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Migrate or Upgrade Joomla 1.5 to 1.6
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23rd of July, 2012

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Please, please save yourself (and possibly your clients) a lot of headaches and make sure that your server (and in the case of jUpgrade, your browser too) is up for the task.

The system requirements of Joomla 1.6 can be found here:

jUpgrade requirements can be found here:

Before You Get Started

Before you get started, there are a few things that you are going to have to check and/or think about:

  1. Is your Joomla 1.5 version up to date? At the time of the writing of this tutorial the most up-to-date version of Joomla 1.5 is 1.5.22. Much of the testing of the migration has been done from Joomla 1.5.22 to Joomla 1.6. If your version is not up-to-date you should probably upgrade to 1.5.22 before migrating, especially if you are running Joomla 1.5.11 or lower. For a tutorial on upgrading, please visit this link.
  2. Do all your extensions have Joomla 1.6 native versions? At the time of the writing of this tutorial there are 108 available on the JED. Please note that jUpgrade is not currently able to upgrade Joomla 3rd party extensions, so those will have to be done via their respective upgrade procedures. This is however a work in progress.
  3. Have you modified any core files? Any changes that you have made to core files in Joomla will be lost so please be forewarned.
  4. Is there a Joomla 1.6 compatible template available from your template provider? If not, do you feel comfortable making the changes yourself? There are a some good resources including Chad Windnagle's Joomla Community blog, Chris Davenport's "Template Changes for Joomla 1.6" presentation and the Joomla docs. Please note that although jUpgrade is not able to currently upgrade templates, the developers are working hard at implementing the feature.
  5. Is your language pack available in Joomla 1.6? http://community.joomla.org/translations/joomla-16-translations.html
  6. Do you have folder or file permissions issues in your Joomla 1.5 installation? http://www.ostraining.com/blog/joomla/admin-tools-the-quick-and-easy-way-to-change-folder-and-file-permissions/
  7. Do you NEED to migrate to Joomla 1.6? Joomla 1.5 is powerful and very mature. For many people there is not a need to rush into Joomla 1.6. Joomla will continue to support Joomla 1.5 for at least another year and three months, releasing security updates and bug squashing updates when needed.

The two main features of Joomla 1.6 that makes it superior to Joomla 1.5 are: Access Control List (ACL) and nested categories. Gone are the days of simply having guests, registered users, authors, and editors, without being able to specify what they can and can't do in the frontend. Also, with 1.6 you can have more flexibility of organizing (and therefore displaying) your content with nicely organized categories within categories. No more being restricted to the section >> category structure. Those are all great things to have (especially the ACL), however, for many 1.5 users, it isn't needed. The main point is to decide for yourself:

Video on How to Upgrade

Step 1: Backup, Backup, Backup

Skipping this part is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make. If you have a proper backup (or several) you can always revert back if needed. However, if you don't properly backup your site and something goes wrong, you are going to waste a lot of valuable time, and sometimes a lot money, getting things back to the way they were. So please backup!

If you don't know how, please see steps 1 through 5 in this tutorial.

Step 2: Download jUpgrade


Download the latest version of jUpgrade from http://www.matware.com.ar/downloads/joomla/jupgrade.html

Step 3: Optional - Testing Environment

If you are really nervous by this point and your heart is beating fast, then you should probably set up a testing environment. You can follow this tutorial to make a copy of your site to test on your localhost or another remote server.

Step 4: Install jUpgrade

Go to your Joomla backend. e.g. www.example.com/administrator

Extensions >> Install/Uninstall

Browse >> Select com_jupgrade >> Upload File & Install

Step 5: Migration

Components >> jUpgrade

Start Upgrade

Do not exit the screen until everything has finished loading. Scroll down to check if it has finished.


Behind the Scenes

As explained in the background information, the changes from Joomla 1.5 and 1.6 are quite significant. The fact that jUpgrade creates a new Joomla 1.6 installation for us is, in my opinion, pure genius. If the migration process was not 100% successful, your Joomla 1.5 is still perfectly intact and none of your users are affected. You have an opportunity to check out your site both in the frontend and the backend to make sure everything is up to par.

So what actually happens? jUpgrade downloads the latest version of Joomla 1.6 for you to the jupgrade directory (which it creates) in the root folder of your Joomla 1.5 installation. It then extracts all the files from the download. Once extraction has completed, jUpgrade installs Joomla 1.6 and then proceeds to migrate your old database to the new Joomla 1.6 database which it has created.

Your Joomla 1.6 site will be installed in www.example.com/jupgrade assuming that your Joomla 1.5 installation is in your html root.

Check Your Joomla 1.6

Please do a full site review of your Joomla 1.6 installation and make sure everything is set up properly.

Your Joomla 1.6 site will be installed in www.example.com/jupgrade assuming that your Joomla 1.5 installation is in your html root.

Here is a general checklist of items to test:

  • Banners
  • Categories
  • Contacts
  • Content
  • Menus
  • Modules
  • Newsfeeds
  • Users
  • Weblinks
  • Templates - Work is currently being done on the template upgrade feature of jUpdate and it is not yet fully functional. Your module positions may have to be adjusted in module manager.

Backup Joomla 1.6

If everything looks good to go, then let's backup the new Joomla 1.6 installation. You can follow this tutorial: http://www.ostraining.com/blog/joomla/how-to-backup-a-joomla-16-site/

Overview of the Rest of the Process

Quick overview of what we are going to try to do now: 

  1. Relocate our Joomla 1.5 installation to a subfolder as a "just in case".
  2. Relocate our Joomla 1.6 installation to the html folder.

*****It should happen in this order***** If you do it in reverse order, the Joomla 1.6 files will get mixed with the Joomla 1.5 files (many of 1.5 files will be overwritten) and you will have a big mess! Your site will likely still work, but it's a security ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

Going Live

Next log onto your host's file manager (e.g. cPanel, Plesk, etc) or an FTP Client, however, preferably a file manager.

The general procedure is (it should take about 30 seconds if you review the steps before you start):

  1. Create a subfolder (e.g. myoldsite) for the Joomla 1.5 installation in your html root, e.g. public_html/myoldsite
  2. Select all the folders (***except the jupgrade folder***) and files in the html root and move them into the Joomla 1.5 subfolder (e.g. myoldsite)
  3. Select all the folders and files in the jupgrade folder and move them to the html root
  4. Double check the frontend and backend

You can use this tutorial to guide you through the process.


  1. jUpgrade cannot download Joomla 1.6 package? When the download fails (timeouts, javascript issues, etc) you can download it manually here and put this file into your ROOT/tmp directory. Then, in the preferences of jUpgrade, you must set 'Skip Download' to 'Yes'. After that, run the upgrade again.
  2. Progress Bar? Are you getting errors with the progress bar in Internet Explorer (Windows XP)? Use Firefox.
  3. Read Carefully: Please go through the Requirements and Before You Get Started sections above and double check everything!
  4. Report Bugs: http://matware.com.ar/foros/jupgrade.html
  5. Get Support: http://matware.com.ar/foros/jupgrade.html

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