Does it matter which version of PHP I use?

Posted December 13, 2016 2.6k views
PHPUbuntu 16.04

I have a WordPress server that I set up using server pilot, I see that I can change versions of PHP on the fly. What is the general difference between 5 and 7? And is it safe to switch versions while my server is running?

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There are some interesting new features and performance enhancements in PHP 7. There are also some changes to syntax for a few things. Most scripts written in the last few years for PHP 5.x will run without a problem and WordPress has no problem at all with it. You will need to make sure that plugins and themes you are using don’t rely on features that were removed or depreciated for PHP 7 but otherwise I would recommend the upgrade.

  • Awesome!

    Now is it safe to upgrade and downgrade while I have a live site if certain things don’t work?

    • Good question. If any plugins and themes you are using are known to work with PHP 7 properly then it should be a pretty seamless upgrade. While WordPress itself supports PHP 7 very well not all plugins are kept up to date. I would recommend creating a snapshot of your droplet and deploying a copy of it for a couple hours to test the upgrade there before doing it on your live site. It’ll likely only cost a few cents and could potentially save a big headache if something isn’t compatible.