How to successfully upgrade a PrestaShop to version 1.7 (migration)?

On 2 July 2021

PrestaShop version 1.7 represents a significant evolution in the technical architecture of the e-commerce solution. This major technological evolution greatly improves the performance and security of the software. However, it also hinders the backward compatibility of many themes and modules.

This technological shift naturally involves important challenges for companies wishing to update their e-commerce store. The migration to PrestaShop 1.7 must be planned and carried out according to the rules of the art, especially with the help of a pre-production environment. Are you ready to take the step? Here is how to successfully migrate from PrestaShop to its 1.7 version.

Plan your PrestaShop migration methodically

Updating your PrestaShop e-commerce is a major project that requires method and organization. Each step of the migration of your online store must be carefully planned. This meticulous preparation will allow you to anticipate the time and human resources needed, but also to choose the most appropriate period to perform this operation. Pay particular attention to the following elements:

Clarify your strategy

The transition to PrestaShop 1.7 is the right time to re-evaluate your sales and marketing strategy. Version 1.7 brings new features, especially in SEO and usability, that can change your traffic acquisition plan, the experience offered to your users and your conversion tunnel.

To make your PrestaShop migration a success, be sure to evaluate the opportunity to add additional features, such as a blog section or a customization module for example, or to prepare your site for its international deployment. 

Evaluate the compatibility of the theme and modules

The 1.7 version represents a real break in the PrestaShop environment. Many previous themes and modules are not compatible with the latest version of the platform. When planning, make sure your theme is compatible. Also, take the time to review each module to classify them into one of four categories: “compatible”, “new license to buy”, “to replace” and “to remove”. This last option will be particularly useful if the feature is now natively supported or is no longer used.

Allow sufficient time to complete your migration

Depending on the complexity of the existing site and its database, updating your store may take a few hours or several days. Your preparation phase will allow you to plan the human resources to finalize, in optimal conditions, the adjustments and tests necessary for your transition to version 1.7 of your e-commerce platform.

Choose the right time

The good planning of your PrestaShop migration implies the choice of a low activity period during the week, the month or the year. To do this, carefully analyze your sales to identify periods where sales are low. For B2B activities, the best period is often the weekend, while for consumer stores it varies according to the nature of the products offered and their seasonality.

Get a pre-production environment

The update of your e-commerce solution absolutely requires the securing of the operations with the help of a pre-production environment. This development environment will allow you to proceed quietly with the migration in a secure environment. You will be able to undertake the different steps of your migration without risking losing sales, and proceed to all the necessary tests and modifications, in complete security.

To set up your pre-production environment, you can of course create a development space on your server. But the easiest solution is to use the ready-to-use pre-production environment deployment service, Parachute

Parachute allows you to create a working clone of your store on a secure third-party server. You can test the compatibility of your theme and modules with PrestaShop version 1.7, for example, by first performing the migration on the cloned store. So you don’t take the risk of crashing your online store and you preserve your business.

Once you have taken these precautions, you will be able to plan the steps of your migration on D-day.

Recover your e-commerce data

One of the prerequisites for a successful PrestaShop migration is the recovery of all the data of your e-commerce store. Indeed, you will have to migrate, on the new version of the PrestaShop solution, the data available in your back-office, such as the product catalog, the categories, the customer listing or the order history.

While the migration from a 1.6 version to a 1.7 version implies a simple data recovery, the migration from a previous version, such as a 1.5 or a 1.4, requires special attention and the use of an appropriate module or the intervention of a third party.

Four options to migrate your PrestaShop data

Depending on your IT skills and the complexity of the operation, you can choose between four different options to perform your PrestaShop data migration: manual, via a module, using a third-party service or outsourcing the process to an external provider.

– Manual option: reserved for experienced people, this solution consists in manually backing up the database and existing files and then reprocessing them in the new version of PrestaShop. Once the backups are done and PrestaShop 1.7 is installed, it takes place in 4 distinct steps:

  • Moving old files to a newly created _OLD folder at the root of the site
  • Uploading the new downloaded files to the root of PrestaShop via the FTP client
  • Recovery of old elements by transferring old _OLD files to new 1.7 files
  • Launching the update by running the update script

– Option via a module: the PrestaShop Addons marketplace offers modules specifically designed to answer the problems of a migration to PrestaShop 1.7. The Migration Pro module is certainly the right tool you need. It offers the possibility to easily and quickly recover data from versions 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6. To acquire a license, you will have to pay 129,99€ excl. tax.

– Third-party service option: you can make backups using a third-party service. The Parachute solution is ideal in this case: it allows you to deploy a clone of your e-commerce store on a third-party server. By definition, this clone contains all the data and files of your e-Shop. But that’s not all! The service provides you with a real workspace from which you can, among other things, make backups of your data at any stage of your work process, in a completely secure manner.

– External service provider option: you can of course decide to outsource the entire migration of your PrestaShop to a web agency or a competent freelancer. However, this decision implies a certain cost, and, unlike the previous option, you do not keep control of your data. However, you can mix the two: create secure access to the pre-production environment created by Parachute, to allow a professional service provider to perform the migration of your database for you. You will be able to follow the different modifications and backups and to go back if needed. 

Once the data is recovered, the migration work is still far from being finished. You will have to ensure the compatibility of the theme, the modules and the specific developments made.

Update the theme, modules and specific developments

The data migration has allowed you to transfer to PrestaShop 1.7 all the back-office data. You will now process the front-office design as well as all the features of your site. Here again, if you don’t want to take the risk of degrading the user experience or even worse crashing your site, it is essential to have a staging environment at hand to perform all your design and functional tests.

Update of the theme

The theme of your site manages the design of your store on the visitor side. When migrating to PrestaShop 1.7, it is not possible to take the files of the previous theme to install them on the new version. It is therefore mandatory to plan a budget to update your existing design or to create a new theme. You have three main options:

– Adapt your existing design to PrestaShop 1.7: to offer your visitors the same graphical environment, you must transpose the existing design into a new theme created according to the new PrestaShop architecture. This task can be done internally or externally by an integrator or a developer.

– Buy a new theme developed for PrestaShop 1.7: particularly economical, this solution requires you to change the design of your store. You can easily find premium themes developed for your business sector on the editor’s marketplace.

– Create a new custom design for your store: your migration to PrestaShop 1.7 represents a major strategic change? You can of course entrust a graphic designer to create a new custom design for your store. An integrator will then undertake the creation of your custom theme.

Migrate your PrestaShop modules

The preparation phase has normally allowed you to set up a migration plan for your PrestaShop modules. For each module, you have a clear action plan that allows you to anticipate the actions to take. Even with a rigorous planning, you may encounter technical problems, especially in terms of compatibility between modules. You will therefore have to install the modules one by one, starting with the most important ones, then configure them while constantly testing for compatibility. Here again, the Parachute solution is very useful: it allows you to carry out all the updates and compatibility tests without stress, and then to carry out (or make a third party carry out, via secure access) all the necessary modifications on the pre-production environment. The production launch is then just a formality.

Update of specific developments

The evolution of PrestaShop architecture means that the automated migration of custom-made features is impossible. If you want to benefit from it on your updated e-commerce, you will have to adapt the code to the new platform specificities. Another solution is to turn instead to a module that will combine these different features.