Update PHP version and cancel PHP extended support

The PHP scripting language is characterized by its vast popularity and distribution, but also by consistent development. Developers are provided with major releases and smaller updates at regular intervals. We explain why you should update PHP regularly, what role official support plays, and how updating the PHP version works for IONOS projects.

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Why you should update PHP

Working with the latest PHP version is recommended for two reasons. For one, developers of PHP focus specifically on improving performance when updating the scripting language. So updating PHP will likely increase the performance of your web project. On the other hand, updated versions of PHP include the latest security features. To ensure long-term protection of your web application, regular upgrades are essential.

But there are other advantages of updating a PHP version. An upgrade can boost your website speed. Faster page load times improve your search engine ranking and offer visitors an optimal user experience.

Note

You may have to update your version of PHP if you plan on updating the software of your website. For example, WordPress is a PHP-based content management system that links its updates to those of new PHP versions. You can read more about it in our guide on WordPress and PHP.

Update PHP version: current versions

The current major release of PHP – PHP 8.0 – was released on November 26, 2020. Version 8.1 is the first minor update of generation 8, made available only a year later. The security support for the popular PHP edition 7.3 will expire on December 6, 2021. If you’re not receiving support from external providers for example as part of PHP Extended Support by IONOS, you should aim to switch to PHP 8 or PHP 7.4 (security support until the end of 2022) now.

The current distribution of PHP versions is as follows:

Update PHP – here’s how

If you plan on upgrading the PHP version of your web project, you should first create a backup of your project. This way, if in doubt, you can restore the old state if should you want to undo the upgrade in case of compatibility issues or other complications. You can then upgrade PHP in the usual way by downloading the desired version from the official website and unpack it to the destination directory of your choice.

Tip

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Many providers also offer support for updating PHP, etc. so you don’t have to manually install updates. As an IONOS customer, for example, you can easily initiate the version change from the control panel or cancel PHP Extended Support.

Update PHP version with IONOS – step by step

Updating your PHP version in IONOS is as easy as 1-2-3. First, log in to the Control Panel with your personal user data as per usual. Select the category “Hosting” to open the overview of your web project. Here, you can find the “PHP” menu area required for the PHP version change. Click on “Open” to begin.

In the next step, select the domain(s) for which you want to update the PHP version by placing a check mark in the relevant box(es), and then click the “Select PHP version” button:

Now, select the desired target version of PHP and press “Save” to update the PHP version.

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Note

Updating your PHP version may take some time. Once the installation is complete, you can check your website and if in doubt, switch back to the previous version. Check out the following guide on typical PHP version change errors.

Cancel PHP Extended Support from IONOS – instructions

As part of PHP Extended Support, IONOS experts will close security vulnerabilities in older PHP versions. You can use the service if there are no additional official security updates from the PHP Group for your preferred PHP version. This way, you can continue to use older editions such as PHP 7.2 or 7.3 without exposing your project to security risks.

If you plan to switch to a more current, officially supported PHP version later down the line, you may want to cancel your Extended Support. To do so, simply follow the instructions below:

  1. Enter your personal user data in the Control Panel.
  2. Select “Hosting”.
  3. Click on “PHP” and “Open”.
  4. Select the domain you wish to cancel PHP Extended Support for.
  5. Decide on a current PHP versions and press “Save”.
  6. In the following dialog, click the link “Cancel PHP Extended Support” to terminate the support offer.
Tip

Whether it’s the latest PHP version or an older one with extended support, as part of PHP Hosting, IONOS lets you test the latest PHP versions. Alternatively, you can use an older version for longer.