WordPress and many WordPress hosts make updates easy with automation. Still, manual updates can be a hassle. Is upgrading PHP worth your time?
Absolutely. The benefits of the latest PHP can be narrowed down to speed, security, and compatibility.
PHP developers update the language between releases to use resources more efficiently and introduce new features and functions.
This means that each new release of PHP will run your WordPress website faster than before. Not only will better performance keep visitors engaged with your site — it can also improve your rankings in search engines.
PHP’s popularity makes it a common target for cyberattacks. To counter these attacks, new PHP releases contain patches for vulnerabilities exposed by hackers.
If your WordPress site runs an old version of PHP, it won’t have these fixes in place. As such, your website will be more susceptible to malware, viruses, and unwanted access to your site’s back end.
However, you need more than new PHP updates to keep intruders out. See our guide to WordPress security for steps on how to harden your WordPress site.
WordPress websites comprise multiple parts, and when one component upgrades, the rest tend to follow. The best WordPress themes and plugins and WordPress itself always run on the latest version of PHP.
If you’re stuck on a previous version, the lack of compatibility between PHP and your core files, plugins, and theme might break your website.