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Migrating a website software version is one of the highest risk procedure a webmaster has to deal with when managing a website. Upgrading from Drupal 7? Here is a small guide with various details. Let’s start with basic info : The content of your site does not live in your Drupal installation. It lives in a MySQL database which is managed by your Drupal installation. This database will sit somewhere on your server, as determined by your web host. (As an aside, I never did figure out where Dev Desktop puts the database on your computer at home. It’s a mystery.) Anyhow, the exception to this is that the images within your site do live in your Drupal installation, they are in the sites folder somewhere (depending on your settings), with Drupal keeping records of them in the database.

Drupal 8 turned one in the November of 2016. It is about time that the Drupal 7 website owners and administrators should start considering upgrading the websites to Drupal 8. With the Drupal team focused on improving Drupal 8, it is inevitable that Drupal 7 will stop getting official updates in the near future. The great thing about upgrading to Drupal 8 is the remarkably easy process as a result of the inclusion of a few great migration modules in its core. When done with the installation of the modules, you will have to navigate to the upgrade path. For this, go to www.yoursite.com/upgrade (remember to replace yoursite with the name of your Drupal 8 website). You will be brought to the following screen. Please make sure you follow the directions on the screen before proceeding.

If you’re new to the Migrate API, start from the beginning and get an overview of how the system works and how all the pieces fit together. This is essential background information for anyone wanting to migrate data into Drupal. Additionally, part of performing any migration is planning and preparation. Migrations involve preparing and analyzing your source data, building a new website that data can be migrated into, and lots of testing, rolling back, and testing again, in order to get everything right.

The steps above outline how to get a distribution minimally installed on an existing site. But you’ll still have a lot of work to do to reconcile your existing site content and structure with what has been created by the distribution. Here are a few tips to get you started–but you should begin with the assumption that there will be lots more you’ll discover and need to fix. If the distribution is installed from scratch, we can be sure that the components we’re creating won’t conflict with existing components on the site. But when we’re converting an existing site into a one based on a distribution, there’s the potential that a component we’re creating will have the same name as one that already exists on the site. In certain cases, such a conflict can cause a site error that’s difficult to resolve.

If you already have a Drupal website that has a considerable amount of content or a large number of users or has custom functionality you want to keep, though, you might want to try directly upgrading the site to use the distribution. Doing so could save you a lot of time in migrating content. But it will also raise a number of challenges. Upgrading to a distribution is probably something you should try only if you have the skills and time needed to do troubleshooting and some custom data work.

There are several tips and best practices to follow to help you prepare for the upgrade. Still, since this is such a complex process, we highly recommend getting members of your development team involved from the beginning, which will help ensure the upgrade goes as smoothly as possible. Upgrading to Drupal 8 is more similar to building a new website than previous Drupal updates were, meaning that you should never perform the upgrade to Drupal 8 on a live site. It’s also strongly recommended that you create a backup of your live site so that if anything goes awry, you can quickly roll the site back to an earlier version while you figure out what the issue is. See more info at Drupal 7 Migration.

Patrick Moreau

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