The power of choice – Why WordPress hosting companies should allow PHP version selection

Written on 30 November, 2023 by John Galt

The success of a WordPress website hinges on a delicate balance of elements, and one of the most crucial aspects is the compatibility between WordPress and PHP versions.

The interplay between these two components can significantly impact website performance, security, and functionality. However, it’s not uncommon for some WordPress hosting companies to limit customer choice when choosing which PHP version to run.

In this post, we’ll delve into the importance of WordPress hosting companies allowing users the freedom to choose the PHP version that aligns perfectly with their WordPress installation.

Understanding the PHP-WordPress relationship

WordPress is built on PHP, a server-side scripting language that powers dynamic web applications, one of them being WordPress. The compatibility between WordPress and PHP versions is akin to having the right key for a lock. WordPress relies on PHP to execute code, fetch data from the database, and render web pages. Incompatibilities between the two can lead to various issues, from slow performance to critical security vulnerabilities.

Compatibility for optimal performance

Performance is a paramount concern for website owners. The choice of PHP version directly influences how efficiently your WordPress site runs. Newer PHP versions often come with performance improvements and optimizations, making websites faster and more responsive. However, these benefits can be offset if your WordPress installation isn’t fully compatible with the chosen PHP version which can lead to sites not loading correctly or at all.

By allowing users to select their preferred PHP version, hosting companies enable them to fine-tune their websites for optimal performance. This flexibility ensures that website owners can leverage the latest PHP enhancements while avoiding potential compatibility hiccups.

Security and PHP compatibility

Security is a top priority for every website. PHP and WordPress security vulnerabilities can be exploited by malicious actors to compromise websites. Some hosting companies may argue that forcing the use of the latest PHP version enhances security. While this is generally true, the reality is more nuanced.

Not all website owners can immediately transition to a new PHP version, especially if they have complex customizations or rely on outdated plugins or themes. By permitting users to choose their PHP version, hosting companies empower them to balance security with the practicality of making a seamless transition when their website is ready.

Updating at your own pace

New PHP versions like the latest version 8.x versions are released frequently, and while they offer advancements, adapting to these changes can be a substantial undertaking. For many website owners who run on older WordPress versions, upgrading PHP isn’t a one-click process. It requires testing, ensuring compatibility with existing code and plugins, and addressing any issues that arise. 

The ability to select the PHP version they want lets users update at their own pace. This gradual approach minimizes disruptions, allows for proper testing, and ensures that the website remains operational during the transition.

The compatibility between PHP and WordPress is the bedrock of a successful website. Hosting companies should acknowledge the intricacies of this relationship and allow users the freedom to choose the PHP version that harmonizes perfectly with their WordPress installation.

By providing this flexibility, hosting companies empower website owners to optimize performance, enhance security, and update their websites at their own pace.

The result is a more stable, secure, and efficient online presence, tailored to the unique needs of each website. In the ever-evolving world WordPress hosting, the ability to select the right PHP version for your WordPress site is not just an option; it’s a necessity.

The BIXCE advantage

At BIXCE, we ensure that all of our customers can choose among a wider range of supported PHP versions for their WordPress installation and we do not force customers to choose between an outdated version or just the latest PHP version that has not yet proven itself to be fully stable with a wide range of WordPress sites.

Furthermore, unlike most premium managed WordPress hosting providers, BIXCE’s Managed WordPress hosting platform’s PHP implementation is supported by Zend LTS (long term support) which means that customer sites stay secure with additional security patches and bug fixes long after a PHP version reaches end of life. This means that BIXCE Managed WordPress hosting customers running their sites on PHP 7.4 will continue to be supported with PHP security patches and bug fixes until December 2026 and customers running on PHP 8.0 will get PHP security patches and bug fixes until December 2025.

With BIXCE’s Managed WordPress hosting product, customers also get access to our smart plugin manager which automatically tests for PHP compatibility and if incompatibilities are found, sites are automatically rolled back to the prior version, to ensure that nothing breaks.

Learn more about BIXCE Managed WordPress today.