Drupal is an Open Source Content Management System (CMS), which means it is available for free use but you still need to maintain Drupal sites and that is not FREE. Why is that? On a simpler philosophical level the answer is “Time is Money”. Somebody has to apply these free updates and ensure that they do not break the site. Let’s get into some details.
Ten Basic steps for updating a Drupal Site:
1. Make a copy of the current site in the dev area
2. Apply all updates
3. Check for and fix any errors
4. Check for any functionality breaks on the site
5. Backup current site files
6. Backup current site databases
7. Take the live site offline
8. Apply updates to the live site and make the same fixes as done in the dev site
9. Go online with the live site
10. Ensure all functionality on the new site is still correct
How often are Drupal updates issued?
Drupal Core: The current official version in most popular use is Drupal 7. It was released on 5th Jan 2011. Since then, up to end of the year 2014, there have been 34 updates released for Drupal Core. So that translates to 8-9 updates per year, or roughly an update every 1-2 months.
Contributed Modules: Most projects have at least a few dozen contributed modules, and on an average there are 2-3 updates released per month for these modules. Complex sites will have additional modules and accordingly, possibly extra update releases.
So effectively, there are at least a few updates available every month for each site.
Not all updates are created equal
How much effort it is to apply these updates?
In our experience, for most sites which are kept updated on regular basis, there is about 1-2 hours of effort, if you follow due diligence and do not skip any of the 10 steps for updates, as outlined above.
What do we recommend?
Can I do my own updates?
Yes. Absolutely, you can update your own sites. This is not chip design – I think chip design, my last job, is much harder than rocket science
All information on updates is available online and you can certainly do this yourself, if you are so inclined. I do want to remind you of the philosophical statement we started with: “Time is Money.” If you do not do this for a living, it will certainly take you longer than it would for your Drupal expert. And if you break the site, you might end up paying more in long run.
We’re here to help, if you want it.