That’s a mouthful, let’s stick with the acronym; PHP. PHP is the most popular scripting language on the web in use by over 83% of all sites out there. Definitely the elephant in the room! Of course, WordPress is built on PHP.
Interestingly, the majority of WordPress sites are running dated versions of PHP, that is, versions 5.6 and below. Not only is this is a bad idea from your site’s security perspective, you are penalizing your site’s visitors with a loss in guaranteed performance gains. Support for version 5.6 ended back in January, 2017, meaning there are no available patches for the many, and growing list of security vulnerabilities floating around.
The current version of PHP is 7.2, there never really was a version 6.0. Yet, only 0.8% has shifted to 7.2. A combined 24.6% have made the move to 7.1-7.2. PHP version 7.0 delivers huge performance enhancements over 5.6 – running requests 200-300% faster! This, plus a more secure operating environment, should be enough to make you consider making the migration. Version 7.2 benchmarks even modestly higher, adding a 20-30% performance boost over version 7.0.
So, what’s holding you back? You may not have any choice. Your web host may not support any version of PHP higher than 5.6. If this is you, I’d consider changing hosts. At The Site Hosting Company, we support version 7.2 and will support all future stable versions.
Of additional consideration, better theme and plugin developers update their work consistently with the latest versions of PHP in mind. Sooner than later, you may find your theme or favorite plugins inoperable with dated versions of PHP. This too will someday be the case with WordPress itself, In fact, the official WordPress Requirements Guide recommends using PHP 7.2.
On the other hand, your current theme and plugins may not operate with PHP 7+. If this is the case, in the long run, you’re better off to consider upgrading your theme and plugins with those compatible with PHP 7+.