The Importance of Keeping Your OpenCart Website Up to Date

Why do I need to update my OpenCart Website?

Upgrading any software is often a tricky task, as it requires an in-depth understanding of the system requirements, settings and other parameters. Because of this, it is common for people to run into issues when they update their OpenCart, such as losing contacts, orders, categories and other such important data.

At Welford, we offer a range of OpenCart services, where we can do all the legwork for you to keep your website up to date. Let’s take a look at what PHP means and why it’s so important to keep both your PHP and your OpenCart version up to date!

What Is a PHP Update?

You’d be forgiven if a PHP update isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about best practices to keep your website up to date. You may be more familiar with updating themes and plugins or making sure your website is GDPR-compliant. However, a PHP update is just as important to ensure your website is performing to the best of its ability.

We realise this is another acronym in the infinite world of web development, so let’s start from the beginning. PHP (or Hypertext Preprocessor) is the general-purpose scripting language used for web development. Whatever hosting software your website is built on will determine which version(s) of PHP are available to you.

Why do I need to upgrade the PHP on my OpenCart website?

So why, I hear you ask, do you need to update your PHP version if your website runs perfectly well on the PHP version it was built on? The answer is that it doesn’t, or at least nowhere near as well as it could. There are two main benefits when you upgrade PHP.

Speed and efficiency

Firstly, a PHP update will allow your website to run faster, as each updated PHP version becomes more efficient than the last. By upgrading to OpenCart’s latest recommended PHP version, your website performance will increase and consequently offer a much more frictionless experience to your visitors.

Think of this as updating your IOS on your iPhone. You wouldn’t stay stuck on an older version of IOS with all its subsequential lags and technical difficulties if a newer version was available. The same logic applies to updating your PHP version.

A PHP update offers a host of secondary benefits, too! A faster OpenCart website will be rewarded by search engines, meaning you’ll rank higher in search. Not to mention, your website is often the first touch point your customers have with your brand, and what better way to make a good first impression than a responsive, effective website?


Secondly, a PHP update will make your website more secure.

Because it’s such a widely used software, PHP is a target for hackers. As time progresses and technology develops, older versions of PHP become more vulnerable to hackers looking to steal sensitive data, so updating your PHP version is essential to give your OpenCart website all the latest security features that older versions won’t have.

A more secure website protected against hackers could save you the cost and reputational damage associated with a compromised site.

If all these benefits of a PHP update sound good to you, stay with us while we give you all the tools necessary to update your PHP version on your OpenCart website and make it the best it’s ever been.

What are the risks of not updating my PHP?

Failing to update your PHP version doesn’t just mean you’re a bit behind the times – it can have potentially very serious implications for your website, brand and business.

  • Lack of support

Each version of PHP is fully supported for two years from its initial stable release, meaning that any reported bugs or security issues are fixed and patches released regularly. Then, the version will have a year of reduced support, where only critical security issues will be addressed.

After three years, that version of PHP is considered to be at the end of life and will no longer be supported.

At the time of writing, PHP version 8.0 is coming to the end of security support, and versions 7.4 and earlier are no longer supported at all.

  • Data breaches

If you’re using an outdated PHP version, you’re not up to date with the latest security updates – this can leave your website vulnerable to hacking or data breaches. The latest updates can include fixes for security glitches or weaknesses to keep both you and your clients’ data safe.

  • Slow loading times

An outdated website may be slow to load or use excessive memory space, which can turn potential customers away. Google also penalises slow loading speeds, which can mean that you don’t rank as well in search, meaning your website doesn’t get seen by as many people.

  • Missing out on new features

This might sound a bit unnecessary, but it’s important that you remain aware of any new features in more recent PHP updates, because missing out could put you at a serious disadvantage against your competitors. Don’t worry if the features go over your head – at Welford, our team can help you understand how they benefit your website!

  • Reputation damage

Any of the above issues can lead to damage to your business’s reputation – as a customer, if a business had your personal information stolen, took ages to load each page or was lacking a key feature that a different company had, you would be more likely to switch to the competitor. A fast, secure site is the best way to keep your user experience at its best.

Updating Your OpenCart Website

Installing the upgraded version of OpenCart is mandatory for keeping your platform up-to-date with functionalities, extensions and bug fixes that allow your website to run to the best of its ability.

As OpenCart doesn’t receive updates – only new versions - you’ll need to start your entire website from scratch for a fresh install of the latest stable version of OpenCart.

At Welford, we are able to build your website in the latest version of OpenCart and migrate all the data over for you from the previous store so that no crucial data is lost. When we build the new and improved site, we use the latest version of PHP supported by the platform to create the website.

Why update your OpenCart version?

The reasons for keeping your OpenCart version up to date are very similar to those for your PHP version, but with the added point that an outdated version of OpenCart may not be able to run newer versions of PHP, meaning your website would have even more potential weaknesses. For example, if your OpenCart website is currently running on OpenCart 2, then you may not be able to move past PHP version 7.2, which has not received updates or support since late 2020.

Older versions of OpenCart also won’t be able to support the PHP version which are still in active development.

Developing a new and updated OpenCart website gives you the opportunity to enhance your customers’ user experience on your website, streamline your navigation and include any management features you would like to minimise your admin time on your website.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I update my PHP or OpenCart website by myself?

It’s vital that your OpenCart or PHP update is undertaken carefully, by someone who knows what they’re doing, to avoid any errors which could negatively impact your website.

Attempting to update your PHP or OpenCart version by yourself could result in security risks, loss of functionality and even significant downtime for your website.

At Welford, we’re well-experienced in updating PHP versions by creating a fresh install of the latest stable version and migrating your website onto it – we find that this is the most efficient and seamless method for updating your PHP version without running into any serious problems or impacting your business.

  • Is it possible to only update my PHP version?

We are often asked if it’s possible to simply update the PHP; this may be possible, but only in certain circumstances. If you are on the latest stable version of OpenCart, we may be able to manually find, test and fix any compatibility errors on a staging site. However, if your website’s theme or design was not created by us, then this can create other risks, and we would always recommend starting fresh to ensure that you don’t run into any long-term problems.

If you have worked with us on your website, we would be happy to discuss your options with regard to your website’s update.

  • I’ve seen a company that will do the work very cheap – should I go with them instead?

At Welford, we firmly believe that you get what you pay for. There are plenty of companies that will offer you seemingly jaw-dropping deals for updating your PHP version or OpenCart, but often, they won’t have the expertise to support you when something goes wrong. This can result in significant downtime or your website not working at all, and you will need to hire a different company to clean up the mess – in the end, any money you have saved will be spent on fixing the problems!

At Welford, we are a small team with almost two decades of experience in designing, building and upgrading OpenCart websites, so we can ensure that your migration is as seamless as possible.

Taking these steps will ensure you’ve put your OpenCart website in the best possible position to update your PHP – and enjoy all the benefits that come with it! Take a look at our OpenCart upgrade services so we can take care of all the boring things for you, while you get on with running your business. For any other OpenCart solutions, check out our full range of OpenCart services or get in touch with our team today.

Ready to talk about updating your OpenCart website?

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