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How to Update PHP in WordPress

What is PHP? Why is it needed in WordPress? How to update PHP in WordPress? Find out the answers to these questions and much more in today's tutorial.

22 Jun, 21 by Antoniy Yushkevych 8 min Read

List of content you will read in this article:

If you are hunting for a method to update PHP in your WordPress website, then you have arrived at the right place.

But first, here are some pointers that we will analyze in the article. Take a look.

  • What is PHP?
  • The life cycle of PHP
  • Why do you need to update PHP and what are its effects?
  • Benefits of updating PHP
  • Method to update PHP for your WordPress website

Let’s begin!


If you belong to a technical background, you must be acquainted with this programming language. Even if you are associated with a non-technical sector, no worries. Here is a quick brief about the language for you! PHP is an open-source programming language. It is enlisted amongst the topmost programming languages in the tech world.

Moreover, it’s a server-side script, which means, the execution takes place on the webserver instead of the browser, as is the case of HTML. The amalgamation of both these languages results in the development of ample dynamic websites. 

When we talk about WordPress sites, you must know that all these sites run on PHP and HTML. Yes! That’s how popular and important these languages are. With this brief, let us move forward to our next segment and understand the life-cycle of PHP.


The PHP version in general has a life cycle of approximately three years. After this time period exhausts, they do not get any support. According to the official website of PHP, each branch of PHP is completely supported for a time period of two years from its initial release. Support here includes all the bugs, security issues, or other technical issues that are fixed and updated from time to time.

After the time bracket of two years exhaust, an additional year is provided to you to solve only critical issues associated with PHP. Once, this additional period also exhausts, the support also exhausts. Therefore, the version loses the security support and is prone to ample security threats. So, it becomes mandatory for you to update the PHP version from time to time. For additional data, take a look at this table to achieve a better grip over the topic.

Moving on, here is an analysis to make you understand the importance of updating PHP.


Various factors are taken into account. As you know, there are several ways to build your WordPress website. If you have built it with HTML, then the PHP update shows no changes at all. On the other hand, if you have created the site with the help of PHP, it functions better and in a refined way. The performance, speed, and overall experience improve. Also, do not forget to update WordPress itself, for a seamless experience. 

Additionally, there are situations when the code is outdated and the new version of PHP does not support it. In such cases, the site shows errors and hinders the work. 


For a better understanding, take this example into account. Suppose, you have not updated the latest version of CMS. Or your WordPress website consists of custom code and there is no update available for them. In that case, it is necessary to update your code to make it compatible and work-worthy. Therefore, updating PHP on your website holds great importance. There are ample benefits associated with the same. Let us analyze them.


Here is a list of the most essential advantages of updating PHP on your WordPress website. 

  • Improved security: The most essential reason behind updating the PHP is better security. As the cases of cyber-attacks or hacking are progressing day by day, it is always a good option to take precautionary measures. In this case, the newer versions hold a better counterattack against the hackers as well as against any security breach. 
  • New features and improvised tools: The newer version consists of improved features as well as tools to help you gain a smooth experience. 
  • Faster speed: As you know, speed matters a lot while you work on your site. Any time lag, even for a few milliseconds, breaks the flow. Every new version of PHP inhibits a significantly faster speed than all its earlier versions. The execution times are faster and the memory usage is lesser. Such factors help the WordPress websites to work more smoothly. The performance escalates up to 3 or 4X faster. Additionally, a faster WordPress website results in a better SEO, as it gets a higher rank by different search engines.

Moving on, there are few steps that you must consider before performing an update of the PHP version. 


Before performing an update, there are some pointers that you must take into account for additional security. Sometimes, there occurs an issue with the themes and plugins while updating the new version. Well, there is no sure-shot guarantee that these themes and plug-ins won’t get affected. But, you can always try your level best to mitigate the risks with the available options.

Here are some of the important factors to remember:

  • Create a backup of your website: Unfortunately, if the update does not go as expected, you can always revert to the original or previous version. There are ample backup plug-ins available for your comfort. You must opt for a reliable backup solution for additional safety. 
  • Do check the PHP compatibility: There are several PHP compatibility plug-ins available to test the compatibility of all the themes and plug-ins with the latest update. You can install one of these to ensure that your tools or features go hand-in-hand with your new version. Additionally, if you encounter any technical issues after installing this plug-in, you can seek the assistance of a developer at any time.
  • Quickly update WordPress plug-ins and themes: This is a step that you should perform on a regular basis. It is always a safer and smart option to keep your WordPress updated. It results in better and smooth working. Head towards your WordPress dashboard and check for the regular updates and execute them.
  • Remove the unused plug-ins: If there are any unused plug-ins or tools installed on your dashboard, you must uninstall them. This can result in a slower speed and you would not want that. 
  • If any errors, fix them first: If there are any errors on your WordPress website, fix them. You can do it yourself or hire a developer for professional assistance.

These are some checks that you can perform prior to updating the latest version of PHP on your WordPress website. Let us now quickly hop on to our core topic. 


You can conclude this task with the help of two options. One is through the Control Panel and the second one is by contacting the hosting provider. You just have to go navigate through a series of a few steps. They are extremely simple as well as quick. Take a look.

The first step is to update the PHP version in cPanel. If you do not access cPanel, make the changes on the control panel that you use. 

Log into the Control Panel and search for the Select PHP version option as displayed in the snapshot below. 

Tap on this option. On the very next window, you get to see the current version of the PHP. Here, simply choose the latest version from the drop-down list as displayed below. 

Now, click on the Set As Current option. That’s it!

Moving on unlike cPanel, not every Control Panel has the same mentioned options. If you are unable to search your current version, feel free to contact the hosting provider. 

They will assist you completely.


The dynamics of the technical world are continuously changing. The updates are getting frequent. As you can understand, both WordPress and PHP have extremely vital web resources. Updating PHP for your WordPress website holds great importance and you must do it to experience better performance. Therefore, it is only natural that you get regular updates which in turn helps to run your website smoothly. We hope that this information helps you in the best way possible.t

Antoniy Yushkevych

Master of word when it comes to technology, internet and privacy. I'm also your usual guy that always aims for the best result and takes a skateboard to work. If you need me, you will find me at the office's Counter-Strike championships on Fridays or at a.yushkevych@monovm.com