While I have performed several steps to optimize the site, it remains very slow to respond on the home page. Other internal pages seem to load with acceptable speed, except the home page. I have made sure all plugins and wordpress itself was updated. Site Health is reporting that PHP and SQl are out of date. I have only been able to update php in the hosting configuration to 5.6. PHP 7 is the latest version and is supposedly much more optmized. Could this and the outdated SQL server be the problem?
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Yes, this could absolutely be the issue.
Do you know what type of hosting you have? My guess is you might be on the older classic Web Hosting GoDaddy offers possibly. It sounds like it's a business need for your website to have these features, so an upgrade to the hosting is likely in order to get on a more up to date platform. I'd give support a call or contact live chat and talk to them about your options.
* Please note that I offer free advice on this forum. I DO NOT PROVIDE ANSWERS VIA PM. If you would like personalized help, you can see my pricing on my services page. Otherwise, please ask your question in the proper forum so the answer can assist EVERYONE in the community and not just you. Thanks! *
UPDATE: Spoke to support. Apparently my hosting account is in fact the "classic" deluxe web hosting, which cannot be updated past PHP 5.6. That is a bit ridiculous to be honest, since I will need to transfer my site to a new hosting account just to have a newer php version. That means site downtime and further inconvenience for nothing other than an outdated php version for which I have no control over. Hmmm.
I understand your frustration. I've lost count of all the migrations I've had to do over the past couple of decades so that I can keep up!
But think of it this way...
Hosting servers and platforms are setup to work based on the technology available at that point in time. This includes software, resources, memory and so much more. The way that tech evolves, which makes all of our heads spin on a pretty regular basis, it just doesn't make sense to keep looking back and updating something that no longer is what is needed to compete.
At that point migrating/moving/updating to the latest and greatest is the best option -- and a good thing. And, may not be the last time you'll have to do that in the life of your website.