Ionos or 1 & 1 will stop PHP 7.2 support at the end of 2020 - check your website now

PHP forced update - error messages on websites preprogrammed

I came across it by chance when I switched the PHP version in Ionos hosting (Ionos is part of 1 & 1) for my customer. There it is noted for the PHP 7.2 version that it will only receive support until 12/2020. I assume that the hosting will then be converted to PHP 7.3 via a forced update, as was already the case with the conversion from PHP 5.6.

At https://www.ionos.at/digitalguide/websites/web-entwicklung/php-72/ one reads about it:

In autumn 2017 the version PHP 7.2 was released as Successor to PHP 7.1 introduced. On November 30, 2020, this version will also reach the official version End of Life Date (EOL)and is no longer supported.

Incidentally, these changes to the PHP version not only happen with Ionos / 1 & 1, but with almost all hosting providers. Seen in this way, the article is also interesting for customers of other hosting companies.

The entire lifetime of a PHP version is usually three years. At the latest in the last year (security support phase) it is recommended to switch to the successor version (source: ionos.at/php.net).

Update November 03.11.2020rd, XNUMX: Ionos does not switch "hard"

I just got feedback on my article via Twitter - directly from Ionos:

Hello! Small note on the article: We are not converting the PHP version hard. A few weeks before the end of life, our customers will receive an email on how to proceed. More here: ionos.de/hilfe/hosting/… Many greetings / mi

In short:

  • A few weeks before the changeover, customers will receive an email that support for a PHP version will end.
  • You can book "PHP extended support". You pay monthly for the hosting to run an outdated version of PHP.

I know that many customers simply skip the emails with the PHP update because they can't do anything with it. So the cover letter will not save all customers from being with an outdated website. If, of course, they suddenly pay more per month, that will surely attract the attention of customers and then you may start to find out about the PHP updates.

Upgrade for security and performance

The first question you ask yourself is why Ionos doesn't just keep the old versions of PHP running and only offer the new ones. That would be less of a problem for most website owners.

In fact, these forced PHP updates are carried out by the providers for two reasons:

  1. The old PHP versions are usually noticeably slower. So your website will be faster, which will please Google and the visitors.
  2. Older PHP versions have known security flaws that at some point will no longer be ironed out. If you leave these PHP versions on the hosting, you open the door for hackers and lay out a red carpet.

The bottom line is that such forced updates of the PHP versions are not unnecessary tormenting customers, but rather they ensure that your websites run stable and fast.

Problem: Errors are only noticed during the changeover

A bad thing about these updates is that most customers only notice that their website is no longer running with the new PHP version after the forced migration.

Then there is no more time to solve the PHP errors in the background, but you have to get rid of the warnings and error messages as quickly as possible so that the website is available again for visitors (and often also potential customers).

This PHP warning came from my customer's website: "Warning: continue targeting switch is equivalent to break." In this case it was due to an outdated plugin, but there were also files in the theme that triggered the error.

This PHP warning came from my customer's website: "Warning: continue targeting switch is equivalent to break." In this case it was due to an outdated plugin, but there were also files in the theme that triggered the error.

My recommendation: switch to PHP 7.4 for a short time now

So that you are not surprised by a non-functioning website in January 2021, I recommend that you check the PHP version in your hosting and - if not already done - switch to PHP version 7.4. You can reset this in seconds, but you can already do a small function test.

In the Ionos hosting admin you will find the item "PHP", which you can use to change the PHP version of domains and subdomains.

In the Ionos hosting admin you will find the item "PHP", which you can use to change the PHP version of domains and subdomains.

After activating PHP 7.4 you empty the cache (for example in WordPress) if you are using a caching plugin and click your way through your website. Also go to the admin area and check it.

If everything still works as desired, you can leave the PHP version at 7.4 and have peace until December 2022, because then PHP 7.4 will no longer be supported.

At Ionos you can currently choose between PHP 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and the "experimental" PHP 8 version. I would currently - like Ionos - recommend 7.4.

Should problems arise, you set the PHP version back to PHP 7.2 and at some point take your time to take care of these warnings and error messages. How to do that is a different topic, but with WordPress it is often due to outdated themes and plugins.

For PHP 8.0 There is already the third "Release Candidate", but especially with the first versions you should hold back and only try them out on experimental websites. I would not recommend PHP 8 for corporate websites as it is not yet running reliably and has some bugs that are gradually being ironed out.

Looking for help with troubleshooting?

If you are looking for help with troubleshooting, I am at your disposal. I've already been able to iron out a few things for my customers and, if necessary, have an experienced programmer on hand who can step in if I don't know what to do next.

You should also take care of WordPress updates and updates to plugins, because with WordPress these PHP errors are often fixed in new PHP versions if you bring all plugins and the theme up to date.

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