Before you rush to update your website’s PHP there are a few things you must consider first. The most important consideration. when themes and plugins will become compatible with PHP 8.
Updating your PHP too soon, before the developers have completed compatibility verification and testing may cause your website’s content to break.
On the flip side, the newest WordPress Core version 5.6 is considered fully compatible to PHP 8. However, websites seldomly run without additional plugins or themes. Therefore you should verify that your website plugins support the upgrade even when your current WordPress core supports PHP 8.
This can all become very confusing very quickly. How do you know if updating will work or cause a major break on your website?
As cool as PHP 8 claims to be there are some risks involved with upgrading. The best way to determine if a new version of PHP is right for you: Create a copy of your website and host it locally. It is never a good idea to update your PHP on a live version of your website as breaking your site can anger your customers and cost you money.
Here are the steps I outlined to verify PHP 8 compatibly keep in mind these steps are for a website hosted locally (something DWLI offers to all their website customers) :
1. Create a Backup
If any upgrades break your site you can quickly restore your site to its older versions by using this backup.
2. Update Your Website:
Take some time to update your website. This should include any WordPress core updates, themes and plugins, hold off on any upgrades to your PHP for now.
3. Check for Compatibility Issues:
As with most things WordPress you should check for any conflicts with your plugins and themes using, you guessed it, another plugin. There are many plugins available in the WordPress directory, however I recommend one by WPengine called PHP Compatibility Checker plugin. As of the date of this blog you can check for compatibility of your site with PHP versions 5.6 – 7.3. It should be noted that most PHP compatibility plugins have not yet been updated to check for issues with PHP 8 as PHP 8 is so new. This may be a good reason to wait until you can thoroughly check your site however, if you are comfortable with a little coding you can use PHPCompatibility from GitHub. Once you scan your site for compatibility issues you will receive a list of errors, now you can take your time to replace your flagged plugins with newer ones.
4. Upgrade your PHP:
Once you have made sure that your website can handle the upgrade then make the change to the new PHP. This can be done under your PLESK domain settings