We do a lot of Joomla upgrades here at BCS, along with full migrations to update Joomla from older versions like 1.5 to the current 3.x series. Over the years we've refined our processes to make the work more efficient and accurate.
The first step in an upgrade is project discovery. Often the outdated Joomla site has malicious files in place due to security vulnerabilities that exist in the old Joomla versions. Cleaning the malicious files (and any core hacks) is critical to the success of the upgrade.
We also need to thoroughly document the extensions and templates used in the Joomla administrator. The template and extensions that are in use on the website affect the effort needed to successfully upgrade the website. The number of articles can also be a factor. The largest migration in our company history was a site with over 66,000 articles in place, and it takes some time to move those into the new database. Whether your website uses standard extensions, or has custom components installed, we take the time to make sure that everything will function properly within the current Joomla structure.
Initially we ask the client to provide us with a super user login, as well as a login for the hosting control panel. With this access, we can accurately document the relevant items to be considered in the upgrade, and we can most accurately estimate the cost. There really is no way to accurately estimate without proper access; in that case, any developer would be making a "best guess" on efforts needed and there is a good chance that the final price would need to be adjusted.
Once we have documented the project specifications and estimated the time on project, we provide a written estimate for the Joomla upgrade service.
Even with the investment in performing initial project discovery, there can be unexpected issues that arise during the development work, which can impact the final cost. How we handle this as a company is to build in some flexibility in our estimates. We allow a set number of hours as an overage that is not charged to the client. If our efforts are going to exceed the overage, then we notify the client so that they can make a decision about approving the overage. You won't be surprised with a final bill that is higher than the initial estimate.
When a client contracts us for the upgrade work, we first take a copy of the site files and database and place that on our local servers for development. Doing so means that we don't need to interfere with the live site when performing the update.
During the upgrade we search for hacked files on the site. Some years ago the hacking was pretty standard; in general PHP files with malicious code were injected into the site files. But over time we have seen that the hackers' methods have evolved, and we have to look more closely to find and fix all issues. For example, hackers started using image files to hide malicious code. Many newer exploits may not be caught by virus detection software. Our developers keep current with the latest trends so that we can more effectively clean malicious code from your Joomla website and prevent future issues.
Once we have the site upgraded and cleaned we place it on a development server for the client to review. Sometimes there are change requests that are made at this time. Once the client is satisfied with the work, we can then take the upgraded site live.
Taking the site live can mean placing the upgraded site back on the client's existing hosting account, or in many cases, the client will elect to move to our hosting and support service. We can then take responsibility for the regular upgrades that are needed to keep the website safe and functioning optimally in the future. We also help with other things like admin support, website monitoring, and site backups.
In 2017, we updated more than 1 Joomla site every week, and continue to gain valuable insights because of the large number of upgrades that we perform. If you need help with a Joomla site that is not up to date or is not performing optimally, please reach out to us for fast and friendly support.
Look at what a difference a website redesign makes!