You should plan on updating to Joomla 3 by the end of 2014

JoomlaAccording to the Joomla Roadmap, version 3.5, the next long term support (LTS) release, will be available in November, 2014. Support for version 2.5 is scheduled to stop at the end of 2014. So, ideally you will want to be on Joomla 3 by the end of 2014 to avoid the unnecessary risks of being on an unsupported version. What risks you ask? Hackers and malware causing problems on your website due to security holes that will never be fixed. Keeping your Joomla software and extensions current is the best defense against this.

There are a couple phases involved in this update. First is preparation followed by the actual update process that happens in the back-end administrative control panel.

Preparing to update to Joomla 3

Take Inventory of your current extensions and templates

Your Joomla website has various features and functionalities that are provided by extensions, or plugins. There may be a few of these or many, it depends on your requirements and how your website developer decided to implement solutions for them. In order to update to Joomla 3, each of these existing Joomla 2.5 extensions must be compatible with Joomla 3. It’s possible an extension will run under Joomla 3 without any action, or it may be necessary to install a new version of it that’s compatible with Joomla 3. Another possibility is that it’s not compatible with Joomla 3 and a new version does not exist. In this case, you, or more likely your website developer, will have to find an alternative for it that is compatible with Joomla 3.  So prior to updating to Joomla 3, ensure you have only extensions installed that are compatible with it.

Similar to the extension issue described above, another consideration is whether or not your existing Joomla 2.5 template, that gives your website its exterior design, layout and style, will work under Joomla 3. If it does not work, then it’s a matter of checking with the template vendor/developer to determine if a compatible version exists, and if not, then it’s a matter of finding a new template to use.

This process of determining if the extensions and templates are compatible with Joomla 3 and resolving any issues could involve very minimal effort in the best case or could require significant effort… it will vary with each website.

The remainder of this post will be dedicated to the actual update process from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3, so if you’re not familiar with or not interested in the Administrative back-end of Joomla, then you can skip it 🙂

The update process – now for the technical part

If you have not yet taken inventory of your current Joomla 2.5 extensions and templates, then first do that and see the above discussion to determine if your extensions and templates are compatible with Joomla 3. This has to be addressed before updating, otherwise your site may not work correctly after updating.

Once you’ve determined that you have compatible extensions and templates, you can begin the update process from the Administrative Control Panel. Go to the Components menu item, select Joomla! Update. Now here’s where it may get a little tricky. If you see the message “No updates available”, then you will have to make a quick configuration change.

Joomla Update screen

To make the configuration change, click Options in the upper right corner. On the Joomla! Update Configuration screen, choose Short Term Support and then click Save & Close in the upper right corner.

Joomla Update Configuration screen

The Joomla! Update screen that displays should look like the following screenshot, possibly with different version numbers displayed. So you should see an Installed Joomla version of 2.5.x and the Latest Joomla version of 3.x.

Joomla Update screen

Now all that’s left to do is click the Install the update button.

After the update has completed successfully, you may need to activate a Joomla 3 compatible template and possibly install any other Joomla 3 compatible extensions you need (see the the preparation steps for more details).

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