Last updated April 1, 2016. Created on August 25, 2002.
Edited by Gábor Hojtsy, DavidMinton, hansfn, ChandeepKhosa. Log in to edit this page.

From time to time, there will be minor updates to Drupal core. If the release is designated as a security update, you should apply the update as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may choose to apply the update at any time to receive the bug fixes it contains. There are also major release upgrades; these you may want to apply so you have all the new and powerful features.

Whether or not you apply a major release upgrade is highly individual to the person responsible for that decision. Upgrading to a new major version usually requires a significant investment of time and work, as a lot may have changed between versions. If everything is working great for you, and you don't want to add any of the new features, you may decide to stick with your current major release of Drupal.

About Drupal versions

What's the difference? Major versions (upgrade) versus Minor versions (update)

Before you start updating or upgrading your Drupal installation it is important that you know the difference between a major and a minor version release.

  • A major version of Drupal core is represented by the number before the first decimal. For example Drupal 5.1, Drupal 6.1, and Drupal 7.1 are all different major releases. This is considered an upgrade.
  • A minor version of Drupal core is represented by the decimal. For example, Drupal 6.1, 6.13, and 6.23 are all different minor releases of Drupal 6. This is considered an update.

You can read more about Drupal's version numbering in our Documentation.

Major releases include changes to core and how Drupal functions. New tools, structure changes, how everything works and looks, can be changed in a major version update.

Minor releases fix security issues and newly discovered bugs. New features may be included, but only if they are backwards-compatible. This is an example of a minor release announcement.

More terminology:

  • Updating means installing a new minor version, e.g. from Drupal 7.36 to 7.37.
  • Upgrading means installing a new major version, e.g. from Drupal 6 to 7.

Update procedure (minor version change)

With a minor release update; such as from Drupal 7.1 to the latest Drupal 7.x version, you do not have to apply all the updates that have been released between the versions. You can jump directly from 7.1 to that version. See the Update procedure (minor version change) page for more information.

Upgrade procedure (major version change)

A major release upgrade requires more attention, planning and testing. See the Upgrade procedure (major version change) page for more information on various upgrade methods depending on your target major version.

Contributing upgraded versions of contrib modules

Maintainers of projects on drupal.org can get assistance from the change records impacting module developers, d8cx.org, and videos from Drupalcons and camps showing upgrading an example pants project.

Upgrading custom modules on your site

Upgrading your custom modules will involve similar tasks as maintainers of contrib modules go through. So that documentation might be helpful. Some changes will only affect your modules, for example module name length requirements.

Keep up to date on security announcements

It is strongly recommended that you always keep your Drupal site up to date with the very latest minor release available, to remove known security vulnerabilities and existing bugs.

Following are some of the most common ways to stay informed:

  • Your website: Via the Update manager (Drupal 7) and Update status (Drupal 6). Drupal can check for the latest release of core and any installed modules and themes. For more details visit the Update manager (and Update status) page.
  • Security Announcements:
    • Security advisories page: All security announcements are published to this page
    • Security newsletter. Log in, go to your user profile page and subscribe to the security newsletter on the Edit > My newsletters tab.
    • Security advisories feed: You can subscribe to the RSS feed of the Security advisories page.

More information about updating and upgrading

Troubleshooting

  • If you experience problems during your site upgrade, see the Troubleshooting FAQ.
  • Instead of commenting here, please read the module project page and, if necessary, post an issue or post a message in the forums.

Looking for support? Visit the Drupal.org forums, or join #drupal-support in IRC.