Joomla 3 FAQ

From Joomla! Documentation

Revision as of 09:19, 7 November 2013 by Tom Hutchison (Talk | contribs)

What are the major differences between Joomla! 2.5 and 3?

The most noticeable difference is the totally revamped administrator, which is updated to a modern design with many simpler and more friendly user-interfaces. Also, starting with Joomla! 3.0, Joomla! is now device responsive. Simply, Joomla! is mobile friendly and can be used with any modern device.

In addition, there are dozens of improvements to the details of all of the Joomla core. Some highlights are:

Star icon.png A new installer which you will notice when creating a new Joomla 3.x install.
Star icon.png Joomla 3 is packed with goodies for extension developers, such as Bootstrap support and jQuery support.
Star icon.png Joomla 3.1 adds Tagging capability.

How long is each Joomla! version supported?

Stop hand nuvola.svg.png
Information is out of date

This information is out of date and being updated. The new development strategy is announced here, please read the full text of the development strategy for more information. This notice was modified on 30 Apr 2014.

Joomla! is developed using a fixed release cycle. Every six months, the Joomla! Project releases a new minor or major version of Joomla!. Joomla!'s version format is:


Each version of Joomla! is supported by the Joomla! Project for a limited amount of time. There are two classifications for support: short term support (STS) and long term support (LTS). Every fourth release will be assigned long term support.

  • STS (short term support) releases are supported for seven months. Their support ends one month after the next release of Joomla is released. They are one click upgrades to the next STS or LTS version.
  • LTS (long term support) releases are supported for twenty-seven months.

Please note that both STS and LTS releases, once they have reached the GA (General Availability) status, are fully functional and ready to be used in production environment. The disadvantage of using STS releases is that you will need to update your installation of Joomla! every six months, while the advantage is that you will have access to new features and extensions earlier.

Generally, the first STS release after an LTS release indicates the beginning of a new major release cycle. This STS release introduces fundamentally new features and changes that break compatibility with the previous LTS. Two more STS releases follow (usually compatible with the first STS release), and the release cycle is finished by the release of an LTS release which finalizes the work of the three STS releases. The four releases in one cycle will usually be numbered [major].0,[major].1 and [major].2 (STS) and [major].5 (LTS). For example, the STS release 3.0 will include breaking changes from 2.5, and 3.5 will include matured versions of the changes in 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2.

Usually, there will be a migration path (an officially supported way of migrating to the next version) between two LTS releases (from [major].5 to [next major].5) and between an LTS release and the STS releases in its major release cycle (from [major].2 to [major].5, for example), but not necessarily to the following STS releases (from [major].5 to [next major].0). In the case of 1.5 to 2.5 (LTS to LTS), for example, there is a migration path. Note that in the case of 2.5 to 3.0 (LTS to STS), there is also built-in migration path, since the changes aren't too incompatible.

For more information, see the official Development Strategy.

The latest STS version documented on this Wiki is 3.3.6 (see Category:Joomla! 3.3). The latest LTS version documented on this Wiki is 2.5.27 (see Category:Joomla! 2.5).

I'm building a brand new site. Should I launch a Joomla! 2.5 site or a 3.x site?

For new sites, the Joomla! 3 series is the preferred series and starting on it avoids an update from Joomla 2.5 later down the road. Starting on the Joomla 3 series for a new site, also provides you with longer backward compatible support (with one-click upgrades) than starting a new site on 2.5. Joomla 2.5 will reach EOL (end of life) 31 Dec 2014.

Sites that are currently on Joomla 2.5 are encouraged to start planning now for an upgrade to 3.3 or greater, unless you want to move over sooner to take advantage of Joomla 3’s new features. We’ve provided a one-click upgrade from Joomla 2.5 to any Joomla 3 version and you just have to make sure that all your extensions and template are compatible before upgrading. (See the “How do I find Joomla 3.x compatible extensions?” FAQ below for more information)

If I launch a Joomla! 3 site, will I be able to install extensions?

Yes, you will be able to install extensions compatible with Joomla 3.x. The Joomla Extension Directory (JED) will have a Joomla 3.x compatible icon to know which extensions are Joomla 3.x compatible; however, the best place to check is the developer’s site.

How do I get a Joomla! 3.x template?

Template companies are offering Joomla 3 templates right now taking advantage of Joomla 3's responsive design. Also, please note that some Joomla 2.5 templates will work in Joomla 3 without any issues or any changes needed. It's best to consult with the developers on this.

How do I find Joomla! 3.x compatible extensions?

Visit Joomla Extension Directory (JED), which will have Joomla 3.0 compatible icons to let you know which extensions are Joomla 3.x compatible; however, the best place to check is your extension developer’s site.

Will my Joomla! 2.5 extensions work with Joomla! 3.x?

Extensions that are native to Joomla 2.5 should work on Joomla 3.0 with very little change, if any. Components and templates will need the most work, while modules and plugins should work without issue (assuming they do not use deprecated methods). Extensions that support Joomla 2.5 and 1.5 in the same package will likely not work right away, until the developers update them for Joomla 3 compatibility.

In short, it depends on the extension. The Joomla Project has made the process relatively easy for most extensions, however for some extensions it’s going to take some work. To be certain, let the developers of the extensions know that you want to use their extension on Joomla 3 and consult with their documentation.

What happens if I launch a Joomla! 3.x site, but the extension I want is for a 2.5 site?

You need to speak with the extension developer to see if they have plans to release that extension for Joomla 3 in the immediate future. Developers do have to make some changes but how extensive they are depends on the extension.

Should I update from Joomla! 2.5 to 3.x?

In most cases, you will need to start planning on an upgrade to Joomla! 3.x. Joomla 2.5 will continue be supported until December 31st of 2014 and you can update directly to Joomla 3. Joomla is tried-and-tested thoroughly by other users already and stable for production sites now.

You will need to verify your template and components will work with Joomla 3.x before upgrading. All core components are upgrade ready right now.

Please see Why Migrate for more details on migration from 2.5 to 3.x.

I have a 2.5 site and I see a that the Joomla! update manager lets me upgrade to 3.x; should I do it since it’s letting me?

Not unless you’re 1000% sure. By default, Joomla will not let you update to 3.x unless you activate the option within the Joomla! Update component (administrator >> Component >> Joomla! Update >> Options >> Update server >> Short Term Support). If for some reason you’ve changed this, and you’d like the updater to stop letting you upgrade, change the setting to Long Term Support. After making this change, you’ll only receive updates for Joomla 2.5.

Notice: You should not upgrade from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.x unless you are certain that all of your additionally installed extensions (from third party developers), especially templates, are Joomla 3.x ready or have a Joomla 3.x version that you can upgrade to. You should only upgrade from 2.5 to 3.x on a development site not on your live site. See Why Migrate and follow the pages for more information on upgrading from 2.5 to 3.x.

What’s next after Joomla 3.0?

Joomla 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and more. Joomla's new development strategy is announced here, please read the full text of the development strategy for more information.

A quick summary, if you are using any version of Joomla except Joomla 3.3.6, you should consider updating or migrating ASAP! There will no longer be a Long Term Support Version with a .5 designation. The latest version of Joomla is the Long Term Support Version. See Joomla! CMS versions for a listing of current and future releases.

Joomla 1.5 has not been supported for since the end of 2012 and Joomla 2.5 will reach EOL (end of life) 31 Dec 2014. Simply, you should be using Joomla 3.3.6.

Okay, I’m ready and want to upgrade. How do I do the upgrade?

  • First, review the system requirements for Joomla 3.x and make sure that your server environment meets those requirements.
  • Second, make sure that all your extensions (especially, your templates) are Joomla 3.x compatible.
  • Third, create a test site and test the upgrade on the test site first.
  • Fourth, consult a trusted developer if you’re not 100% certain about anything.
  • Fifth, make a full backup of your site (files and database).

Once ready, go to the Joomla! Update component. Click on options and change the setting to Short Term Support. Save. You should be notified of the availability of Joomla 3.x. Click the button to install. Clear your browser’s cache to make sure you see the latest changes. That’s it!

Finally, double check and make sure that everything is working properly.

See Planning for Mini-Migration - Joomla 2.5 to 3.x and Joomla 2.5 to 3.x Step by Step Migration for detailed instructions.

Note: On some hosts you may need to use alternative update methods such as using the extensions installer.

But what if I’m on Joomla 1.5. Will my site break? Do I migrate to 2.5 or the current version of 3?

The following are step by step instructions to migrate your 1.5 site to Joomla 3.x. While there are many ways to migrate your site, this will give you the basic procedure to follow.


The migration from Joomla! 1.5 to 3.x is a major migration. There are many changes in features and database tables between these two version. It is NOT a one-click update. You will be building/installing a fresh Joomla! 3 installation and then migrating (moving) your data into it. If you haven't already, you may want to start with the Self Assessment and Planning documents.

Let’s first distinguish between Joomla Core data and third-party extension data. Joomla Core data (components) are:

  • Categories
  • Articles
  • Menus
  • Modules (core modules - not third-party)
  • Banners
  • Contacts
  • Messaging
  • Newsfeeds
  • Redirect
  • Search
  • Smart Search
  • Weblinks

Step by Step

Moving Joomla core data is fairly straight-forward with the use of a migration tool. Everything else is a third-party extension or a custom built extension. This includes the template. Each third-party extension needs to be researched to determine if it’s ready for Joomla 3.x and has a migration path or not. You may have done this in the planning process. If not, you will need to do it now. Some third-party extensions can be migrated with a third-party tool. Some cannot. Read. Research. Plan.

Since there are many ways to migrate data and each site is different, the exact steps are going to be slightly different for every site.

Prepare a Location for Joomla 3

  1. Make sure your server environment meets the technical specifications for Joomla! 3 before proceeding.
    Note: If your host does not meet the technical requirements, you will need to change hosts. If you need to change hosts, then set up a new hosting account on a host that meets the technical specs and install your fresh Joomla 3.x site in the root of the server on a temporary domain. This will make it easier when it’s time to go live. Alternatively, you can set up a development location on a local device (see below).
  2. Create a new database and new user for your Joomla! 3.x site. Document the database name, database username and database password as you’ll need it when you install Joomla 3.

Set up a Development Location

  1. Create a testing site or build area to work in with one of the following:
  2. Install a fresh installation of the latest version of Joomla 3.x into your testing site location using your new database name and database username. (Get the latest version of Joomla! 3)
    NOTE: If you will be migrating any of the core extensions that will be decoupled from Joomla! 3.4+, then you will need to install Joomla 3.x AND the core supported extension. Core supported extensions will be accessible via the JED ( and via the Install from web tab of the Extension Manager. make sure you install any core supported extensions before migrating data. See the Roadmap for more details on what will be decoupled/removed.
  3. Run a backup of your Joomla 3 site. (Backup Basics for a Joomla! Web Site or see Suggested Tools)

Prepare Your Current 1.5 Site

  1. On your 1.5 site, update it to the latest version 1.5.26 after backing it up.
  2. Empty the trash in the content manager (sections, categories, articles), menu manager, module manager.
  3. Clean up your sections, categories, articles, modules, menu items. Make sure they all have unique aliases. Empty the trash again if necessary.
    NOTE: Sections no longer exist in Joomla 3. Sections become a parent Category. Categories become nested categories of the parent category.
  4. Notify users that any changes on the current site from this point forward will have to be reentered on the new site. For very complex migrations with changing data constantly, see this magazine article and this video.

Choose a migration tool

  1. There are many migration tools. Some are free, some cost a bit of money. Some only migrate certain data. Some migrate more types of data than others.
  2. Each migration tool will have their own step by step documentation on how to move data (if they don’t then don’t use it). Some migration tools will require the 1.5 site and 3 site on the same server. If you’re switching hosts, you will want to restore a *subdomain* of your 1.5 site on your new hosting account to pull the data from. Then kill it when you’re done.
  3. Migration tools can be found at the Extension Directory.
  4. When you choose a tool, choose one that allows you to keep the ItemIDs the same in the migration process. This is necessary to keep your search engine ranking intact or you may have more redirects to do. More information on redirects follow.
  5. If you have a small site, you may want to do the migration manually. Create categories and articles and copy the html over into your new site. Then copy the image directory over. Keep the /stories directory or your image links will be broken until you fix each one.
  6. One of the migration tools (a free one) allows you to bring articles and only images associated with those articles over. This is helpful if your Media Manager is out of control.


  1. Migrate all core data you want to move to Joomla 3.x. If your migration tool asks to move Sections and Categories, definitely do both. The conversion will happen to categories and nested categories automatically.
  2. Run the Database Fix by going to Extension Manager  Database and click the Fix button in the top toolbar.
  3. Install your new template or converted template so that you can see your content. See more about template considerations (NEED LINK).
  4. Add new menus if the tool you chose to use didn’t bring over menus. If you want to use split menus, set that up now.
  5. Add modules if the tool you chose to use didn’t bring over modules. If the tool you chose to use did bring over modules, change the module positions to the positions in your new template if required so that your modules show up and you can see what you’re working with.
  6. Check for duplicate alias issues and fix them.
  7. Check your internal links. If any are broken, fix them.
  8. Take a backup.
  9. Install other third-party extensions and configure (like editors, Akeeba backup, slideshows, or plugins.
  10. Take a backup.
  11. If you have large extensions with data to migrate, do each one according to the developer documentation and then take a backup after each one.
  12. If your migration tool didn’t move the images, you will want to move your images from the 1.5 site to the 3.x site. Note: keep the /stories directory unless you want to relink all your images. You can start a new organisational structure in the /images directory from here forward if stories is a mess.
  13. Recommended but not required unless you have issues: Fix asset issues. See below for a helpful tool.
  14. If you are going to add anything to your site or use new core features like Tags, get them set up and configured at this time.
  15. Check your URLs on the Joomla 3 site and compare to the Joomla 1.5 site. If they are different, document each (an excel spreadsheet is helpful) 1.5 URL and what Joomla 3.x URL they will be going to so that you can do redirects and keep your ranking. See:
  16. Take a backup.
  17. Check everything.
  18. Clean up more.
  19. Test everything.
  20. Take a backup.
  21. Move or change or add updated data from the 1.5 site to the Joomla 3 site.
  22. Add google analytics to the template or use a third-party plugin.
  23. Check Global Configuration and make sure all is as it should be.
  24. Take a final backup of the Joomla 3.x site.
  25. Take a final backup of the 1.5 site.
  26. Move your 1.5 site from the root to another subdomain or subdirectory or simply delete it (this is so that you have it again for a brief time if you need to refer to it).
  27. Backup and restore using a suggested tool (below) or simply move files to restore your 3.x site to the root of your hosting.
    NOTE: If you are changing hosts, then you can leave your Joomla 3.x site where it is and simply change nameservers on the domain to make it live. Make sure you’ve addressed any email issues first.
  28. Enable .htaccess if necessary for SEF URLs.
  29. Create a sitemap and submit to Google Webmaster Tools or any other search engine you would like.
  30. Do all your redirects from the spreadsheet you created earlier for URLs that changed in the migration process.
  31. Make any other changes that needed to wait until the 3.x site was live.
  32. Test again.
  33. Take another backup.
  34. Kill any instance(s) of the 1.5 site as soon as possible.
  35. Welcome to Joomla! 3.x!

Suggested Tools

OK, final question. Where can I get more information about Joomla 3?

You can get more information at

We hope you enjoy Joomla 3 as much as we do! Thanks for reading this FAQ.

FAQ Contributors:

Gary Jay Brooks, Nick Savov, Elin Waring, Jon Neubauer, Guillermo Bravo

FAQ Reviewers:

Sully Sullivan, Michael Babker, Andrea Tarr, Mark Dexter, Brian Teeman