Choose The Best: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress?

Which PHP Version Is Best for Wordpress?

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

Upgrading to the latest PHP version is important for WordPress sites because Using an outdated PHP version can lead to compatibility issues, site errors, and security vulnerabilities.

However, with multiple PHP versions available, it can be challenging to decide which one is the best fit for your website.

Choosing the right PHP version depends on a few factors, such as:

  • Compatibility
  • Hosting Requirements
  • Performance
  • Security considerations

In this article, we’ll explore which PHP version is best for WordPress, by  diving into the factors influencing the best PHP version for WordPress. Moreover, we compare the features and benefits of various PHP versions and provide tips on how to upgrade to the latest version.


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  • Use the latest stable version of PHP for the best performance and security
  • Check your WordPress theme and plugins to ensure they are compatible with the PHP version you want to use
  • Upgrade to a newer PHP version gradually, testing your site after each update to ensure everything works properly
  • Server software and OS requirements are vital in selecting a PHP version
  • If you’re not sure which PHP version to use, consult with your web hosting provider or a WordPress developer for guidance

What Are the Latest PHP Versions?

PHP 8.2, the latest version in the PHP 8.x release cycle, was released in November 2022, marking a key milestone in modernizing the PHP language.

While it is recommended to use the latest stable version of PHP, there are also several common types of PHP versions that WordPress sites typically use. These include:

  • PHP 5.6: This is an older version of PHP that is no longer supported by However, some older WordPress sites may still be using this version. It is recommended to upgrade to a newer version of PHP for security and performance reasons.
  • PHP 7.0-7.4: Over 70% of developers are using PHP 7 in their development environment. These versions of PHP are still supported by and are commonly used by WordPress sites.
  • PHP 8.0: This is the latest major version of PHP and offers significant performance improvements, as well as several new features and improvements.

Why Choosing the Right PHP Version Is Important for WordPress Sites?

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

1. PHP 5.X

PHP 5.2 was a popular choice for web developers due to its stability and compatibility with many existing scripts and applications.

However, PHP 5.2 is no longer supported, which means it no longer receives security updates, bug fixes, or other improvements.

2. PHP 7.X

PHP 7.x offers significant performance improvements over older versions of PHP, such as PHP 5.6 or lower.

Here are some improvements:

  • Improved memory usage
  • Faster execution
  • More efficient code
  • Better error handling
  • Introduction of new operators

These improvements make it a better choice for modern web development projects that require high Security,  performance, and efficiency.

3. PHP 8.X

PHP 8 is the latest major version of the PHP programming language, released in November 2020. It introduces several new features and improvements, as well as significant performance and security enhancements compared to previous versions of PHP.

Some of the notable features and improvements in PHP 8 include:

  • Constructor Properties Promotion
  • Foreign Function Interface (FFI) Improvements
  • JIT Improvements
  • Improved Type System

In addition to these features and improvements, PHP 8 also includes several performance and security enhancements, such as:

  • Faster Execution
  • Reduced Memory Usage
  • Improved Error Handling
  • Improved Security
  • Better support for the Unicode character set

4. Other Versions

PHP 4.x is an extremely outdated version of PHP that is no longer supported. Using PHP 4.x is not recommended as it lacks many of the modern features and security updates found in newer versions of PHP.

PHP 6 was a version of PHP that was under development for many years, but it was ultimately abandoned before its official release. The developers of PHP decided to skip PHP 6 and instead released PHP 7, which included many of the features that were originally planned for PHP 6, such as improved Unicode support.

Current PHP Versions for WordPress

WordPress recommends using PHP version 7.4 or higher for optimal performance and security because it offers significant improvements over older versions of PHP.

Here are the currently supported versions of PHP for WordPress:

1. PHP 7.4

PHP 7.4 is a major version release of PHP, which is faster, more efficient, and more secure than its predecessors.

Here are some of the notable new features of PHP 7.4:


  • faster page load times
  • better performance

Typed Properties

  • improves code readability
  • reduces the chances of errors

Arrow Functions

  • provide a more concise syntax for declaring anonymous functions
  • make code more efficient and maintainable

Improved Error Handling

  • easy to identify and fix errors in code

Improved Performance

  • optimized memory usage
  • faster string processing
  • faster array sorting

Spread Operator

  • allows developers to expand arrays and iterable objects into argument lists

2. PHP 8.0

PHP 8.0 is a major update to the PHP language and is highly recommended for use with WordPress. It provides developers with many new tools and features that make coding more efficient and maintainable,

Here are some of the notable improvements:

Improved Error Handling

  • make it easier to identify and fix errors in code

Match Expressions

  • Provide a more concise syntax


  • allow developers to attach metadata to classes, methods, and functions

Named Arguments

  • improve code maintainability and reduce the chances of errors

Union Types

  • make code more flexible and efficient

JIT (Just-in-Time) Compilation

  • speeds up the execution of code by compiling it at runtime

3. PHP 8.1

PHP 8.1 offers several new features and improvements that can enhance the performance and security of WordPress websites.

Some of the new features in PHP 8.1 include:

FFI (Foreign Function Interface) Performance Improvements

  • Enables developers to call functions written in other languages such as C.

JIT (Just-In-Time) Performance Improvements

  • leads to faster script execution and better overall website performance


  • Enable developers to write asynchronous code in a more synchronous way

Read-only Properties

  • ability to define class properties as read-only, meaning they can only be initialized once and then become immutable

Improved Type System

  • the ability to use the mixed type to represent values of any type

Security Enhancements

  • several security enhancements, including improved support for cryptography

Section 1: Compatibility

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

The latest version of WordPress is designed to be compatible with PHP versions 7.4 and higher. This means that WordPress can be installed and run on servers that have either of these PHP versions installed.

WordPress also supports older PHP versions, but it is strongly recommended to use a version that is still actively supported with regular updates and security patches.

1. WordPress Version Compatibility

Here’s an overview of the different WordPress versions and their PHP version requirements:

  • WordPress 5.2 and later: These versions of WordPress require PHP version 5.6.20 or higher. It is strongly recommended to use PHP version 7.4 or 8.0 for optimal performance and security
  • WordPress 5.6 and later: These versions of WordPress recommend using PHP version 7.4 or higher for optimal performance and security
  • WordPress 6.1: This version of WordPress currently requires PHP version 7.4 or higher including 8.2

Older or unsupported PHP versions can cause compatibility issues with WordPress tools, leading to errors, broken functionality, and a poor website experience.

2. Hosting Provider Compatibility

Hosting providers may have specific PHP version requirements or limitations for several reasons:

  • Server configuration: Hosting providers may require a specific version of PHP to ensure compatibility with their server environment
  • For example, if the server uses an older version of Apache, it may require an older version of PHP to work correctly
  • Security: Older versions of PHP are often less secure and more vulnerable to security threats
  • Technical support: Hosting providers may only provide technical support for certain PHP versions
  • Performance: Hosting providers may limit the PHP version to ensure optimal performance on their servers

It’s always best to check with your hosting provider before upgrading to ensure that you can take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth upgrade and avoid any potential issues.

3. Themes and Plugins Compatibility

Themes and plugins developed with older PHP versions may not work on newer versions due to unsupported features. Check compatibility before upgrading PHP.

Incompatible themes and plugins can cause errors or even break your website. Therefore, checking the compatibility of your themes and plugins before upgrading can help you avoid potential issues and ensure that your website runs smoothly.

4. Testing for Compatibility

Testing your site on a staging environment before upgrading to a new PHP version is crucial because it allows you to identify any compatibility issues or errors that may arise after the upgrade.

Here are some reasons why testing on a staging environment is important:

  • Avoid downtime
  • Ensure compatibility
  • Ensure security
  • Save time and money

Section 2: Hosting Requirements

Different hosting providers may have different PHP version requirements based on their server configuration, software compatibility, and security considerations.

Here are some tips for checking with your hosting provider:

  • Check hosting provider’s recommendations
  • Ask your hosting provider if they offer a staging environment for testing compatibility
  • Inquire about potential issues when upgrading PHP
  • Ask for support or assistance with upgrading PHP version

1. Requirements by Hosting Provider

Different hosting providers may have different PHP version requirements or limitations due to several factors, including:

  • Server configurations
  • Support policies
  • Agreements with customers

Checking with your hosting provider before upgrading also allows you to understand any potential issues that may arise when upgrading, such as compatibility issues with your website’s code, database, or server configuration.

2. Server Type and Configuration

When choosing a PHP version for your website, it’s important to consider the server type and configuration.

  • Server type is an important factor to consider because different operating systems have different compatibility requirements, libraries, and dependencies that need to be considered when running PHP.
  • Server configuration is also an essential factor to consider when choosing a PHP version. Some server configurations may require specific PHP extensions, which are only available in certain PHP versions.

3. PHP Extensions and Libraries

PHP extensions and libraries are additional software components that can be installed to extend the functionality of PHP.

These extensions and libraries can impact PHP version requirements in several ways.

  • Compatibility: Different PHP extensions and libraries may require specific PHP versions to function correctly.
  • Security: Upgrading to a newer PHP version can mitigate security risks from vulnerable extensions and libraries.
  • Performance: Newer versions of PHP may include improved performance features, making them more compatible with newer extensions and libraries.

Ensuring that the necessary extensions and libraries are installed for your chosen PHP version is crucial to ensuring that your website or application works correctly, is compatible, and is secure.

4. Server Software and Operating System

When choosing a PHP version, it’s important to consider the server software and operating system requirements.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Server software requirements
  • Operating system requirements
  • Server software and operating system updates
  • Performance and security

Server software and OS affect PHP version requirements in several ways:

  • Specific PHP versions may be required by different server software
  • OS can also impact PHP version requirements
  • Updates to server software and OS may require specific PHP versions
  • Server software and OS can impact performance and security of PHP

5. Scalability and Performance

PHP version can have a significant impact on the scalability and performance of your website.

By upgrading to a newer PHP version, you can take advantage of:

  • Performance improvements
  • Enhanced security
  • Modern technology compatibility
  • Compatibility with popular extensions

Choosing a PHP version that is optimized for performance and scalability can improve the:

  • User experience
  • Search engine rankings:
  • Security
  • Scalability of your website

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Section 3: Performance Improvements

Newer PHP versions can offer significant performance improvements, which can lead to faster load times and improved user experience in the following ways:

Better performance features: such as JIT (Just-In-Time) compilation and opcode caching.

Reduced memory usage: Leading to faster load times and improved performance.

Better resource management features: such as better garbage collection.

Some performance improvements that newer PHP versions can offer include:

  • Faster load times
  • Improved memory usage
  • Opcode caching
  • Better resource management

1. PHP 7 Vs. Older Versions

PHP 7 is a major version release of the PHP programming language and offers significant performance improvements over older versions. PHP 7 provides roughly a 1.8x increase in performance compared to PHP 5.6.

Here are some of the key differences in performance between PHP 7 and older versions:

  • Faster execution times: PHP 7 offers significant performance improvements over PHP 5.x versions, with up to 2 times faster execution times.
  • Improved memory usage: PHP 7 has improved memory usage over older versions, 50% better memory consumption than PHP 5.6.
  • Improved error handling: PHP 7 has improved error handling over older versions, making it easier to identify and fix errors, resulting in improved performance.
  • Improved type hinting: PHP 7 has improved support for type hinting, which can help improve performance by reducing the number of type-related errors and improving code quality.
  • Improved multithreading support: PHP 7 has improved multithreading support over older versions, which can improve the performance of PHP scripts that require concurrent processing, such as those used in web applications and APIs.

2. Performance Benchmarks

Benchmarking is an essential process to measure the performance of a WordPress site.

Here’s how to benchmark PHP performance in WP:

  • Upgrade hosting to faster server or managed WP hosting for optimized performance
  • Run plugin, analyze results to identify slow PHP functions and queries
  • Use caching plugins like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache to speed up your site’s performance
  • Optimize site’s database by removing data, optimizing tables, and running maintenance tasks with plugins like WP Optimize or WP-DBManager
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN) to speed up your site’s loading times
  • Upgrade hosting to faster server or managed WP hosting for optimized performance

Here are some popular PHP benchmarking tools and their key features:

  • Apache Bench (ab): You can use it to measure the response time, throughput, and concurrency of your server.
  • JMeter: It provides a wide range of features, including load testing, functional testing, and regression testing.
  • Provides detailed reports on CPU usage, memory usage, and database queries.

3. Memory Management

The PHP version can greatly affect how memory is handled. Generally, newer versions of PHP tend to be more efficient in terms of memory usage compared to older versions.

For example, PHP 7 introduced a new feature called “engine exceptions,” which significantly reduces the amount of memory used by scripts.

Additionally, PHP 7.4 introduced a feature called “preloading,” which can preload frequently used code into memory, reducing the amount of memory needed to run PHP scripts.

Furthermore, newer PHP versions have improved garbage collection algorithms, which help prevent memory leaks and reduce the amount of memory size used by PHP scripts.

By choosing a PHP version that manages memory more efficiently:

  • You can improve the performance of your PHP applications.
  • You can choose a compatible PHP version. especially, When working with large datasets or running multiple applications on the same server.
  • You can reduce the risk of crashes and other errors.

4. Opcode Caching

Opcode caching is a feature that was introduced in PHP 5.5.0 and later. It is a technique used to improve PHP performance by storing compiled bytecode in memory.

When PHP code is executed, it needs to be translated into machine-readable bytecode, which can take time and consume system resources. Opcode caching stores this bytecode in memory so that it can be reused without the need for recompilation.

By caching the bytecode,

  • PHP applications can load faster and use less CPU time.
  • You can reduce the amount of memory needed to run PHP applications.
  • You can reduce the time and resources needed to execute PHP code, improving application responsiveness and reducing hosting costs.

5. JIT Compilation

JIT compilation is a relatively new feature that was introduced in PHP 8.0. With JIT compilation, PHP code is compiled to machine code at runtime, rather than being interpreted by the PHP interpreter.

It can result in significant performance improvements for some types of workloads, especially those that involve complex computations or large datasets.

JIT compilation can optimize code at runtime, reducing the amount of CPU cycles and memory required to run applications. This can result in lower server resource usage, which can lead to reduced server costs and improved scalability.

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Section 4: Security Considerations

An outdated PHP version is vulnerable to security risks as hackers can exploit known vulnerabilities to access sensitive data or compromise the server.

Using a newer PHP version can help mitigate risks as it includes security patches, bug fixes, and performance improvements, reducing the chances of Web security breaches, crashes, and other issues.

1. Security Risks of Outdated PHP Versions

Outdated PHP versions can result in compatibility issues with newer libraries and frameworks, posing significant security risks to applications and websites.

In addition, outdated PHP versions may lack support for modern security features such as encryption and secure hashing algorithms. This can make it easier for attackers to steal sensitive data such as passwords or payment information.

Here are some examples of common vulnerabilities and attacks that can occur due to outdated PHP versions:

  • SQL injection attacks
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks
  • Remote code execution (RCE)
  • File inclusion vulnerabilities
  • Brute force attacks

2. Security Benefits of Upgrading to a Newer PHP Version

Upgrading to a newer PHP version can provide several security benefits, including:

  • Improved security features:
  • Patches and updates
  • Reduced attack surface
  • Improved compatibility

Newer PHP versions offer security improvements for WordPress sites, including:

  • Built-in encryption
  • Improved session management
  • Better file handling
  • More secure communication protocols

3. Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning identifies potential security vulnerabilities in a website or application by scanning for common vulnerabilities using specialized software tools. This is crucial for WordPress as it is a common target for cyber attacks.

Regular vulnerability scanning can prevent cyber attacks by identifying and fixing security issues before they are exploited by attackers on WordPress sites.

Here are some popular vulnerability scanning tools and their key features:

  • OpenVAS: An open-source vulnerability scanner that detects security weaknesses in web applications, network devices, and operating systems by using a database of over 50,000 known vulnerabilities.
  • Acunetix: A web app scanner that detects web app vulnerabilities like SQL injection and XSS attacks, and server vulnerabilities in Apache and IIS.
  • WPScan: WPScan scans for WordPress vulnerabilities in core files, themes, and plugins.

Section 5: Plugin And Theme Compatibility

As PHP evolves and introduces new features, some older plugins and themes may not be designed to work with the updated language. This can lead to compatibility issues when trying to use these plugins and WordPress themes with newer PHP versions.

1. Impact of PHP Versions on Plugin/Theme Compatibility

PHP versions undergo frequent updates and changes which can result in compatibility issues with plugins and themes that were developed for older PHP versions.

Using an incompatible plugin or theme can cause common issues such as:

  • White Screen of Death (WSOD)
  • Plugin or theme errors
  • Deprecated functions
  • Performance issues

2. Tips for Checking Plugin Compatibility

Checking plugin compatibility before upgrading PHP will allow you to:

  • Avoid compatibility issues
  • Reduce downtime
  • Maintain site performance
  • Ensure site security

There are various tools available to check WordPress plugin compatibility, including Plugin Compatibility Checker and Plugin Inspector.

  • Plugin Compatibility Checker is a free online tool that scans all installed plugins and generates a report that highlights any potential issues with plugin compatibility.
  • Plugin Inspector is another free online tool that can provide a comprehensive analysis of the installed plugins, highlighting any potential security vulnerabilities or compatibility issues.

3. Tips for Checking Theme Compatibility

Upgrading PHP without checking theme compatibility can result in compatibility issues that can cause site errors, broken functionality, and security vulnerabilities.

Checking the theme compatibility beforehand ensures that the website functions correctly and maintains its visual appearance after the PHP upgrade.

There are various tools available to check WordPress theme compatibility, including PHP Compatibility Checker and Theme Check.

  • PHP Compatibility Checker is a free tool that scans the theme’s code and identifies any compatibility issues with the new version of PHP
  • Theme Check is another free tool that analyzes the theme’s code and checks for compliance with the WordPress coding standards

4. Updating Incompatible Plugins/Themes

Updating plugins and themes is important for website security, functionality, and usability, as outdated or incompatible ones can have vulnerabilities and issues that hackers can exploit.

Tips to update WordPress plugins/themes for new PHP versions.

  • Check compatibility
  • Backup your website to prevent any data loss or website crashes
  • Update one plugin/theme at a time to identify any compatibility issues
  • Test the website on a staging environment

Section 6: How to Upgrade PHP

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

Upgrading PHP is an important step to improve the performance, security, and compatibility of your website. Here are the step-by-step instructions for upgrading PHP:

  • Checking Current PHP Version
  • Checking Hosting Requirements
  • Backup and Test Site
  • Upgrading PHP on the Server
  • Testing and Troubleshooting

1. Checking Current PHP Version

Checking the current PHP version of your WordPress site is crucial to maintaining website security, stability, and compatibility.

It is recommended to check the PHP version regularly and upgrade it to the latest version to ensure the best website performance and security.

One way to check the current PHP version of your WordPress site is to use the phpinfo() function. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Create a new PHP file on your server called “info.php” (or any name you choose)
  • Add the following code to the file

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

  • Save the file and upload it to your WordPress site’s root directory using FTP or your hosting provider’s file manager.
  • Open your web browser and go to “”
  • The page that appears will display detailed information about your PHP installation, including the current PHP version

2. Checking Hosting Requirements

Check the hosting requirements to ensure full PHP support, as different versions have varying system requirements and may not function properly or be available if not supported by the hosting provider.

Tools to verify the hosting requirements include:

WordPress System Requirements: WordPress System Requirements is a built-in tool that checks whether your hosting environment meets the minimum requirements for running WordPress. Here’s how to use it:

  • Log in to the WordPress dashboard
  • Select “Site Health” under “Tools”
  • Click the “Info” tab
  • Check the “Server” section for requirements

Server Scanner: Server Scanner is a third-party tool that checks your hosting environment’s compatibility with the latest PHP version. Here’s how to use it:

  • Visit the Server Scanner website
  • Enter the website URL and click “Scan Now”
  • Wait for scan results
  • Check “PHP Compatibility” section for the latest version support

3. Backup and Test Site

Creating a backup of your WordPress site before upgrading PHP is crucial as the upgrade process may go wrong, causing compatibility issues or even failure. Without a backup, there is a risk of losing all data and configurations of the site.

Tips for setting up a test site to check compatibility include:

  • Use a staging environment to test changes
  • Install the latest version of WordPress on the staging environment
  • Install the same plugins and themes as the live website on the staging environment
  • Test the website functionality on the staging environment
  • Monitor staging website performance with Pingdom or GTmetrix
  • Backup staging environment before PHP version upgrade

4. Upgrading PHP on the Server

Upgrading PHP on the server involves the following steps:

  • Check the current PHP version
  • Check the hosting requirements
  • Create a backup of your site
  • Test on a staging environment
  • Upgrade PHP version
  • Test the site on the staging environment
  • Migrate the changes to the live site

Here are some examples of popular web hosts and how to upgrade PHP on their platforms:

Bluehost: Bluehost is a popular web host that offers a one-click PHP version upgrade.

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

  • Log in to BlueHost account
  • Click “Advanced” tab
  • Select “PHP configuration” under “Site Improvement Tools”
  • Choose PHP Version and click “Save”

SiteGround: SiteGround is another popular web host that offers a simple process for upgrading PHP.

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

  • Login to SiteGround account
  • Click “PHP Manager” under “Dev Tools”
  • Choose PHP version and click “Apply”

HostGator: HostGator is a popular web host that offers a simple method for upgrading PHP.

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

  • Login to HostGator account
  • Go to “Software” section
  • Click on “PHP configuration”
  • Select PHP Version and click “Save”

DreamHost: DreamHost is a popular web host that offers a straightforward process for upgrading PHP.

Final: Which PHP Version Is Best For WordPress

  • Login to DreamHost Account
  • Click “Domains” and select “Manage Domains”
  • Click gear icon next to domain
  • Choose PHP Version and click “Save”

5. Testing and Troubleshooting

Testing and troubleshooting after upgrading PHP is crucial to detect and resolve any issues that might occur, such as plugin/theme compatibility problems or server configuration issues.

Here are the steps for testing and troubleshooting after upgrading PHP:

  • Check website functionality for PHP file errors or issues
  • Review error logs to identify specific issues
  • Disable plugins and themes to isolate the issue
  • Check server configurations
  • Roll back to the previous PHP version if necessary


In conclusion, selecting the best PHP version for WordPress depends on various factors such as compatibility, security, and performance. While it’s recommended to use the latest PHP version for better performance and security, it’s essential to check the compatibility of your themes and plugins before upgrading.

Additionally, some hosting providers may not support the latest PHP version, so it’s crucial to check with your hosting provider before upgrading.

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Next Steps: What Now?

Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the PHP version important for WordPress?

WordPress is built using PHP, and the PHP version used can impact the performance, security, and compatibility of your WordPress site.

What is the latest version of PHP available for WordPress?

As of March 2023, the latest version of PHP recommended for WordPress is PHP 8.2.

What are the minimum PHP version requirements for running WordPress?

The minimum PHP version required for running WordPress is PHP 7.4 or higher.

Will upgrading the PHP version affect my WordPress plugins and themes?

Upgrading the PHP version may affect the compatibility of some plugins and themes, but it’s recommended to update them for better performance and security.

How can I ensure that my WordPress website is compatible with the latest PHP version?

You can ensure that your WordPress website is compatible with the latest PHP version by testing your site using a staging environment, checking for plugin and theme compatibility, and fixing any issues.

What should I do if my WordPress website breaks after upgrading the PHP version?

If your WordPress website breaks after upgrading the PHP version, you can try to troubleshoot the issue by disabling plugins and themes, restoring from a backup, or contacting your hosting provider for assistance.

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