News and insights • Posted on 20 January 2023

How PHP Version Deprecation Affects Websites

With some versions of PHP soon to become unsupported, we explain what this could mean for your website, and what you can do about it.

What’s happening with PHP?

Cloudways, one of our main hosting partners, is deprecating (stopping support for) some old versions of PHP. Any websites built using these outdated versions will automatically be migrated to the nearest stable version and, if left unchecked, this may break the website’s functionality. 

The outdated versions will be: 

  • 5.6

  • 7.0

  • 7.1

  • 7.2 

  • 7.3 

The end of life date is 28th Feb 2023. Cloudways are just one of many hosting companies, and while some may continue to support these versions a little longer, eventually all will follow suit. 

What is PHP, and why is it important?

Websites on platforms like WordPress are built using PHP, which is the programming language used. The majority of things you can see on your front end website, or within the CMS (back end), exist because of PHP. Think of it as the foundations your website is built on. 

Why are there PHP updates and different versions?

PHP, like all software, has versions that are created and released as time goes by – much like you have on Windows or OSX updates for your computer. Updates are typically released to improve performance, stability or security. We have no control over which versions are supported – that decision is made by the host company. 

What if my website uses one of the old versions? 

After 28th February, any website hosted on Cloudways using these old versions will be automatically migrated to a stable version of PHP, which could break the website’s functionality if left to its own devices. The version of PHP your website uses needs to be checked and potentially updated to allow us to keep it live. All affected clients of The Bigger Boat will be contacted, and we’ll provide a quote for the work required to keep the website live. 

If you’re in any doubt as to which version of PHP your website is using, get in touch and we’ll check for you.

Why isn’t my PHP version up to date?

Without paying for additional website development maintenance, the version of PHP your website uses will be the one available at the time it was built. If built a long time ago, the version of PHP could be particularly old. Much like cars, websites won’t run forever if they’re not maintained and should undergo an annual check up (MOT) with CMS, plugin, or PHP updates quoted and completed. 

What’s required to keep my website live?

Depending on your individual circumstances, updating the PHP version can be a simple or complicated process. In some instances with niche old CMS platforms, the version of CMS you’re using may prevent you from using an updated version of PHP. In that situation, it’s probable both the CMS and PHP will need to be updated. 

Note for all existing The Bigger Boat clients: A member of our crew will be in touch to quote the work required to update your website and keep it running. 

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Written by Andy McCaul

Co-founder and digital marketing guru Andy ensures all projects are shipshape, and that we generate the best return on investment for clients.

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