Maintain or rebuild outdated software?

Maintaining old PHP software can be challenging. Many organizations face the dilemma of whether or not to maintain outdated software or rebuild it. Especially if the software in question has been in use for many years and the technology has changed significantly since then. 

Often conflicting advice is given or, it is recommended to scrap the old software and start from scratch. This can be an option but, this is often not budgeted for and it is recommended that existing software can continue to be maintained and updated. 

In this post, we will provide insights into the process, to determine whether the software should be further developed or better rebuilt.


How do you determine if outdated software is worth maintaining?

  1. Determine the critical functions. Which features of the software are necessary and which features are no longer in use. This makes it easier to decide which parts of the software need to be updated or replaced. Also, consider the impact the software has on overall business operations. Is the software critical? Or is it only used by a limited audience?
  2. Make a list of known issues. By documenting known problems and their solutions, they can be reused in the future. This makes it easier to troubleshoot and resolve the problem. It also makes it easier to decide whether to fix existing problems or create new software.
  3. Understand the code base. It is important to know which version of PHP and other software components are being used and whether they are compatible with newer versions. It is often possible to update old software to the current version so that the code can be used for many years in the future. Also, check if there are any security issues or outdated libraries.
  4. Have security updates been carried out regularly? Make sure your software security is up to date with regular security updates. It is important to be aware of security issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. If this process has been carried out regularly, there is less risk of security breaches.
  5. Consider migrating to a new technology. Sometimes it is better to replace the old software with a new, more advanced technology that better suits your needs. This is a big step but can ultimately save a lot of time and effort. If it turns out that many functions are no longer used in the current software, they can be omitted in a rebuild, for example. This is also a good opportunity to conduct a comprehensive assessment.


What are the possible next steps?

When maintaining legacy PHP software, it is important to regularly review the codebase and security and document known issues. In particular, earlier versions (such as PHP 4 or 5.6) are now some years old and no longer receive security updates. The above steps can, in many cases, be carried out internally and provide a solid basis for making informed decisions going forward. Of course, a second opinion from a software developer never hurts.

At we regularly organise tailor-made workshops to support such processes. Contact us without obligation for more information on this topic or read more about our approach to legacy code maintenance. 

We have been supporting various customers for many years and managing their existing older software. 

Further information can be found in our case studies.