We have been contacted by a number of clients asking if they should update their WordPress website to PHP 8.
The answer is as always it depends.
What is PHP 8?
First some background; PHP is the programming language that WordPress is written in. PHP was first created in 1993 by Rasmus Lerdorf and released in 1995. WordPress itself was created in 2003.
PHP 8.0, which was released in November 2020, brings in a huge number of changes compared to the previous version 7.4. Unless you are technical, the details of the changes are immaterial. However, it does bring in significant performance improvements and new functions.
As of July 2022, just under 40% of website used version 7.4, 20% using 8.0 and 25% using 8.1.
Why do I need to upgrade?
PHP version 7.4, which is in use by a lot of web hosts, is coming to end of support in November 2022 and PHP version 8.0 is the current supported version. Some web hosts are proposing to charge “extended support” for those that don’t upgrade from PHP 7.4 to PHP 8.0 before then.
As WordPress is a constantly evolving platform, developers will start to use more of the new PHP 8.0 which means there is a risk of WordPress website stopping working if you don’t upgrade.
Is WordPress compatible with PHP 8?
WordPress itself is compatible with PHP 8 but there are over 10,000 themes and nearly 60,000 plugins so it is not possible to know if they are all compatible with PHP 8. It really depends on what plugins / theme you are using to know if your whole website will work with PHP 8 as you may be using a plugin. or theme that hasn’t been updated. You are reliant on the plugin author checking that it is compatible and taking the necessary steps to make any changes.
The only way to be sure if your website can be upgraded to PHP 8.0 is to test in a separate staging environment. Once you have completed the testing, then as with any change make sure you backup your website before you upgrade to PHP 8.0.
If you need any help upgrading your WordPress website to PHP 8, then contact us.
We offer a WordPress Care plan where, for a fixed monthly fee, we take care of managing your WordPress installation for you.