1. The website must be at least on Joomla 1.5.21 (the minimum version that JomSocial supports)
2. An instance of Apache running locally / in localhost. The easiest method would be having XAMPP installed.
3. A mirror of the site runs locally. Guide on how to do that.
4. Some hugs, a steady mind and caramel frappucino, with cream please.
A responsible community manager will always follow a strict standard operating procedure before a major update is done to the website. The following steps form basic guidelines that we abide religiously while upgrading any site of ours. You may tweak it to suit your needs, requirements and system configuration. (Admittedly, these four points are directly taken from our JomSocial Upgrade guide, which holds as much relevance for Joomla migration too).
1. Plan ahead
A broken home will tarnish your reputation as a good host. Plan for the most suitable time to do an upgrade, for example in the middle of the night, when most people are asleep and when your users possibly at its lowest point. You may resort to Google Analytics to help you out in identifying the appropriate time & day for the upgrade.
2. Keep your users informed
Once a suitable time has been identified, always let your users know about this so that they are not surprised to see the site offline / in maintenance mode. This is also a good opportunity for you to engage your community and give them a voice to decide on proper time & date. Always assure your users that their information and data will be safe and secured. Do also provide with an estimate of how long the upgrade process would take. Depending on the size of your site, unique customizations, complexity of installed extensions and other variables, it could take from an hour to easily a day for a complete migration of the website.
3. Backups, Backups & Backup
I cannot stress this enough, a good webmaster always create a backup of his entire site and database from time to time, even when the site runs smoothly. Your last complete backup was months ago? Shame on you. The necessity to have a complete backup and multiple backups is critical while attempting any major upgrade to your site. Be it an installation of new components, or upgrade of existing ones, never forget to make a backup. One handy component that will truly ease your life is Akeeba, which automates creation of backups (files+database) on a predefined schedule.
At the very least, consult your webhost to get a backup done for you. 🙂
4. Create a local test site
With the fresh backup files, create a mirror of your actual site in local development server. The purpose of having a separate mirror site hosted locally is for you to safely run migration trials without having to worry with any untoward damages on the live site. As the mirror site closely mimics the original Joomla system with the same template and extensions, you can easily detect possible clashes or upgrade errors during or upon the end of migration procedure. Fixing would also be easier and faster as it would have a much lower latency resulting with faster response time. If you are not sure on how to do that, please follow this official guide.
Navigation. You are now reading Part 1 of a series of 6.
Part 1: Migrating Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5, a guided tutorial
Part 2: Preparing Joomla 1.5 site for Joomla 2.5 migration
Part 3: Comparison of Joomla 2.5 Migrators. In review: jUpgrade
Part 4: Joomla 2.5 Migrator Review J2XML Importer
Part 5: Joomla 2.5 Migrator Review SP Upgrade
Part 6: Moving Joomla 2.5 from localhost to live site