Important! Current Joomla 2.5 / 1.7 /1.6 site owners (Backup before you upgrade)
2.5/1.7/1.6 Joomla sites allow for easy one click updates to the next version. Before you attempt any updates to your site, make sure you have a backup ready. If you have not done your diligence on all templates and extensions in your site to make sure they are 3.0 ready. You run a large risk of breaking your Joomla site from incompatible template or extensions. It is suggested you upgrade a 2.5 site on a replicated staging site, once you have the site up and going, move it to production. The most important fact is to make sure you keep a current backup of your site that you can easily restore.
What are the major differences between Joomla 2.5 and 3.0?
The most noticeable difference is the totally revamped administrator, which is updated to a modern design with many simpler and more friendly user-interfaces. Also, Joomla 3.0 is now mobile friendly and can be used with any modern device.
In addition, there are dozens of improvements to the details of all of Joomla, such as a new installer which you will notice when creating a new Joomla 3.0 install. Finally, Joomla 3.0 is packed with goodies for extension developers, such as Bootstrap support and jQuery support.
How long is each version supported?
Each major release of Joomla is supported for about 3 years and includes one-click upgrades. For example, the 2.x series (which included 1.6 and 1.7 due to naming conflicts) has a support life of about 3 years (January 2011 until spring 2014). 1.6 to 1.7 was a one-click upgrade. 1.7 to 2.5 was a one click upgrade. 2.5 will be supported until spring of 2014. So the 2.x series has a little over three years of support and, overall, it was a smooth experience for users and extension developers.
The 3.x series will have about 3 years of support as well. 3.0 to 3.1 to 3.5 will be one-click upgrades and should, overall, be smooth transitions for users and developers as the 2.x series was.
Because Joomla's new timed-release cycle makes moving from major version to major version (e.g. 2.x to 3.x) relatively simple (see the below FAQ's for more information), users get the added benefit of compounded support, where they can move from major version to major version to get continued and uninterrupted support.
I'm building a brand new site. Should I launch a Joomla 2.5 site or a 3.0 site?
Launch a 2.5 site if you want the most stable that Joomla has to offer and/or possibly if you plan on using many extensions. Launch a 3.0 site if all the extensions that you plan to use are Joomla 3.0 compatible. Only some template providers or the extension vendors will be ready for Joomla 3.0 at launching, however most will not be ready until days, weeks or months after. (See the “How do I find Joomla 3.0 compatible extensions?” FAQ for more information)
If I launch a Joomla 3.0 site, will I be able to install extensions?
Yes, you will be able to install extensions compatible with Joomla 3.0. The Joomla Extension Directory (JED) will have Joomla 3.0 compatible icons to know which extensions are Joomla 3.0 compatible; however, the best place to check is the developer’s site.
How do I get a Joomla 3.0 template?
Some template companies will be offering Joomla 3 templates either right away or shortly after release, but you will need to ask each one. Some have already announced that their templates will be ready for Joomla 3 when it is released, but others have not. Also, please note that some Joomla 2.5 templates will work in Joomla 3 without any issues or any changes needed. It's best to consult with the developers on this.
How do I find Joomla 3.0 compatible extensions?
Visit Joomla Extension Directory (JED), which will have Joomla 3.0 compatible icons to let you know which extensions are Joomla 3.0 compatible; however, the best place to check is your extension developer’s site.
Will my Joomla 2.5 extensions work with Joomla 3.0?
Extensions that are native to Joomla 2.5 should work on Joomla 3.0 with very little change, if any. Components and templates will need the most work, while modules and plugins should work without issue (assuming they do not use deprecated methods). Extensions that support Joomla 2.5 and 1.5 in the same package will likely not work right away, until the developers update them for Joomla 3 compatibility.
In short, it depends on the extension. The Joomla Project has made the process relatively easy for most extensions, however for some extensions it’s going to take some work. To be certain, let the developers of the extensions know that you want to use their extension on Joomla 3 and consult with their documentation.
What happens if I launch a Joomla 3.0 site, but the extension I want is for a 2.5 site?
You need to speak with the extension developer to see if they have plans to release for Joomla 3 in the immediate future. Developers do have to make some changes but how extensive they are depends on the extension.
Should I update from 2.5?
In most cases, probably not. Joomla 2.5 will continue be supported until spring of 2014 and you can update directly to Joomla 3 once it’s tried-and-tested thoroughly by other users. You can even wait until Joomla 3.5 which will be released in a year from now and still get a direct upgrade. The only reason you should update is if you need Joomla 3’s features or want to be on the leading edge.
I have a 2.5 site and I see a that the Joomla update manager lets me upgrade to 3.0; should I do it since it’s letting me?
Not unless you’re 1000% sure. By default, Joomla will not let you update to 3.0 unless you activate the option within the Joomla! Update component (administrator >> Component >> Joomla! Update >> Options >> Update server >> Short Term Support). If for some reason you’ve changed this, and you’d like the updater to stop letting you upgrade, change the setting to Long Term Support. After making this change, you’ll only receive updates for Joomla 2.5.
Notice: You should not upgrade from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.0 unless you are certain that all of your additionally installed extensions (from third party developers), especially templates, are Joomla 3.0 ready or have a Joomla 3.0 version that you can upgrade to.
What’s next after Joomla 3.0?
In 6 months, Joomla 3.1 will be released. If you’re on Joomla 3.0, you will need to upgrade to 3.1 at that time using the one-click upgrader. If you’re still on Joomla 2.5, you can continue to wait until Joomla 3.5 and still get a direct upgrade.
Okay, I’m ready and want to upgrade. How do I do the upgrade?
First, review the system requirements for Joomla 3.0 and make sure that your server environment meets those requirements.
Second, make sure that all your extensions (especially, your templates) are Joomla 3.0 compatible.
Third, create a test site and test the upgrade on the test site first.
Fourth, consult a trusted developer if you’re not 100% certain about anything.
Fifth, make a full backup of your site (files and database).
Once ready, go to the Joomla! Update component. Click on options and change the setting to Short Term Support. Save. You should be notified of the availability of Joomla 3.0. Click the button to install. Clear your browser’s cache to make sure you see the latest changes. That’s it!
Finally, double check and make sure that everything is working properly.
Note: On some hosts you may need to use alternative update methods such as using the extensions installer.
But what if I’m on Joomla 1.5. Will my site break? Do I migrate to 2.5 or 3.0?
Support for Joomla 1.5 is officially about to end. Does that mean your 1.5 site will stop working? No, your site will continue to work as it always has. However, Joomla’s developers will not be releasing new versions for Joomla 1.5, so you won’t be getting bug fixes or security fixes. For this reason, it’s recommended to migrate from 1.5.
Moving from 2.5 to any Joomla 3 version is relatively simple, since Joomla has made the process easy for newer versions. Unfortunately, moving from 1.5 is not a trivial task. Fortunately, there are two good extensions that make the process easier: jUpgrade and SP Upgrade.
You have a choice of going straight to Joomla 3.0 or going to 2.5 first. Both SP Upgrade and jUpgrade have versions ready for both versions. Please consult with their documentation on how to migrate from Joomla 1.5 to 3.0/2.5.
Migrate to Joomla 3.0 if all the extensions that you plan to use are Joomla 3.0 compatible. Only some template providers or the extension vendors will be ready for Joomla 3.0 at launch, however most will not be ready until days, weeks or months after. (See the “How do I find Joomla 3.0 compatible extensions?” FAQ for more information)
Migrate to Joomla 2.5 if you want the most stable that Joomla has to offer and/or if you plan on using many extensions.