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I just recently started at a new company, and their live server has PHP v5.2.6 (yes, circa 2008). A site I recently designed for them actually wouldn't work on it because PHP is so old, so I've now been tasked with upgrading the server.

I'm thinking the best process is:

  1. Copying over all of our live sites to my personal server
  2. Testing our sites on my personal server with the newest versions of all of our software
  3. Making the versions on my server live (so that there are no interruptions in web access)
  4. Upgrading to the newest versions of all of our software on our live server
  5. Moving all of our sites back to our live server
  6. Making the sites on our live server live again

Does anybody see any holes in this plan?

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"my personal server" - is that billable? ;) –  w3d Mar 5 at 17:14
    
I should have included that we're a nonprofit so I try to do everything I can without costing the org much. –  runningonplants Mar 5 at 17:17

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think closetnoc's advice is good, and your plan is sound, but in the comments there, you mentioned that you're running on a VPS on linode already. Depending on your time frame, what's preventing you from spinning up another VPS on linode, provisioning it exactly as needed and switching over to it, then shutting down/destroying the old VM?

Is it just cost? I'd personally imagine that the time and cost saved in keeping you from moving the site twice would be significant. Still, I've worked for nonprofits, and understand the limitations when it comes to these kinds of costs. To make this more accurately address your question, the only hole I see, given your constraints and situation, is that you may have a more efficient option. I don't inherently see anything wrong with your plan otherwise.

Regardless, if it was me, and I was operating off of a VPS already, I'd try to clone the existing VPS as a starting point, make all the upgrades (again, all of them, as closetnoc recommends) and then switch it once.

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This is what I'm going to end up doing as you're correct, it'll be more time, cost, and resource, effective. Thank you! –  runningonplants Mar 28 at 13:32
    
this might be a silly question, but - on the new (not live YET) server, how do I test the sites without changing DNS? –  runningonplants Apr 11 at 20:04
    
I'd suggest entering an alternate DNS entry such as "testing.yoursite.com" or "staging.yoursite.com" for easy use, but you could probably also use just the IP address unless Apache is using virtual hosts and needs the hostname match. In that case, or if the site has hardcoded needs to be referenced as "yoursite.com" only (this is a good time to remove those though), you could make a hosts file reference to the new VPS IP address so that you can reference it as "yoursite.com" - just make sure to switch it back afterward so you can access the real site. –  Nick Apr 11 at 20:18
    
If this is too vague a starting point, then just comment again, and wee can flesh out a specific strategy, or feel free to email me at the address listed at the bottom on my website (linked from my profile). Really this question is probably another question on this site, but this current question is good context for it. –  Nick Apr 11 at 20:19
    
Thank you so much for commenting, and so quickly! I just might email you in the future, if that's okay. We do use virtual hosts so I think I'll do the DNS route with testing.mysite.com. I'll need mysite.com to stay live, so I think the hosts file method wouldn't work in that case right? –  runningonplants Apr 11 at 20:37

Actually no. Except that if the site installs are from 2008, then there may be OS and other installs that may also have to be made and incompatibilities between them and the hardware. It is possible that the full suite of installs that you need to do at minimum may not work on that machine. Be prepared for that. Check for software upgrades that should also be done for security reasons if nothing else such as Apache, Linux, etc. It may be that upgrading the server hardware is required along with OS and other services. It has been my experience that hardware may be an issue but not always depending upon the level of hardware. It has also been my experience that dependencies between software always arises and that a blanket upgrade to solve security issues is always advisable during opportunities such as this.

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I think you're definitely correct in that I will probably need to wipe out the OS and start fresh with the latest and greatest OS and all software. P.S. this is a VPS that is managed by Linode. –  runningonplants Mar 5 at 17:18
    
I used to be a webhost along with my other work, but shutdown it about 10 years ago. Admittedly, I have not kept up. I have a bunch of older servers and some newer ones. I bounce back and forth between servers when I do updates. I do CYA and do a ridiculous amount of backups in a variety of ways and multiple copies of each. I am paranoid. I have seen extremely good IT consultants get burned by software with bugs including backups. Do not count on traditional backups too much. If you do count on them, make sure it is a quiet system with as many services turned off as possible. –  closetnoc Mar 5 at 17:27

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