Raising the minimum version of MySQL required in WordPress 6.5

With the release of WordPress 3.2 in 2011, the minimum version of MySQLMySQL MySQL is a relational database management system. A database is a structured collection of data where content, configuration and other options are stored. https://www.mysql.com/. required to run the software was updated from 4.1.2 to 5.0. While the recommended version of MySQL (or MariaDB) is frequently updated to suggest using only officially supported versions, the same has not happened for the required version and this minimum has remained the same since.

MySQL 5.0 was initially made generally available in 2005 and reached its end of life (EOL) in January of 2012, making it unsupported and insecure for over 12 years. This is extremely old and this requirement is being raised.

In WordPress 6.5 (as of [57173]), the minimum required version of MySQL will be raised from 5.0 to 5.5.5. 

Why version 5.5?

This sounds like a big jump and appears to discontinue support for 5 versions. However, MySQL versions 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4 were never officially released. Here are the current percentages of sites using each MySQL version for all WordPress sites according to the WordPress.org Stats page (the EOL date for each release is noted in parenthesis):

  • 5.0: 0.13% (January 2012)
  • 5.1: 0.27% (December 2013)
  • 5.5: 14.54% (December 2018)
  • 5.6: 4.51% (February 2021)
  • 5.7: 33.01% (October 2023)
  • 8.0: 11.67% (April 2026)

Note: This only includes versions released prior to the MySQL Innovation/Long-Term Support versioning strategy that was recently announced.

Only 0.4% of all sites are running MySQL < version 5.5. Additionally, 80% of those sites are running a version of WordPress greater than 2 years old (6.1 or earlier). Approximately 15% of all sites are running MySQL 5.5.

Even though the EOL date for version 5.5 has also long passed, the level of usage in the wild is far too high to consider using a required minimum higher than that at this time.

Why 5.5.5 specifically and not just 5.5?

Of all sites currently running MySQL 5.5, over 85% of them are running the 5.5.5 point releaseMinor Release A set of releases or versions having the same minor version number may be collectively referred to as .x , for example version 5.2.x to refer to versions 5.2, 5.2.1, 5.2.3, and all other versions in the 5.2 (five dot two) branch of that software. Minor Releases often make improvements to existing features and functionality. with no usage of 5.5.0-5.5.4 being reported.

Using 5.5.5 also ensures two things:

  • The presence of utf8mb4 support (added in MySQL 5.5.3)
  • InnoDB is the default storage engine instead of MyISAM (added in 5.5.5).

While WordPress is perfectly capable of using other character sets, utf8mb4 is the preferred default, falling back to utf8 when it’s unavailable.

How does this affect MariaDB support?

In short, it doesn’t. The MariaDB project used a numbering strategy identical to MySQLs through version 5.5. While MySQL 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4 were not released, MariaDB 5.2 and 5.3 were. This change will effectively drop support for those two releases of MariaDB, These versions reached EOL in 2010 and 2011, respectively. There is currently no reported usage of these two versions in the wild.

What about new versions of MySQL or MariaDB?

There will continue to be no upper limit to the version of MySQL or MariaDB a site owner is allowed to run. As new versions are released, contributors work to evaluate and address any compatibility issues when and if they are discovered.

With MySQL 8.1 and MariaDB 10.0, both projects moved towards a release model with both short and long term releases. A larger discussion needs to take place focused on how this concept fits within the project’s commitment to backwards compatibility and version support policies. However, this post is not for that discussion. Keep an eye on this blogblog (versus network, site) for a separate post outlining and contextualizing those related challenges.

Wait, Site Health already says 5.5 is the minimum required version…

That’s right! Since the day it was merged into Core for release in WordPress 5.2, Site Health has reported the minimum required version as 5.5. Because the Site Health feature was originally a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party, it leaned hard on having strong recommendations from the start. Because MySQL version 5.5.3 added support for utf8mb4, the decision was made to present 5.5 as the minimum required version instead of 5.0.

When can/will the required version be raised to #INSERT SOME VERSION NUMBER HERE#?

Database software should be treated the same as any other: the most recent publicly available, supported version should always be used whenever possible. Using unsupported or EOL versions of software can leave you and your site susceptible to bugs and security vulnerabilities.

That said, WordPress is steadfast in its commitment to backwards compatibility. Older versions of the software WordPress depends on such as PHPPHP The web scripting language in which WordPress is primarily architected. WordPress requires PHP 5.6.20 or higher and MySQL or MariaDB will continue to be supported when a sizable number of sites remain on those versions. Historically, the 5% baseline has been used when considering adjustments to the PHP support policy. The same baseline percentage seems reasonable as a starting point to begin future discussions about further changes to the minimum required versions of MySQL and MariaDB.

While the minimum required version is changing in WordPress 6.5, WordPress continues to recommend using MySQL version 5.7 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.4 or greater.


As a community, we frequently encourage site owners to run actively supported versions of PHP. Let’s advocate more strongly for the same with MySQL and MariaDB. By working together to lower the usage numbers of any versions that have reached their end of life, the potential to use new features to further improve WordPress can be unlocked, all while making the overall ecosystem more healthy and secure.

Props @jorbin, @chanthaboune, @johnbillion, and @sergeybiryukov for pre-publish review.