Here’s an exciting update—last week, we converted ~300,000 customer installs to PHP 7.3. These conversions were not undertaken due to any sort of PHP end of life we’re following, or any concerns we have with people continuing to use PHP 7.2. Instead, we initiated this conversion to make sure our customers had access to the new features and high performance found in the more recent versions of PHP. 

Based on the early results we’ve seen, this latest conversion improved customers’ backend response times by ~20% without any effort or action required on their part:

After converting customers to PHP 7.3, their average response times dropped from more than 750 milliseconds to around 550 ms

Our engineers knew that in order for this update to be a positive one for our customers, it needed to be done safely, securely, and without any interruptions to their day-to-day routines. Therefore, we did our due diligence to make sure we only converted installs that have been validated as compatible. 

This took the form of writing scripts that ran compatibility checks before and at runtime. We also built out a communication strategy to message these customers at least twice before the update to ensure they were informed of the change. We felt confident these efforts paid off, as very few customers were surprised or interrupted by the upgrade. 

Running the latest version of PHP is a great way to make sure your WordPress site is running as fast as possible. There are security implications that come with running out of date versions PHP, as well. In reality, the majority of WordPress sites are running extremely old versions of PHP, which means that despite all the benefits of upgrading PHP versions, the barrier to do so is still high. 

At WP Engine, we’re proud to demonstrate leadership in the WordPress space by making it easy for our customers to standardize on the latest version of PHP. Not only are we the best WordPress host to self-upgrade PHP with, due to our proprietary upgrade tools like the PHP Test Driver, we’re the only Managed WordPress Platform provider proactively providing this open source value to our customers. 

By taking advantage of what’s available in open source, we’re multiplying our efforts to deliver the best WordPress experience available, bar none. This also sets us up well to offer PHP 7.4 early next year. 

For instructions on how to upgrade your site to the latest version of PHP, please check out our PHP upgrade guide.  

Earlier this year, we announced additional measures we had taken to improve our backend performance by 15%. Those measures are still in place, and because we view performance as a product that’s never finished, you can expect similar updates in the future regarding our nonstop work to provide you with the best platform for building digital experience with WordPress.  

Stay tuned for more! And if you have questions about our plans or becoming a WP Engine customer, contact a sales representative today!