Upgrades and Versions and Migrations – Oh My!
It’s a new year and while we’re all reevaluating different aspects of our lives, jobs, homes, etc. it’s a good time to reevaluate your website as well. If you’re reading this blog it means you’re using a computer. If you’re using a computer, you’ve no doubt seen those fun little messages from Windows, Java, Adobe, etc that alert you when there’s an update to their product. The updates are meant to make the product function better, but sometimes include security patches that help keep your machine safe from hackers (I have my own personal nickname for them – but this blog has to be G rated, so I’ll let you use your imagination).
What you probably don’t know is that the software your website is built with also requires updates. Sometimes the updates are to improve performance or to offer more features, but more often than not they’re geared at protecting your site from hackers. Our customers don’t have to deal with this directly because we consider it a part of their web hosting services. Most of the time the Customer never knows their site was updated to the latest version.
Red Sage started building websites in 2006. Since then we’ve used two different software packages for site builds. The product we started with is no longer being supported by the company that produced it – what that means is there are no more updates or security patches coming for it, so it’s vulnerable to being hacked. We’ve done the best we can to keep the sites safe and functioning while still allowing our customers to make edits to them. However, it’s becoming difficult to do that. So part of our plan for 2013 is to contact those customers and talk through their options and help them find a solution that’s affordable and functional going forward.
The second software package is the one we still use, Joomla. It’s open source which means any and everyone can access the code for it. The great thing about that is that it allows a lot of really brilliant people to work together and come up with exciting extensions and components and keep the cost of those add-ons low. The down side is that it allows hackers the ability to check the code for vulnerabilities and exploit them. Have you ever typed in the domain name for a website and when the page loaded found it wasn’t what you were expecting – AT ALL? Or it could be that rather than your site loading properly, it’s a blank screen with some text that says “hacked by _______”. Either way it’s not a fun discovery and is time consuming to correct.
When we started using Joomla it was in version 1.5, and all updates were basically a button click. After a while the Joomla community realized that to move forward and continue to improve the product a major overhaul was needed and beginning with version 2.5. The upgrade from 1.5 to 2.5 and beyond is no longer a button click, but a much more involved process of migrating the files into the new version, and updating all extensions. Support for Joomla 1.5 ended last September and our focus has been to get those sites as secure as we can with the help of our awesome hosting company, Cloud Access! And next, we’ll begin to contact those customers to make suggestions and talk about the available options and costs of getting their sites upgraded so that they can continue to edit and add features as well as have peace of mind that their site has the latest security patches in place.
So if your company has a Red Sage website that’s a few years old, you can look forward to hearing from us in the coming months about how we can work with you to update and secure your site and maybe even add some new features. Updates like these are a challenge, but a necessary part of any computer program – whether it’s one on your machine, or one out there on the world wide web. Upgrades and updates keep your machine safer and allow you to take advantage of the newest features.