Magento is a huge beast and requires more than the average website in terms of resources and planning but if your going to be taking the plunge and upgrade your site to Magento 2 any time soon then these are some essential things you may need to know.
Not a Quick Fix
Magento has had it fair share of issues and problems when it comes to upgrading the site and its core code. Unlike sites such as WordPress upgrading to the latest version is very difficult and should only be attempted by a professional or somebody who knows what they are doing, you could be risking years of data and customer info if done incorrectly.
This cannot be underestimated, back everything up! or make sure you can recover to this point if something does go horribly wrong. If your upgrading an active site I wouldn’t even touch the old one until the new site is up and running on a different server then switch DNS settings to the new server.
The Server is Key
The key to a successful Magento 2 set up starts with the server and ends with the server. Gone are the days where Magento could run even on a cheap shared hosting server… even just for testing. You need a beast but more importantly you need to set it up correctly to follow the guidelines on MySQL setting, Apache Setting, PHP version and modules being installed. You also need access to the command line of your server to be able to complete certain steps. If this isn’t available then you need to switch hosts or get a better hosting package.
Unfortunately there isn’t a quick fix to this and most hosting companies if you explain your setup needs to be for a Magento 2 site they will grit their teeth and have a sharp intake of air as they will have to do some work to help you get the perfect setup. Some hosts even have specific Magento 2 builds but these could be expensive.
Old or New Files
Now comes the time where your sure you have a great server purring ready to take your Magento files, but which files do you use. The old Magento 1.x files and upgrade these or do we jump in to Magento 2 files and build from there. The answer is start from a fresh Magento 2 build base.
You can install Magento 2 in a number of ways, i’m covering the simplest way by using the on screen setup.
The installation is straightforward enough very similar to Magento 1.x where you download all the files and then upload to the server, set up a database and then your good to go.
When you open up the web address your faced with a setup screen, this will do all the necessary check to make sure your server is good enough and has all the correct PHP modules installed and working, but we knew we would pass this section anyway because the server devs said it would!
The next few screens are initial setup, site name, URL’s and Database setup etc. Your then asked to install, which takes a minute or 2 and then the site is installed. you need to setup a user before you can complete but your site is setup. and ready to go.
So great you have your old site on one server and your new site on another…what next? The Transfer!
We need to transfer all the information from the old site to the new one, easy right? Just copy the old database to the new one… hmmm no that doesn’t work as they have changed the database around so they don’t match any more. Ok what about the old theme just copy the files to the Magento 2 theme folder and were back to normal right…? Erm no sorry.
They have changed all this too so the template files, theme files, and plugin files, no longer work as they did so a total overhaul of your site is needed basically.
Help is at hand, there are a number of things that can help first of all is the Magento Data Migration Tool. This tool is installed on the new Magento 2 site via the command line and you can upgrade the database and transfer it but just looking at the instructions is giving me a headache.
Not only is this a database upgrade too there are things like the media files, and theme files that need to be transferred manually anyway.
Yes there is! A fantastic little tool here called the UB Data Migration Lite.
This tool takes all the hard work out of this process, by giving you a user interface to login to both the old and new databases and start the transfer with a click of the button
The best thing about this tool is that is FREE! Yes you heard correctly, free and it’s a great tool but there are drawbacks to the lite version. The main problem is that it won’t transfer all the data. It will only transfer product data and category data. You have to pay a hefty $399 for the pro version with 3 months support and you’ll be able to transfer everything including customer data, passwords, sales data, everything. Making this a truly seamless transfer.
With both these tools there is lots to clear up, including moving all the media files to the correct location on the new server. Once this is done you should have a fully working magento 2 site with exactly the same data as your old site but without a theme or plugins.
To convert themes and plugins to work with Magento 2 is quite difficult as there are quite a few substantial changes, not only where the code lives on the server but also how it is coded.
I’ll have some more tutorials and more coming soon on these parts of Magento 2 upgrading process but for now you should have enough to understand the basics.
Magento 2 is a great piece of software and its free! Its possibly the most powerful software available for ecommerce and will make life so easy for you running your online store.
It also comes with its problems, its very resource hungry and needs a substantial server to even begin coding a website. There are some cloud services that can help but overall you’ll need a developer to help you get your site up and running.