I’m writing this as a reminder to myself as well as a warning to others. I have experienced a few occasions when updating WordPress, components of WordPress or server software has had undesirable side effects. (Check out “Why I hate WordPress – a cautionary tale” for example.)

In this case, I was about to start working on a new version of a site. It had been decided that I would work in a sub directory of the existing site. The existing site should remain unaffected while the work was taking place.

After installing WordPress and logging in, the first thing I see is “PHP Update Required – WordPress has detected that your site is running on an insecure version of PHP.” I am also aware that updating PHP should improve the performance of the site so I thought it was something that was worth doing.

Unfortunately, because I was just working in a folder off the existing site, updating PHP for new site meant the existing site would also be updated. OK I thought, I’ll give it a try and test everything is still working afterwards. So I did, and it was (or so I thought).

The following day, I found out that the client could no longer make any changes to their existing site. Was it something I had done? It didn’t take me long to realise that it was probably the PHP change that had caused the problem. I had made notes about the changes I had made, so I knew I was able to change it back, so I did, and thankfully everything started to work again. Phew!

What have I learned?

I guess the lesson is – don’t make any changes that could potentially affect a live site and don’t believe everything WordPress tells you.