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As I do my daily support tasks and forum volunteering, I still see a few people back on WPMU 2.9.2 – or even earlier. If this is your situation, please stop reading this post right now and schedule time to upgrade.

“But I can’t upgrade!”

Yes, yes you can. Literally thousands – if not hundreds of thousands of installs have upgraded already.

“Oh really? I thought we’d be stuck on WPMU…”

Nope, you can upgrade manually to 3.0, then 3.1 and then 3,2. Please do it incrementally. We even wrote here in this blog about how easy it was to upgrade back when 3.0 came out. The developers spent a lot of time ensuring you could safely upgrade. Now tho… you need to do it manually.

“But I have all these plugins! and themes! What if they break??”

Most of them will not, especially the themes. Having actually done upgraded where things broke, when you have a plan in place you can dig your way out. The biggest issue I saw with mu-specific plugins “breaking” were menu items moving. That was it. The plugins still functioned.

“But I don’t have time! / My boss won’t let me..”

You DO have time to upgrade. You do not have time to clean up a hacked site. Upgrading allows you to move forward with your site, getting new functionality, a better experience for your users, and the knowledge of a job well done. The peace of mind is icing.

“Okay fine, you convinced me, what do I do now?”

1. Look at your site’s monthly traffic. When are the low times? The weekend? Monday morning? Most sites are generally low traffic on weekends, like Friday nights. Some niches (like Realtors) are completely low traffic Mondays and Tuesdays (everyone hits their sites on the weekends). Pick one of those times a week or two from now. It’s almost the end of August and once we hit mid September, traffic will be on the upswing again, I promise.

2. Make a list of the plugins you are using. If you’re back as far as WPMU, then you probably have a pile of code in the mu-plugins folder. These do not auto-update, and many plugins you are probably using in this folder actually have been updated. Go through them one by one, look at the plugin header and find out if they have new version. Get a new copy of all of them.

3. Get copies of the WP versions you need. They are all kept publicly accessible. Kinda why they call it “open source”. 😉 Look in trac here under Tags and see the zip archive at the bottom of each page. Save a copy of each version you need. If you are pre 2.9.2, you need wpmu upgrades first, which are over here. 3.0 and up, use WordPress trac.

4. Read over all the docs.
http://codex.wordpress.org/Upgrading_WPMU
http://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress#Manual_Update

5. Let the members of your site know there will be scheduled maintenance on the day or evening you’ve scheduled for your upgrade. Write a post, stick in an admin notice, email everyone – any or all of those options.

6. Upgrade day – get rested and clear your calendar. 😉 Make multiple backups and copy your install files somewhere safe that you can roll back to just on the off chance you wind up in a Worst Case Scenario. As long as you can put everything back to pre-upgrade state, you will be fine. I promise.

Extra notes:
– some plugns like BuddyPress etc definitely need to be deactivated.
– there are new htaccess rules you *have to* put in your htacces file
– do NOT replace the old MU specific define in wp-confgi with the new multisite defines. This will mess things up!
– when you are stumped, be sure to read carefully any messages on the screen, google to find posts from other people who had the same issue THEN post in the forum.

“I really need someone to do this for me..”

I totally know what you mean, how you feel and I understand. The first few years of running my own install, I freaked out about pretty much everything. Alas, Ron and I are (still) super booked. But! We know of a great and long list of developers and freelancers experienced with WordPressMU and multisite who will be happy to help you. Tell them I sent you. 😉

You can do it! Now go Upgrade Today!

7 COMMENTS

  1. I recently updated the WPMU 2.8.4a instance at my job to WP 3.2.1. I first upgraded to WPMU 2.9.2 (apparently this is highly recommended) and then to WP 3.1 and finally to 3.2.1. We don’t use a huge array of plugins or themes, but we had no problems with either. I only use manual update, so I can’t speak to the automatic update.

    I am very pleased that MU is no longer the black sheep and is now part of the core WordPress.

    • Thanks for letting us know your upgrade went smooth 🙂 Every time I hear that it reminds me of the value of all of the work that went into the merge.

  2. After waiting a few months of reading about all the great new features in WP 3.0 I decided to update from 2.9.2 to 3.1. The update went really smooth, we updated over 1000 blogs within a few hours. After the update we lost some plugins, but got some new great functionality (and plugins).

    Since the update our site is grown even bigger and faster!

    Great work and thanks for all the info!

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