Drupal 6’s End Of Life (EOL) is now upon us. As a Drupal 6 site owner, you probably have some questions about what this means for your site. Do you have to upgrade right away? Should you upgrade to Drupal 7 or Drupal 8?
No Time Like the Present
Upgrading a site is a daunting task and your gut reaction may be to bury your head in the sand. But every cloud has a silver lining. An upgrade is the perfect opportunity to complete that site overhaul that you’ve been considering. You may want to make your site responsive, implement a re-design, or initiate a content moderation workflow. That’s just the beginning of your to do list. Performing an upgrade and overhaul in tandem will save you time and money in the long run.
If you are still running Drupal 6, chances are your site is in need of an upgrade not only to meet minimum supported web standards like PHP, but also to take advantage of the new technology that has become a part of the Drupal platform since Drupal 6 was released back in 2008 (yes, that’s how long it’s been). You’ve probably upgraded your smartphone multiple times since then. Don’t shortchange your company’s web presence with the functional equivalent of the iPhone 3G.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself these three questions:
Do you have a complex site that leverages custom code?
Do you have a high-traffic site that is more likely to be a security risk?
Does your site contain sensitive information?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider upgrading.
At Sevens and Eights
There are only two choices: Drupal 7 or Drupal 8, so it seems pretty simple, right? Not necessarily. There is no single correct answer when asking the question of which Drupal version to use. You have many factors to consider, and making the right decision now can save you time, money and headaches. Ultimately you will find yourself in this same situation in the future as even newer versions of Drupal are released and earlier iterations reach end of life and are unsupported.
Shouldering the task of upgrading your site may seem like a heavy lift, but it’s one of the trade-offs to using Drupal, and open source software in general. You are provided with this powerfully versatile platform to build your site, but in return you are responsible for its maintenance.
If you are unable to decide how to proceed, the best place to start is with a discovery and site audit. You can get a report that details all layers of the stack, where the problems are, and recommendations for fixing them. Read Jody Hamilton’s series of posts about site audits, starting with this one. The resulting report functions as a roadmap that you can use on your journey to a smooth transition.