The Big PHP 5.6 Upgrade

Mar 4, 2016 | Blogs, Online Security

JSWeb are committed to providing the latest software on our web servers for optimum performance and security.

We will be updating the native (default) PHP version on our web servers to PHP 5.6.

PHP is a server-side scripting language designed for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. PHP is used by the vast majority of web sites hosted by Spiral Hosting.

The update has been scheduled for TUESDAY 8 MARCH 2016 @ 6am.

If your website uses out-of-date software, more than a few years old, it may not be compatible with PHP 5.6. You should always use the latest up-to-date software to keep your website safe and secure.

What you should do:

Before the update, make sure your website software is up to date and that the software supports PHP 5.6.

After the update (any time after 6am local server time), you should take time to thoroughly check your website(s) and make sure everything is working normally.

If you encounter a problem, here’s what to do:

  1. Check every part of your website(s) thoroughly. Make sure the homepage and all sub-pages are loading, including all dynamically generated content. 
  2. If there is a 500 (internal server) error on any part of the website, this could be because you have a custom php.ini file that is no longer compatible. Open the main directory of your website using an FTP program or the cPanel File Manager, find the php.ini file and re-name it to php.ini.old to fix the problem.
  3. A common cause of a PHP error message is out of date software or plugins, so make sure your website software supports PHP 5.6.
  4. If the website displays a blank white page, this is because PHP has suppressed an error message, saving it to a file called error_log located in the main directory of your website.
  5. If you need to roll back your web hosting account back to an older PHP version, you can do this in your cPanel control panel using the ‘Select PHP Version’ page. You can select PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 or 5.6 on this page. If your website has issues working on PHP 5.6, test it with PHP 5.5, then PHP 5.4, and finally PHP 5.3.If you have already selected a particular PHP version, it should remain active after the server update.
  6. If your website has a Contact form (or any PHP web script that sends outgoing email), make sure it’s working by submitting a test email. If it’s an e-commerce website, submit a test order.
  7. When a web script connects to an email server in PHP 5.6, the SSL certificate is validated.  This does not happen in PHP 5.5 or earlier. Therefore, the mail server must have a valid SSL certificate. Users connecting to a mail provider with a self-signed certificate will not be able to connect in PHP 5.6.

    Our own mail servers all use a valid SSL certificate so there shouldn’t be any problem connecting to them. It might be an issue with other email providers and some clients might need to revert to PHP 5.5.
  8. Importantly, PHP 5.6 also checks the certificate name matches, which means web scripts must connect to the actual mail server hostname (the server hostname listed in your hosting account signup email) instead of their mail hostname alias (mail.yourdomain.com).
  9. If you encounter any technical problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch and our team will be happy to assist you. Remember to include your website address, steps on how we can replicate the problem and also any PHP error message that you’ve encountered.
    Our phone lines will be closed on Tuesday 8th March 2016 to allow our team to fix any issues reported by support ticket as fast as possible.

We’re gradually rolling out some changes and we’re making sure our web servers have the latest software for both security and ease of use. It’s important to keep your site up to date so please make sure you check your site after the update has been completed at the time above.

As always, any questions, get in touch!