Upgrade Your Server to PHP 7 for WordPress

PHP 7 was launched in December 2015, but even after a year from its initial release, there are still websites that are running under older versions. PHP 7 is a major change for the better and is a much-improved version of one of the most used scripting languages and the core foundation of WordPress. In this article, we will cover why it is so important to upgrade to a hosting that properly provides support for PHP 7 and why it would benefit your site.

Benefits of PHP 7 for WordPress

PHP 7 is on version 7.1.4 now, but the core essentials still remain. These are the most important aspects that changed from PHP 5.6 and older versions to 7:

1. New Zend Engine now called PHP Next Generation (NG)

2. Important reduction in memory usage

3. Abstract Syntax Tree

4. Consistent 64-bit support

5. A good number of fatal errors now convert into exceptions

6. Better and more secured number generator

7. Anonymous classes

8. Compatibility with OpenSSL 1.0.2e onwards.

The New Zend Engine

Zend is not new to PHP because it was there since 1999. Zend is the execution engine that does the actual interpretation of PHP language. The version that PHP 5.x uses is called Zend Engine II and adds the extensible object model and performance enhancements compared to older versions, but the new Zend Engine in PHP7, now called Next Generation, is the core for the actual speed increase of PHP7.

Next Generation achieves this by changing its behavior of operating with pointers (such as previous Zend Engine II) to operation with structures. This change reduces memory consumption, garbage collection, and overall performance.

PHP 7 Is Way Faster

The changes in Next Generation Zend Engine are the main responsible for the increase in speed, by reducing memory consumption they also reduced the time the scripting language takes to process the information and the result is that PHP 7 will need fewer servers to provide the same content.

Improved Error Handling and 64-bit Support

One of the most criticized things in PHP was the handling of errors. The improved PHP 7 error handling uses throwable exceptions. This allows developers a much better handling mechanism to deal with errors that were previously unavailable.

On the other hand, the consistent 64-bit support means that PHP7 now allows 64-bit integers and is supported in other platforms, like Microsoft Windows running natively at 64-bit.

PHP 7 Supports Anonymous Classes

Anonymous classes are not only very useful but properly coded can speed up code execution, adding anonymous classes was necessary for PHP7 to catch up with all the major object-oriented languages.

Deprecated PHP Functions

There was major housekeeping in PHP7 with deprecated functions. A deprecated function for those who don’t know is a part of code that is considered too old or unusable and calls for deprecation. When a function is deprecated in PHP, it no longer works.

The developers of PHP7 carefully considered a lot of functions that were no longer being used. It’s important to know that a deprecated function can and will potentially break your code. The deprecated functions in PHP 7 are the single most important point to consider when upgrading your website to a hosting that provides PHP 7.

What All This Means

PHP7 is faster and more lightweight, runs with less memory usage, executes twice the amount of code at any given time than PHP 5.x, and it handles errors in a much cleaner way. This all translates into a faster website, better coding, and a much better user experience.

If you care about performance on your site, your first order of the day should be to upgrade all your plugins and theme and switch to a hosting that provides PHP7. And you’re in luck – most popular hosting companies offer PHP 7 for all of their plans (or they offer the upgrade).

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