Why Do WordPress Websites Use Old PHP version?

Why Do WordPress Websites Use Old PHP version?

Why do WordPress Websites use older version of PHP

Most of WordPress users are still on PHP version that would no longer receive security updates. It is an underlying language and recent version is PHP 7.3.9. PHP continuously add security patches to its version whereas few versions have reached End of Life such as 5.6 and 7.0 in December 2018.

Version 7.1 will also reach its end by December 2019. As per official statistics from WordPress, 45.3% of WordPress sites are running their sites on PHP version 5.6 and 7.0. Whereas, on the other hand, 16.3% of WordPress users are using a version that is older than 5.6. In short, 61.6% of WordPress users are using a version of PHP that is now refrained from any future security updates.

The above pie chart depicts a share of each PHP version which used by sites on WordPress.

As per multiple discussions in hosting team meetings, a P2 post which happened within core-site-health-conversations. Respondents have widely suggested increasing the minimum required level to PHP 7.2.

Below is the recommended roadmap to update the minimum version of PHP.
  1. To show the pop-up message of PHP updates widget for PHP 5.6. This message would be shown to user using PHP 5.6 or below and in WordPress, dashboards will warn them and recommend them to upgrade their PHP version.
  2. Demonstrate pop-up message for PHP update widget for users of version 7.0 and below.
  3. After collecting stats from the above-mentioned points, the next step should be either to show a widget with an update to PHP 7.1 or to keep minimum requisite version to 7.2.

As of now, from August 5th update would be shown for users 5.6 or lower version. For PHP 7.0 user later would be discussed and showcased pop up accordingly.

What is it with the PHP update widget?

Most of the people while discussing have mentioned that due to paywalls many of the sites do not update their themes and plugins. In other words, if the PHP version is updated then their theme won’t be compatible with the latest version of PHP. This is on the whole common case for popular theme users and premium plugins.

With the help of PHP update widget, it will encourage users to update all their themes and premium plugins.  PHP migrations at the level of hosting would be hassle-free and cover the minimum requirements of WordPress compatibility in a futuristic manner.

An additional reason to show the update widget on the welcome screen is to handle the requests for any kind of support that is included for plugins, themes, and other additional features. Once the update is successful, there are chances to have compatibility issues with additional features of plugins which are previously installed.

We hope the update would encourage PHP users to upgrade their system to keep the relationship of WordPress continuing further. Additionally, along with the update, there would also be security support that will aid an additional layer of security which was not available in the outdated versions of PHP.  

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