With support for Joomla 2.5 having concluded at the end of December more people are trying to upgrade to Joomla 3.x. With that more people are also realizing that the process isn’t quite as easy it might sound in many cases. While the Joomla documentation describes the upgrade type as “One-click to 3.x“, a number of issues can make the process more complicated. Before we get in to those issues, let’s get to the best piece advice we can provide after having done numerous upgrades from Joomla 2.5 to 3.0.x-3.3.x for clients over several years: make a copy of the website and test the upgrade on it first. This allows you to work through any issues that come up before you upgrade your production website, which makes the process easier and less stressful.
In most cases this is most easily accomplished by creating a copy the website in a new directory on the website, which you can then you would access by adding the directories name to your websites address (for example if you website was www.example.com and the new directory was “joomla3″ then the copy would be accessible at http://www.example.com/joomla3/). You can do that through the following steps:
- Make a copy of your websites file and put them in the new directory on the website.
- Create new database and import the contents of your production websites database in to that.
- Update your configuration.php with the credentials for the new database and if you have the $live_site variable set, update that as well.
With that running you can then move on to doing the upgrade in that.
The biggest problems when upgrading from Joomla 2.5 to 3.x comes from extensions. In the worst case a problem with an extension can cause the upgrade to fail and the website to completely be broken. This issue unfortunately is all too common occurrence and it is big part of why we suggest doing the test of the upgrade first as restoring the website after a failed upgrade is not something you want to have to do if you don’t absolutely have to. With a test copy you can just remove the broken test copy, make a new copy, and then retry the upgrade, this time making changes to make sure the extension that caused the problem does not cause the problem again by disabling it or removing it first.
While making sure that you have all of the extensions up to date and removing any that are not listed as being compatible with 3.x before the upgrade starts can help to limit problems with extensions it won’t handle everything. In one case an extension had been removed some time in the past but a plugin that was part of got left behind, the plugin then caused the Joomla search functionality to be broken in the newer version.
For some more complicated extensions you need to do multiple upgrades of the extension, some before and after the upgrade of Joomla from 2.5, which is also something you want test before doing on the production website.
Extensions Not Compatible With Your Version of 3.x
We often find that existing templates require some minor tweaks to keep their existing styling when running on Joomla 3.x. That is much easy to do if you can see the way it looks in Joomla 2.5 while making the changes.
In small number of cases there have been more serious problems due to coding in the templates that causes broken pages to be shown when running in Joomla 3.x. It is much better to find and fix this in the test copy then having trying to fix it while customers are trying to access it.