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Summary: always offers the latest version of PHP for fast and secure sites

Alternative PHP Engines

By default, uses the PHP7 as its PHP driver because it is widely supported in the WordPress community and the vast majority of plugins will work with it. Alternative engines have however also been available and customers can easily change the PHP version in use.

PHP versions

The PHP version can be modified by making a (or modifying an existing) file in /data/wordpress/nginx/*.conf that contains the line:

set $mode php7.3;

Currently available options are: php7, php7.3, php7.2, php7.0, php5.6. The version php5 is an alias for php5.6 and php7 is an alias for php7.0.

If for some reason an older PHP version is preferred, just add a line to Nginx conguration for example in a file named /data/wordpress/nginx/php.conf

set $mode php7.1;

Remember to reload the Nginx configuration afterwards with wp-restart-nginx.

The same instructions work both in our Vagrant box and on the live server. When you make the Nginx configuration part of your development repository, all your development, staging and production environments will use the same PHP back-end across the board.


For a performance boost we used to offer the option of using the Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM) instead of PHP as the WordPress driver. HHVM was a massive improvement over PHP5 in speed, but sometimes suffered from stability and compatibility issues. Now when PHP7 has been in general availability for over a year, HHVM is not offered for new WordPress instances any more as HHVM has been deprecated in favour of PHP7.