Now Is the Time to Upgrade From Drupal 6
May 17, 2016
As all of you know by now, it’s the end of life for Drupal 6. Launched in 2008, Drupal 6 was instrumental in the deployment of approximately 250,000 websites. The official report from Drupal.org pegs the number of websites that currently use Drupal 6 at 90,000.
Though declining, Drupal 6 still has a substantial share of the market. These are usage statistics for Drupal core. Source: Drupal.org
With any major version upgrade, questions abound like:
- “Do I need to upgrade?”
- “Will my site go kaput?”
Well, let’s understand the implications of the ‘dead-end’ situation of Drupal 6. With Drupal 6 gone there’ll be no more:
- Updates for Drupal 6 core
- Drupal security updates or patches
- Support for Drupal 6 modules and themes
Is It the End of Road for Drupal 6 Site Owners?
Not yet. The stakes are always high when you’re between platforms. If you’re one of the 90,000 site owners still using Drupal 6, your website will still run even if servers aren’t upgraded by the hosting provider. You might not face any problems for months or even years.
If you run into any problems, you can also enlist the support of any of the three vendors announced by the Drupal community last year. However, this support for writing security patches is not free and you will have to pay for it.
So Am I Still at Risk?
Ask yourself these questions to assess your risk potential:
- Will your current Drupal 6 website need custom modules in order to meet your business requirements?
- Is your website more popular and prone to hacking attacks?
The second question mentioned above is worth highlighting. Drupal, as a CMS, is highly popular around the globe which makes any website running on it, a favored target for hackers. With no more security advisories or patches, your site will be more vulnerable to any new security issues discovered in Drupal 6 core or its modules.
Even if you decide to pay for the vendors’ services to secure your Drupal 6 site, it is still uncertain as to how long will it be commercially viable for the vendors to provide support. Plus, there are other issues to consider such as site incompatibility with mandatory server security upgrades; dealing with various hosting providers to keep your site up-to-date; and access to skilled developers that are able to serve you.
What Are Site Owners’ Options?
So, what’re the options before you? You can switch lanes entirely by migrating to alternative platforms like other popular CMS systems.
Or if you rather wish to stick to Drupal 6, you can either upgrade to version 7 or version 8. This is a new ballgame altogether, requiring a close analysis of your current website and brings with it, a whole new set of challenges. Migrating to open source and PHP based CMS like Drupal is considered a feasible option as it would not add up hosting and license costs to it.
Should You Upgrade or Not?
People continue to use unsupported software for all sorts of reasons – the upgrade might be complex, expensive or it could lack specific features that you need. So why risk it when your site is fine. But the truth is you might’ve to make an upgrade decision – if not now, then later. Every Drupal site is different and needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
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