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Stupid Usability #112

The Sitecore Upgrade process

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 8/20/2015

From the mind of Chad Heinle, Senior Consultant:

Yes it’s another Sitecore post. Yes it’s somewhat technical and helps to understand how Sitecore works. Yes, I still do like Sitecore, but the Sitecore upgrade process can be a tricky proposition. A single upgrade is not a terribly frightening prospect, but an upgrade of two major versions with some serious architecture changes can be a daunting task.
The upgrade process itself comes in two parts:

  • Part one consists of running an update package – this is most similar to running an update executable. This adds all of the relevant database entries and item updates needed for the newer version.
  • Part two consists of modifying configuration files. This is where things get tricky: going through the upgrade documentation and modifying the web.config and include config files to have the relevant settings and data for the newer version. Some upgrades have very minimal changes while others have very broad sweeping changes. It pays to be very careful during this process to not miss a line, because it can have a domino effect across several updates

Having config files with settings galore is great, except when it comes to upgrading. This prevents upgrades from happening via a much more friendly wizard format. In addition, you have to assume nothing goes wrong with the update package itself – on occasion I’ve had a package fail during installation and then work on the next try without having done anything different. At this point it’s hard to say if everything got changed that was supposed to.
A few practices to consider:

  • Back up everything

Back up everything – all of the databases, all of the files from the web directory. In the end, Sitecore is a .Net website and if something goes awry, it’s simple enough (if a bit time consuming) to revert everything back.

  • Back up everything after each update

If you’ve only got one upgrade – you’re already set with number one. Odds are you’ll need to perform multiple updates to get to the latest version. Sitecore upgrades require that you upgrade each minor version to get to the latest and greatest. If you’re on version 7.1, you’ve got 7.2, 7.5 and 8.0 to go. Murphy’s Law seems to apply best to technology, so after you perform an upgrade, test to make sure everything is good and then back that version up.

  • Don’t take on too much at once

Do your upgrade in phases if possible – a single upgrade might only take an hour or two, but if you have to do three, four or even more – the hours start to add up.

  • Read all of the documentation

Make sure you read through all of the documentation to be prepared for any server architecture changes, sql scripts you need to run and other general requirements not specified with the upgrade package documentation.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 8/20/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments