Upgrading DNN to 9.12.0: Necessity, Benefits, and Options

Author: Waldo/Wednesday, July 12, 2023/Categories: DNN UPGRADES

With the release of DNN 9.12.0 the DNN platform community is going strong with regular releases to improve the robustness, security and features of this amazing CMS/DXP platform. Before you decide to upgrade, it is still worth considering the necessity and what you’re missing out on if you don’t upgrade.

So firstly, why upgrade?

  • To plug security issues - The main reason for upgrading is to make sure you have the most secure version of the DNN platform running your site.
  • To fix bugs - with each release there are numerous bug fixes which make the platform more robust in the long run.
  • To access new features – It has been rare lately that an upgrade has introduced new features, but there are new features introduced for specific releases. One of the more impactful enhancements (which relates to a security improvement) is the new File Manager / Assets Manager that has replaced the older Telerik version. Its more secure but after some fixes, still highly functional.
  • To be able to use certain modules or certain module versions – to be able to use the latest versions of a third-party module you will most of the time need to be running a late version of the DNN platform. This is overall a good thing and ensures that the site is running as securely as possible.

So after going through this checklist, you realise that yes, an upgrade is needed? Here are your options:

  • Try upgrading yourself - If you have a reasonably technical background, you can upgrade DNN yourself. You will at the very least need to know how to back up your website and you also want to ensure you can easily roll back if the upgrade goes wrong. We suggest speaking with your website host and cloning your website and then upgrading this copy of your site.
  • Give the Evotiva DNNUpgrade module a go - This is a third-party module from the third party module vendor. While we don’t trust all vendors, Evotiva is one of the more respected vendors in the DNN ecosystem. If it is as good as their Evotiva DNNBackup module, then you should be in good hands. Incidentally, DNNBackup is a good module to help you clone your site or simply to back up your site before attempting an upgrade.
  • As your Hosting provider – If your hosting facility specialises in DNN hosting then this is an excellent option to consider when upgrading your DNN website. Just be mindful that they won't be able to fix issues caused by third party modules or may be able to troubleshoot too much if an issue goes wrong. But for a simple DNN upgrade this is a great and inexpensive option.
  • DNN Specialist developer – The company/developer that built your website will be able to upgrade your DNN site. Depending on the complexity of the website though, you may need someone more experienced. We have upgraded hundreds of DNN websites including sites running very old versions of DNN like DNN 4.xx to very complex DNN websites with many third-party modules and custom modules, or DNN websites that require a lot of skin work. Over the years, we’ve seen it all.

Below we describe the high-level steps necessary to upgrade your DNN website:

  • Back up the site - The very first and most important step
  • Set yourself up to create backups throughout the process - For more complex DNN website upgrades it is super helpful to take regular backups throughout the upgrade process so that you can partly roll-back if you encounter difficulties during the upgrade process.
  • Understand the upgrade Path - As mentioned above, there are upgrades you should follow depending on the version of DNN you are currently on. They are for older versions of DNN and have been created by experienced DNN community members.
  • Upgrade all third-party modules (extensions) along the way - One of the main causes of errors in a DNN platform upgrade are due to the third-party modules not being up to date. We recommend upgrading the relevant DNN modules in use, before upgrading your site and removing any unused third-party DNN modules Y
  • Fix issues along the way - You need to fix issues during the upgrade process and make sure all functionaly works well before you proceed to the next version in the upgrade path. It is very rare that an issue will be fixed by just continuing with the upgrade path (although we have seen this!)

You won't always be able to reach the version of DNN you intended. While we recommend troubleshooting and to continue trying, you simply may not have the budget or time. Below are some of the main stable versions of DNN versions that you could settle on:

  • DNN 9.6.1 - This is a good milestone to reach inf you can't go any higher
  • DNN 9.2.2 - A safe alternative and the lowest version of DNN version 9.xx that we’d recommend.
  • DNN 8.0.4 - An acceptable option if you can’t reach DNN 9.xx (but you should keep trying!)
  • DNN 7.4.3 – This is an alternative version 7 option if you are having trouble with upgrades to your DNN platform. Please bear in mind that it is risky to maintain your site on version 7.xx. If you’re stuck though, we suggest further patching of this version by installing the DNN security module which was released for free by the DNN Community.

DNN Resources to help you with your upgrade:

  • Check github page or DNN to see what the latest stable version is. There you can see notes regarding releases - DNN Github page
  • Security Centre – this is an obscure page that is managed by DNNsoftware.com i.e. on a DNN Corp. It is regularly updated with security issues per version: DNN Security Center

Our experience with DNN upgrades:

  • We’ve completed complex upgrades – A complex upgrade could take up to 4 or more days, but these nightmare upgrades usually only occur on very large and older DNN versions.
  • We have done many simple DNN platform upgrades - We have been involved in a project where we upgraded and fixed over 300 DNN sites in 3 months.

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