Switching to a different version of PHP on WordPress is both easy and complex, easy only if you have a basic wordpress setup and complex if you have a tons of plugins installed and you have not updated your system in long. It is advises to keep updating your wordpress core, plugins and themes as soon as there is an update, but sometimes its also advisable that you give a few days gap on any available update so that if there is any bug, the community has notified developers and the fix is on the way. That being said, we advise to keep system up-to date and not in a condition where either plugins or themes have not been updated in months or years. If you have been keeping system updated, then any new minor updates will be easy-peasy, but if that’s not the case, well, there is a way to handle updates.
Backup Live WordPress Website
Before beginning with the switching, create a backup of your live website, critically important, this ensures that you have a backup that works and can reset the php upgrade process if anything goes wrong and you are not sure what happened.
Create Staging Environment to perform updates
Updates can be performed on live site if done by a professional with years of experience, but even at Zycoon Media with decades of experience in web development, we do not take such risks with production sites, a properly followed process is essential so it’s advised that a separate development instance be created for testing PHP switch and used to perform updates.
Backups During Multiple stages of updates
At Zycoon Media, to minimize the chances of having to start the PHP upgrade process from scratch, we try to create restore points, backups during any successful update, whether its core update, plugin update or theme update, any single major update where you feel like its a milestone, create a backup.
Perform Updates / PHP Switching
Finally we are discussing the actual PHP update process, to switch to latest PHP, first update all the plugins and theme to latest available version for the current active php. Once done, do a basic Quality Assurance by randomly testing frontend functionality. If working alright, return to the hosting control panel and switch to the latest php and then repeat the QA process. If anything breaks, we advise to try switching to a PHP version in-between the old version and the latest version, such as if you were on PHP 5.6 and you are directly try to activate PHP 7.4 then we advise to first switch to PHP 7.0 to perform all updates and QA and then switch to PHP 7.4 and update other available updates if any for PHP 7.4
At Zycoon Media, we have been updating wordpress sites for years and know how to get through, the basic idea is to be flexible with the back and forth involved in updating the PHP version. If something goes wrong, we are quick at debugging the errors reported on error logs and also, we do a complete analysis about the current installed plugins and theme about their latest available versions and compatibility with newest PHP. If you have any wordpress business website that you are struggling to update php version on, let us know and we will handle your PHP updates. If you are on a VPS or Dedicated server, we also recompile Easy Apache to get the latest PHP packages / version installed on your hosting system.