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Error messages when updating the PHP version of your website

As of January 2019, PHP versions 5.6 and 7.0 will no longer be updated, which means these versions can no longer be used safely. That's why we recommend updating the PHP version of your web hosting package to PHP 7.1 or 7.2 as soon as possible.

If you make it a habit of regularly updating your website, the upgrade to a new PHP version should not cause any difficulties. However, it can happen that your website is not displayed correctly after changing the PHP version. You might see an 'Internal Server Error' or a white page when this happens. This means that a part of your website is outdated and uses a feature that is no longer usable with PHP 7.1 or 7.2.

In this article we show you how to get your WordPress and Joomla! website working like it should after updating to PHP 7.1 and 7.2. If you use a Magento website or a custom website you built yourself, we recommend consulting the online documentation for troubleshooting.


Update your website

In most cases, updating your website and it's plug-ins (WordPress) or extensions (Joomla!) will do the trick. To do so, it is important to first change the PHP version back to the one you were using before. Steps on how to change your PHP version can be found in the article 'I want to change the PHP version of my website'.

After reverting the PHP version, log on to the Dashboard of your website and start the updates.

WordPress:

Joomla!

When you're done updating your website, you can change the PHP version back to 7.1 or 7.2. This is usually sufficient to make your website working correctly again.

If that's not the case, check if your plugins or extensions are still supported by its developers. If they are no longer supported, this could mean they are outdated and no longer usable with PHP 7.1 or higher. In that case we recommend replacing these with alternative plug-ins or extensions that receive more frequent updates and are still actively being supported.

If you are unable to find the culprit(s) this way, there are several ways to locate them.


Check your Error Log

If updating your website and its plugins and extensions did not help, we recommend checking the Error Log in your control panel. From here, head to the tab 'Domains & Hosting' at the top of the control panel. Next, select your domain name on the left hand side (don't tick the box). Now click on 'Manage your web site', followed by the cog wheel in the top right. Next, click on 'Error Log'.

You can now see an overview with errors present on your website. Take note that not all errors demand immediate attention. In this case you are looking for errors containing 'stderr'.

99% of the time, the 'stderr' error lets you know that your website or a part of it is incompatible with PHP 7.1 or higher.

error message with stderr

In the image shown above you can see that a part of the WordPress plugin WooCommerce is deprecated. This means that the specific part is outdated and requires an update. In this case you will not have to dig in the code of your website. An update of the plugin WooCommerce will suffice.

When there is no update present for the plugin or extension causing the problems, we recommend reinstalling it or searching for an alternative plugin or extension.


Manually check your plugins

In most cases, following the above-mentioned steps will be sufficient to get your WordPress or Joomla! website to work again. In some cases you may still see that your WordPress website isn't working, even though the Error Log doesn't show anything (useful). You will usually see a blank page if that's the case.

This means that one or more plugins are causing trouble. To troubleshoot this, we recommend logging on to your WordPress Dashboard and disabling all of your plugins. Next, enable the plugins one by one and check your website after each action.

This way, you will be able to find the culprit. Once found, change your PHP version to the one you were using before. Update the plugin or find an alternative to work with and change the PHP version back to 7.1 or 7.2.

This can also apply to the theme that you're using. In that case, try disabling your theme and repeat the steps above.


Custom PHP website

It's possible you've built your own PHP website, in stead of using WordPress or Joomla!. In that case we cannot offer direct support on troubleshooting this website, but there are several PHP tutorials to help you getting your website running on PHP 7.1 and higher.

  • If your website is running on PHP 5.6 and you wish to go to PHP 7.1 or higher, you can use this article.
  • If your website is running on PHP 7.0 and you wish to go to PHP 7.1 or higher, you can use this article.

MCrypt

MCrypt is a module within PHP and was used by default up until PHP 7.0. As of PHP 7.1 this is no longer the case and some CMS's like Magento are not yet prepared for this. This means that these CMS's are not fully compatible with PHP 7.1 and higher. If you see that MCrypt isn't working properly on your CMS, we recommend using OpenSSL. OpenSSL offers the same functionality and is compatible with PHP 7.1 and higher.

Please note that we do not offer direct support on this. If you wish to configure OpenSSL or MCrypt, we recommend consulting the online documentation on these features.



This article showed how to prepare your website for PHP 7.1 and higher.

If you have any questions regarding this article, do not hesitate to contact our support team. You can reach them by using the 'Contact us' bottom at the bottom of this page.

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