Why is WordPress still using PHP

WordPress and PHP - that's why you need the latest PHP version

| WordPress

In this article we explain what PHP is, why it should always be up to date and how to update PHP.

In this post we explain what PHP is and how to update it easily.


This article was updated in May 2020.

The important things first: Are you using an old PHP version? Then you should do an update quickly. How? Ask your hoster, he knows that, I promise. And: He shouldn't charge anything extra for it. If he does, we advise you to change the hoster.

What is php

For those of you who don't know what PHP is, it's what powers WordPress.
If WordPress were a skyscraper, PHP would be the steel structure all the way inside that holds it together.

To put it a bit more technically: PHP is a programming language. It is the language that is used to write the backend part of WordPress. PHP was invented about 20 years ago. Of course, numerous changes have been made over the past 20 years. The developers added many functions and removed or changed others. They fixed many bugs and released dozens of security updates. Modern PHP is much stronger, safer, and simply better than PHP that was around 20 years ago.

Current PHP version - PHP 7.4

The current version of PHP is version 7.4 (as of May 2020). So that everyone can see how PHP continues to improve, the developers have a roadmap for each PHP version. There they indicate when they publish a new PHP version and for how long they will actively develop it, i.e. how long they will update functions. The timetable also shows how long a PHP version will receive security updates for: http://php.net/supported-versions.php.

At some point every PHP version gets the status “end of life” (often abbreviated as “EOL”). If a PHP version is EOL, it will no longer receive security updates. That means she is insecure. If such a version of PHP is used, your website is much more likely to be hacked. In addition, modern PHP versions are much faster than old PHP versions. If someone is using an old version of PHP for his or her website, that website is sure to be slower than it could be.

PHP Version Recommended for WordPress - WordPress and PHP Compatibility

In order to be able to use a PHP version, the application used - for example WordPress - must be compatible with this version. For example, if a function used by the application was introduced in PHP 7, at least PHP 7 is required to use the application. That is why every application has a “minimum required PHP version”. It is the minimal version that an application needs to work. For WordPress, the minimum required PHP version is currently 7.3 (as of May 2020).

If outdated versions are used, it means that security updates and improvements are missing. This means that the respective website is less functional and also exposed to an increased security risk.

So we can certainly assume that anyone who has a website that runs on PHP is always using the latest, most secure and fastest PHP version, right? Unfortunately this is not the case.

This is how WordPress users use PHP versions

According to official statistics (https://wordpress.org/about/stats/