PHP 5.6 End of Life December 2018

You’ve heard the news about PHP 5.6 Depreciation and you’re wondering if you need to update your website or app PHP version to latest version PHP 7.2. The biggest question is do we need to go forward with this update and how much time we have before anything collapses?

The short answers are Yes for the need to update and it’s hard to know for how long. The timeline on PHP website shows End of 2018 as support for PHP 5.6. PHP and states as

End of Life: A release that is no longer supported. Users of this release should upgrade as soon as possible, as they may be exposed to unpatched security vulnerabilities. (From php.net).

The process is easier around CMS websites as the common ones such as WordPress or Joomla and the plugin developers for each would have adopted their codes and you may expect to update the PHP version on your hosting without any impact on the website. Still we recommend enough testing to be done before switching your production sites.

For custom php apps, there needs to be more consideration and testing throughout the project ensuring all functions are compliant with the updated php version.

custom PHP development illustrationWhere to Start?

Start with contacting your hosting company. If they provide you with a staging environment, you may test this on your staging first and after a good round of testing and not seeing any issues, you could ask the hosting support to update your PHP version. If you have access to cPanel, you may be able find the php version and update it yourself for each account or environment.

Is there any risk on updating PHP Version?

Not really, except your site might go down momentarily with any possible issues, until you could revert back to previous php version. But you could switch back and forth fairly quick.

What is the worst case scenario?

Worst cases are when a function in php is not compliant and breaks your pages on frontend, or worst when it doesn’t appear on frontend, but breaks your data processing and CRUD functionalities.

How to deal with the issues? 

If the hosting support cannot quickly identify the issue and update, it’d be best to revert the site back to previous php version and call your developers to work on these updates.

To ensure you don’t deal with any server security issues in your codebase, start testing early and adopt to the updates that will be less costly than dealing with consequences later.  

Our website is hosted by the amazing WPEngine team. With their solid backend with multiple staging and development environments and quick backup and reverting options, there’s always little to worry in case anything goes wrong. For the PHP upgrades, they provided lots of heads up notices and an awesome little feature on the dashboard to preview each site with PHP 7.2 for easy testing.

Contact us for supporting your PHP projects.

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