Upgrading your Umbraco 7 (or 8) website to a later Umbraco CMS version is a critical step to ensure the security and longevity of your site.
Version 7 is already out of support, and while version 8 has not yet reached its end of life, both versions are based on the older .NET Framework, while new Umbraco versions are based on the more modern .NET Core.
There are a lot of advantages that come with a new Umbraco version. To name a few:
- Improved stability
- Better security
- Faster performance
- New features
- Greater community support
- A greater selection of packages with which you can extend your site
However, there are two distinct approaches to an Umbraco upgrade.
The Dilemma: Upgrade "As-Is" or Rebuild?
The big question is whether to upgrade your website "as-is" or rebuild it. Upgrading "as-is" means that your website's back office structure and functionality will be adapted to work with a new Umbraco version, but all the legacy practices will remain. They weren't wrong at the time - but there are newer approaches based on new Umbraco features now.
Let's take one of the most obvious cases as an example: In order to create "blocks" of content on Umbraco 7, developers used various approaches - from Nested Content to pickers from a "pool" of reusable nodes to subnodes that would serve as blocks. With the introduction of Content Blocks, all this was simplified greatly and there was a uniform way to address it. Upgrading an Umbraco website "as-is" means that you'll probably continue following those legacy practices without taking any advantage of the new Umbraco data structures.
Moreover, although an “as-is” upgrade means that the existing data will still be in place, it doesn’t necessarily mean that no transformation or migration is needed at all. There are incompatibilities between the way data is stored between Umbraco versions, so some selective data migration is unavoidable.
On the other hand, a full rebuild means not only adapting code but also restructuring your website to work with modern practices. This needs time - and the cost can easily grow to 2x, 3x, 4x, or even more compared to that of an "as-is" upgrade since much more effort is involved - simply put, a new Umbraco website needs to be developed from scratch and the content must be migrated from the old structure to the new one.
Not an easy feat. But worth it in the long term.
Maintenance gets to be much easier, new features can be added without great effort, and, of course, upgrades to next versions will be smoother and safer.
Obviously this will be a more serious investment - but it will pay back for itself eventually.
Upgrading your Umbraco website to a later version is a serious investment. Whether you choose to upgrade "as-is" or rebuild, both options have their own pros and cons. Ultimately, the best decision for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.
- No surprises
- Legacy practices remain
- Outdated / discontinued plugins may need to be replaced
- Some data migration is needed
- Harder to maintain / extend
- Can take advantage of newest features
- Modern practices can be applied
- Easier to maintain / extend
- More expensive
- Takes more time
- Needs data migration and restructuring