The facts about End of Life
Technology is almost constantly evolving, with updates, patches and new software being introduced and implemented all the time. And as with all tech, lifespans end as innovations emerge. The End of Life, or EOL, phase is the last stage in the lifecycle of an Umbraco product. EOL follows a Security Phase, where Umbraco only provide fixes for security issues – but no longer work on features and fix bugs or regressions, as it does in the preceding Support Phase. After the EOL date for a major version of Umbraco – in this case Umbraco 7 – there will not be any further minor releases, updates or patch releases. Umbraco won’t work on and maintain features, nor release fixes for bugs, regressions or security issues, so it is advisable to look at upgrading to a newer version.
In future, new major releases will come out every six months, with some of these aligned with Microsoft.NET Long Term Support (LTS) releases. The LTS versions will enable you to have your entire platform supported for a longer period of time. For example, Umbraco 10.0 is LTS and supports .NET 6 LTS. The subsequent LTS will be Umbraco 13.0, which will support .NET 8 LTS.
As of January 2022, there are now two phases of support for major releases – the Support Phase and the Security Phase. The Support Phase is nine months from the first release, extended to 24 months for LTS releases. Following this period, the product will then enter the Security Phase, during which only security issues will be fixed. The Security Phase lasts three months, which is extended to 12 months for LTS-majors. Patches are only created up to the latest minor of a particular major. Critical security patches can be targeted at multiple minor versions of a particular major, judged on a case-by-case basis. At the end of the Security phase, the major is considered EOL and we no longer recommend using it.
The countdown has begun
As of July 2021, Umbraco 7 entered the Security Phase. After a decade of service, Umbraco 7 is being retired as a product. Its long lifespan is a testament to its reliance, its adaptability and its success. This means that currently, Umbraco 7 will receive patches for severe security vulnerabilities only. On 30th September 2023, Umbraco 7 will reach EOL. This means it will no longer be supported with security patches and we no longer recommend hosting sites on this version. There are still quite a few Umbraco 7 projects currently in production and agencies and clients face some decisions over the coming year, about what to do with these sites and how they will be hosted going forward.
There are exceptions too, as in the case of Umbraco Cloud. All new projects are by default based on the latest LTS major version of Umbraco. So, there are upgrade options available for the projects, to make sure they are right up-to-date. If you want to create a new project on a previous major version, the major still has to be in the Support Phase. Once a major version of Umbraco has entered the Security Phase, you won’t be able to create new projects in Umbraco Cloud. In the case of Umbraco 7, this means that it is not possible to create new projects, or baseline projects running Umbraco 7. Umbraco will support your existing Umbraco Cloud projects running Umbraco 7 until it enters EOL on 30th September 2023. You can also continue to host your Umbraco 7 site on Umbraco Cloud after the EOL date. However, it’s worth noting that new features developed exclusively for Umbraco Cloud might not be available for Umbraco 7 projects.
Though the countdown has begun, Umbraco 7 doesn’t expire overnight, and you will still be able to use it after the EOL date passes. However, you will inevitably run into some issues with its functionality when it reaches the EOL phase. For example, there are risks of security issues, as there are no longer fixes for security issues that may arise beyond the Security Phase. While the software will still work, we can’t guarantee it will remain secure. There may also be issues with compliance. In some cases, there are policies regarding EOL software and running Umbraco 7 after it has entered EOL can mean compliance rules are at risk of being breached. Upgrading or rebuilding on a more current and supported version of Umbraco is the best option to guard against this. Users will also be stuck with outdated older features and a lack of new features, which may date their website or hinder their functionality and compatibility. We encourage upgrading to the latest major version of Umbraco where possible, to ensure you always have access to all the new features, improvements and patches that are created for it. Remaining on a version that is in the Security Phase, or past the EOL date, means that you won’t be working with the fastest and best version of Umbraco available.
The options for upgrade
As support for Umbraco 7 reaches a conclusion, there are essentially two options for upgrading. You can either upgrade to Umbraco 8, the next version chronologically, or upgrade to Umbraco 10 or 11. In terms of upgrade and migration, the complexity varies. From v7 to v8, content can be migrated, but some aspects, for example templates, will need to be rewritten. From v8 to v9, content is identical, but all code needs to be rewritten. For both v9 to v10, and v10 to v11, it’s a very straightforward upgrade, as almost everything is identical.
Upgrade to Umbraco 8
This will likely be the quickest and simplest option for most small websites, as the underlying codebase does not change. It’s still on the older .Net Framework rather than the newer version of .Net. It does however mean you don’t gain the benefits of the newer version (Umbraco 10) that uses ASP.Net Core. By not upgrading beyond Umbraco 8, however, it may be seen as a short-term sticking plaster. Umbraco 8 is now in support phase itself and reaches its own EOL in Feb 2025, but this may suit some users.
Upgrade to Umbraco 10 (or 11)
This would be our recommended option, to fully appreciate and benefit from the multiple advantages of the latest version of Umbraco + ASP.Net Core. From the outset, this is the longer and more expensive option, as it would require rebuilding the website from scratch, given the changes to the underlying codebase. But this could in itself be viewed as a positive, as a valuable opportunity for a website refresh. Umbraco 10 is an LTS version, so would be our recommended option for those that do not want to have to upgrade again too soon. Alternatively, Umbraco 11 is a preferred option for those who are looking to utilise the latest version of Umbraco and are comfortable with keeping up to date and upgrading their website on a more regular basis.
To help you make the best decisions, it’s always worth talking to us. At Titan Webtech we can offer support and help with the transition from Umbraco 7 to a more recent alternative. We can also advise on which version of Umbraco will be the best fit for you. Whether you need guidance with upgrading, migrating to a new version, or starting an entirely new project, get in touch today.