How to check a site’s WordPress PHP version

Posted on 27th April 2020 by Thomas in Programming, Web Hosting
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WordPress is an enticing option for quickly building a fully functional site with little to no technical know-how. However, what you may not know is that every WordPress website uses PHP in the background. You may not require programming skills to create and operate your WordPress site. However, it is important to know which version of PHP your website is using.

The PHP compatibility checker can help you figure out what version of PHP your website is compatible with.

What is PHP?

PHP is a server-side script language that is widely used in web development. But what exactly does server-side mean? It simply means that in the operation of a website using PHP, all the action and functionality experienced by a visitor to the website is occurring through the use of the website owner’s server and resources.

While PHP use goes beyond simple web development, it is considered to be at the core of the WordPress software. This is why it is important to ensure that your WordPress site is compatible with your WordPress hosting partner.

How is PHP used in WordPress?

Your WordPress website utilises a variety of different programming languages, and at its core is PHP. PHP is what helps to make your website dynamic and it is integrated with HTML to provide you with the structure and functionality that appears on your users’ screens.

All WordPress themes and plugins that add functionality and structure to your website are run using PHP code. So, in a nutshell, when visitors come to your WordPress website, your server will run the PHP code in the background and will provide your users’ browsers with the HTML code.

The HTML code along with CSS in turn helps to determine what is displayed to your users’ screens. As the PHP code is run in the background, server-side, your users will be none the wiser of the process that delivers content to their browsers.

Why do I need to know my WordPress website’s PHP version?

If you require WordPress hosting, then it is important that your host be able to support the PHP version that your website uses. This will help to ensure that your WordPress site has optimal performance and ultimately ensure a great user experience.

In creating a great user-experience, you need to ensure that you not only have excellent content and images for example, but that your WordPress hosting provider is able to support this content. The PHP compatibility checker can help you to determine your PHP version and even what changes need to be made.

What is the PHP compatibility checker?

The PHP compatibility checker is a plugin made available by WP engine. This plugin, not limited to WP Engine sites, can be installed on any WordPress site. The PHP compatibility checker, as its name suggests, lets you know which version of PHP your site is compatible with.

PHP 7 is currently the latest version of PHP and by switching from an older version of PHP to the latest version, you can for example improve your site’s responsiveness, cutting the time it takes to load your page in half. This is an important step in improving the user experience.

The PHP compatibility checker however does more than just tell you what version of PHP is used by your WordPress site.

Benefits and features of the PHP compatibility checker

So, what next? Naturally it doesn’t suffice to just know your WordPress website’s PHP version. Besides telling you what version your site uses, what is the benefit of installing the PHP compatibility checker? Let’s explore some of the benefits and features it proposes:

  1. It is safe and easy to install on any WordPress site and on any WordPress hosting platform. In fact, it takes only a few minutes to install and run a compatibility test.
  2. It will itemise and categorise errors and warnings which enables a quick review of potential issues.
  3. The file and line number for errors within the code as well as the reason why that particular line is incompatible with the PHP version you have chosen is indicated, simplifying the necessary correction.
  4. The PHP compatibility checker suggests updates to the themes and plugins installed
  5. You can also switch off styling in dev mode to see a text-only report.

Why should I upgrade my WordPress site’s PHP version?

Why not? An upgrade undoubtedly suggests bigger and better. Your website is how your business communicates and appeals to its customers. It is therefore your duty to ensure that it measures up to the highest standards. No matter what your line of business is, you want to ensure that your customers are able to load your images and pages quickly, and that when they click on a section of your page, it does exactly what it is supposed to do. Upgrading your PHP version can help to ensure this.

PHP is an open-source web development language which is under constant development and maintenance by developers around the world. Corrections and updates to the language are made available in stable version releases.

Each PHP version release is only supported for the two years following its release after which only critical security updates will be received. This means that if your WordPress site is operating on a version of PHP that was not released within the last two years, your website is no longer benefiting from the improvements made to the language.

In addition, once your version has reached its end of life, you will no longer receive any security support, which will render your site an unsecure environment. By upgrading your PHP version, your website will not only be more secure, but its performance should vastly improve.

Conclusion

PHP is an important unseen component of your WordPress website. While WordPress provides you with a quick and easy way to create a website, it does require updates and maintenance. In maintaining your website, it is therefore essential that you are aware of the version of PHP used by your website in order to maintain its compatibility with more recent versions of PHP.

Checking the version of your WordPress site is probably easier than creating it. Simply install the PHP compatibility checker by WP Engines to your website and run it.