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Is Your WordPress Site Ready for PHP 8?


What is PHP 8 and Why do I Need to Upgrade?

PHP 8 is the latest version of PHP, the server-side scripting language that powers all WordPress sites. It was first released in November 2020. The previous version was PHP 7.4, which was officially supported until November 28, 2022. PHP 8 contains the latest bug fixes and security enhancements, so it is important to make sure your site is running it. Since support for the previous version officially stopped on November 28, 2022, it could leave your site more vulnerable to attacks. In addition, web hosts will eventually require that all sites are running under PHP 8.

What Version of PHP is My Site Currently Using?

To see what version of PHP your site is using, you can access your control panel (accessible via your hosting login), or contact your web host to find out.

How Can I Make Sure That My Site is Ready?

First things first, you will want to make sure that you can properly test your site for PHP 8 compatibility without affecting your live site. The best way to do this is to use a staging site, which is a copy of your live site, but completely separate from it. If your hosting company doesn't offer this functionality as part of your plan, just contact Curious Minds and we can help get this set up for you.

Once you have your staging site ready to go and you have verified that it matches your current live site, the next step is to change the PHP version that the staging site is using to PHP 8 (note that this could be version 8.0, 8.1 or 8.2 depending on the host).

Test, Test, Test

The first thing to do is to visually inspect all pages on the front end of the site. See if everything looks ok and if anything seems off compared to the live site (it may be useful to have the live site open in a new window). Note that there is a possibility that some pages may cause a "critical error" on the site. To be sure that PHP 8 is the culprit, you could change the PHP version back to PHP 7.4 and see if the error persists. It may also be useful to enable error logging on the site to see what specific errors are occurring (your web host may be able to help with enabling this option). As you inspect the site, you will want to take detailed notes on the specific errors and issues you are seeing.

Testing the Back End (Admin)

In addition to testing the front end, you will also want to spend some time testing the back end as well. Go through the areas that you normally edit and make sure that everything loads correctly. It's also a good idea to make and edit a post or page and make sure that the edit you made shows properly on the front end.

Special Tests for E-Commerce Sites

If your site is an e-commerce site, you should also run some additional tests just to make sure all is ok on that side. These include running a live test order, making sure that the order comes through properly and all email notifications are sent.

Change the PHP Version on the Live Site

Once you have fully tested the site and fixed any issues you have found, it is time to change the PHP version on the live site. Since you fully tested the staging site, you shouldn't encounter any issues. However, just in case, it is good to make sure that you have a way to go back to the previous version of PHP if needed. This varies by host, so it is a good idea to check with them to see what this process entails.

Be Aware of any Timing Deadlines Communicated by Your Host

Some hosts have started sending out deadlines for when they will be automatically switching to PHP 8. If this is the case, you should receive notifications via email. Pay special attention to this, as it means you may have a limited amount of time to make sure that your site is ready for PHP 8.

What Now?

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming. don't worry. Just contact Curious Mind and we will take care of all steps to make sure your site is ready for PHP 8.

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