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Why do Joomla! updates fail?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 - General

Joomla! is a very powerful and very popular Content Management System used on many websites. However updating Joomla! and keeping it up to date is often very difficult. We know this, but unfortunately we don’t have many answers.

Why should I update my Joomla! script?
You’re kind of between a rock and a hard place when it comes to weighing the virtues of updating your Joomla! script and leaving it out of date. Joomla! is a heavily targeted CMS for exploits and abuse – this means that if you don’t keep your Joomla! script up to date the chances of your web hosting account being hacked and used for abuse goes up. However, on the flip side, attempting an update of your Joomla! site increases the chances that your website will break due to the update process. So you really are between a rock and a hard place.

Unfortunately for us, we believe security trumps everything else, so it’s really wise to keep your scripts – including Joomla! – up to date. So failing to keep your Joomla! script up to date can lead to security issues on your account and can lead to the suspension of your account. While we do recognize just how finicky Joomla! is about it’s update process, we really just can’t stand by while outdated Joomla! scripts are compromised and used for abuse.

How can I increase my odds of a successful Joomla! update process?
Keeping your Joomla! script up to date will help alleviate some of the strain in the Joomla! update process. For example, Joomla! 3.8.4 was just released this week. If you are using Joomla! 3.8.3 then the update process to Joomla! 3.8.4 is much, much more likely to go through successfully compared to a Joomla! 3.6.1 to Joomla! 3.8.4 update. Any Joomla! 3.8 script is more likely to have a successful Joomla! 3.8.4 update process compared to any previous versions.

The further down you are updating from, the less likely the update process will go through successfully. In fact, if you are using anything less than Joomla! 3.6.5 then the chances of a successful update go down rather substantially. If you are not even using Joomla! 3.x.x then an update isn’t even possible.

If you are attempting an update of your Joomla! script and you are not using any where close to a latest version of Joomla! then we highly suggest that you reach out to the Joomla! Community Forums at:

because they are much more aware of what steps need to be taken before attempting an update that can help for a smooth and successful update.

(Just a note – at the time of this post – January 31, 2018 – the latest version of Joomla! was Joomla! 3.8.4)

Why are Joomla! updates so difficult?
This is a good question, and we encourage you to ask and participate in discussions involving this at the Joomla! Community Forums

The Joomla! developers will tell you that more times than not issues related to Joomla! updates stem from the various components, themes, extensions, and plugins that end users have installed on their Joomla! site – and they’re probably not wrong. There are a ton – an uncountable number – of various Joomla! themes, extension, plugins and addons that can be added to Joomla! to extend it’s use. It is impossible for the Joomla! developers to stay in tuned with all of these addons to know how they will react to certain updates. A lot of those addons are either poorly written or were abandoned many, many years ago and are no longer receiving any updates or attention from their respective developers.

We would encourage you to keep your Joomla! addons to a minimum – this helps to alleviate potential conflicts with update processes.

We also encourage you to use well written and reputable addons on your Joomla! site. The higher the reputation is with the developer of an addon (theme, extension, plugin, etc) then the higher the chances are that the developer has released an update for the latest version of Joomla! and will be there to help you should you have any problems.

All Joomla! addons are written based on the Joomla! framework. When that framework changes between major Joomla! versions, this has an adverse affect on how those addons operate within the Joomla! update process.

This all points back to using well written and reputable addons. If you are using an addon that hasn’t been updated in years, then chances are it’s abandoned and it will cause issues during the Joomla! update process. If you have other concerns about any addons, we really recommend that you discuss all of this with the people at the Joomla! Community Forums:

Can I continue to use my outdated version of Joomla! on my site?
I suppose the best answer to this is both Yes and No.

The answer is No because using an outdated version of Joomla! on your site is a security issue. If you continue to use an outdated version of Joomla! your web hosting account will get hacked, compromised, and used for abuse. It is not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN. And when that does happen, we will have no choice but to suspend your web hosting account and you will basically have to start your website over from scratch.

So while the answer might be Yes that you can continue to use your outdated version of Joomla! you should really realize that you are running it on borrowed time. It is only a matter of time before it will be taken down.

If you have concerns over why you should update your Joomla! site or the update process in general, again we really want to point you to the Joomla! Community Forums:

Tell them that you don’t like the Joomla! updates breaking your site. Or the fact that you have to keep your Joomla! site up to date to prevent hackings, compromises, and abuse. Voicing your concerns with the Joomla! developers and communities is the only way changes are going to be made to this process.

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