This post is to announce upcoming work which will have to be performed on several of our web servers. Servers run software in the same way that your home or work computer does, and periodically that software has to be upgraded as it reaches its end-of-life. Remember how Windows XP went away because it no longer received updates? That was because it reached its end-of-life. Here at Network Solutions, Inc. we run our web servers on what is called LTS (Long Term Support) releases, but even those have to be upgraded every 5 years.
Normally, the process of upgrading would be fairly seamless and we just do it “behind the scenes”. However, this time PHP (the scripting language powering most websites) is going to be getting a major release upgrade. The current PHP 5 version running on some of our web servers is also reaching end-of-life in December, so we are having to move to the newer PHP 7.x branch. This is significant because PHP 7.x has broken a lot of backward-compatibility in the interest of increased security.
What this means to you: If you have an older, unmaintained site (meaning that your web designer is not actively keeping your software up-to-date), your site may break or lose some functionality when these upgrades occur. If you are using WordPress, the core product is fine, but your theme or plugins may have trouble if they have not been updated. As part of your hosting, we automatically upgrade your WordPress core, plugins, and themes, but this only happens if updates are available. Plugins and themes are sometimes abandoned and no longer receive updates. This may result in problems on your site if those are incompatible with PHP 7.x.
If your site breaks completely, we will do our best to move you to a legacy server which will not receive security updates. It is imperative that you make arrangements to have the site updated/fixed before April when we will retire the legacy server completely. We will be glad to work with you on this process. If your site requires a small update/fix, we may be able to handle it for you with little to no cost. However, some sites may take a total redesign to become functional again. If you find that your site has lost functionality, please contact us at 256-547-6817 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to test every aspect of every page of every site we host, so we do rely on reports from the site owners to know if there is a problem with their site.
We will be contacting customers whose sites “live” on the servers moving from PHP 5.x to 7.x via postal mail as well. If you receive one of these letters, please do your best to check through your site thoroughly and let us know if there are any issues.
Update 11/20 – Some work will be commencing tonight through an extended maintenance windows starting after normal business hours. Some sites will be unavailable for a time as servers upgrade/reboot. We will do our best to minimize this downtime and will be posting updates here.
Update 6:45pm – The updates have started in earnest.
Update 8:35pm – We’ve had a setback on some of the updates. Some services are experiencing longer downtimes than expected.
Update 9:25pm – We’ve repaired the major issue and almost all issues are resolved. We will be working on an individual basis beyond this point until the next large update.