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Joomla website migration / upgrade from 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8/2.0/2.5

Joomla migration / upgrade from 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 to Joomla 2.5
Joomla UpgradeWell, we all know that Joomla 1.6 was released on January 2011 and Joomla 1.7 was released on July 2011 and we are anticipating the release of Joomla 2.5 on January 2012. Joomla 2.5 will be long term release (18months) – wherein Joomla 1.6 and Joomla 1.7 are short term release and have support cycle of only 6 months.

How do I migrate from Joomla 1.5 to 1.6 or 1.7 to Joomla 2.5?
There is no auto/one click upgrade facility from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 1.6 or 1.7 or Joomla 2.5. You will have to use the term migrate here instead of upgrade – there is a lot of difference between Joomla upgrade and Joomla migration. There are numerous and variety of changes from Joomla 1.5 version including database tables, access control and structure – so migration is the only way for moving to latest version.

Important items to consider on Joomla upgrade
Upgrade might sound simple but there are few items that needs to be well addressed before you start on the upgrade process

  • Look for compatible 3rd party component version
  • Consult your web developer on any customization that has been done previously on the website
  • Check is the SEO is going to get affected?
  • Take all necessary backup of database and files
  • Never perform the upgrade on Live server
  • Check for payment gateway and other function if you have e-commerce website
  • Test the website thoroughly before moving it to the live server
  • Think of methods to update the user, content and other tables if your live server is going to be populated with new contents during your upgrade interval
  • Block all email sending programs like newsletters – so that your website users don’t get any junk emails.
  • Check is the development server is protected from Google crawl. Two instances do the same website will result in downgrade of SEO
  • Check for proper security and file permission
 Having given the above introduction, it has to be said that migration from Joomla 1.5 to any new release is not an easy job. There is a tool “jupgrade” that helps in upgrade, but this depends on the complexity of the website and 3rd party components that you are currently using. Take all the usual precautions and backup your databases and files before doing something like this. It is advisable to handle this process to a Joomla developer who knows how to debug the application on any error and blank-outs. Try it on your development site first and test the process before doing it on a live site.

How do I migrate from Joomla 1.6 to Joomla 1.7 or above?
If you are already in Joomla 1.6 then the upgrade process is easy and straight forward. Just go to: Extensions -> Extension Manager -> Update -> Find updates. Before performing this step – please make sure that you have all the supporting 3rd components for the latest release and take all the usual precautions and backup your databases and files before doing something like this.

What’s new in Joomla 1.6?
The principal changes introduced in Joomla 1.6 are:

  • New Access Control System – Allows site administrators control over who can view and manage content, unlimited access levels, possible to assign different groups to a user and create unlimited groups.
  • Unlimited Depth Organizational Model – Gives site administrators and content creators user-defined category levels that allow for the creation of a category tree with as many or as few levels for organizing articles and other content as needed.
  • One-Click Extension Updates – Allows users to keep sites secure and controlled by simplifying the process of updating extensions.
  • Semantic XHTML Layouts – Provides a better baseline for content presentation.

Joomla 1.6 has gone end of life by August 2011. That means no more security updates or patches or fixes for vulnerabilities. If your site get’s hacked 6 months from now due to some kid developing some obscure technique, you will only have yourself to blame–not Joomla. Upgrade them sites!

What’s new in Joomla 1.7?
The Joomla 1.7 release does not bring a huge amount of changes, but it is a vital step in the right direction for Joomla and its new release schedule.

  • One click upgrades – Starting from Joomla 1.6 you can upgrade your install by going to: Extensions -> Extension Manager -> Update -> Find updates.
  • Faster release cycles – Short term releases will be changing every six months and only supported for one month after the next release.
  • Multi-Language improvements – Associate menu items to different languages.

What should I do if my website breaks on upgrade?
With migration or upgrade there is always potential and changes for things to break and malfunction. You must have proper backup of website files and database to revert back to the working website. Again, the reason for breakup could be any 3rd party component that is not compatible to the latest version. So, please make sure that there is compatible version before you start on with the upgrade process.

We don’t want to include more items to the above list and scare you. The final note is “consider upgrading to the latest version only when you are either developing a new website or when you require an additional functionality that is present in a newer version”. On the other hand “Even though keeping your website up-to-date might seem like a time consuming and cost intensive activity – just imagine if your website is cracked and your confidential database is exposed.

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