If you're still running PHP 7.4 for some of your websites, you should switch to PHP 8 before the PHP community stops providing support for security issues in November 2022. We’ve put this guide together to try and help you better understand what PHP is and why it’s a good idea to keep up to date.

What is PHP?

If you’ve never heard of PHP, it’s likely that you use a website building tool such as WordPress or Joomla that handles all the code for you. PHP is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for dynamic websites. It is mostly developed and maintained by a non-profit organisation called the PHP foundation and community volunteers.

Each version of PHP is fully supported for two years from its initial release. During this period, bugs and security issues that have been reported are fixed and are released by the community and we integrate these into our platforms at Fasthosts.

After this two year period of active support, each version is then supported for one additional year for critical security issues only. PHP 7.4 is in this phase, and the community is due to end this support in November 2022.

Why should I move to PHP 8?

PHP 8 was released in November 2020. This update brought many new features, security fixes, deprecations, and a performance boost. Running the latest version ensures your website benefits from all this - and being safe and fast on the web protects your web presence.

Moving to a supported version of PHP ensures that you'll avoid the Extended Support Charge applied by us, which is applied for PHP versions that are beyond the additional year of critical security updates provided by the PHP Community.

What to know more about why you should switch versions? We've got a whole blog post that looks at the benefits of PHP 8.

What do I need to do?

The actions you'll need to take will depend on your site, whether you're using PHP, and whether you have any apps that use PHP. This usually means ensuring that any apps that you're running are on the latest version - which is always best practice - and then testing with the new version of PHP.

  • If you have a purely static site (e.g. HTML and images only) that isn't using PHP, then it should be safe to switch up your PHP version without affecting your site. Alternatively you could remove any erroneous PHP files.
  • If you have WordPress hosting then you need to check that your version of WordPress is up to date (see our support article), and that your Plugins and Themes are compatible with PHP 8, before switching PHP versions.
  • If you have installed an app using the OneClick installer, then it will automatically check for updates to your installed applications and send an email notification to the contact associated with the hosting package. Check your app's compatibility with PHP 8, and update if necessary (see our support guide).
  • If you have created your own PHP scripts, then you need to check that the functions your using are compatible with PHP 8, before switching. The PHP site provides a great set of migration guides to support this.

Don't worry, if you can't move away from PHP 7.4 because your apps or scripts are incompatible - you'll still be able to use it and we can provide Extended Support for it.

What is Fasthosts Extended Support?

Don't worry, if you can't move away from PHP 7.4 because your apps or scripts are incompatible - you'll still be able to use it.

Our developers have been providing Extended Support for outdated versions since 2018. This Extended Support service is charged for each version of out-of-support PHP per platform, that you're using, regardless of how many sites you're using it on.

If any new security vulnerabilities are discovered in an outdated version of PHP, the PHP community developers will not provide a solution, but as part of our Extended Support service, our developers will release patches to the outdated versions of PHP that fix significant security vulnerabilities.

PHP 7.4 will be eligible for Fasthosts Extended Support from the beginning of 2023, and we will contact all customers that are affected 30 days prior to any charge.

How much is Fasthosts Extended Support?

PHP Extended Support is charged per version and per platform.

For example:

  • Two or more Linux sites running only PHP 7.4 will result in one charge.
  • Multiple Linux sites running a mixture of PHP 7.4, 7.3 and 7.2 will result in three charges (one for each PHP version).
  • One Windows PHP 7.4 site and one Linux PHP 7.4 site will result in two charges (one for each platform).

Costs start from £5.28 (ex VAT) and increase for the older versions due to our continued investment in backporting any patches.

If you have multiple accounts, you'll receive separate PHP Extended Support charges as above for each account.

How do I switch PHP versions?

We provide PHP 8.0 and 8.1. To help test your site against these, we've made it easy to switch PHP versions from within your control panel, see our support article.

You can easily switch PHP versions, then test your site works as expected with PHP 8. If it doesn't work as expected you can easily switch back to PHP 7.4 while you diagnose any issues.

Will you switch my PHP version automatically?

We'll never automatically switch your websites' PHP version, as we don't want to break your website. The process of switching is easy within your Control Panel, and we hope the guides above will help.

Need help?

Don't forget that you can talk to our support team on 0333 0142 700 – they're available 24/7 to help you. Alternatively, you can get hold of us via email at support@fasthosts.co.uk, or live chat through our website.

If you need help from a web expert to update your website we have many trusted Partners available via the Partner Network.