Welcome to PHP 7

We are pleased to confirm that PHP 7 is now available as an option on all our servers.

Over the past few months, we have tested and then gradually rolled out PHP 7. That process is now complete and all our servers offer PHP 7 as an option.

Note: On popular demand we have now added PHP 7.0 as well; this was not part of our original announcement. It has come to light that there are several applications with good support for PHP 7.0 but not (yet) for PHP 7.1. We also some clients with such application that desire to use IonCube and would like to have the speed advantage of PHP 7.0.

What kept us back?
We could not just go cold turkey and switch from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7; many client websites would break. Instead, we needed an mechanism that would allow a transition from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7. The solution came from the nice people at cPanel in the form of multi-version PHP support. We are now able to provide more than one version of PHP to choose from.

Why is PHP 7 worth upgrading to?
By itself, PHP 7 is significantly faster that previous versions. In the new configuration, we are also making OpCache available for the first time for PHP 7.1, speeding things up even further. But there is another reason: active support for PHP 5.6 ended in December and it will not receive any further bug fixes. Security updates for PHP 5.6 will end in December 2018. It is time to move on!

How does this work?
You can choose the version of PHP you want to use for your website using the Multi-PHP function in your cPanel. The following options are available:

  • PHP 5.6
  • PHP 7.0
  • PHP 7.1
  • Inherit (will use the latest available version, in this case PHP 7.1)

New hosting accounts automatically get the latest version of PHP. For existing hosting accounts, the following applies:

  • Anno Basic hosting accounts: These are typically static HTML websites without PHP scripts. This risk of breaking something is small, so we have upgraded all to PHP 7.
  • Anno Advanced and Premium hosting accounts: Older web applications may not function with PHP 7, so we left all of them on PHP 5.6.

Should you upgrade to PHP 7?
Yes! However, there may be complications. Recent versions of the major web application like WordPress and Joomla have full support for PHP 7. But older versions and older themes/templates and plugins/extensions may not be compatible with PHP 7. We therefore recommend:

  • Upgrade your web applications to the latest version.
  • Upgrade themes/templates and plugins/extensions to the latest version.
  • Switch to PHP 7, and test your website. If you encounter compatibility problems, then switch back to PHP 5.6. Fix the issue and try again.

You have two years to migrate away from PHP 5.6. We will remove PHP 5.6 in December May 2018 when it reaches its end of life and no further security updates are made available.

What should I do to upgrade?
If you are:

  • Using an open-source project such as WordPress or Joomla: Upgrade to the latest version; for the sake of security, you should always use the latest version in any case. We recommend you use the auto-update setting in Installatron (in cPanel) to help you keep things current.
  • Developing your own PHP code: See the PHP 7 migration notes at https://secure.php.net/manual/en/migration70.php and https://secure.php.net/manual/en/migration71.php.
  • Not using PHP in your website: You can upgrade it to PHP 7 immediately or just leave things alone.

How does this effect access to your email?
It does not at all; nothing changes with you email. Even WebMail (that uses PHP) works exactly as before.

Final notes…

  • PHP 7.0 was released in December 2015 and is stable. PHP 7.1 came out one year later in December 2016, and is a small (in relative terms) upgrade from PHP 7.0. Skipping PHP 7.0 and adopting PHP 7.1 straight-away buys one more year of support from the PHP team. PHP 7.0 is now a available as an option, with IonCube but without OpCache.
  • In our current configuration, OpCache (faster loading from a memory cache) is available for PHP 7.1 only. You want the extra speed-up compared to PHP 5.6.
  • At the time of writing, IonCube is not yet available for PHP 7.1. If you are using scripts encoded with IonCube, then you will need to stay with PHP 5.6 use PHP 7.0 for the time being or stay with PHP 5.6 for a bit longer.