PHP is powerful and flexible programming language that powers most of the world’s websites, including Facebook, Wikipedia, and all WordPress sites.
Since it has such a large user base, developers are constantly improving its functionality. In an ideal world, updates to PHP would not be anything you’d notice. But every once in a while there’s an update that you need to pay attention to as an essential step toward keeping your site secure.
As 2018 comes to a close, any future security vulnerabilities in two major versions of PHP (5.6 and 7.0) will no longer be fixed by developers. If your nonprofit’s website is built on WordPress you need to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of PHP (7.2) in order to keep important security updates coming your way. As a bonus, PHP 7.2 offers greatly improved performance so your website may load faster.
The upgrade to PHP 7.2 might happen automatically or you may have to do it yourself. It all depends on your hosting provider. The end of life for PHP 5.6 and PHP 7.0 is at the end of December. WP Engine is allowing clients to upgrade their sites on their own until January 31, 2019. Sites that have not been updated by then will be automatically updated by WP Engine beginning in February 2019.
If your site is currently on PHP 7.0, it will likely work fine on PHP 7.2. If you’re upgrading from PHP 5.6, and depending on how your site code is written, you may encounter some issues with your website after upgrading. WP Engine, one of our favorite hosting providers, is providing assistance to its customers along with automatic upgrades. We recommend testing the upgrade in a staging environment (a duplicated non-public version of your website). Once you’ve worked out any kinks you can then do the upgrades on your actual site.
To find out what you might need to fix you can install and run this plugin, but be aware that it won’t catch all possible issues. That’s where we come in. If you’re not sure of your next step or need assistance you can reach out to us and we’ll help you get everything sorted.