How to Upgrade Joomla 1.5 to Version 2.5, Migration Process

Joomla v. 1.5 was good and valid for a long time. It has a lot of ready to use extensions. But its official support has stopped from September 2012. They advised to migrate this version to Joomla 2.5. So this is how I’ve migrated old Joomla site to the new version 2.5. And from 2.5 the upgrade will be easy, because Joomla has provided one-click upgrade buttons for the core and extensions.

First of all create a new Joomla 2.5 installation on same server in a new folder. Here are step by step instructions. Create a new database on same server and connect Joomla 2.5 to the new DB. Don’t insert sample data during the installation. When ready, setup other languages used on your current website in the languages manager.

I’d advice working on the old site back-end in one browser, i.e. Firefox, and on the new site backend in Chrome (SP Upgrade developer advices to use this extension with Chrome, so don’t take chances). Also this may help you not to change anything by accidence on your old site, because you’ll need to switch browsers for different sites. Still have to be careful with that.

Backup everything, try to upgrade your old site to latest Joomla 1.5 version core. Delete all unused extensions. If you can upgrade all used extensions to their latest versions made for v. 1.5. Upgrade the template to the newest version. If you manage to upgrade the old site to latest template and extensions you’ll save a lot of time later. But sometimes you can’t touch the old site.

On Joomla 2.5 install XCloner extension and make a backup of your initial Joomla 2.5 installation. If anything will go wrong you can restore from it. Also during the migration process you can make several milestone backups with it.

Now go and buy SP Upgrade extension. Currently it costs €29, but it will save you a week of hard work. It can convert your core, will help to convert extensions data, and will even try to convert your current Joomla 1.5 template.

2 good tutorials on using it are provided by developer of SP Upgrade and here. Read them also.

Install SP Upgrade extension on you new 2.5 site. Check components menu, it will add an icon there. Add all new Database and FTP data to it from Options button on the top right in admin. Here put FTP and Database data of your old site. For the same server location put localhost. Don’t worry if your new DB table prefixes are different from the old ones. Thanks to developer it still will work.  Make sure all info set right and connects well.

SP Upgrade Top

When all connections are set, select all core elements to make a core transfer. At the table bottom add a template folder name on your old site (inside /templates/ folder), this template SP Upgrade will try to convert. Click transfer button on top. This will transfer all core data to the new site from the old one. If you pray God loud enough, maybe you template will be ok  on a new site 🙂

Now you can select all extensions transfer. The guides were not so clear about when to transfer extensions. I’ve clicked that after core transfer. Maybe you should click that after you setup all needed extension versions on a new site. Still, no harm was made. It added most of the extensions data to database tables and transferred different images etc.

Still you won’t see any extensions in your 2.5 admin. Now go search and install all extensions used on the old site to the new site. First check Joomla extensions directory, if you can’t find needed extension, search also Google etc. It is better not to put latest versions of extensions, but a version most close to your current version on the old site, but compatible to v.2.5 of Joomla. Anyway you can upgrade extensions later just with update extension button in Joomla 2.5.

Here you’ll have to check each extension you install for the old site data transferred. Usually you’ll find all your old settings intact on the extension admin (if extensions are already transferred with SP Upgrade). Sometimes you’ll have to select the extension in SP Update and to transfer it again. You also can try to transfer extension database table from the third tab in SP Upgrade admin. With several tries on transfer, and sometimes when installing different extension versions to the new site, I was able to setup same options as on the old site usually. Sometimes extension update on the new site was doing it.

Template upgrade is the most tricky part of the migration. Best way is to upgrade the template to the new version compatible with Joomla 2.5 . Converted version can have many bugs, so you’ll have to tweak it manually. Anyway don’t be scared if your template looses stylesheet etc. The most important is content. My template went very wrong at first. Then after setting up all extensions and after several Joomla extensions upgrades it is miraculously suggested me to convert the template to the Joomla 2.5 compatible version itself.

If you have used some bought template, and don’t have access to the source anymore, try to go to its developer site and download some free versions made on same framework as you old template. Free versions often come developed on same framework as your bought template, they may also contain different modules from the developer. Also setup a connection to upgrade site of the developer. So you’ll have same framework and modules as your old theme, and it can help to your old template to get well again. Switch those templates several times to be default, check them. It can help.

Now when you have all extensions set and ready, and template showing at least your most of your old content, check modules again. If anything wrong with your modules, try to transfer their settings again from database transfer wizard of SP Upgrade. You may just select the needed table to import it to the new site. It’s helpful.

Discover TabAnother thing that might help is Discover tab in Joomla 2.5 Extensions manager. When you click Discover button, it might find some plugins left behind and will install them. It helps with some old plugins and languages files.

Component Language FilesAlso if your site uses several languages, some plugins might have additional languages files for your old template. Go to the old site and find this languages folders of plugins/modules. Download them and put on the new site in same locations again if they don’t have the language yet.

So I had a success converting my old site. Now we have both on server. Go and check everything on your new site. Add different new extensions and tweaks to design. After that you can point the old site’s domain to be the root. I just want the new Joomla installation to reside in its own folder for a better organization of server account root. I will write on it in my next post, when I’ll actually will make it live. I think to leave the new Joomla installation in its folder, and will make the domain root use it. Will try it in a few days.

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