Plain English: Cloudways PHP Version Deprecation & EOL. What Do You Do?

Cloudways sent customers a notice about old versions of PHP that they will be no longer supporting. Here's what to do about it if you got that email...
cloudways-php-version

Cloudways hosting just sent out a notice to customers with the subject line: “Notice of PHP versions Deprecation & EOL date“.

Cloudways PHP Version Email Notice

It went on from there. And I very quickly got emails from 2 clients asking what to do about it because it was all greek to them. 🙂

So, I thought I would explain it in plain English. And show you what to do about it. Let’s roll…

What Does It Mean?

Wordpress (and a lot of other stuff) is programmed in the PHP programming language. And PHP is, itself, software. It runs on your web server and it interprets all the code of Wordpress, turns it into something your server can understand, and spits it out.

PHP Logo

Since PHP is software, it has versions as well. And eventually, as versions move forward, the fine folks that create PHP will just stop supporting the old versions. It works just like Windows or MacOS on a desktop computer in that way. I mean, you can’t expect support for Windows 95 anymore, right? 😉

PHP is currently on version 8.1.x. While that is the latest version, most Wordpress sites are not yet running on it. Most servers are still running some version of PHP 7.x.

All of the PHP versions Cloudways lists (5.6, 7, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3) have all already reached EOL (end of life) in terms of support from the PHP team. This means no security updates come out anymore.

For this reason, Cloudways is choosing to declare their own EOL for those versions. On August 16th (the day of the email to customers), customers will no longer be able to choose to run those versions on any servers. And on Feb 23, 2023, you will no longer be able to use those versions at all on Cloudways.

Is This Relevant To You?

Many people never even bother to check the version of PHP their hosting runs. It doesn’t even occur to them. Which is fine. 🙂 But, it is good to check. Most web hosts allow you some options to control which version of PHP you are running.

On Cloudways, here’s how to check which version you’re running:

  • Log in, of course. 🙂
  • Click on your server.
  • Go to Settings & Packages.
  • Click on the Packages tab.
  • The top option will show you what version you are running.
Cloudways PHP Version Dropdown

If you’re running anything less than 7.4, then you will need to take additional action.

If you are already running version 7.4, then you’re fine. Eventually, 7.4 will reach EOL as well, but for now you’re fine. And if you’re already on PHP8, then obviously you’re good to go. 🙂

Before Upgrading Your PHP Version…

Obviously, you’ll probably see the little edit icon there. If you click it, you will see that you can choose higher versions of PHP. So, upgrade and be done with it, right?

But, not so fast.

See, changing the version of PHP on your server definitely holds the potential to break things. So you want to test it out first before committing.

For instance, when I tested PHP 8 on my sites, Blog Marketing Academy was giving critical PHP errors and simply wouldn’t run. So, I have some techie stuff to handle. All of my other sites (the ones not using BuddyBoss theme) were running fine on PHP 8.

But, how did I test this?

With Cloudways, you can spin up new servers anytime you want. So, in short, here’s what you do:

  • Create a new test server in your Cloudways account. You can either clone your entire server or just create a new one.
  • Set the new server to the version of PHP you want to test.
  • Clone the site (or application) you want to test over to the new server.
  • Test the site on the new server to make sure it is working OK. If you have multiple sites on the same server, test all of them the same way.
  • When satisfied they work, upgrade your existing server to the version of PHP you just tested.
  • Delete your test server so that you don’t get billed for it.

You can either just clone the entire server or clone specific apps to a new server you already created.

To clone your server, just hit the 3 little dots on the right side and then choose “Clone Server” in the popup menu.

Cloudways Clone Server

Cloning the whole server could take awhile depending on how much you have on it. When I cloned my server, it took a good 45 minutes to do it. Cloning a specific app could be quite a bit faster.

Once the thing is cloned to a new testing server, you head on over to “Settings & Packages” again and select a version of PHP to test out.

To then test out apps, you will need to grab the temporary Cloudways URL for the app to visit the site.

In my case, I was originally using PHP 7.3. When I tested PHP8, all of my sites except this one worked just fine. But, there was something with the BuddyBoss theme that was throwing errors. When I tested PHP 7.4, everything was fine. So, I decided to stick with that for now. Getting PHP8 compatibility is something on my todo list, tho. 🙂

Upgrading PHP On Cloudways

If it isn’t clear yet, upgrading PHP on Cloudways is quite easy.

Go to Settings & Packages in your server settings, then the Packages tab, then hit the PHP dropdown and select the version you want to upgrade to. It could take a few minutes for the change to take effect.

Again, make sure you test things first.

Upgrading to 7.4 will likely give your site a little performance boost and will mean you’re on a version that isn’t yet being retired.

Wordpress and most plugins and themes are PHP 8 compliant, however it is definitely worth testing that first because it is a much larger change.

Need Any Help With This?

If you are hosting client, I will be taking care of this for you.

If you are a webmaster support client and are hosted on Cloudways, I will take care of this for you.

If you’re not an ongoing client but are on Cloudways, just throw a service credit on your account and I’ll get in there and do it for you.

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