WordPress will warn you about obsolete PHP versions (before taking action)

Eddo Web Hosting Blog

WordPress will warn you about obsolete PHP versions (before taking action)

The WordPress CMS will display warnings in its administration panel (for site administrators) if the site runs on an outdated PHP version.

The purpose is to display warnings for sites using a PHP version dated before branch 5.6.x (<=5.6). The warnings will contain a link leading to a WordPress support page that provides information on how site owners can update the underlying PHP version of their server.

In cases where site owners run their WordPress portals on tightly controlled web hosting environments, the host can modify this link with a customized URL pointing to their support site. The warning will be sent and will start appearing with WordPress 5.1, scheduled for release in early spring.

The decision to start displaying this warning was made in December 2018, after the release of WordPress 5.0. Update statistics compiled a few days after the release of WP 5.0 revealed that 85% of WordPress 5.0 users were using PHP 5.6 and later versions, so only a small part of the active WordPress community will see these warnings appear on their screens.

We said "active WordPress community" because there are also millions of sites that use older versions of WordPress, and many of them are abandoned or just forgotten by their owners.

The short-term plan is to migrate as many active users as possible to newer versions of PHP so that the WordPress team can completely abandon support for older versions of PHP.

The WordPress team would like to officially change the requirements of the minimum PHP version of WordPress CMS from PHP 5.2 - the current version - to PHP 5.6 by April 2019. A similar version upgrade is also planned for MySQL, with MySQL 5.5 becoming the new minimum requirement.

The long-term plan is to make PHP 7.0 the minimum PHP version needed to run a site on WordPress by December 2019. The announcement made yesterday by the WordPress team is a surprise for the WordPress community. The minimum version of PHP required to run a WordPress site has not been modified for years.

The reason the WordPress team wants to push site owners to update their underlying PHP servers is that the PHP team has recently abandoned support for security fixes for PHP 5.6.x and PHP 7.0.x branches. These old PHP servers are now vulnerable to attacks and exploitation.

About 66.7% of all websites use an unsupported PHP version, according to W3Techs. And nearly a quarter of all sites run on a WordPress CMS. The WordPress team is the first major CMS project to announce a concerted plan to migrate users to currently supported PHP versions.