Every piece of popular software gets updated over time. PHP is no different.
PHP 7.4 is the latest version of PHP 7 at the time of this writing. It was originally rolled out November 28, 2019 and will receive security support until November 28, 2022. It also appears that PHP 7.4 may be the last of the PHP 7 releases, as PHP 8.0 was rolled out on November 26, 2020.
This is all great news, since each newer PHP version so far has continued to provide:
- considerable (but not total) backward compatibility
- faster execution speeds
- greater security.
We’ve seen many PHP upgrades since running WordPress over many, many years. Our preliminary testing has always shown that many WordPress plugins and themes don’t work seamlessly with new versions of PHP as they are rolled out. As for PHP 7.4, the WordPress core and its latest default themes do. Unfortunately, many sites will simply break if caution isn’t taken to ensure all of their components – the core, the plugins and the themes – are PHP 7.4 compliant. For this reason, we usually don’t switch PHP to the later version until we are confident most things will work. When you think about the many thousands of themes and plugins out there for WordPress, it is no surprise that sometimes this takes longer than a year.
WordPress PHP notifications
PHP versions older than PHP 7.2 now trigger the red circle with an exclamation point PHP notification that administrative users see in the WordPress dashboard.
PHP update required notification
Site Health Status – Should be improved
Bear in mind that WordPress only issues a warning about 7.1 and lower. The red notice in the dashboard is not shown for higher versions. Navigating to Tools > Site Health yields more details about site health.
Site Health – Should be Improved
Site Health Status – 1 critical issue – running outdated version of PHP 7.1 requires an update
PHP 7.2 just went to end of life November 30, 2020 – hence the red PHP update required notice that shows in the dashboard for anything older than 7.2 doesn’t show if you are running PHP 7.2 and above.
Site Health Status – Good
PHP 7.2 which should be updated
If you are running PHP 7.3 (or newer) you will not get the red notice described above. However, in the site health you will see an indication stating “Your site is running an older version of PHP (7.3.x) which worries many when they see it.
Site Health – Good
Site Health Status – 1 recommended improvement – running an older version of PHP – PHP 7.3.25
The fact is that PHP 7.3 will be receiving security updates until December 6, 2021. Given that, there is plenty of time to get ready for PHP 7.4.
Site Health Status – Good
PHP 7.2 and above
The plan at CharlesWorks is to make PHP 7.4 available in the upcoming months. When that happens, you will notice that each of the PHP 7.x versions you see in the DirectAdmin interface will be bumped up by one version. So you will always still be able to go back to 7.3 if needed.
PHP 8.0 was released on November 26, 2020 with an expected security support date of October 26, 2023. There appears to be more incompatibility between it and PHP 7. CharlesWorks would not expect to roll this version out until nearer the end of 2021. Let’s give the world a chance to find all of the bugs for us.
Sometimes in a WordPress website an issue develops where when loading images into media library, only a blank thumbnail shows. It appears a space is created in the database for the picture but there is no content in it.
After testing compatibility of plugins, themes, php, etc., the problem persisted.
To resolve this, one can navigate here logged into WordPress as an administrator:
Go to Dashboard > Settings > Media
Make sure the correct default file path is showing there. When troubleshooting this issue on a site that was unable to upload media files, the file path was shown as:
Note that the “username” and “thedomainname.com” in the above and below path examples will be the Linux username and the actual site domain name respectively that you are troubleshooting.
When this path was removed, the image file upload worked normally again and the problem appeared to be solved.
Possible Reasoning or Causes
In the DirectAdmin path structure, there are two places the website’s servable coding (like WordPress or HTML sites or Joomla, etc.) might be stored:
The “public_html” folder is where DirectAdmin normally places the website’s code (again, referring to all the files and programs that make up the actual WordPress or HTML or Joomla site’s coding, etc.).
The “private_html” folder is where DirectAdmin normally tries to place the website’s code when its content is encrypted. That’s why there is an option in DirectAdmin’s site control panel that allows one to “Use a symbolic link from private_html to public_html”. This option allows for using the same data in http and https.
The suspicion here is that a setting got changed or an update occurred causing the WordPress system to use the private_html setting when the site resides in public_html. Removing the file path from the settings forced WordPress to use where the system actually defaulted to – which cleared the problem.
We may never know how the setting actually got bunged up, but it is an easy fix once it is.
Almost all businesses get the usual spam SEO (Search Engine Optimization) phone calls.
Recently, one of my web clients took one. As a result of such calls, she emailed me. She expressed a lot of concern about having been told very negative things about her web traffic and website operation. It sounded like he was trying to get her to spend money. Money she’d never see a return on her investment for.
High-pressure sales tactics are something I have instructed staff in all our years in business to avoid. CharlesWorks policy forbids selling clients anything they don’t need. The difficulty is that there are so many spammers and scammers out there sending the same messages that people believe them. You can tell the same lie a thousand times and it’s still a lie.
Among the thousands of websites we’ve handled, her particular business is very unique – especially during the COVID-19 epidemic. Her classes are limited regarding how many people she can have in them at any given time. I told her that she is the one who knows best what should be on her website. And she is the one who knows best what she has to offer and when she can offer it.
The nature of her business, it seemed to me, is based more on a following she has developed over time. And she is limited as to how many people at a time she can physically handle. And – much as I hate to say this – COVID is going to remain a thought in many people’s minds – at least through this upcoming winter season. Things will change when a vaccine is widely available. However, common sense dictates it will be a while before everyone generally has access to it.
I suggested she shouldn’t spend more than she absolutely has to – to just keep her business operational. Those small business owners who can stay in business through this pandemic will be the ones who do great once they reach the other side of this.
It’s troubling that someone had pressured her enough to do work on her site that she became stressed over it. Sales people who proceed with such a hard sell attitude are clearly desperate for work. Desperate people are not working with their customer’s best interest in mind. My advise is to not talk to these people.
My suggestions for dealing with these really hard line sales calls are:
- “Remove me from your calling list.” Tell them to remove you from their calling list. Once you say those words, they are supposed to do so by law. I regularly tell spammers this, and they generally don’t bother to call back.
- Block their phone number. Block their number through whatever mechanism your telephone carrier has set up to do that. I do this on a pretty regular basis with the robocalls (which are actually illegal in most cases) and take a few minutes to report them at the https://www.donotcall.gov/report.html site.
- Visit the National Do Not Call Registry. Go to https://www.donotcall.gov where you can put your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. Mine have been on this for many years.
While these suggestions don’t stop all the spam calls you’ll get, they do stop many.
Every small business owner can and should review their website. They should ensure that everything is up to date for offerings and schedules. That only costs them a few minutes. Because CharlesWorks charges for changes by the minute, those kinds of changes only incur those minutes of charges.
I hope this is helpful to you!
We’ve published plenty of information in the past about domain names. We’re always learning a little more and how to explain information to out clients as time passes.
Whether your domain name is for personal use or for your business, we hope you find the following tips to be helpful.
Having words pertinent to your business in your domain are increasingly important. Simplistically put, search engine algorithms (the math formulae used to compute the importance or value of words contained in your site) rank the importance of web sites according to words. Many businesses use a domain name to describe the name of their business and, in addition to that, own domains which contain keywords which are present in their website.
If possible, you should use the name of your business as all or part of one of your domain names. This will make it easier for your clients or potential clients to remember you and to find you on the web (like CharlesWorks.com – CharlesWorks is the name of our business).
More general domain names are most likely already registered to other businesses (of course it doesn’t hurt to check with us first). It’s still a good idea to have more general name(s) associated with your business as one of your domains (that’s why we also own HostingNH.net, which will take visitors to our CharlesWorks.net site).
TLDs stands for Top Level Domains. TLDs are the extensions on the tail end of the domain, such as .biz, .club, .co, .com, .net, .org, .ws, etc. The most popular TLDs are .com and .net. If you find that your domain is already registered, you might try for an alternate TLD (for example, RobinSnow.com was already taken, so Robin acquired and uses RobinSnow.net).
Although you can obtain them, we recommend not using hyphens for your business domain name. Most people who are searching for your site will not use a hyphen. You are better off to try a different TLD or a variation of your domain name.
Variations can be an option if your general business name is already registered (for example ScrapbookCabin.com was not available to one of our clients, so at the time she registered NHScrapbookCabin.com instead).
Relinquishing or giving up existing names
We have seen many horror stories concerning giving up existing domain names. Sometimes one will end up having to get a similar domain name because control over the preferred name could not be gained. An example would be where another party has control over one’s .com name and the website is down and the webmaster cannot be reached or is non-responsive. If we are to take over the services we would recommend getting the .net to the original .com of the domain name if it were available. This allows us to get the site up and at least people can be sent to that site pending transfer of the .com when it is possible. In some cases it never became possible and the site will continue using the .net domain.
Once a domain name has been in service, traffic is generated to it. For that reason, many expired or relinquished domain names are snatched up. One situation like this in the Manchester NH area involved a church giving up a domain name they did not want to use anymore (it was a version of the Church’s name that had been in use for many years and they just decided to change it and dropped the domain name). It saved them about $15 a year. However, the embarrassment was priceless when a porn company acquired that domain name and put a porn site up on it. The annual cost of a domain is truly cheap insurance against one’s domain name being used for phishing, porn, Viagra, or whatever.
There is absolutely no obligation of any kind to click the red button below and check out your domain possibilities!
Already have a domain name? Click on the red button below to transfer it so we can get you online here at CharlesWorks!
Or CALL CharlesWorks at 603-924-9867 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday or go to https://CharlesWorks.com/contact outside of regular hours and we will help you find one!
Something many folks overlook is occasionally checking their website’s functionality. I recommend doing this every couple weeks, but at minimum once a month.
Most websites and the servers they are on are subjected to ongoing software updates. Unless you are paying an additional fee for maintenance checks, it’s normal for things to occasionally break due to updates.
Most website owners are not paying additional fees for such maintenance. This means you really need to take the time to check:
– that the site appears to work properly
– that your hours of operation are correct
– that any website forms are working
– that email addresses are correct
The site operation and forms are most susceptible to software updates. If you have a good web developer, the fixes will happen quickly and it will not cost you too much.
Website maintenance should be thought of like automotive maintenance. We get oil changes. We get inspections. We even make modifications and do repairs to keep our vehicle operating the way we want. And our older vehicles can cost more to upkeep – just like older websites. As websites age, more work needs to be done to keep them secure and working as originally intended.
So check your site every now and then to keep things working and have the correct information out there!