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WordPress on PHP 7: Performance Benchmarks & Upgrade Guide

March 23, 2016

3 Min Read
wordpress on php 7
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PHP 7 was the most awaited and the most requested feature of recent times by Cloudways customers. After much trial and errors, PHP 7 was successfully integrated for all the users on Cloudways.

There was much hype in the WordPress industry when PHP 7 was still in development. There are many reports on the web that reported a very impressive performance boost of WordPress when hosted on PHP 7. We went ahead and tested these claims to make sure our servers backed our statements.

You can also test that. As you know, Cloudways believes in keeping things simple as always for a cloud bases WordPress web hosting, this time is no different either. You can easily switch your servers from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7 by going to “Server Management” tab, then under “Packages” select “PHP 7“. It is a matter of just a few clicks and a couple of minutes.

If you want to switch back to the older version, again, not an issue. You can always switch the version of PHP back to 5.6 whenever it is required. Although, upgrading your current servers with live websites to PHP 7 is not recommended until and unless you have gone through the following checklist:

  1. Make sure your WordPress version is compatible. The core of WordPress 4.4 and later are compatible with PHP 7.
  2. Make sure all your plugins and the current theme you are using on the live site are compatible with PHP 7.
  3. Any custom PHP code is compatible.

We will go over the process that we recommend for upgrading your current WordPress site to PHP 7.

But first, let’s have a look at the benchmarks. We tested WordPress on PHP 7. The result was 37,378 hits with 0 errors and 0 timeouts. Average response time was an impressive 4ms on vanilla WordPress 4.4 with caching.

WordPress Response Time

Tested under controlled environment

WordPress Hit Rate

Tested under controlled environment

If you compare these results with PHP 5.5, then you can see a very notable improvement in average response times.

WordPress on PHP 5.5 with caching resulted in 24,731 hits with 0 errors and 0 timeouts. The average response time was 208ms.

Recommended Method to Upgrade Your Live WordPress Site to PHP 7

As noted above, there are many things that one needs to check before upgrading their site to the latest version of PHP. Upgrading your PHP version is a major upgrade. Therefore, download a copy of the website before doing anything. You do not want to lose anything in experimentation.

On Cloudways, you can follow the following checklist to move your WordPress websites to PHP 7.

  1. PHP 7 is best supported on Debian 8 servers. Since February 16, 2016, we have started using Debian 8 on all new servers. If you have servers launched before that, then we suggest you launch a new server and clone your website(s) to the new server.
  2. After your website is cloned on the new server, navigate to Server Management tab -> Packages and select PHP 7.
  3. After your server upgrades to PHP 7, test all the features, plugins, and theme(s) of your WordPress website for compatibility.
  4. If everything seems to be in order, then point your domain to the new server to take your website live.

By the way, all of these tests were conducted under a controlled environment. This means they do reflect a real-time scenario, but results can vary from site to site. Why? Because it’s WordPress. There are ever so many variable parts, like plugins and themes. A poorly coded theme or plugin can result in slow loading times. Therefore, always try to use high-quality WordPress plugins and themes. (Oh yeah! Seriously stay away from pirated themes and plugins.)

Give WordPress a Try on Cloudways PHP 7 Hosting Server

How good is PHP 7 for your WordPress? Well, we think you will love it if you have a great WordPress website. So, you should really run your tests and tell us how did it go in the Comments section.

If you are still not a part of Cloudways, then I suppose you can really make use of these benchmarks to help you choose one of the most reliable Managed and faster WordPress hosting platforms. Sign up when you are convinced and we promise not to disappoint you.

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Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan is the Community Team Manager at Cloudways - A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform. He loves to solve problems and help Cloudways' clients in any aspect he can. In his free time, you can find him playing RTS PC games.

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