PHP 5.6 was a great and very widely used version of PHP. For years developers enjoyed the benefits of the PHP 5 branch and were updated for a long period. But, all good things must come to an end, and as of Jan 1st, 2019, PHP 5.6 has reached E.O.L which stands for End Of Life. This means it is no longer receiving security fixes or updates.
What does this mean for you?
If you've been keeping your PHP applications up to date (you should be!) then moving to a new version of PHP should be little to no problem. PHP applications that are being developed on a continual basis, will almost always be supporting the latest in server software. This is especially true for PHP applications.
However, we all have lives away from the screen and we tend to forget about the software we have installed to run our online website/applications. which means they tend to get overlooked when it comes to updates. If you've not been keeping your PHP apps up-to-date, then the first thing to do is check with the developer and see if there are updates to the applications you are using. If there are newer versions of your application, then updating your application should be relatively straight forward. Many of today's PHP applications, such as WordPress, have the ability for automated updates to make moving to a new version fairly straight forward.
No matter what, however, The one thing you should make a top priority is moving away from PHP 5.6. Not moving away from 5.6 could lead to your site and serve being compromised, as security vulnerabilities will, and more than likely already have been found.
Why moving to PHP version 7.1 or higher is the right thing to do.
PHP 7 saw a rewrite of the Zend Engine, introducing what is called ZendEngine NextGen, adding one of the largest speed enhancements to PHP applications ever. PHP 7.1 and higher versions add immense performance increases to PHP applications that were running on PHP 5. Most tests conducted show speed improvements of almost double to triple for WordPress and most common CMS applications.
With a new Major version of PHP (That being 7.x), most application developers will be dropping support for 5.6. In most cases, without upgrading your PHP version, you will be unable to upgrade your application or will have issues if you do. In other words, the transition stage of migrating PHP applications seamlessly from PHP 5 to PHP 7 is closing fast.
As of now, PHP 7.0 has already reached its EOL period and is no longer maintained. But PHP 7.2 does not end its EOL until January 1st, 2021, and PHP 7.3 until January 1st, 2022. This means you will always have security updates and fixes until those times.
How do I move to PHP 7.1 or higher?
That's the easy part! If you are one of our DIY or Managed WordPress Hosting clients, no need to worry about upgrading because you're already using the most current version! If you're hosting with another provider, the best thing to do is to check with their support team to see if they have them available. Alternatively, on Cpanel based systems, you can easily swap version using the build-in MultiPHP version change system.
Motivated to move away from PHP 5.6?
Hopefully, we have helped you to see the benefits of moving away from PHP 5.6. If you want to move away, and either is not able to or do not know how to, then contact us! With our new Managed Wordpress Service, we will help maintain, update, secure and optimize your WordPress site, and help the transition process much easier. Or make the migration to us today, We will match or do better than your current pricing! We offer both DIY(Do it Yourself) hosting for those who want to control all aspects of their site, as well as Managed WordPress Hosting where we take care of all the backend work for you! Contact our sales team today!