When selecting a programming language like PHP from the open source,one of the most important considerations is the kind of support you would receive during its use. The support is essential to ensure that the security features remain updated and you can resolve ongoing issues without any difficulties. In the absence of the support, you could simply not be able to use the language for your projects.
Against this backdrop, if you are currently using PHP 5.6, then it is time to upgrade it to the latest version PHP 7 or PHP 7.1. The reason is that since January 19, 2017, active support for PHP is no more available. Only security updates are still available, but that too will stop from 31stDecember 2018. Time is running out fast, and you should not delay the upgrade anymore.
Much delayed update
Since 2004, PHP has been sticking to the 5x version for long 10 years until the release of PHP 7.0 happened in December 2015 followed by 7.1 in 2016. During the ten years, there had been some upgrades, but none was significant. Now that PHP5.6 is on its way out, you have no other choice but to upgrade to PHP7 if you want to continue to use PHP for WordPress. Since WordPress has gone through massive changes during this period, the requirements for WordPress core have gone up. As a result, many themes and plugins would soon become incompatible with PHP 5.6. Continuing with the older version would expose you to security threats, as it would not receive any security updates.
Moving over to PHP 7 is no more a choice but a necessity. However, the switchover and adapting to the new version could be somewhat intimidating because there are significant changes in the new version as it is happening after a very long time. Besides, you might encounter some issues during the changeover process related to compatibility of scripts. In this article, we will give you some guidance on handling the upgrade with an ease that could provide the best results.
PHP 7 – a package of new features
Ten years is a long time, and the functions and features of PHP 5x had gradually become outdated. PHP 7 has not only got rid of several deprecated functions but also included new features in its place that are also very modern. Throwable errors, anonymous classes, and type declarations are some of the new features. Such updates were long overdue that has now helped PHP to retain its position as a cutting-edge programming language.
Most importantly, PHP 7 is super fast and more secured besides being remarkably resource efficient as compared to the earlier versions. A website that runs on PHP 7 can handle double the traffic than sites running on PHP 5.6 by using the same amount of memory, which demonstrates its efficiency in utilizing resources.
The support cycle for PHP
Three years is the standard span of support for PHP. Each version of PHP receives support during its life cycle that follows a typical pattern. Since the day of its initial release, the standard support lasts for two years that includes fixing of security issues and bugs. In the next one year, only critical security updates are available only if you face security issues thus making it entirely need-based. After the completion of three years, no support is available. According to the pattern, support for PHP5.6 that is going through a critical security phase is going to end in December 2018.Thereafter, except for some very serious security lapses reported to the PHP community, there would not be any kind of support provided for PHP 5.6.
This leaves you with no other option than upgrading to PHP 7 or PHP 7.1so that you continue to receive the active support for development. If security is your only concern then also you have time until the end of the year to switch over to PHP 7.
Upgrading to PHP 7
If your hosting company is already using PHP 7, the easiest way to upgrade is to request them to do it for you. If the host company either does not use PHP 7 or declines your request, it is time to look for a new hosting service.
The other way is to do it yourself in case you are administering your server on your own. Before you proceed with upgrading, you should ensure that there are no compatibility issues of your server side with PHP7. Only when you are sure that the process of upgrading will not encounter any problems that you should go ahead. Another way is to hire the services of some professional Miami web design company that can do it for you.
Checking for compatibility
The purpose of checking compatibility is to weed out any changed features or deprecated functions that could interfere with the functioning of the new version of PHP. It is not difficult to check for compatibility issues on your own by using some open source tools. Some free WordPress plugins are available that can perform the checks so that you can safely switch over to the new version. Installing the plugin and following the instructions are all that you have to do to complete the exercise. The result captures any conflicting codes that could come in the way of PHP 7 so that you could fix it and then go ahead.
What to expect from PHP 7
Now that it has now become almost a compulsion to move over to PHP 7, you would naturally like to know about how it would perform. Just for your understanding, you should know that PHP 7 is two times faster than PHP 5.6, which means that in 300 seconds PHP 7 can handle 4521 clicks as against only 680 clicks that PHP 5.6 can handle in the same time.
PHP 7 will revolutionize the way you deliver applications and achieve high levels of performance. It is now much powerful and capable of competing with much more fervor thereby providing a better return to users.