How to Check Your WordPress PHP Version (Learn 4 ways, 1st way is the easiest)

Lets explore ways to check your WordPress’s PHP version or check PHP version on your Hosting account, so you know what you are getting into, Below highlights:

What is PHP?

As per PHP’ own website PHP is “a popular general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to web development. Fast, flexible and pragmatic, PHP powers everything from your blog to the most popular websites in the world.” In other words, “PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Pre-processor) is a widely used open-source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML”

PHP is successor of PHP/FI a product created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994 for personal project aka “Personal Home Page Tools”. Later, in 1995 the source was released which allowed anyone to provide bug fixes, provide improvements, add features.

If you are running a website, blog, or Ecommerce store on WordPress, it is thanks to PHP, almost ~60% of the WordPress code is written in PHP. Now considering that it plays a significant role in your sites functionality it is important to know what version of PHP you are running and what WordPress supports which all version of PHP.

How does PHP work?

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
    <head>
        <title>Example</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <?php
            echo "Hi, I'm a PHP script!";
        ?>

    </body>
</html>

If you observe the above code snippet carefully you will understand that’s it’s written in HTML and PHP is embedded within the HTML code with special processing instruction at start and end of the PHP code respectively “<?php” and “?>”, Here What differentiates PHP form other client side languages like JavaScript is the code of PHP is executed at Server side, which in turn generates HTML which is sent to client side browser.

Although PHP is far more advance and features rich language by with you can create server-side scripting, command line scripts or even write desktop applications. Moreover, PHP is supported on wide range of Operating systems, along with that PHP also supports wide range of today’s web-servers.

PHP being feature rich, it’s also simple for newcomers, which means you start learning PHP now and would be able to write your own PHP script within few hours. Learn PHP today here or if you want to get involved in community start getting involved in PHP conferences   or local meetups

PHP Local Meets on https://www.meetup.com/
PHP Local Meetup check out https://www.meetup.com/

What all programming languages are used in creating WordPress and how much does PHP contribute?

WordPress is written in various languages which includes PHP, JavaScript, CSS,  Python and HTML. Currently almost 60% of the WordPress code is written in PHP. After the famous “Learn Java script Deeply” remark by Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress, JavaScript adoption has increased drastically in WordPress.

Which is the current version of PHP and which version does WordPress Support?

Why do you need to know current version of PHP and what version is used /needed by WordPress because as you already know WordPress depends on it, while if you or your host is running old, outdated version of PHP, the WordPress website, blog, online store might not run as expected.

As of this writing the current stable version of PHP is 8.1.XX. As per WordPress website, WordPress works with any PHP version which is either 7.4 or greater. Although today also many WordPress based websites runs on outdated PHP versions 5.2 clearly making them targets for security vulnerability. Hence if you or your host is running any version below PHP 7.4 WordPress website might work, but your website might be in the risk zone. Hence, it’s better to upgrade to PHP 7.4 version for your WordPress needs. As of now as per the stats from WordPress, almost 49% of total website running WordPress uses PHP version 7.4

Chart, pie chart displaying PHP version across WordPress Deployment
PHP version by WordPress deployment

Now the real question comes to mind is how to check which version of PHP you / your host is running?

How to check your current version of PHP for WordPress? or How to check WordPress PHP version?

There are multiple ways you can check which version of PHP is running on your server, lets take a look at top 4 ways for the same:

  • Ways to check WordPress PHP version for your Hosting account or server
    1. Use the WordPress Site Health Tool from WordPress Dashboard
    2. With PHP code file by uploading and executing the same
    3. Using Hosting Control Panel
    4. Use a WordPress Plugin – Two Plugins

Let’s start from the bottom:

4. Use the WordPress Plugin to check the PHP version used by your WordPress installation.

While looking for plugins to check PHP version I was able to find 2 plugins which will display PHP version in Admin Dashboard for you after installation and activation.

The first plugin is Display PHP version , As per plugin documentation you just have to install and Activate, once you do so you would be able to see the PHP version under “At a Glance” under WordPress Dashboard.

"At a Glance" in WordPress Dashboard , displaying PHP version
“At a Glance” in WordPress Dashboard , displaying PHP version

The second plugin is version info , As per plugin documentation you just have to install and Activate, once you do so you would be able to see the PHP version under the right hand corner of WordPress Admin Panel pages.

Version info plugin displays PHP version on Admin panel pages in right hand corner
Version info plugin displays PHP version on Admin panel pages in right hand corner

3. Using Hosting Control Panel

If you do not wish to go plugin way than, you can use Host provided control panel to check and verify the current version of PHP.

Majority of the host providing shared hosting, WordPress hosting uses cPanel, although there are other Web hosting panel, we are only providing steps for cPanel here for now, other panel steps can be added later based on demand.

With cPanel, once you are logged in to your account search PHP in the global Search bar normally located at top and from the results select “Select PHP Version”

cPanel Search PHP
cPanel Search PHP

Or search for the Software Section in your cPanel, from where you can choose “Select PHP version”

cPanel SOFTWARE section - Select PHP version
cPanel SOFTWARE section – Select PHP version

Which will take you to “PHP Selector” Screen, on which the current PHP Version will be display.

PHP selector displaying Current PHP version - cPanel
PHP selector displaying Current PHP version – cPanel

2. With PHP code file by uploading and executing

If you do not have access to install plugin and check for the PHP version or you think installation of plugin is too much for a simple task like checking current PHP version than you can write and upload the code in a PHP file which will display current PHP version.

Create a file locally named “checkphpversion.php” with below code on your local machine.

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

After you save the newly created file, upload the same to your hosting accounts “public_html” folder.

Or if you have access to the File Manager under cPanel you can create the file directly into the “public_html” folder with code above. Difference here is you will have to first create a file and later edit the file to add above code to the file.

Once the file is in the public_html folder, you can open browser on your local system and navigate to “www.yoursite.com/checkphpversion.php” which will display lot of information about PHP and server but above all it will display default PHP version currently in use. We recommend removing the newly created file or remove the code above from the newly created file, once you have completed validating / checking PHP version for your WordPress installation.

PHP version check done by code
PHP version check done by code

1.  Use the WordPress Site Health Tool from WordPress Dashboard

This is the easiest method to check PHP version used by WordPress current installation. Starting from WordPress version 5.2, WordPress provides site health tool built-in which provides recommendation for improvement and lots of information about the server, WordPress installation and also PHP version information.

To check your current PHP version with Site health, You can navigate to the WordPress- > Tools -> Site health -> info -> Server

WordPress Site Health displaying PHP version info
WordPress Site Health displaying PHP version info

How to change PHP version?

The easiest and most popular way to change PHP version is from the Hosting Control panel. The hosting control panel takes care of all the other variables which needs tuning /change when you change PHP version.

Changing PHP version:

To change PHP version of your WordPress website we recommend following steps:

1) Backup of existing Website.

Before we go into details of how to change PHP version of your WordPress website using Hosting control panel, we would recommend taking a full site backup which should include all the WordPress files and folder and database. If you are don’t know how to take backup of your WordPress website, we recommend using Updraft plus plugin to take backup.

2) Change PHP version:

We are following here cPanel steps to change PHP version :

Search for the Software Section in your cPanel, from where you can choose “Select PHP version”

cPanel Software Section using select PHP version tool
cPanel Software Section using select PHP version tool

On the resulting screen you will see “Current PHP version” click on the version number and from the resulting drop-down select the appropriate version you need. Click on “set as current” and let the control panel complete the steps required.

Changing Current PHP version from PHP selector - cPanel
Changing Current PHP version from PHP selector – cPanel

3) Check your website thoroughly

Check your website thoroughly for usability, links, forms to validate if all the functionality works on the website as before after the version check, this is to ensure your website is not broken after PHP version change.

Getting to much on the plate ? We do offer awesome WordPress website management and support services. You can focus on business , while we take care of your WordPress website. Check out our WordPress support plans.