Drupal 7 to 9 Migration - A Surefire Approach that every Drupal developer should know!

By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
8 mins
Drupal 7 to 9 Migration

Are you still one of those businesses on Drupal 7 and wondering what the upgrade path be like for you to go from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9? You might already be aware of jumping ahead of Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 directly. Or you can even choose to move to Drupal 8 first and then move to Drupal 9 gradually. How are these different from each other? Let’s dive in to understand the best migration approach from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9.

Upgrade Path from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

Drupal 9 has no significant changes from Drupal 8.9.x and hence the popular opinion is that the best path for Drupal 7 to upgrade to Drupal 9 is an incremental upgrade via Drupal 8. You can update the essential modules and themes for Drupal 8. These are pretty significant changes as some of the things that were previously needed in Drupal 7 are now included in Drupal 8 core. There are certain changes in the migration process of Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8. You can migrate site configuration and content to Drupal 8. Alternatively, you can manually build a new Drupal 8 and set the content types and fields, and then migrate the Drupal 7 content.

Upgrade Drupal 8 to 9

Once you are done with the Drupal 8 upgrade, migrating to Drupal 9 is relatively easier. To upgrade to Drupal 9, you need to be on Drupal 8.8.x or 8.9.x. Any contributed modules that are not needed or deprecated code should be removed in this process. The custom code should be made compatible with Drupal 9. You can run ‘update.php’ and Voila! You are good to go!

Jump Ahead to Drupal 9

If you want to skip over the Drupal 8 version and go straight ahead to Drupal 9, you can go ahead too. The Drupal 7 migration ecosystem is available on Drupal 9 as well. All the considerations that are needed while you are upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 also apply if you jump straight to Drupal 9.

How to migrate to Drupal 9

Whether you are upgrading from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 first or migrating directly to Drupal 9, you need to follow this process given below.

  1. Planning the Migration Process

    You need to plan and prepare for upgrading your Drupal website from D7 to D8 or D9. You need to think of the time & budget, developer skillset, and also the release window for shaping your decisions. You can consider availing Drupal Development Services if you are not confident about doing it on your own. You need to also think of things like - How much time will you be able to allocate for the migration process? What are your budget constraints? Can you budget support for any additional work? Another key aspect is the developer skillset as Drupal 8 is entirely different from Drupal 7 and you need developers who have adequate experience using Composer which is used for managing dependencies.

    Also, Drupal 8 and Drupal 9’s core is built on Symfony and developers do encounter certain things that they are not accustomed to using earlier like using YAML files instead of hooks for creating menu items. Even the debugging process is different. Developers must know or learn new tools while switching from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. And you need to factor in the time and budget for this learning curve too. You can also bring in external help for reducing these training overheads.

    Another aspect one needs to take care of is the release window. The end-of-life period for Drupal 7 is scheduled for January 5, 2025 and hence you need to plan for it. If you have the window and bandwidth, you are good-to-go otherwise, there could arise certain unnecessary complexities during the migration process.

  2. Understand the Architecture, Design, and Features

    Revisit the architecture and design, and understand whether you want to make any design changes or not. You can also conduct an audit of your existing Drupal 7 website to understand what you want to carry forward in the new version and what to leave behind. Understand the content type and taxonomy to refine the new website version. Know things like who is the site serving and what has changed in the features.

    Drupal 8 has the layout builder experience for customizing the site pages which is missing in Drupal 7 core. Drupal 8 and 9 have also in-built media handling mechanisms and a WYSIWYG editor reducing the need for Drupal 7 contributed modules. You can also revise the needs of your content editors to find out what existing features are important and what’s not. Any unused or unnecessary modules can be deprecated.

    If you haven’t changed your Drupal 7 design in years, then now is a good time to go for a design refresh. Drupal 9.1 has Olivero as its default theme which is modern, flexible, and accessible. It is available as a contributed module on Drupal 8 and Drupal 9. If you are thinking of custom designs, then also you may want to engage in making your design process simple and accessible. You may follow some Drupal Web Design Tips that help you design your website the right way!

  3. Perform the Drupal Upgrade

    There is no doubt that the upgrade process is intricate and time-consuming especially if you own a complex website. Unlike the earlier Drupal upgrades, migrating to Drupal 8 isn’t a straightforward automatic upgrade. Drupal 7 site configuration and content are different from that of Drupal 8. There are some tools for automating the creation of migration files in case of complex sites that have a lot of custom code and contributed modules.

    You need to revisit the logic to depreciate those contributed modules used by Drupal 7 and the custom code that needs to move to Drupal 8.


You can choose a Drupal development company who can closely collaborate with your internal team who can help you perform the upgrade seamlessly. This reduces unnecessary overheads as you are heavily relying on an experienced Drupal team to handle the intricacies involved in the upgrade process. The team also speeds up the process and saves you budget overheads as well.

At Skynet Technologies, Drupal migration and Drupal Upgrade services are some of our core services. Our client engagement starts with a proper evaluation of their requirements and then migrates their current platforms safely. We take a complete backup of your current website and then move to the Drupal platform with zero to negligible disruptions. We provide Drupal migration from Drupal 7 to 8, Drupal 8 to 9 and Drupal 7 to 9. Are looking for expert Drupal 9 migration to accelerate your business growth? Get in touch with us and we will get back to as soon as possible.