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It is risky to upgrade a live site without testing the upgrade process first. So before upgrading the live site you need to set up a test site which is as close as possible to the configuration of your live site, then test the upgrade on that. When you are happy with the process you can apply it to the live site (having taken a fresh backup of the live site first, of course).
Step 1: Download the correct patch package
Determine the current version of your Joomla! installation. For example, if you currently have version 1.5 RC4 installed you will need to download the 1.5 RC4 to 1.5 Stable patch package. The patch packages are available on <insert link to JoomlaCode here>. Each patch package is available in three different package formats. These are indicated by the file extension which is either .zip, .tar.gz or .tar.bz2. The contents of each of these alternative packages is identical so just choose the one most convenient for you.
For example, if you are upgrading from 1.5 RC4 to 1.5 Stable and you would prefer the .tar.gz package format, then select the file named Joomla_1.5RC4_to_1.5Stable-Patch_Package.tar.gz <Check the filename>.
Step 2: Make a copy of your live site
Ideally this should be on the same platform (operating system, PHP and database version) as the live site, but don't worry if this is not possible. Making a working copy of a Joomla! website involves copying the files and the database (these are separate activities). You will then need to amend the configuration.php to reflect the new location. Check that your test site is fully functional.
Step 3: Install the patch package on the copy site
There are different ways of installing a package file depending on your particular circumstances. If you have difficulty with one of these methods, then simply try another.
- Alternative 1: Unpack the package file on your local computer then use an FTP client to upload them to your site.
- Alternative 2: Use an FTP client to upload the package to your site, then use a terminal session (eg. SSH) to connect to your site and unpack the files there.
- Alternative 3: If your hosting provider gives you access to your site via some sort of web control panel like CPanel or Plesk, you can use the control panel file manager to upload the package, then use a terminal session (which might also be available via the control panel) to unpack the package file and overwrite all changed files on the server.