Migrating From Magento 1 to Magento 2: a Guide on How to Proceed With the Inevitable Upgrade

Posted On August 2, 2017 Blog

Wondering what are the benefits of upgrading and when’s the best time to do it? In this handbook, we’ll uncover the advantages you have if you choose to migrate to Magento 2, to put an end to the controversies that overshadowed any reason to do so since November 2015 when Magento 2 was released.

Upgrading to Magento 2 - Image Source: ecomitize.com
Upgrading to Magento 2 – Image Source: ecomitize.com

Magento 1 to Magento 2 Migration

In this guide, you’ll discover what steps you need to follow to improve your website’s performance, provide your customers with a more secure and appealing shopping environment, and take advantage of all the features Magento 2 offers, to make your business stand out from the crowd.

Get a grasp on Magento Upgrade fundamentals and find out:

  • Why re-platform to Magento 2 and when’s the best time to do it
  • How to prepare for the migration
  • What services and tools you can use to make the transition process more manageable
  • What can you do after the migration to improve your store’s performance

Learn what makes Magento 2 the eCommerce platform of the future, and find out how switching to Magento 2 can improve your business success rate and achieve a higher ROI.

Magento 2 - Image Source: magento.com
Magento 2 – Image Source: magento.com

Migration Benefits: Why Upgrade to Magento 2

What Makes Magento the eCommerce Platform of the Future - Image Source: Magento 2.0 GA Developer Webinar
What Makes Magento the eCommerce Platform of the Future – Image Source: Magento 2.0 GA Developer Webinar

eCommerce industry constantly evolves by improving the ways in which merchants are developing their online businesses, in their attempt to reach a wider and wider audience and enhance their profit.

Magento systematically improved the platform to make it suitable for any type of business, launching numerous updates for all platforms, from Community to Professional and Enterprise.

Regardless of the version, you are currently using, it is recommended to constantly stay up to date with the newest updates if you want to improve the quality of your store, benefit from various enhancements, eliminate vulnerabilities of precedent versions and extend the functional aspects and design elements of your website.

Although migrating to Magento 2 can mean building some parts of your store from scratch, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and the efforts you invested in this transition, by constantly adapting your site to Magento standards, to build a better retail experience for customers and for the admin.

Migrating to Magento 2 you will allow you to keep some of the features you had available in Magento 1 and achieve additional key features, such as:

  • An improved security for password management and transactions, securing the payment procedures and expanding it with other payment gateways such as PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.Net, WorldPay, and CyberSource
  • An easier checkout procedure for customers, simplifying the process of going from cart to complete order, as Magento 2 requires less customer information and fewer steps to follow during the checkout. Plus, reducing the check out time also decreases the chance of abandoning the cart, so it eventually leads to an increased conversion rate
  • Improved performance and enhanced productivity, and as Magento 2 performs 20% better than Magento 1, your ranking will increase and help you boost your sales
  • Its improved scalability makes it easy to handle a big number of catalog pages without slowing down the load page time
  • It also comes with Varnish caching solution integrated, which significantly improves the loading speed of your website. Varnish Cache manages the requests users make more rapidly, simply by serving them the content they want to see from the cache directories. The difference is tremendous: if Magento without any caching solution integrated can load up to 0.75 pages per second, Magento with Varnish Cache can load up to 488.14 pages per second. (To find out more on the topic, check out our guide on how to improve your website’s performance.)
  • Better functionality means also handling the traffic way better: while Magento 1 can manage only 200 thousand page views per hour, Magento 2 can handle up to 10 million page views per hour
  • Magento 2 can also manage up to 40% more orders per hour, 66% faster. Better performance translates into more user interaction with your store, more products added to the cart and more sales
  • Magento 2’s backend is specially built for non-technical users: Magento 2 is designed to reduce the management time for operating in the admin mode. The interface is highly improved, easier to use and customize. It is more user-friendly, which makes the products and orders management more accessible. Also, the website appearance is easier to modify by using the drag-and-drop layout editing, so you don’t need any technical skill to improve your website’s appearance
  • You’ll have access to Magento Connect, an application store that you can use to search for the extensions your store needs
  • Implementing ElasticSearch, Magento 2 improved its search functionalities, too, which means that your users will find the products they are interested in faster, resulting in better search results
  • Magento 2 invested in mobile browsing enhancements, as nowadays almost half of the online transactions are performed on mobile devices, so your mobile users will benefit from an improved shopping experience, which further translates into more sales for your store

When it’s The Best Time to Upgrade your Magento Store

Lately, Magento 2 has be has gained more and more attention among merchants and eCommerce experts anticipate that it will further grow in the years to come.

Only in May 2017 523 shops were developed on Magento 2, and other 13,801 Magento 2 web stores are on the entire internet, and most of them migrated from WooCommerce to Magento 2, according to BuildWith.com.

Magento 2 in Top 1 Million eCommerce Websites - Image Source: trends.builtwith.com
Magento 2 in Top 1 Million eCommerce Websites – Image Source: trends.builtwith.com

Even so, there still are some reasons why entrepreneurs tend to refrain from upgrading to Magento 2, and these are usually related to the resources they need to allocate to make the transition, such as choosing the best developer for their web stores and investing the time in making the switch, but the biggest concern is related to the capability of the new platform for supporting the old extensions.

All these concerns are endorsed by a number of factors, such as:

  • The inevitable need of rebuilding some parts of the new website
  • Being satisfied with the current version and its functionalities
  • Being limited by the extensions Magento 2 offers, which makes them postpone the migration

However, all these reasons will soon be left behind, when Magento will stop adding new features to Magento EE 1.x versions.

After November 2018, when Magento initially announced that they will no longer offer support for Magento 1x versions, all stores developed on this platform will be exposed to security problems, simply based on the fact that there will be no available updates for Magento 1.x versions, so your web store will become more vulnerable to malicious attacks, security issues, and errors.

More than this, keep in mind that the support you currently have from Magento community will soon enough come to an end, as developers shift their attention to the new Magento version.

Ultimately, the decision to re-platform to Magento 2 comes down to the resources you have spent on customizing and developing your current version of the store, and the available extensions you have on the new platform at the present moment.

Analyze whether the themes and extensions you are now using are available in Magento 2, and if this is not the case, it is probably best not to rush with the migration just yet. After all, there is still enough time to make the transition, as Magento also expressed the intention to continue the support for at least 18 months after November 2018.

But keep in mind that at some point in the near future you’ll come to realize that moving your store to Magento 2 is inevitable, and it might be exactly what your business needs to thrive. In this sense, the sooner you decide to make this step, the better.

Start by planning the upgrading process and identifying the lowest traffic period of the year to make the switch from Magento 1 to Magento 2, so that your sales performance will not be affected.
If you need assistance from Magento certified developers, you can call the experts to help you migrate your store to Magento 2 more rapidly and successfully, so that you and your customers be satisfied with the results.

Pre-Migration Analysis & Checklist

As you come closer to the inevitable migration there are some things you need to take into consideration before going any further with the upgrade.

Visit Magento Marketplace and find out what are the latest extensions that Magento 2 has made available for its users. As extensions are an important component of Magento based shops, it is advisable to keep up to date with the latest news on the new availabilities you have, so the transition can go smoothly, without any lack of compatibilities, and your business can grow stronger by taking advantage of the all the powerful features the new platform offers.

Analyze your current web store to determine how challenging the migration process will be in your case, by taking into consideration the following aspects of your site.

Magento Versions

What Magento version you are currently using? If it’s too old or highly customized, the risk of having some migration issues increases, so it is necessary to consult the expert’s opinion on what strategy it’s best to adopt for migrating your store.

Magento Extensions

What extensions have you installed to your website? If you are using multiple extensions and they weren’t already tested on the new platform, migrating to Magento 2 can raise further functionality issues, so it is advisable to ask for the developer’s advice on how you can adapt the migration plan to your situation.

Also, before migrating it is recommended to check if all the extensions you have installed in your store are helpful for you, as this is an opportunity to clean your website of all the things you do not currently need that can also slow down your website.

If your website does not have an advanced customization, you can use Code Migration Tool to run an automated migration on your store and reduce the manual effort of setting up and running the migration process. Read more about the Code Migration Tool below, on Magento 2 Upgrade Tools section.

Magento Hosting Solutions

Does the server you are currently using support the system requirements Magento 2 demands? If not, you should consider changing your host provider.

Migration Resources

Upgrading to Magento 2 can be a long and difficult process, so carefully planning ahead your migration strategy and choosing the right time of the year to do it is necessary to benefit from a fast and secure transition, without worrying that it might affect your sales.

Although Magento experts estimate only a 20% increase in time and efforts for Magento 2 upgrade, compared with other available upgrades for 1.x versions, the duration of the upgrading process directly depends on a number of factors, such as: the level of customization your store currently has, the size of your shop and the data you want to transfer, the capacity of your catalog, the extensions you are using and the available extensions in Magento 2.

Developing a strategy that best fits your marketing plan can require the expertise of a certified Magento developer, to avoid migration errors that can immediately impact your sales performance.

Magento 2 Upgrade

Migrating to Magento 2.0. - Image Source: webappmate.com
Migrating to Magento 2 – Image Source: webappmate.com

Magento 1 to Magento 2 Migration Overview

Magento Migration Diagram - Image Source: magento.com
Magento Migration Diagram – Image Source: magento.com

Migrating your store from Magento 1 to Magento 2 involves the following stages:

Database Backup

Before proceeding with the upgrade, create a database backup of all your store’s content to connect it to Magento 2 database. This is a necessary step that prevents you from losing important data during the migration. Data loss can sometimes be an irrecoverable process, which may take place if you choose to connect your database to the new platform live, without first making a database duplicate.

After duplication your database, you can analyze it and remove all unnecessary data, such as old promotion details, logs, lists of compared products, and so forth.

Data Migration

This is the most important stage of the migration process, as all your store’s data will be copied to the new platform: products and product categories data, customers data and private info, orders data, store configurations, and so on.

To successfully migrate your store’s data to Magento 2 you can use the Data Migration Tool. Read more about it in the next section.

Code Migration

Not all Magento 1 extensions are available in Magento 2, so at this stage you should check Magento’s Marketplace to find the extensions you can use to improve the functionality of your new web store.

However, the custom code you use in your Magento 1 store is in most cases compatible with Magento 2, and depending on the level of customization of your store, the code will either be migrated to the new platform or rewritten.

In this sense, to make your job easier and reduce the efforts and resources you invest in this transition, Magento has developed a Code Migration Toolkit, that you can use to will help to port your extensions and custom code to Magento 2. You’ll read more about it in the next section.

Theme Customization

Another important stage of the migration consists in rebuilding your store’s environment to the new platform or taking the opportunity to change your site’s appearance, as Magento themes cannot be migrated from version 1 to version 2.

Magento 2 introduces new user-friendly technologies and responsive design that you can take advantage of in creating an appealing environment for your visitors to make them come back again and again.

Once you choose to migrate to Magento 2 you should be aware that your website’s theme will need to be build up from the start, as the new platform has a totally different structure from Magento 1. The positive aspect is that this is a good opportunity to change the way your customers see your business, and even expand your target audience, by redesigning your website so that you can offer your visitors a new and exciting experience.
However, this step implies hiring a developer, as you cannot migrate your Magento 1 theme on the new platform. If you’re not yet ready to do this, you can choose to install one of the themes Magento made available for all Magento 2 merchants.

Magento 2 Upgrade Tools

Magento 2 Migration Tools - Image Source: litextension.com
Magento 2 Migration Tools – Image Source: litextension.com

Magento 2 Data Migration Tool

You can use Data Migration Tool to transfer all your data from Magento 1 database to Magento 2 database: product, order and customer data, CMS pages, store configurations, tables, promotions, customer passwords, and URLs.

How it works

It verifies the consistency between the two database structures, namely between tables and fields, and tracks down the progress, verifying each step of the procedure.


Data Migration Tool helps maintain data integrity and minimizes the downtime of your store while data transfer is in progress.

LitExtension Tool

LitExtension Tool is an automated shopping cart migration solution that can help you move your data from Magento 1 to 2. Using the software does not require any training or programming skills to make the platform switch.

How it works

The tool creates a database connection between Magento 1 and 2 to migrate all your store’s data automatically, in four simple steps:

  • Download the API
  • Install the migration module on Magento Store
  • Select the data you want to migrate from Magento 1 to 2
  • Perform the migration

Using LitExtension Tool your store data will directly be copied on the new platform, without any third party systems involved. The tool guarantees you’ll have no downtime for your current Magento store and a safe migration module, which preserves data loss in case the process stops due to server or networking issues.

Cart2Cart Tool

Cart2Cart is another automated migration tool that you can use to easily copy all your data from Magento 1 to 2.

How it works

Cart2Cart migration tool establishes a database connection between Magento 1 and Magento 2 to copy all your store’s data. To use it follow these simple steps:

  • Register a Cart2Cart account and choose the source and destination target
  • Input your store’s URL and credentials
  • Download the Connection Bridge and copy it to the root folder of your current website
  • Choose the entities you want to migrate and perform the automated migration

Cart2Cart migration tool guarantees a smooth data transfer with no data loss and no downtime for your store.

Code Migration Tool

Code Migration Toolkit is a software used by Magento developers to simplify the process of converting your custom Magento code to Magento 2.

How it works

Code Migration Tool converts most of the PHP code to be compatible with the Magento 2 framework. Code migration consists of the following steps:

  • Migrate Magento 1.x module structure to the structure recognized in Magento 2
  • Migrate Magento 1.x layout XML files to the format recognized in Magento 2
  • Migrate Magento 1.x config XML files to the format recognized in Magento 2
  • Migrate the PHP code concerning the interaction with Magento framework, preserving the business logic

Magento Code Migration Tool significantly reduces the effort of manually customizing your Magento 2 store and it automatically converts the repetitive steps developers have to make in porting multiple modules on Magento 2. Although it handles some of the most time-consuming steps, it may require manual editing for some of the generated files.

Magento 2 Post-Upgrade Checklist

Magento 2 Post-Upgrade Tips - Image source: info2.magento.com
Magento 2 Post-Upgrade Tips – Image source: info2.magento.com

If you recently performed the Magento 2 upgrade and you want to be sure that everything is in order, so that your SEO performance will not suffer and drastically impact your sales, here are the steps you need to follow after the migration process is completed.

Further Customizations

After your migration is finished, make sure that you have customized your cart emails, order confirmations, shipping confirmations, abandoned cart messages, order cancellation and follow-up messages, product review, and newsletter templates.

Testing Your New Store

When the upgrade is done, it is necessary to test the functionality of your new Magento website, to see if everything works as it should. Here are some of the practices Magento specialists use to test if a webshop is ready to go live:

  • Go to the homepage, then navigate to a category page, and then to a product page and add a product to your cart. Repeat the process by choosing a different path to find the same and other products
  • Repeat the procedure for all product types to cart to test if the add to cart functionality is properly working
  • Run a full check out and test that the payment methods and shipping methods are also in good shape
  • Test additional functionalities, such as price rules
  • Run a test on the extensions, to be sure that they are compatible with the upgraded version of Magento

Going Live With Magento 2

After you have rigorously tested your new website and everything works properly, Magento specialists recommend putting your store in maintenance mode. To do this, you should create a maintenance.flag file in the root of the site.

Ensure you have a recent backup of the live database before doing so and proceed to the following steps:

  • Stop all Admin activities and start Magento 2 cron jobs: The cron jobs launch the Setup Wizard tasks and the updater application. They work together to install, update, and upgrade the Magento application and components
  • Flush Magento 2 cache and reindex all Magento indexers
  • Change DNS, load balancers, etc. to point to Magento 2 production hardware

Before going back to live mode, make a test order to see if every process works as it should. Once you’re convinced that everything is plain sailing, you can lift the maintenance mode by removing the maintenance.flag file.

SEO Tips

For more tips on how to improve your Magento website’s SEO, check out our dedicated handbooks on:

Magento Migration Services

Now that you have a thorough understanding of what upgrading to Magento 2 presupposes, what advantages you have if you choose to migrate, the next step is finding a Magento development company to assist you during the process, so that you can accelerate the transition and benefit of the improvements Magento 2 offers to all merchants.

Are your ready to migrate your store to Magento 2? Don’t wait, let’s talk today!