How To Update PHP Versions In WordPress (Ideally PHP 7.4)

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Updating PHP versions in WordPress can be done inside your hosting account.

Your hosting account will have a PHP Version Manager (or similar) where you can update PHP versions. With PHP 7.4 out, this is one of the easiest ways to make your WordPress site faster.

In fact, Kinsta’s PHP benchmarks showed PHP 7.4 was almost 3x faster than PHP 5.6. When upgrading PHP versions is as simple as logging into your hosting account and clicking a couple buttons, there’s no reason to run an outdated PHP version like many WordPress users do.

Why You Should Upgrade PHP Versions

  • Makes your site faster
  • Makes WordPress more secure
  • Facilitates better error handling
  • WordPress recommends PHP 7.3 or greater
  • WooCommerce recommends PHP 7.2 or greater

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

WordPress statistics show nearly 50% of WordPress users still run PHP 7.0 or lower:

WordPress PHP Versions

 

1. Check Your Current PHP Version

The easiest way to check your current PHP version is in your hosting account.

Find the PHP version manager (or similar) and check which version you’re using.

Cloudways PHP Version

You can also use the Display PHP Version plugin:

Display-PHP

Or Query Monitor:

Query Monitor PHP Version

Or WP Health:

WP Health PHP Version

Plugins To Check Your Current PHP Version

  • Display PHP Version
  • Query Monitor
  • WP Health
  • Yoast (via notification)
  • SG Optimizer (for SiteGround)

 

2. Update WordPress Core, Themes, Plugins

Before upgrading PHP versions, update everything in WordPress to reduce chance of errors. You may also want to backup your site and take a look at WordPress’ PHP recommendations.

wordpress-plugin-updates

 

3. Run PHP Compatibility Checker

PHP Compatibility Checker scans your plugins to make sure they’re compatible with newer PHP versions. However, the plugin doesn’t have great reviews and there has been multiple reports of crashed websites and the scan “stalling out” and not finishing. Use at your own risk.

PHP Compatibility Checker

 

4. Update PHP Versions In Your Hosting Account

Upgrading PHP versions can be slightly different depending on which host you’re using. But for most hosts, you will login to your hosting account, find the Software or Programming section, find the PHP version manager, then upgrade to the most recent PHP version (now PHP 7.4).

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On SiteGround

  • Login to your account
  • Click Devs form the left menu
  • Click PHP Manager (or, directly press CTRL+K shortcut and type PHP Manager and ENTER to go directly to it)
  • Click the edit icon
  • Change PHP version and click CONFIRM

SiteGround Update PHP Version

SiteGround PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On Cloudways

  • Go to your Server tab and select your server
  • Go to Server Management > Settings & Packages
  • Select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

Cloudways PHP Version

Cloudways PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On Bluehost

  • Login to Bluehost
  • From the left menu, click Advanced
  • Search for MultiPHP Manager
  • Check the domain name you want to change PHP version of.
  • Change PHP version from top-right where it says “PHP Version” and then click APPLY

Bluehost Update PHP Version

Bluehost PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On HostGator

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. In the Software section, click on the PHP Configuration icon.
  3. Select the directory you would like to upgrade PHP versions for
  4. Select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

HostGator PHP Upgrade

HostGator PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On WP Engine

  • Login to the User Portal and click Sites
  • Select the environment you wish to modify
  • Locate the PHP version, click it, and select your new PHP version

WP Engine PHP Selector Change

WP Engine PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On GoDaddy

  1. Log in to your GoDaddy account
  2. Click the web hosting tab, then click Manage
  3. From the More menu, click Programming Languages
  4. Select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

Godaddy PHP 7.2

GoDaddy PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On A2 Hosting

  • Login to the cPanel
  • Go to Software > Select PHP Version
  • Select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

A2 Hosting PHP Selector

A2 Hosting PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On Namecheap

  • Login to the cPanel
  • Go to Exclusive for Namecheap Customers > PHP Tweaks
  • Use the PHP Version drop-down to select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

Namecheap PHP Upgrade

Namecheap PHP Upgrade Instructions

How To Upgrade PHP Versions On Dreamhost

  • Go to Manage Domains page
  • In the web hosting section, click “edit”
  • Select the PHP version you wish to upgrade to

Dreamhost PHP Update

DreamHost PHP Upgrade Instructions

 

5. Check Your WordPress Site For Visible Errors

After upgrading PHP versions, check a few pages on your WordPress site for visible errors. If you don’t see errors, stay on the newest PHP version. Otherwise, you have to find the problem.

 

6. Revert To An Earlier PHP Version If Necessary

If you see errors when updating PHP versions, it’s probably because you’re using incompatible plugins. You need to find that plugin and delete it, or replace it with a plugin that is compatible.

If you wish to keep the incompatible plugin, you will need to revert to an earlier PHP version. To do this, simply follow the same instructions to upgrade PHP, only choose an earlier version.

 

7. Choose A Host That Stays Current With PHP Versions

Some hosts are quicker to release newer PHP versions than others.

For example, GoDaddy and Bluehost were slow to release PHP 7.2 and their customers weren’t happy about it. In fact, GoDaddy made some customers pay for an entirely new plan just so they could upgrade PHP versions. Choose a host that is quick to release newer PHP versions!

Supported-PHP-Versions

Most hosts are much better now at releasing new PHP versions, but it wasn’t always that way.

 

8. Keep Your PHP Version Updated

Hosting companies will usually publish a Facebook post, blog post, or will even send out a newsletter when they release a new PHP version (and they will usually run a Facebook ad).

This is the best way to stay updated since different hosts release new PHP versions at different times. Some hosts also create a reminder in their dashboard. Otherwise, keep an eye on your PHP version using a plugins from step 1. Display PHP Version is probably the easiest.

SiteGround PHP 7.4 Announcement

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 How do I update PHP versions?

Login to your hosting account and find the area to update your PHP version, then upgrade. A quick Google search should lead to instructions for your specific hosting provider.

🚀 Is PHP 7.4 faster than previous versions?

Yes, newer PHP versions are faster than previous versions. PHP 7.0 was the most significant (recent) improvement in speed. See Kinsta's PHP benchmarks to see a speed comparison of different PHP versions.

🚀 Should I backup my website beforehand?

It's a good idea, but you can usually revert to an earlier version without a problem.

🚀 Are my plugins compatible with PHP 7.4?

You will likely see visible errors on your website if plugins aren't compatible with a newer PHP version, but it's best to check the plugin's page to make sure they are compatible.

🚀 What if my hosting doesn't support PHP 7.4?

Some hosting companies are quicker to release newer PHP versions than others. Hosts like GoDaddy and Bluehost tend to be slower at releases, while SiteGround, Cloudways, and WP Engine are faster at releasing newer versions. If your host is slow to release new PHP versions, look into a host that does a better job of keeping their technology updated.

 

Make Your WordPress Site Load Even Faster

I have a fantastic guide on how to fix a slow WordPress site which covers the same tips I used to get 100% GTmetrix scores. It shows you everything from how to configure the best cache plugins, to optimizing images, external scripts, and reducing server response times. Upgrading PHP versions in WordPress is a good start, but there are obviously many other speed factors.

Cheers,
Tom

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