Moving to PHP 7.3 and Managed PHP Updates

An update of our default server PHP version is planned for February 26, 2020. We are going to move forward to PHP 7.3. The version has been around long enough and has already become widely compatible with different CMS’s, themes and plugins. With PHP 7.3 we will be also introducing our new Managed PHP service. Its purpose is to automatically update the PHP version of all users that are currently relying on our choice of default server PHP.

How is the Managed PHP update different than what we did before?

When a new PHP version appears, its adoption in our system usually consists of two phases: first, making the version available on our servers, and second, making it the default one. Below, I will describe how these phases used to happen before and what will change with the new service:

Making the new PHP version AVAILABLE on all servers

We have always been among the first hosting providers to make every new PHP version available immediately  after its introduction by the PHP developers, sometimes even while it is still in RC state. This allows our most advanced and impatient users to start testing their websites and tweak them, to get the benefits of the new PHP version as soon as possible. Using the new PHP version at this stage of our update process is a question of personal choice and is made possible by our server setup that allows different PHP versions to be set for different parts of your website. 

This phase of the update process will remain unchanged with the new Managed PHP service.

Making the new PHP version the DEFAULT choice on all servers

For most of our clients it is safe to start using a new PHP version only after their website software becomes compatible with it. In the case of main website applications, like WordPress for example, this usually happens quite fast. However, there are thousands of plugins whose developers may need more time to update their code and become ready to take advantage of the new PHP version. Sometimes, if a plugin is not compatible, switching to the new PHP version can result in a malfunction of the whole site, even if its main application is ready. That is why it takes some time from the moment a new PHP version is released to the moment when it is safe to apply it massively on the servers. We closely monitor the stability and compatibility levels and make the decision for the default server PHP change, when this is safe for the highest possible percentage of the people. 

So far we have been conservative about this step of the process and changing the default server version only affected the newly created accounts on our servers. This meant that our existing customers using the older versions were only advised to change to the new one, as it is the one we consider to be the best at the moment, but it was not changed for them. 

As during the years this strategy has led to quite a few websites remaining on an obsolete PHP version, we have now decided to be more proactive at this stage and automatically update the PHP version of all existing users, that do not have a custom PHP version set. 

How does the Managed PHP work?

Managed PHP service switched on by default in our interfaces

All new sites created on our servers after December 2019 have been created with a Managed PHP service switched on. We have also switched it on automatically for older sites and folders that were using the default PHP version on their host server. You may check if your site will be automatically updated in your PHP manager.

For cPanel users: Login to cPanel > go to PHP Version Manager > click on the folder you wish to check. If you see the Managed PHP version selected, this means that we will update your PHP automatically.

For Site Tools users: Login to Customer Area > Websites > Site Tools > Devs > PHP Manager. You can check if the version will be updated automatically for your main domain and each of your subdomains. 

Manual management option

If you were using a manually set PHP version for any folder or site, we have not switched the Managed PHP service on for this folder/site. Although we highly recommend that the Managed PHP service is used at all times, we understand that there are cases, where you may not want to be automatically updated. You can switch to manual PHP management at any time for any of your folders/sites.

For cPanel users: Login to cPanel > go to PHP Versions Manager > click on the folder whose PHP version you wish to choose to manage manually. Select the desired PHP version. 

For Site Tools users: Login to Customer Area > Websites > Site Tools > Devs > PHP manager. Use the pencil to switch to manual PHP management. 

Email notification before the planned change

Each time we decide to change the default server version we will send an email notification to inform all users about the upcoming change. This will allow enough time for users to test the new version and even switch off the managed PHP service and its automatic update, if they want to. 

When will we switch to PHP 7.3? 

We are currently sending out email notifications to our customers for the upcoming switch and we expect that the first managed PHP update on our servers will happen on 26, February, 2020. 

Hristo Pandjarov

WordPress Initiatives Manager

Enthusiastic about all Open Source applications you can think of, but mostly about WordPress. Add a pinch of love for web design, new technologies, search engine optimisation and you are pretty much there!

Comments ( 54 )

Adam

Jan 31, 2020

What about the oldest versions you are supporting still. Is there still going to be the manual option of v5.6 for a while longer and if so how long, can you say roughly ?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jan 31, 2020

This update is not related to any deprication of old PHP versions. When we decide to stop supporting certain PHP version, we always notify the customers using it to upgrade with enough time in advance.

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Rahul

Jan 31, 2020

Hey Hristo, As I'm using SiteGround Hosting for my website so did I want to upgrade the PHP version as of myself, or automatically it will be done.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jan 31, 2020

I would recommend using the Managed PHP version because it will be updated by us in time when we believe that it's vastly supported by the popular apps and extensions. On the other hand, if your site requires a speciffic PHP version, you can set it manually, so it won't be affected by future changes of the managed version.

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bert

Jan 31, 2020

Hi, In the Cpanel I can 'control' the version of php to a directory ( and subdomain). In Sitetools I can't find this anymore. So I can't control different php settings for different apps or is it from now on only possible via AddHandler application/x-httpd-php xx .php in a . htaccess?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jan 31, 2020

In Site Tools, you can change the PHP version per domain from Devs -> PHP Manager. Ideally, since you won't have multiple sites under the same control panel (addon slots) but they will have their own Site Tool instance, you won't need to think about PHP version rules overlapping eachother.

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Damon

Feb 06, 2020

So am I understanding that under Site Tools we lose the folder level control of PHP that was available in cPanel? I considering moving my sites from a dedicated server with WHM/cPanel to Siteground Cloud but have always used cPanel and worried about losing it.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 07, 2020

With Site Tools you simply don't need that unless there's a speciffic app installed in a subfolder that requires speciffic PHP version which we will still accommodate the same way we did with cPanel. However, now when you move a site, it will get its own Site Tools instance meaning you won't worry about one site under the same account getting hacked, .htaccess rules from one site affecting the others, etc. This improved site isolation basically mitigates the need for setting different PHP versions per folders but you will still have it.

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Thomas Burke

Jan 31, 2020

I also could not find out how to do this and so I called Siteground to have a Tech Rep walk me though it. Every time Siteground makes any change like this to our website, or SG Optimizer, or the recent IP address change, we have had continual problems including websites not working. I do not ever want Siteground to make changes automatically. The fact that you even think this is appropriate is disconcerting.

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Gergana Zhecheva

Feb 03, 2020

We’re always very careful when we do such changes and try to do as many checks as possible for the customers who have selected to be on the managed PHP version. However, if your site requires a specific PHP version or you simply wish to not take advantage of the managed functionality, you can set your PHP manually and we will not update it until it reaches its end of support date and we deprecate it.

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Eric

Feb 01, 2020

Awesome news, thanks SiteGround! Keeping PHP version so responsibly close to current, and it being automatic, is a really great part of having you all host for me. Thanks!

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PHP Training in Chandigarh

Feb 03, 2020

What about the oldest versions you are supporting still.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 03, 2020

The oldest PHP version we support but don't recommend for sure is PHP 5.6

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Zhivko

Feb 21, 2020

How much longer will you be supporting PHP 5.6?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 21, 2020

I don't have an exact date when we will depricate it but since it is really a very, very old version kept only for legacy purposes we will remove it from our servers sooner than later.

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Steve Fekete

Feb 05, 2020

If I leave Managed PHP service on and find that the site/plugins broken, can I switch back to Manual PHP service and roll back to version 7.1?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 05, 2020

Yes, you can evern try manually switching to 7.3 beforehand if you have any doubts and check it out.

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Zoran Filipović

Feb 06, 2020

Good job!

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Rick

Feb 21, 2020

How can we check our sites for comparability with 7.3?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 21, 2020

You can use the SG Optimizer plugin -> Environment Optimization. If you are on a lower PHP version you will see the compatibility checker available.

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petter

Feb 18, 2020

can you refer us to anyone who can assist us in updating our sites to reflect the new PHP updates?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 18, 2020

You can get a $60 credit for Codeable from your Client Area, I think you should check out their service which is designed exactly for requests similar to yours!

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SADAR UDIN

Feb 20, 2020

When will we switch to PHP 7.3?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 20, 2020

February 26th 2020 :)

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John Kelly

Feb 20, 2020

Where is the "Client Area" you reference in the response above. I have a site that is running an old WP Theme. I would like someone to ensure the stability of the site during this transition.

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Billy

Feb 20, 2020

I manage over 100 websites, it would be great if you could visually see the php versions next to the folder like it used to. This seems to have gone in the last year. Most people are on the managed php, but some older sites are on older versions, It would be great to have that visual overview back without clicking into each folder to check. I presume this might be something to do with the new managed service? Good work as always, thanks

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 24, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! A tool to manage multiple sites in bulk is in our roadmap but I can't give you an ETA when it will be available. I've forwarded your requests to our PMs for the Client Area to check if adding the PHP version to that interface would be possible.

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Paul Hemphill

Feb 20, 2020

I have a Website hosted on SiteGround that was built for me by a professional. I have no idea what any of this blog means or the preceding e-mail. It could be written in Chinese for all the sense in makes to me. Could you answer me this question: If I am not an IT / computer expert but have my site hosted with you, do I need to seek professional help or will everything happen automatically and I won't need to do anything. I can't be the only person who needs to know the answer to this question.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 24, 2020

Please, post a ticket in our Help Desk and our tech support will take a look at it for you!

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John Kelly

Feb 20, 2020

I checked my settings as you instructed above. It says I am currently running 7.3.14. So I am good?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 21, 2020

If everything is working fine - yes :)

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J.B.

Feb 21, 2020

Will this affect wordpress sites hosted on siteground?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 21, 2020

Yes, the change will affect all websites set to use our managed PHP version. However, if you're already on 7.1 there shouldn't be problems with the upgrade.

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Samantha & Dale

Feb 21, 2020

I need to employ a Wordpress expert to help manage our website. Can anyone recommend please? Many thanks.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 21, 2020

You can check your Client Area for the Codeable perk we have for SiteGround customers and get a dev to look at them.

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Samantha & Dale

Feb 21, 2020

Okay thanks.

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Jenn

Feb 21, 2020

Are there any technical issues with WP Themes or plugins we should be aware of.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 22, 2020

Pretty much all good themes and plugins now work fine on PHP 7.3. However, if you're not using the latest version of something it's worth checking it out. In the SG Optimizer, you will find a compatibility checker to 7.3 in the Environment tab.

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Harold Vogelaar

Feb 22, 2020

Hello, the PHP Version Manager in Siteground says that our 'Managed PHP version is currently PHP 7.1'. Why not PHP 7.2? The support for 7.1 ended Dec 2019? Also, our phpinfo says 7.1.33, but the plugin SG Optimizer says 7.3. So all-in-all how reliable is this managed PHP is? Besides that, why would you recommend Managed PHP while it can break websites from one day to another. Not all website owners will look at their websites daily, and not all will know what to do when they find out...?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 24, 2020

Yes, we've bumped the recommended version in the SG Optimizer plugin to 7.3 a week before we switch the Managed version so people can run the compatibility check beforehand and be sure that everything is ok. The Managed PHP version is not the latest one available because many plugin and theme developers don't support the cutting edge version. That's why we switch over to the newer one when we measure the adoption rate to be optimal. If you have our autoupdate systems running plus having the managed PHP version your site should not have issues over time.

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Arthur

Feb 23, 2020

I'm actually still using PHP 5.3, will this affect me at all? My .htaccess file has: AddHandler application/x-httpd-php53 .php

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 24, 2020

PHP 5.3 is very, very old version and we have already discontinued it on our shared plans. I'd recommend that you check if your website will run on 7.1 first or 7.3 if you have to do a dev work on it to make it go to the 7 branch.

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Jannik Lindgren

Feb 24, 2020

Hi. I have several sites hosted on various Siteground accounts, and I'm experiencing issues when using "environment optimization" in WordPress backend. On some sites compatibility check is already running when logging in, and is stalled at 1% with no way to cancel it. On other site, I get "Cannot change PHP version" message when trying to set it manually. In other words - tool is not really helping here. If I do it in Cpanel/site tools, will that overrule any settings done in "environment optimization" in WordPress backend?

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Feb 24, 2020

Best would be to contact our support team via the Help Desk. Otherwise, you can switch the PHP version, check if your site is OK and switch back if there's a problem, it's literally one click. That shouldn't affect the compatibility check. Usually, it runs, just some plugins blocking the WP Rest API block the interface to update itself but we could tell you more if you open a ticket.

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Taran

Feb 28, 2020

My site has stopped working to login completely, two days after the change! Warning: Use of undefined constant THEMEDEMO - assumed 'THEMEDEMO' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/ajeetamr/public_html/wp-content/plugins/letsblog-custom-post/letsblog-custom-post.php on line 81 Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/ajeetamr/public_html/wp-content/plugins/letsblog-custom-post/letsblog-custom-post.php:81) in /home/ajeetamr/public_html/wp-content/plugins/sg-cachepress/core/Supercacher/Supercacher_Helper.php on line 77 I am not technical with websites or Wordpress, is this an issue I can resolve with site ground or Fiverr?

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Reneta Tsankova Siteground Team

Mar 02, 2020

Taran, it looks like a piece of code of the theme's files produces errors with the newer PHP versions. It seems that our support switched back your site to PHP 7.1 and things went back to normal. As much as we would like to help further and keep you on PHP 7.3, it's best if you check with the theme's developer if they have a newer version of the theme, compatible with the new PHP releases so you can upgrade to it and then update the PHP version again.

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Stacey B

Feb 29, 2020

I now am getting a weird error in the footer of my website since the changeover. How do I fix this in WordPress? Warning: Use of undefined constant REQUEST_URI - assumed 'REQUEST_URI' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/littleg2/public_html/wp-content/themes/bb-theme-child/footer.php on line 213

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Reneta Tsankova Siteground Team

Mar 02, 2020

Hello Stacey, It is best if you open a support ticket for that issue. You can also manually check if that warning is due to the new PHP version by switching manually to your previous PHP version. If the error disappears, then it's most likely caused by the PHP update. Yet, the support will be also able to fix the conflict that the new version has with your site.

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Patanjali

Mar 06, 2020

When the Managed PHP service changes which PHP it uses, does it alter a domain root folder's .htaccess file? My server software develops hiccups if a cPanel change of PHP version under MultiPHP Manager is selected for a domain, as it adds some settings to the .htaccess file that somehow creates the problems. Deleting the changes returns the sites to proper operation. Changes made via the PHP Selector | Extensions page don't make changes to .htaccess files

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Mar 06, 2020

If you don't have any .htaccess rules changing the PHP version, you will always be on the managed one. That's the best way to do it actually since you won't have any forgotten .htaccess files for example that keep you on a particular version.

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Ramesh Dv

Jun 16, 2020

How many PHP versions can SiteGround clients have on a single website?

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 17, 2020

Hello, You can have different PHP versions for different directories. Usually you would change the PHP version for a site and all of its subfolders. And if you need a different version in a certain subdirectory, you have to create a new .htaccess file in it specifying the desired PHP version. Read more here https://my.siteground.com/support/kb/site-tools-vs-cpanel-comparison-change-php-version-site and https://www.siteground.com/kb/how_to_have_different_php_versions/

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Esh

Jul 03, 2020

Hi there. My website designer has come up against some issues which can only be resolved once the PHP is updated to 7.3+. He has asked me to get in touch with SiteGround (as you are my host). How do I update to the latest version? I can't seem to figure it out. Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks.

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Hristo Pandjarov Siteground Team

Jul 06, 2020

If you're on cPanel, you can do it from the PHP Version Manager or if you're on Site Tools go to Dev -> PHP Manager and switch the version for that site.

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