PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages on the web today. According to W3Techs, PHP is used by over 83% of all the websites who use a server-side programming language. This means for every 8 out of 10 websites you visit, they are most likely utilizing PHP in some form or another. And of course, it plays a very vital role as it pertains to the WordPress ecosystem, as the entire CMS is built on PHP.
A dilemma we are facing today is that many businesses, developers, and hosts have fallen behind when it comes to supporting the latest PHP versions. Some of the statistics below might even shock you. Today we want to discuss some of the reasons why it is so important that everyone use the latest PHP versions, not only for security reasons, but also for better performance and support.
As with any piece of software, PHP has a release life cycle in which has to adhere to in order to keep pushing things forward and making improvements. Each major release of PHP is typically fully supported for two years after its release. During that time, bugs and security issues are fixed and patched on a regular basis.
As of right now, anyone running on a version of PHP below 5.6 no longer has security support and are exposed to unpatched security vulnerabilities. And guess what? According to the official WordPress Stats page, as of writing this, over 35% of WordPress users are still on PHP 5.5 or lower. This is not only bad from a security perspective, but also because there is still a large portion of WordPress sites that aren’t taking advantage of the additional performance enhancements with PHP 7.
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