Drupal 7 site owners: you're running out of time!
Image credit: freeimageslive.co.uk - christmashat
Drupal 7 end-of-life is coming up later this year, November 28, 2022, and time is running out for you to plan your move. You will need to make a decision soon so you have enough time to plan and execute it. Below are options for you to consider: migrate to Drupal 9, upgrade to Backdrop CMS, rebuild on a different platform, or pay for Drupal 7 extended support.
Migrate to Drupal 9
As you might have heard, Drupal was significantly re-architected starting with version 8. Consequently, moving your site from Drupal 7 to the latest version, currently Drupal 9, is not an automatic process. It involves rebuilding your site on Drupal 9, and then migrating the content and data from your Drupal 7 site to your new Drupal 9 site. This means that the cost and effort to move from Drupal 7 to 9 is similar to that of building a new site.
The good news is that once you are on Drupal 9, it is much easier to upgrade to Drupal 10 and beyond. Also, if you are already considering a redesign of your site, upgrading to Drupal 9 as part of that redesign makes a lot of sense.
Migrating to Drupal 9 is a good option if you intend to evolve your site with the latest capabilities of Drupal.
Upgrade to Backdrop CMS
If the expense of migrating to Drupal 9 seems prohibitive, another option is to upgrade your Drupal 7 site to Backdrop CMS. Backdrop is a fork of Drupal 7, with new, modern features to make it easier to keep your site current. Backdrop will continue to evolve after Drupal 7 end-of-life, thanks to its dedicated contributors.
Under the right circumstances, upgrading your Drupal 7 site to Backdrop can be quite simple. However, this will not be true for all Drupal 7 sites. If your site contains a lot of custom code, you may have several incompatibilities to fix. Also, not all Drupal 7 contributed modules have been ported to Backdrop. One notable module is Commerce: there has been a modest effort to port it, but it has outstanding issues, and it is not clear when or if it will be ready. Also, if your Drupal 7 site uses Panels, you will need to re-architect your layout to use Backdrop's powerful, native layout manager instead.
Upgrading to Backdrop CMS is a good option if you prefer Drupal 7's approach to content management over Drupal 9, you need to minimize the cost of keeping your site current, and you don't have too many stumbling blocks in your current site that would hinder upgrading to Backdrop.
Rebuild on Something Else
If you have to rebuild your site anyway, you may consider rebuilding on something other than Drupal. One reason to do this is if your site is simple enough to rebuild with an online website builder such as Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, or WordPress.com. You could save substantial ongoing costs doing so. This article can help you evaluate this option.
Pay for Drupal 7 Extended Support
If none of the previous options is right for you, you could stay on Drupal 7 past end-of-life. However, to keep your site secure, it is highly recommended to sign up for Drupal 7 Extended Support. A program is being defined, but few details are available at the time of writing. The program will be better defined by the end-of-life date.
This option should only be considered a last-resort, temporary option. Staying on Drupal 7 means you are just postponing the inevitable. You will eventually need to either rebuild or retire your site. In the meantime, you will have few options to enhance your site with new capabilities if you ever need to. Also, it will become increasingly difficult to run your site on newer server software (e.g. PHP, MySQL, Apache), as that software will continue to evolve, even though your site will not.
A similar support program existed for Drupal 6 when it went end of life, and initially, several vendors signed on to be a part of it. However, now there is only one vendor left. The same will eventually happen with Drupal 7 extended support.
Having Trouble Deciding?
For many site owners, it is difficult to know how to proceed in the face of Drupal 7's end of life. Turbojet can help you. Our low overhead can help you minimize your cost to either migrate to Drupal 9 or upgrade to Backdrop CMS. We also offer ongoing support plans to keep your site current after the migration or upgrade. Contact us if you would like to discuss your Drupal 7 situation.