8 Answers for All Drupal 6 Site Owners

Drupal release cycle

With all the discussion of Drupal 8, we’ve heard more and more questions from nervous people with Drupal 6 sites.

In truth, the status of Drupal 6 is still in flux. Security plans for Drupal 6 were released last month, but they depend on when Drupal 8 will be released, which is unknown.

So, how can good, honest Drupal 6 site owners know what to do?

Never fear, we’re here to help. Here are 8 questions and answers to help you decide what to do with your Drupal 6 site.

#1. How long will Drupal 6 be supported for?

The Drupal 6 core will get security updates until 3 months after Drupal 8 is released. You can read the announcement explaining that decision here.

#2. OK, but when will Drupal 8 come out?

Good question. Our best guess at the moment is early-to-mid 2015.

#3. So, Drupal 6 patches will stop in mid-to-late 2015?

Yes, it would be a safe assumption for your planning. Expect that Drupal 6 security patches may stop around July / August / September 2015.

#4. Can I keep using Drupal 6 if security updates stop?

Yes, and you won’t be alone. There are many large organizations and government bodies that will do just that. We know sites that are still running successfully on Drupal 5, so Drupal 6 sites still have a long shelf-life if well looked after.

However, it’s worth reading our article, “Should You Keep Using Unsupported Software?” to understand the pros and cons of staying with Drupal 6.

The best explanation is that without significant help from your own developers you will be putting your site into a lockdown / feature freeze mode. In addition to no more core updates, you’re unlikely to get module updates either as the module maintainers focus on Drupal 7 and 8.

#5. Should I upgrade to Drupal 7 or 8?

Yes, if you have the time and money to make the move. Being on a supported version is always peferable to being on an unsupported version.

One tricky part will be deciding whether to move to 7 or 8.

  • If you move in the next year, you will have to move to Drupal 7. If you do this, you’ll probably get security updates for Drupal 7 until at least 2018.
  • If you move during or after the middle of 2015, your best bet will likely be Drupal 8.

#6. How hard will it be to move to Drupal 7 or 8?

Moving to 7 is not an easy task. These tutorials will give you an introduction to the task:

Drupal 8 will actually have a migration feature in the core. The aim of this migration feature is to move most of your critical site data.

However, if your site has a lot of custom work, custom theming or unusual modules, the migration feature won’t help with that. It’s reasonable to assume that moving from Drupal 6 to 8 will still be a difficult task for most sites.

#7. Anything else to help me get my head around this?

Yes, if you want to know what’s coming for Drupal, I highly recommend these posts:

#8. Sorry, all that was too long. What’s the tl;dr?

  • You will have about 1 more year of Drupal 6 security updates.
  • You have three options:
    • Keep running your Drupal 6 site.
    • Update to Drupal 7 in the next year.
    • Update to Drupal 8 after the middle of 2015.


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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9 years ago

Thank you for the summary. These are issues I deal with on a regular basis with our clients. The biggest question remains unanswerable: When will Drupal 8 be production ready? Even if Drupal 8 is released in mid 2015, how much longer after that will it be ready for any given projects? “It depends…”

9 years ago
Reply to  bobmorse

Thanks Bob. Yes, it’s not an easy answer although certainly throughout 2014 we’ll keep recommending Drupal 7.
Clients will need a pretty long time horizon for Drupal 8 to enter their plans at the moment.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x