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We are currently preparing for the release of JomSocial 2.6 in the next few hours. For the time being, I am reposting some quick notes that were first published a few months ago during the release of JomSocial 2.4. This guide holds much relevance to most if not all upgrade attempts for a Joomla website, hence the need for a round of reminder to ensure that such major upgrade will be smooth and safe.
Upgrading JomSocial has always been a simple matter of uninstalling the older JomSocial version and then installing the shiny, new and polished JomSocial 2.6.
But hold your horses, dear friends! A responsible community manager will always follow a strict standard operating procedure before a major update is done to the website. The following steps form basic guidelines that we abide religiously while upgrading any site of ours. You may tweak it to suit your needs, requirements and system configuration.
1. Plan ahead
In most cases, JomSocial is likely to be one of the most active areas of your website. It is the primary gathering point of your community and as such, a broken home will tarnish your reputation as a good host. Plan for the most suitable time to do an upgrade, for example in the middle of the night, when most people are asleep and when your users may at its lowest point. You may resort to Google Analytics to help you out in identifying the appropriate time & day for the upgrade.
2. Keep your users informed
Once a suitable time has been identified, always let your users know about this so that they are not surprised to see the site offline / in maintenance mode. This is also a good opportunity for you to engage your community and give them a voide to decide on proper time & date. Always assure your users that their information and data will be safe and secured. Do also provide with an estimate of how long the upgrade process would take. A typical JomSocial upgrade will take 15 minutes at most, but this does not put the time taken to make backup into the equation. Depending on your system and preference, it may take from 15 minutes to an hour for a complete upgrade of JomSocial.
3. Backups, Backups & Backups
I cannot stress this enough, a good webmaster always create a backup of his entire site and database from time to time, even when the site runs smoothly. If your last complete backup was months ago, shame on you. The necessity to have a complete backup and a backup of the backup is critical while attempting any major upgrade to your site. Be it an installation of new components, or upgrade of existing ones (jomSocial in this matter), never forget to make a backup. One handy component that will truly ease your life is Akeeba, which automates creation of backups (files+database) on a predefined schedule.
At the very least, consult your webhost to get a backup done for you. :)
4. Run an upgrade on local test site
With the fresh backup files, create a mirror of your actual site in local development server. The purpose of having a separate mirror site hosted locally is for you to safely run upgrade trials without having to worry with any untoward damages on the live site. As the mirror site closely mimic the original Joomla system with the same template and extensions, you can easily detect possible clashes or upgrade errors during or upon the end of upgrade procedure. Fixing would also be easier and faster as it would have a much lower latency resulting with faster response time. If you are not sure on the cause of your errors, please push the local site into a subdomain of your live site so that our eager Support Team can assist you. Dont forget to provide us with a temporary super admin account, FTP detail and phpmyadmin access! Visit our Q&A Area.
Have fun with JomSocial!