Upgrade PHP 5.6 to 7

PHP is a programming language that can run with Apache or Microsoft IIS and works with your server to execute the requests that make up your website. 88% of online sites run on, soon to be vulnerable PHP 5.X technology. At the close of this year, scheduled by Dec 31, 2018 security support will end for our dear old friend PHP 5.6, meaning bugs and security fixes will not be tended to and could lead to security vulnerabilities. 
Each PHP version gets supported actively for two years while the third year only get critical security updates. Luckily, the PHP gods had smiled upon us and extended the life for just a year longer than the typical PHP version before giving us the new year deadline. For all of you developers out there wanting to know exactly what is changing, here’s a helpful migration guide from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7.X.

While the last of PHP 5 closes out with PHP 5.6, this will inevitably leave websites utilizing PHP 5 vulnerable to attacks as well as poor performance. It has substantially reached its infamous End of Life (EOL) title. Switching to the newer PHP 7 versions is not only good for the security, but updating can ultimately save you money. Reducing the cost of doing business by avoiding software incompatibility and compliance issues. If an emotional headache isn’t enough to persuade developers to switch, the benefits will. Benchmarks show PHP 7.x has been tested to run three times faster than PHP5.6!

Let’s see:

  • Faster performance resulting in less memory usage
  • Three times faster page loads*
  • Better for heavy traffic sites
*Performance increase as benchmarked in a testing environment. Other developer’s website performance changes between PHP 5 and PHP 7 may vary.

If you are in a shared environment that manages the OS and framework, then your hosting provider should be sending out notifications of the upcoming change, their plan of action, and cut off dates. Our managed hosting products, such as Storm VPS, Cloud Sites or Managed WordPress, have support teams that can help you switch from PHP 5.X to PHP 7.X easily. Our Managed WordPress product has a compatibility checker built in & one click button to upgrade, yet another reason to love it!

While using WordPress to power your site you can check some vital aspects by going to the
WordPress plugin page and searching for the plugins that you use. Once you find the plugin or themes that you utilize, their spec pages will usually say what PHP version they employ. Also, check out the review tab for comments from users as this section gives useful information. This review tab is helpful for seeing if others have had issues with the plugin or theme and newer PHP versions. It is good practice to look up reviews and see what people have been saying about said plugin. If you don’t see any responses or it hasn’t rated well, then you will want to stray away from it. If you use custom plugins, check with your developer to see how they operate in new PHP versions. The WordPress Compatibility Plugin check will give you a list of plugins and themes that may not mesh well with PHP 7.X.

If you run a mission-critical site its best to do a compatibility checker because blindly upgrading could result in some parts of your page to not function. Checking PHP compatibility, as you would imagine, is a little more in depth but from research online, there is a compatibility checker for VPS servers that you can utilize by downloading the repo from GitHub.

It is worthwhile to note that some plugins may need a PHP module to be installed for the plugin to work. When upgrading the PHP version, you may also need to re-install the PHP module. Fortunately, our support team can assist with installing any PHP module you may need or give the best course of action if the PHP module is not available for your PHP version.

If you are using a Linux VPS the easiest way to check is to ssh into your server and run the following command via your terminal:

php --versionOutput: PHP 7.0.30 (cli) (built: Jun 26 2018 20:34:16)


It’s important to make a backup of your site before migrating to PHP 7.X

Search php, select Multi PHP Manager, will show this screen to show which php version you are using. While on the PHP Version screen you can update the PHP version here by clicking on the check mark next to the domain and selecting the desired PHP version on the right drop down and click Apply.

Search For PHP and Click MulitPHP Manager Icon

Cloud vs. Dedicated Hosting

Cloud and dedicated servers are two types of hosting solutions that you will find across professional web hosting companies. Whether your a small business or a thriving enterprise the question remains, what is the difference between Cloud and Dedicating hosting and which one is the best solution for you? For a third year in a row voted by Cloud Spectator, in top server side performance, we are here to give you a comprehensive break down of these two types of hosting environments as well as impactful aspects:  performance through speed and uptime, and most importantly cost.

Simply put the cloud a virtual space on multiple servers. A typical product of the cloud environment is a Cloud VPS. We can compare Cloud hosting to the service of a restaurant. The restaurant would represent the physical server, within that server lives the Cloud VPS, in this case, represented by the restaurant’s tables. Each waitress/waiter equals the resources that each table or Cloud VPS can pull from. If your party is growing, you can add another table (Cloud VPS) together and therefore increase your waiter/waitresses (resources). If your party is leaving the same concept can be applied, quickly adjusting to your needs. On the other hand, a dedicated server would have one table, the whole restaurant to yourself, having six wait staff attending to your dedicated server needs.

Dedicated and Cloud both have the option to manage or self-manage. Unmanaged means you’ll be responsible for running routine software updates, which are essential to security, as opposed to your hosting provider. The choice to go managed or unmanaged is better left to a broader discussion but as you can guess unmanaged is usually the cheaper option.

Cloud hosting wins over with price as there is no hardware to buy and you usually pay for what you use. While your business grows, you’ll be able to scale up by adding more file space for more or larger websites.  Because these are actual physical pieces that you can own, dedicated servers, sometimes have a setup fee associated with them. The freedom of having your server means you’ll be paying for maximum power even with you are not utilizing the whole server.  Your hosting provider can maintain both Cloud VPS and Dedicated, but dedicated servers often will need an additional team with a deeper understanding of resource monitoring and network setup. Lastly, Cloud VPS average entry-level servers start around $60 per month while dedicated entry level starts off around $199 per month.

Cloud Costs
  • Average entry level $60 per month
  • No hardware to buy
  • Unlimited resource scaling
  • Pay for what you use
Dedicated Costs
  • Average entry level $199 per month
  • Initial setup fees

Uptime, defined as the amount of time your server is online and available to your users.  For most, uptime is of the utmost importance because businesses rely on the revenue or information that their site provides. More and more cloud environments uptimes are improving though there is always the chance of downtime due to resource abuse from other customers on the same server.  Dedicated servers face similar issues with, but those are due to a different reason such as hardware failures. You’ll also find cloud environments are resilient and redundant with their environmental setup and are ideal for minimal downtime in scaling up. Scaling up within dedicated will prove to be more of an impact on uptime due to its intricacies. Regardless of their scaling and known for their superb uptime, dedicated servers are favorites to more significant e-commerce business with larger mission-critical websites.

Cloud Uptime
  • More for small to medium business because uptime can sometimes be an issue
  • Resilient and Redundant
  • Can have occasional downtime due to shared resources
Dedicated Uptime
  • Great uptime larger websites, such as e-commerce businesses and high-traffic sites
  • One point of failure

How fast a network or website is most often the number one concern amongst website developers and users.  When differentiating whether the cloud or a dedicated server is faster, the short of it is, dedicated will usually be faster. It’s difficult to compare the two environments because not all websites are created equal, front-end and backend development play into speed.  In this instance, we are going to assume the code is sufficient for optimal performance. If we think of our restaurant analogy from earlier, resources (the wait staff) are limited in Cloud environment. These resources get pulled by the website’s processes, so you may reach a limit that your hosting provider or Cloud VPS cant handle as fast as a dedicated server. (Though there are some free caching services you can implement to be SEO competitive.)  Remember resources for dedicated servers are all yours, and this equals out to a significant increase in speed.

Cloud Speed
  • Average page load times
  • Extra work needed to implement caching
Dedicated Speed
  • Higher than average website load times
  • High performance due to unshared resources
You’ll find that determining the current need of your business will help to ease the choice of hosting environments.  Dedicated servers remain the best choice where performance is critical if you have the money to spend but can be rigid in upscaling.  Most small to medium sites are optimal to run on the cloud or can stand for the occasional downtime and are best for growing businesses.   For a side by side comparison, visit our products to see how our Dedicated Servers  and Cloud VPS win over big name hosting providers.