Drupal php ugrades questions

Bobth1019's picture


I have a pretty basic question for you that I know has been answered in some ways but I would really appreciate it if you might offer some suggestions or an opinion on my particular situation.

Our site is tcia.org and I very recently began working as the web master/coordinator for the site. My background leans much more to being a web designer although my background is fairly wide in regards to sites. I have had some exposure to Drupal 6 and I've been trying to catch up and learn more.

Our immediate concern is that the site is Drupal 6 (a few thousand pages and many added modules) and the current PHP version is 5.3 and we need to upgrade to 5.5 or 5.6 Nothing special in this, I know, and I've read as much as I could in regard to what we might expect.

Our deadline is summer. We are also in the process of evaluating the site in IMIS 20/RiSE in terms of a CMS and dispensing with Drupal.

So we have some options ...

It seems as though the problem with making the current site compatible with a newer php version would mean going through each module and refactoring them, which seems like quite a task and might be asking for more problems as that will introduce new bugs/errors/issues. And probably way beyond me.

Or it might be worth it to move the server instance to a VPS and keep things as-is until a new site is built. Our host offers that service over the maintained hosted instance that we have now.

Or move to Drupal 8 but that is not necessarily what we want to do.

Just wondering … do you think that running a test PHP upgrade to 5.5 or 5.6 to get a sense of just how many errors/issues arise makes sense? Or more trouble to see what it’s worth and a known entity that it is going to throw many errors? Move to VPS?

So I'd just wondering if I could just get some input of what might be a plan for us? And also if there are Drupal people there who might be interested in helping with the PHP upgrade.

Thank you all very much.

Bob H


Try this

DamienMcKenna's picture

A friend/coworker blogged about her experience fixing up a bunch of sites to work with PHP 5.6, it might help you:


You might start off by downloading your site to your local computer and getting it running with e.g. Acquia's Dev Desktop, WampServer, MAMP, etc (depending upon your computer's OS), make sure you have PHP 5.6 running and you'll be able to make light work of it.

Also, make sure you have the codebase running in something like git, or subversion/svn, etc so you can easily backtrack if something breaks.

Lastly, make small steps and confirm each step, the last thing you want to do is make a dozen module & theme fixes only to discover something has broken in something you didn't think you touched. :)

Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss it in more specifics.


Bobth1019's picture

Thanks, Damien,

Good suggestions...we have a dev platform to test it out on so by all rights we have that end of it covered. So you are suggesting to give it a shot and see how it goes far as the PHP upgrade, yes?

Thanks for the link and I'd seen it before...was very helpful. I do think that I would be over my head if the updates threw too many errors, I suspect.

Yes, give it a try

DamienMcKenna's picture

Yes, definitely give it a try, and just work through the bugs that you find. The article I linked to has links to issues (and hopefully patches) for D6 modules to fix incompatibilities with PHP 5.4, so just work through all of your modules to see what bugs exist, patch them as you go, and you should be fine.


peezy's picture

Hi, Bob.

You actually have a bigger challenge than just PHP. On February 24th 2016, Drupal 6 will reach end of life and no longer be supported. The details are here.

If you want to run a secure site after Feb 24, I recommend hiring a company with D6 expertise. Here is a list of the official D6 Long Term Service Vendors but other companies may be able to assist you as well.

Personally, I highly recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible. Without more information about your site, it would be difficult to say whether upgrading to D8 or D7 would be best for you.

Good luck!

Thank you for your

Bobth1019's picture

Thank you for your suggestion...the thing is we are very likely as in almost certainly moving to another platform (IMIS 20/RiSE) in june/july so the idea of spending a great deal of time and/or money with our fairly large site (tcia.org) upgrading to D7 or D8 or even managing the PHP upgrade and then switching to this other platform (IMIS 20 integration is the main focus of the move) is less than ideal. That is why I was wondering about the VPS option to buy time, is what it amounts to. Any thoughts?

Again, thank you for your help...

Thanks for

peezy's picture

Thanks for clarifying.

Regardless of what happens in June, I recommend that someone make a concerted effort to address potential security issues of your website after D6 reaches EOL. If you have a security background and are comfortable patching Core and contrib modules, great; if not, I suggest hiring someone. This person / company could also help with the PHP upgrade.

Another option is to export the site to a hosted Drupal solution, such as Pantheon. They may help you with your PHP upgrade as part of your on-boarding process. Plus, they are more likely to apply security updates to Core and possibly assist you when a security issue arises in a contrib module.

Good luck!


Bobth1019's picture

Thank you very much for your sugggestions...we're on Aegir and they also suggested updates in regards to security issues.


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