.0 today, you can rest easy knowing your WordPress site is running the most up-to-date and secure version of the scripting language.
You’ll also make sure your site is among the top-performing websites in the WordPress ecosystem. Despite the well-known benefits of running the latest PHP version, the majority of WordPress users today are still using PHP 7.3 or an earlier version—and 20% of those users are still using a version of PHP 5.0!
Updating PHP for the Larger WordPress Community
In addition to leaving performance and security improvements on the table, continued use of out-of-date PHP makes it harder for WordPress developers to utilize the latest version of PHP themselves—doing so could alienate a large number of potential customers who are still using out of date versions
Meanwhile, if the majority of WordPress users routinely updated their PHP versions, it would benefit WordPress and the WordPress community as a whole.
This presents yet another reason why WP Engine is committed to offering the latest version of PHP to our customers. Doing so not only allows them to optimize their sites with the most up-to-date server-side language WordPress has to offer, it makes WordPress itself a better platform for all of its users.
Want to find out more about upgrading your version of PHP with WP Engine? Check out this customer testimonial, and as always, chat with one of our experts at any time for answers to all of your questions!