What is PHP on My WordPress Site and Why Would I Be Billed For It?

PHP is programming that is customarily included as a free feature on a shared hosting account. If you have a WordPress website you should be aware it and how it may effect the cost of your site.

What is PHP?

PHP is a programming language that is used for WordPress websites, WordPress plugins, and for functions like contact forms on some websites that don’t use WordPress. PHP is installed by your hosting company on your server and the PHP code on your website uses this programming to create pages, blog posts, run contact forms, and more!

Why a PHP upgrade?

PHP is upgraded periodically by its developers, just like Windows and other programs are upgraded. The version available on most hosting accounts at this time is 7.2. When WordPress updates and plugin updates are made somtimes the updates include code that relies on a newer version of PHP, so it’s important to have an up to-date version of PHP software on the server.

How is PHP updated on the server?

The easiest and therefore the preferred way to update PHP on the server is to login to your hosting account and select to use a newer version of PHP.

However…

Some hosting companies are now “monetizing” PHP. Here are two examples.

The first PHP tale involved a client’s website that slowed down to a snail’s pace. A check of the hosting account revealed that it was operating with a very old version of PHP. However, we could not easily update the PHP. The hosting company required the website be moved to a new server that had the newer version of PHP installed. This move was expensive and time consuming because the new server was more expensive and there was a charge to move the site.

The next upgrade issue was a real slick maneuver that just doesn’t feel right to the client (or me). A client received a letter from their hosting company. It said the client would be assessed an additional $8.71 per year for their failure to upgrade to a newer version of PHP. So the client called and the PHP was updated however the additional billing was still in place. It eventually took my intervention to get the charges removed. Frankly, I’ve never seen any other hosting company that initiates an upgrade at the client’s expense if not requested by the client.

Design to Spec doesn’t sell hosting. Because we’re not aligned with any one company we know how many of the hosting providers work and can make sound recommendations on their plans and customer service. Ask us.

The Top 5 Hosting Company Irritations

I love hosting companies because they do what the small business shouldn’t do … host a website. It takes up-to-date hardware, on-site technical talent, and a safe, clean environment to operate a server. HOWEVER, there are several things that hosting companies do that are annoyances.

Bad Answers. There’s nothing more annoying than calling customer service and getting a “bad” answer to a technical question. Bad answers force additional phone calls to get “good” answers. I spent two weeks going back and forth with one hosting company when email wouldn’t send through an on-site form. I could get the same form to work on another site and a different hosting account (with the same company) which means it worked on a different server. They told me it was a configuration error. When I finally got hold of an interested rep who escalated the problem the found that there was a server problem on their end that had been causing the problem all along. It shouldn’t take ten phone calls to work through a question.

The 72 Hour Wait. This really is a bad answer but it deserves a category of it’s own. Remember when you were told by a hosting company to sit back and wait 24 hours for something to propagate? Then it went to 36 hours and now it’s 72 hours!

Server Installed Plugins. For WordPress users this can be a nightmare. I’ve had hosting companies who install plugins and the site will only work with them and if a client inadvertently deletes the plugin the hosting company has no means of re-installing the plugin. The latest issue is a plugin installed by a large hosting company on their WordPress hosting that requires the client to “flush the cache” every time they post to their blog. If they don’t, then the post isn’t seen on all devices.

“Due to High Call Volume…” This message every time you call a hosting company should be a red flag. If call volume is that high all the time… then hire more people!

Old PHP. The script and plugins that run WordPress require up-to-date PHP. Why would a hosting company offer a product specifically called WordPress hosting that doesn’t have options to update to the latest version of PHP? I’ve seen hosting companies charge client to move their entire site to a new server with up-to-date PHP rather than update their current server. Other hosting companies offer no option at all to upgrade or move to a current version of PHP.

I remain an independent consultant. I’m not an affiliate nor have I ever been one for any hosting company. If you need help getting your WordPress site launched and you want to start off with the right hosting. Give me a call and let’s work through your options.

GoDaddy Puppy Ad Looks Desperate and Damages Their Brand

My dog says Godaddy puppy ad sucks!

GoDaddy Puppy Ad is disturbing and hard for web designers to explain. What were they thinking when making this puppy commercial for The Super Bowl. They’ve had an ad or two before- I know many of my women clients wanted to see GoDaddy end the bodice-ripping females in their ads. I’m truly thankful that Jean Claude Van Damme isn’t in this GoDaddy ad as his creep-factor was off the scale!

Ad Taints GoDaddy’s Services

As a dog lover (we’ve got 3 rescue dogs) I find GoDaddy’s use of a puppy disturbing. No one likes to see a dog in distress or being so aggressively exploited. The shock factor (and this even surpasses the creep factor of Jean Claude Van Damme’s ads), is that the puppy looks like they are about to be rescued when SNAP! he’s traveled all the way back to the a puppy mill whose one goal is the “get ’em sold.” That’s pretty brutal. Dark humor? This may be one ad that’s going to need some explaining.

What does the ad say about GoDaddy and their services? I think the ad misrepresents the brand because it has very little to do with what GoDaddy does. I was eating lunch and watching Access Hollywood when they were discussing the ad. I guess a couple of tinsel-town hosts are pretty much average non-techy folk — they couldn’t even explain what GoDaddy does for it’s business (It’s something website-y, right?).  Did they confuse a whole segment of America who now may think make websites for shady businesses?

GoDaddy’s Competitors Already Rally

I think the worse thing about this Godaddy puppy ad — and it won’t be the screams from PETA or the ASPCA — is that people will think that GoDaddy’s services are for disreputable people, low-lifes– the kind of cruel and heartless people who run puppy mills.  Yuck, who wants to be associated with that! I got a good laugh out of the Google search for the GoDaddy puppy video– Host Gator, a competitor, has on their website that they “love puppies”— It’s a cartoon of Snappy their alligator mascot with a puppy. I don’t think I’d let my dog play with an alligator, but it’s less disturbing than the GoDaddy ad and pretty funny how they are aligning against the backlash that’s bound to hit GoDaddy.

GoDaddy Puppy Ad Too Hard to Explain to Clients

GoDaddy may have just crossed the boundary between getting good publicity and bad publicity. I really hope GoDaddy issues a statement because I’d love to hear how they explain this ad. PLEASE issue a statement… as a web designer who has recommended the quality of GoDaddy’s services for years I’d like to know how to explain this ad to my clients!  We may be at the point where they are beyond explanation.