For a few months all of my WordPress websites were showing me an error/warning message in the WordPress dashboard that a “PHP update is required”. I knew that WordPress is built with PHP and runs on PHP, and after doing a bit of research I found that in order to remove the message I would need to actually go on update my PHP version. And after doing a bit of looking up I found the option in namecheap hosting cPanel, there is actually an option to select specific PHP versions. I found that I was using PHP version 5.6 while the latest PHP version is 7.4. Even though it seemed like a very simple thing to do, but I already had three blog websites running with that hosting having around 100+ blog posts which I have written down with my hard work. If I update PHP and if the websites gets damaged I might end up losing all my blogs. But after a lot of thinking and keeping a lot of backups using the “All in one WP Migration Plugin”, I decided to take the risk and update my PHP version to the absolute latest one, 7.4.
Interpreting the message
Let us interpret the error. It is saying that WordPress is built using PHP and if we update the PHP version, we will get the following benefits:
From where to update the PHP version
You will not get the option to update your PHP within your WordPress dashboard. In order to update PHP you will need to go to your cPanel or the interface with which you manage your hosting. If you are totally confused and have no idea of what you are doing, then please contact your hosting support, ask them that what PHP version you are currently using and how you can update to the latest version. For the namecheap hosting cPanel interface I directly got the option to select a specific PHP version under the Software list.
Precautions before updating the PHP version
Before you go ahead and update the PHP version, there are a few precautions that you should take:
Go ahead and update your PHP to the latest version
Gather your courage, go ahead and select the latest PHP version and click on okay or check. When you will select the PHP version 7.4, you will see some of the check boxes change. Please make sure that you do not touch them or try to make any changes if you have to idea of what you are doing.
After choosing the PHP version 7.4 and clicking on the check icon or okay, please reload the page, this is to make sure that the setting are saved and the server is now indeed running the latest PHP version.
After you have updated the PHP version, and go back to the WordPress dashboard and refresh. You will see that the error message to update your PHP version is now gone! If you are using any caching plugin in WordPress, make sure to clear your cache.
Any improvement in Website performance?
To check whether updating the PHP improved my website performance, I am going to measure the load time of my website before and after updating the PHP. In my case the change was insignificant, kind of a little bit worse after updating. But that could be due to a lot of factors errors in testing the speed. Due to the theme I was using and so on. I have measured the website load time from this website.
Before Updating PHP ( Version: 5.6)
After Updating PHP ( Version: 7.4)
As a WordPress user, I would definitely recommend you update your PHP version to the latest. It is better to be always using the latest version of the software. It will improve security and might also improve your site performance. Even though in my case the site performance did not improve, but I believe that it was the right choice for me to update my PHP version.