Update: 8th August 2013 12:15
The planned upgrade described below has now been completed. Server side everything went smoothly with absolutely no issues at all. The current PHP version is now 5.4.17.
A random selection of web sites have been tested and all but one so far appear to be working fine. The one that isn’t is running a version 1 release of Joomla from 2007, so this is expected.
Clients hosted on this server are now strongly recommended to fully test their website(s) and ensure they are still working as before. If you find any issues, please report these to your web developer and tell them about the PHP upgrade if you have not already made them aware of this.
As part of this upgrade we have also doubled the CPU capacity on this system; this in conjunction with PHP 5.4’s much more efficient code base, should see an improvement in processing times across the board.
On Thursday 8th August 2013 starting at 10am UK time (BST), I will be upgrading PHP on our US solar powered shared hosting server (spot.athnic.net) from version 5.2.10 to 5.4.17 (or the current release in that moment). This server is a pure web server, it runs no other services, databases and emails are all on other systems.
This notice only applies to users hosted on this particular web server. We have emailed all contacts we know of that are hosted on this system already. If you’re uncertain, please click here to access your client login area, then click on “Show Quota” and check which “Power source” is listed for your user – if this shows “solar energy” then you are on this server.
For the majority, there will be no impact, but for a number of clients, it could mean their web sites will no longer work.
The only reason a site would fail to run following the upgrade is due to PHP code that has long been deprecated (out of date since 2009 or earlier) and should not be in use today. Websites that do not use PHP code will be unaffected.
If you are on this server and your site uses PHP code then you need to take action now and check your website is ready for PHP 5.4.17.
If you have any questions regarding how this may affect your website you will need to contact your web developer, this is not something we can assist with. Please review our roles policy document for a clearer insight into the roles and responsibilities of ourselves and our clients.
For progress reports on the day and at any point where you suspect service interruption, please always check our Twitter feed (twitter.com/ecohost) before contacting us (click here to read more about this and our service status page).
Additional Background Information
The history of this particular shared hosting server goes right back to the start of Ecological Hosting in 2005. Therefor it has a higher probability that some of the customer website code running on this system will be out of date to the point that a statistically significant number of PHP coded websites may break following this particular change.
For comparison, a similar, but smaller version jump (5.3 to 5.4) on our newer UK shared hosting system resulted in less than 1% of hosted domains being affected (only a few sites out of hundreds).
The reasons this system is locked on PHP 5.2.10 are historical and go back to the time PHP 5.3 was first released and the number of deprecated features this brought into play. We held off on the upgrade to allow time for 3rd party developers to catch up with this major PHP change so that clients could obtain suitably updated versions of the software they were running.
This was meant to be a temporary situation, but for various other reasons, this particular server ended up remaining locked on this release of PHP for a number of years, so at this point in time we are now well beyond any reasonable hold period for this.
All of our other systems are currently running the latest 5.4.17 version of PHP released 4th July this year and are updated regularly. This is the only server remaining on an old release. This a security risk to ourselves and our clients and it also prevents users on this system accessing many of the latest improvements and benefits that come with PHP 5.4 and also some software that requires 5.3 or higher to run because of the new features.