On the 30th of June 2020, Adobe ceased support for Magento 1, powering some of the best e-commerce websites worldwide for 12 years. While many merchants have already moved to the new and improved Magento 2, BuiltWith usage statistics show that as of February 2021, there are over 65,000 live websites still using Magento 1.9.

Besides poor performance, high costs of custom development, and security vulnerabilities, using legacy software can lead to PCI-compliance issues, exposing retailers to legal complications and heavy fines.

Business owners are often caught up in the day-to-day of running a business. While some may be unaware of the risks of using unsupported software, others cannot understand why they’re unable to update their store from Magento 1 to Magento 2 the way they have in the past.

Magento release policy

magento release policy

Magento has unique version numbers. The semantic versioning format helps convey modifications in the underlying code of software based on the change in the version. It follows a MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH format which is incremented as follows:

  • MAJOR: Changes are made to the software’s API.
  • MINOR: New, backward-incompatible functionality is introduced.
  • PATCH: Backwards compatible changes are introduced, such as bug fixes.

Magento software versioning, however, doesn’t necessarily follow this format. A change in the version doesn’t always reflect a change in the codebase leading to confusion in the minds of some business owners.

However, when you’re using a robust and feature-rich platform like Magento, understanding the differences between migrating, updating, and upgrading a Magento store is essential to ensure you can make the right choice for your business.

What is Magento migration?

Magento migration describes the process of relocating an e-commerce store from Magento 1 to Magento 2 or from another platform or content management system to Magento. This migration usually is a permanent step as the store’s data is permanently relocated to Magento 2.

Migration to Magento 2 is a delicate process that requires a significant amount of time and effort to complete successfully. It usually consists of four primary steps: store audit, store development, data mapping and migration, and post-migration testing.

magento migration steps

1. Store audit

Before starting the migration process, conducting a thorough site audit helps identify existing store data, functionality, and customizations. This is crucial to ensuring that the new website can be configured to recreate and improve existing functionality without data loss. Thereafter, create a Magento migration plan that clearly outlines all the migration implications, peculiarities, and possible risks.

2. Store development

The next step in the migration is developing the store on a new server to recreate the design and functionality on the Magento 1 store using Magento 2 compatible themes, extensions, and custom code. This step also includes configuring the right hosting environment for the Magento 2 application to ensure it has the hardware and software it needs to perform optimally.

3. Data mapping and migration

This is a crucial step in the migration process capable of derailing the entire migration if carried out incorrectly. Adobe has developed the Magento Data Migration Tool to help developers map and migrate database attributes between an existing Magento 1 store and a new Magento 2 installation.

4. Post-migration testing

Finally, after the migration has been completed, testing the new store to ensure all data has been migrated successfully is essential. This includes testing the store across the entire customer journey to identify issues with incorrectly mapped data attributes.

Benefits of migrating to Magento 2

Seamless store management

Magento 2 provides one of the most feature-rich and user-friendly admin interfaces in the e-commerce industry. Especially if you’re migrating to Magento 2 from Magento 1, the updated clutter-free admin panel will be one of the first things to catch your eye.

The product creation workflow in Magento 2 has been streamlined as well. In Magento 1, you were required to create and associate configurable and simple products separately. In Magento 2, however, you can create simple and configurable products, bulk upload images, set prices, and other attributes such as product weight using an efficient multistep workflow.

Easy customizability

Magento 2 is designed for complete customizability. Its modular architecture allows developers to extend core functionality instead of replacing it, making the development process easier while also protecting the integrity of its code.

Magento 1 stores were often plagued with issues related to extension conflicts, which increased the costs of custom development. Magento 2 is designed using well-known design patterns and the concept of extensibility that allows its extensions to be self-contained, thereby reducing external dependencies and conflicts.

Powerful integrations

Besides being completely customizable, Magento 2 has powerful API functionality built into its core. In Magento 1, the API was built into the platform retroactively, which caused issues with code duplication and discrepancies between the API and core functionality.

Magento 2 supports major API technologies such as SOAP, REST, File Exchange, and GraphQL natively, making it capable of integrating with a multitude of ERP systems and third-party applications and services. Whether it’s an inventory management system, POS system, or a third-party service, you can be sure Magento 2 will integrate with it.

What is a Magento upgrade or update?

magento upgrade

Across their official documentation, Adobe generally uses the term “Magento upgrade” to describe upgrading the Magento software from one version to another and uses the term “update” when referencing updating its extensions, themes, and language packs. The only exception when using the term “Magento update” with reference to the Magento software is when they describe the process for contributing developers to update the application without reinstalling it.

Generally, the usage of the terms “updates” and “upgrades” can vary significantly between applications. Software developers usually define how the terms are used with reference to their application. For example, PrestaShop uses the term “an update” for a minor version revision, i.e., 1.7.x to 1.7.x, and “an upgrade” for a major version revision, i.e., 1.6.x to 1.7.

Because Adobe does not clearly describe the usage of the terms “update” and “upgrade”, it is safe to assume that they can be used interchangeably in most cases. Magento “update” can be used regarding the software itself and its extensions, themes, and language packs. However, Magento “upgrade” should only be used with reference to the Magento software and not its components.

Often some retailers use the term “Magento upgrade” to describe the process of moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2. However, when used in this context, the term is incorrect. The correct term for making a major version change is “Magento migration”. All other minor version or version incremental changes should be referred to as “updates” or “upgrades”.

Updating a Magento 2 store to the latest version is a far more streamlined process that isn’t nearly as complicated as a migration. Unlike a Magento migration, the process of updating a store can be completed by a solo developer or even a store admin with sufficient technical proficiency. Magento’s official documentation provides a comprehensive update and upgrade checklist and stepwise instructions to upgrade the software.

Benefits of upgrading or updating Magento 2

Improved security

Ecommerce stores are lucrative targets for hackers. A successful attack can allow a hacker to access the personal information of hundreds, if not thousands, of customers. Simultaneously, from a store owners’ perspective, a compromised store can be a significant liability.

Nearly every Magento update, whether it’s a minor version update or a patch, usually contains security fixes. Its security-only patches allow store owners to upgrade their store’s security while deferring other less time-sensitive changes for later. These patches help business owners ensure their store and its data are always protected.

New features

The e-commerce industry is rapidly evolving, and Adobe strives to ensure that Magento is always at the forefront of innovation. Magento developers are continually developing and introducing new features to the platform to provide its users with the tools necessary for building a successful e-commerce business.

Magento is the only platform that brings the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to its users at no extra cost. The Product Recommendations module in Magento Commerce provides its users access to Adobe’s proprietary AI-based technology, Adobe Sensei, allowing merchants to offer tailored recommendations to their customers using real-time data.

Better performance

With every release, Adobe strives to improve the functionality of the platform and its overall performance. Often, it’s done by optimizing the way the application behaves normally to make it more efficient.

For example, with the recent release of Magento 2.4.2, they have introduced code enhancements that boost the performance of Magento’s API and the admin response time for stores with large catalogs. These changes enable Magento stores using version 2.4.2 to support catalogs that are 20 times larger than previous versions.

Migrate, update or upgrade, Magento 2 is the way forward

Preferred by global giants such as The Coca-Cola Company and Nestlé S.A., Magento is a platform capable of powering businesses of all sizes across various industries. Whether you’re migrating from Magento 1, re-platforming, or merely updating your store to the latest version, Magento 2 will surely help you boost your business.