Top Five Challenges in Drupal 7 to 9 Migration

| | 3 min read

If you’re one of the 70% of Drupal sites still on Drupal 7, you may wonder what the upgrade path looks like to go from Drupal 7 to 9 migration. What does the significant lift look like to jump ahead with two Drupal versions? What are the major challenges in Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 Migration? We’ll explore this in this blog.

Why Drupal 7 to 9 Migration?

Drupal 9 has been available since June 2020, and Drupal 9.4 is the current release. Drupal 7 will reach the end of life on November 2022 (extended), necessitating an upgrade or migration. And Drupal 8? Currently, there are around 6 Lacs websites still running Drupal 7. If those websites want to stay in Drupal, moving to Drupal 8 no longer makes sense. The reason is that Drupal 8 reaches its end of life in November of 2021. 

You can also contract with an agency providing long-term support for older Drupal versions. Major new Drupal versions often introduce performance enhancements that are not always backported to older versions, at least not in as clear a form as a major update allows for. For example, in Drupal 9.4, native image lazy loading was introduced as the new default, which speeds up the user experience on all sites. New major versions update underlying software subsystems. It increases security, stability, and maintainability.



When to migrate Drupal 7 to 9?

Whether you choose to migrate via Drupal 8 or straight to Drupal 9, you should start the migration to Drupal 9 as soon as possible. You need to plan and execute a major platform migration before facing any security implications related to the end of Drupal security support for the older versions.

Suppose your website is upgrading from Drupal 7. In that case, you’ll need to do some information architecture work to prepare for Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 migration. So that the upgrade to Drupal 9 is minimal time taking.

How does Drupal 7 to 9 migration look like?

The migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 was colossal chaos. The Drupal 7 to 9  Migration will be about the same amount of effort. Drupal 8.9.x will be very similar to Drupal 9 aside from a few differences like removing deprecated code and updating dependencies.

The significant difference between Drupal 7 and Drupal 9 is Drupal’s core. Now built on Symfony, it has several advantages: 

  • More regular updates, 
  • Seamless migrations between versions, and 
  • Modern object-oriented system. 

It also means that a move from Drupal 7 to 9 or  newer versions of Drupal is more like a website rebuild than an upgrade.

Top 5 Challenges in Drupal 7 to 9 Migration

Let’s get started!



1. Blocked IPs

The IP addresses are migrated. However, the id column from Drupal 7’s ban_ip table is not migrated. Because of this, every IP address migrated will produce a notice message, [notice] New object was not saved, no error provided, and it is not possible to roll back the migration.


Views are not migrated. You will need to create the views in Drupal 9 manually. The Views Migration and Views migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9 modules exist to make a “best-effort” attempt, but results will need testing, particularly with more advanced views.

3. Homepage loads and the theme is broken

Sometimes, the page is white when running migrations and only loads a few items. It looks like a broken theme. Visiting /user and returning to the home page resolves it typically.

4. Modules and themes

Before starting the migration, new modules and themes should be enabled and the admin theme (if there is one) set.

5. Node translations

In Drupal 7, node translations were stored in different nodes, while in Drupal 9, they are now combined with their source language nodes. The migration system will merge the node translations, but some links might directly point to nodes that do not exist anymore. 

Considering Drupal 7 to 9 migration?

Even with the support of automated Drupal migration tools, a lot can go wrong, particularly if you have limited knowledge about the process. It could be a cakewalk for Drupal experts, but it might be challenging for your team.

With a lengthy migration road ahead of you, you may need specialists on your side and partners who can lend a hand. Contact us to learn how we can help you.