PHP is one of the most used programming languages. It helps to create interactive websites and applications. More than 70% of websites today have PHP-based server-side programming. Moreover, PHP powers all WordPress sites. That means if you have a website built on using open-source technologies such as WordPress or Magento, the chances are that you have a PHP on the back of it.
Scenario With PHP 5
When PHP 5 released in 2004, the CMS platforms like WordPress were entirely new. Therefore, such systems had essential support to PHP 5 functions, however, without strong security and performance-oriented features. Since the release of PHP 5, the framework did not change significantly. Though, with technology advancement, the need for security and performance improvements escalated. Then, PHP 5.6 introduced to perform the required significant changes in the web-centric digital era. Though it was better than its predecessor, the scope of improvements was still there.
Why Do You Need to Upgrade to PHP 7?
PHP 7 introduced in December 2015. It will become the minimum requirement for WordPress and many other platforms in 2020. Moreover, the previous PHP versions will stop receiving security fixes after that. Therefore, it is time to move to PHP 7.
New Features of PHP 7
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the developers, the new PHP codebase has reduced memory consumption. The PHP 7 benchmarks consistently show a much higher speed than PHP 5. That means you can improve your website performance using this latest version with quick loading time compared to the previous platforms.
PHP 7 provides Scalar type declaration and Return type declaration. They help to make the code more understandable. Therefore, it is now possible to write better and comprehensive documents of PHP programs. Moreover, you get better control over writing functions and make the code easier to read.
Better Error Handling
In the previous PHP versions, it was challenging to handle fatal errors. For instance, a blank white screen would stop the script from running, and users were not able to identify the cause of the issue.
In PHP 7, an exception is thrown as soon as the error occurs in the script. It does not stop it directly, which provides better error handling by identifying the issue as soon as it happens.
Benefits of PHP 7
1. Support and Usage
As mentioned earlier, PHP 7 came after a decade of the release of PHP 5. Therefore, many functions of the old framework have become obsolete. PHP 7 comes with many new features, as well as the removal of a few old ones.
Besides, many content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and more, as well as eCommerce store management systems such as OpenCart support PHP 7 directly. Many features of such systems updated automatically to cope up with the latest technology upgrades and trends. Therefore, when you upgrade to PHP 7, you get the best supportive functions to run your site or application.
2. High Performance
PHP 7 has higher data processing and load taking abilities than all the previous versions of PHP. That means it can handle numerous concurrent requests from the users for displaying content at the same time. As a result, your site gets able to handle millions of daily visits without affecting the performance.
3. Fast and Secure
PHP 7 has a lot of room to offer new updated features for optimization and usability improvement for your site. As the site speed impacts the responsiveness directly, it can potentially increase the site ranking and conversion rates.
Apart from the features discussed in the above section, PHP 7 offers many security improvements. It includes the new tools introduced for serialization and cryptographically secure random numbers. Therefore, developers can write better codebase for the required functions. Also, as PHP 7 is still in the nascent phase, and platforms like WordPress regularly get updates, there are lesser-known ways to breach its security.
4. Platform Independence
PHP 7 powered by the new Zend engine offers JIT execution capabilities to the users. That means developers can directly send the compiler instructions to any platform without converting them based on the platform type. It saves a considerable amount of time and effort from the developers to perform this mundane task. Eventually, it makes the development phase faster and efficient.
5. 64-Bit Windows System Compatibility
Linux was the traditional environment for the previous PHP versions. However, PHP 7 has compatibility with Windows OS. Therefore, users can now run PHP-based applications on the 64-bit Windows systems without facing any issues.
6. Mobile Responsive
In today’s digital era, more and more users like to use sites and applications through their mobile devices. Therefore, to increase the customer base and retain potential customers, businesses need to provide excellent value to mobile users. PHP 7 caters to the need of such companies by offering reduced memory usage, speed improvements, platform independence, and many other mobile-friendly features. As a result, your business site and application can facilitate mobile access to users across the world.
Differences Between PHP 5 and PHP 7
You might know the critical differences between both these versions now. Let’s take a reference of a benchmark test performed on a WordPress CMS using both PHP 5 and PHP 7.
- Memory- PHP 5.6 consumed 93.9 Mb per second, while PHP 7 required 15.3 Mb per second only (six times faster than PHP 5.6).
- Response Time- The response time of the PHP 5.6-based site was 4331 ms, while the same with PHP 7 was 2037 ms. That means PHP 7-based sites take less than half the time to respond compared to PHP 5.6.
- Page Requests- The site with the PHP 5.6 version was able to handle 212 requests per second. While with PHP 7, it efficiently managed 476 concurrent user requests per second.
How to Upgrade From PHP 5 to PHP 7
As the release of both the versions has a gap of over a decade, their scripting language and functionalities have significant differences, if not dominant. You can upgrade to PHP 7 by following the below options.
- If you are the administrator of the server hosting your site, you can perform the upgrade process by yourself. Check the guidelines on the official website, and follow the procedure.
- If you have access to the hosting panel (for instance, cPanel) of your site, you can change the version of PHP directly from there. Log in to the dashboard and look for the ‘Select PHP Version’ option. Click on that, select the version you want to use for the site, and then click the ‘Set as current’ button. At last, check the compatibility of your website.
- You can contact your web host if you do not have access to the panel. Write an email or call on the customer support to upgrade your site to the latest PHP version. Co-ordinate with them and provide the required details to make the process quick & convenient for you.
Your business can experience improved site functionality and usability when you upgrade to PHP 7. It allows your site to handle a significant amount of concurrent traffic with a boost in performance. If you still have any confusion or unsure how to perform the process, you can take the help of a custom PHP development company. They can ensure making the upgrade process as smooth as possible.
It is vital to switch to the latest and better technology stack to protect your site and application against security vulnerabilities. Therefore, if you still running on older versions of PHP, upgrade to PHP 7 today.
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