Before you commit to your hosting partner for your website, double check if it really covers all of your requirements to run the tools that you need. Most basic web hosting partners do cover the base requirements for popular tools like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal but just to be sure, it is best that you understand WHY you need these things.
Simply put, PHP is the language spoken by your database and your website that helps you get the right type of information at a given time. You can think of this as having a library of your own, where you have rows and rows of books and information then your librarian speaks a particular language, let’s say Latin. You need to understand how to properly speak his language so that you can get the right book to the right borrower.
Of course, as a website owner, you don’t need to know PHP per se and how to write its code. You just need to make sure that the hosting partner you are getting, provides the right version so that easy to understand tools like WordPress, can run smoothly.
What makes PHP so popular is that it is free to use and there are so many options for tools that developers can leverage from to make coding easier. It can help you create a really optimized web server and at the same time, make your graphical user interface or GUI at par with the latest trends. So it is not just a “backend” type of language, it can be used for front-end, as well.
PHP helps you manage all of the data you have that is necessary to run your website. If you are running an online travel booking site, for example, you need a content management system or CMS that allows you to do the following:
- Add new travel packages with photos, without asking a developer to do it
- Edit existing travel packages
- Sort through all of your travel packages by price, destination, inclusions etc.
- Allow third party payment gateways to integrate to your site
- Allow search boxes for your users so that they can also search through your travel package options
- Disable and enable travel packages
- Move your whole database to a new platform without having to rebuild everything from scratch
- Store and manage multi-media properties such as videos, PDF forms and photo galleries
- Run and display reports according to your number of bookings made per month, on a per price point basis and on a per package category.
These are just a few of the most basic features that a tool like Drupal, Joomla or WordPress can provide, if your hosting partner supplies the required PHP version.
So what are these requirements? We’ve categorized it according to the following popular platforms.
- WordPress requires: PHP version 5.2.4 or higher accompanied by MySQL version 5.0 or higher for the latest version of WordPress. If you can make do with an earlier version, which is WordPress 3.2, then you can go for PHP 4.3 and MySQL 4.1.2. But we highly recommend you go for the latest version so that you inherit all optimizations and bug fixes.
- Drupal version 6 requires PHP 5.2. Note that the support for PHP 4.x versions have been dropped by the Drupal team. For the latest version of Drupal, which is Drupal 8, you need at least PHP 5.4.
- Joomla 3.x version requires PHP 5.3.1 or higher but for best results, go with PHP 5.4. Older versions of Joomla like Joomla 2.5x can make do with PHP 5.2.4.
- PHP has a variety of uses. For a simple illustration, here are some examples on how running the right version of PHP can help speed up the processing for your web server and your web site as a whole:
- Minimize repetitive code work by having optimized means of gathering and displaying data. This helps you conserve the memory allocation in your server and at the same time, make your site display faster.
- Avoid “locking” of databases when there are too many requests being handled by the server. When a database locks, it prevents other requests from coming in and usually results to the “Internal Server Error” issue on your website.
- Allows you to use the latest libraries to make coding easier and faster, making your launch date practical and achievable.
PHP requirements are readily available for checking from your hosting partner. If you are not sure, just Google your hosting partner’s name along with the keywords “PHP specifications” and you should get your answer within just a matter of seconds.