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Familiarity with the PHP version of your website and keeping it updated ensures high performance

Posted on Posted in PHP Web Development

Whatever might have changed in website creation, one thing that remains the same is that sites run on codes. You must have heard about HTML, a programming language for running sites that used to be the only language for web developers until not very long ago.  HTML is still much relevant today, but also, we have CSS and JavaScript as programming languages that you would find on every website. These languages have a defined scope of application and useful until the time of loading the sites on the internet. Once you find a host for the website, the server side of the hosting service becomes more dominant in ensuring high visibility of websites. The language used on the server side is different, and if you are using a WordPress website, then it must be PHP, the server-side programming language.

PHP is the backbone of WordPress websites. Whatever is visible and even what remains at the backend of WordPress websites, all the elements exist because of PHP. The page templates have PHP at its core, and the files that constitute the WordPress dashboard owe its existence to PHP. The themes and plugins that have made WordPress so famous all have PHP. In fact, PHP has helped WordPress to become what it is today.

Since PHP is central to WordPress websites, there would be occasions when you may have to update the PHP version of your site. It is most likely that PHP might be something like Greek to you, but after reading this article, you could become more familiar and comfortable with it.  In this article, you would come to know more about PHP, why it is essential to use the latest version of PHP as well as how you could update it without any concerns.

Overview of PHP, the programming language

PHP is an open source programming language available free, and it is perhaps a significant reason for its popularity.  How much popular PHP is would become clear when you know that it is the programming language behind not only WordPress but also Facebook and several other popular sites. PHP is a server-side language, which means that it exists within the hard drive and keeps processing from its location within the machine.  In contrast, JavaScript is a client-side language as it functions from within the browser of the user.  One thing that emerges from using PHP is that you have to handle any website problems that arise from PHP. This reflects especially in website speed that depends on server resources and is directly responsible for website performance.

 PHP – The most crucial intermediary

PHP becomes all-important for WordPress because it is central to the performance of websites. If you carefully observe the role of PHP, you would discover that it acts as the middleman between WordPress and website users.  Firstly, PHP is responsible for pulling the correct data from the database. Secondly, after retrieving the data, it nicely wraps it in HTML and CSS and lastly delivers a finished website to viewers. The speed of PHP is thus a determinant in website performance.

For PHP to perform at its peak, you have to update it constantly because continuous improvement is happening to the open source programming language. Inability to keep the language updated would affect its performance and in turn would affect the performance of websites, too. With so many contributors working tirelessly to improve PHP, it has gone through several updates till date that have all resulted in improvements for PHP.

Which version of PHP to use

The older versions of PHP are no more valid and even for a few old versions that are still usable – time is running out fast. Updates mean progress as the language becomes leaner, faster and more secure with lesser resources required to run it.  There is an overall improvement in its quality.  PHP 5.2.4 is the minimum requirement for the server to run WordPress websites.  However, for the best performance PHP 7 or 7.1 is what the experts of Miami SEO companies recommend. Since you have to stay tuned with trends, it makes sense to use the latest version for your website.

PHP 7.0 – The best so far

Updates lead to the release of new versions of PHP with improvements in various aspects of the programming language. The most remarkable change visible in the latest PHP 7.0 is the improvement in speed that has become almost two times faster than the earlier version of PHP 5.6.  Therefore, by using PHP 7.0, your website would display very fast due to the enhanced speed of the programming language that resides on the server. And all this would consume minimal resources.

Another marked improvement is the ability of PHP 7.0 to handle errors. It can now resolve script problems without having to terminate the process entirely thereby eliminating the chances of visitors encountering faulty websites. The security enhancement of PHP 7.0 makes it more safe and secure from the prying eyes of hackers. Even if it ever happens, there are ways to recover from it that you should also learn.

Upgrading PHP safely

Before you go ahead in updating your website with PHP 7.0, you must check that the code on your website used for WordPress core, plugins, themes and scripts are compatible with the new version.  If there are compatibility issues, the site would appear faulty to viewers as some parts may behave erratically. To upgrade a live site, you can follow these steps.

Before upgrading the site, backup everything so that the problems of old codes interfering with the process would affect your website.  Next, ensure that the site has updated codes so that the process of upgrading is trouble-free. A free WordPress plugin is available that you can use to detect compatibility issues.

Once you are confident that the changeover would not pose any problems, go ahead with it. Carrying out the switchover from the hosting provider’s admin dashboard is an easier way to do it. Having done it smoothly, check the website for satisfactory performance as a confirmation.

About the author: Jimmy Banks is a programmer who has spent more than ten years in web development and related projects in Miami. He is the brain behind many successful WordPress websites of major companies. Sharing his views on various aspects of web development is what he likes most. In his leisure time, he loves to listen to music of all kinds.