How to Upgrade Drupal? – Step by Step Guide!

By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
8 mins
Upgrade Drupal

Drupal 9 was the latest version that rolled out in the year 2020, and with the end-of-life period being closer than ever, companies are in a hurry to upgrade from their older Drupal versions to Drupal 9. Most of the enterprises are still in Drupal 7 and continued to be there given the complexities involved in Drupal 8 migration. But that option doesn’t exist anymore. Both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 are going to be obsolete from January 5, 2025 and November 2021 respectively. Those who wish to continue these versions might face some security challenges.

So, do you still want to stick to the previous versions or do you want to upgrade it to the latest Drupal version and safeguard your websites? If you are unsure of where to begin and what you need to know for making a Drupal upgrade, you should consider consulting a Drupal Development Company that help you with all these. But still, to provide you with an idea, we are providing you comprehensive details about the Drupal upgrades in this blog.

Overview of Drupal Upgrade

The upgrade process be it to Drupal 8 or Drupal 9, requires you to do the following -

  1. Analyze and prepare the source code
  2. Identify the content that needs to be migrated
  3. Perform the Upgrade
  4. Do end-to-end testing
  5. Rollback and retest if any issues are found
  6. If everything is good enough, release it to production

The crucial part of performing an upgrade, however, still remains the preparation and planning.

Method One: Upgrade Using Composer

Upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8

Drupal 8 is a path-breaking release with several functionalities that are way more advanced and innovative than the previous Drupal versions. Many enterprises were excited for Drupal 8 but many chose to stick with Drupal 7 owing to the complexity of the migration process. But, an increasing number of website owners are now considering upgrading to Drupal 8 rather than grappling with the obsolete legacy architecture. Moving to Drupal 8 also makes the process of moving to Drupal 9 easily.

Process of Drupal Upgradation

While you prepare your website to upgrade to Drupal 8, first take a backup of your website by taking a local copy of it. This is the best practice as making changes directly to the live website is not advisable. You can keep your data safe through a backup in your local machine. Download the Drupal 8 version and install it and the dependencies with a composer. You can set up a local website based on Drupal 8 and verify the modules - Migrate, Migrate Drupal, Migrate Drupal UI. See if they are enabled on your Drupal 8 website. Make sure these are present in Drupal core and after this confirmation, you can install it.

Provide the required details like website details, DB location, credentials, and other information. Once the information you’ve entered is verified, you can quickly review the page, modules that will be upgraded, and those that won’t and perform the upgrade. If you have any conflicting IDs, some warning would pop up. Depending on the size and type of the content, the upgrade takes considerably a long time and you would be redirected to the website’s home page once the process is over.

Upgrade from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9

Suppose your website is still on Drupal 7, you need to upgrade it to Drupal 9, which could be done in two ways. Upgrading to Drupal 8 first is the easiest way and then move to Drupal 9 which doesn’t have significant changes from that of Drupal 8. Or else, you can directly move from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. Moving from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 is pretty simple as Drupal 9 is just an extended version of Drupal 8 and easier to upgrade.

Drupal 9 is no different from Drupal 8.9.0 from a technical perspective except that the deprecated code is removed. No significant schema changes, no feature additions, so no complex upgrade. So if you are on Drupal 8.9.x, the transition to Drupal 9 shouldn’t be a big deal. Drupal 9 has major version updates to its core dependencies including Twig and Symfony. Suppose you have code that is based on these dependencies, then that code should be updated as well.

Checklist before you move to Drupal 9

  1. Update to the latest Drupal 8 version i.e. Drupal 8.8.x or Drupal 8.9.x
  2. Update all the contributed modules and themes to Drupal 9 compatible versions. If there is a module that is not compatible with Drupal 9, then you can update it yourself or you can wait for a future release for an updated Drupal 9 compatible version. Alternatively, you can hire Drupal Developers to get that done for you.
  3. Update your custom code - be it modules or themes. Even if you are not moving to Drupal 9 immediately, you can still go with it as Drupal 9 is backward compatible and nothing would affect your current website.
  4. Verify if your current hosting meets the new Drupal 9 requirements? Make sure your web server, PHP, MySQL/MariaDB are all running on Drupal 9 compatible versions.

Process of Drupal Migration

The first and foremost thing you need to do while upgrading to Drupal 9 is detecting and removing the deprecated code. You can do this by running a command-line utility to check the modules for detecting the deprecated code instances. You can also use the GUI tool to make way for Drupal 9. Alternatively, you can also set up the testing infrastructure for finding the deprecated code. Once you detect any deprecated code, you can quickly update the code or even swap it for the latest version. Mind you, some deprecation may require quite a complex process in which case, you can hire a Drupal developer for some assistance. Since they might be familiar with these upgrades, they can easily deal with them in a much more efficient manner.

Alternative Method: Upgrade Using Drush Command

If you are having a complex website, you can choose this way as the Drush command allows you to run migrations one-by-one. You also have the option of rollback. Drush will be installed if you are using Composer to build your Drupal 8 website. You can download the contributed modules - Migrate Upgrade, Migrate Plus, and Migrate Tools. Enable these modules and you can start the migration process. You can always check the migration status and import the entire data.


Skynet Technologies has Drupal experts who have the expertise and skills in migrating your current projects to the newer Drupal versions. You can connect with us for making a seamless upgrade to the latest Drupal version.

Skynet Technologies offers Drupal migration, Drupal Maintenance, custom Drupal development and design, Drupal commerce and more. Are you facing any trouble while upgrading Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 or Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, hire our Drupal Developers to migrate or upgrade your Drupal Website or other CMS website to the latest version of Drupal 9.1!