Guide to Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2


Magento has officially announced that support for version 1 will end in June of 2020. This means, if you don’t migrate from Magento 1 to 2 after this date, you won’t receive continuing support. In addition, security patches won’t be released for Magento 1.x stores from Magento, which could leave you open to security vulnerabilities. Magento will also stop working on the system internally and there won’t be any new features released.

It’s also important to stress how different Magento 2 is: it has a completely different architecture than Magento 1 and a host of new features.  This means migrating to the latest Magento will be no easy task: it will require a full rebuild and almost certainly the help of a developer or development team.  This in turn dictates that any customisations on your Magento 1.x site will need to be set up from scratch.

While this may seem like an unnecessary overhaul, this presents a perfect opportunity, not just to update but upgrade. In migrating your site from M1 to M2 you will find that many new features are available which weren’t before, as we’ll see next.

Benefits of Upgrading to Magento 2

Online purchasing is on the up, particularly in B2B. According to Internet Retailer, 68% of B2B customers prefer to research and order online vs. ordering via sales reps. This means it’s crucial to stay up to date, no matter what your platform. It’s also well established that more and more shoppers are purchasing on mobile devices, with mobile devices usage having already overtaken desktop users in 2016. Here Magento 2 vastly improves on Magento 1: it has been specifically developed with mobile ecommerce in mind and, with shared account capabilities, it is especially optimised for B2B purchasing patterns.

Here’s a quick run down of further benefits of switching to Magento 2:

  • Pages load 50% faster
  • Handle larger volumes of SKUs and daily orders
  • Optimisation for mobile phone users
  • Easier to create and manage site content
  • Enhanced SEO and marketing features
  • Reduced steps to checkout to combat card abandonment
  • Paypal already integrated into shorter and faster checkout

Within Magento 2, the back end also benefits from a range of new features:

  • More intuitive Admin
  • Support for PHP 7.2.0
  • Previews for all site changes made in the Admin Panel
  • Marketplace vetted by Magento’s extension quality team
  • Each customer deployed in their own isolated server environment
  • PCI certified as a Level 1 Solution Provider
  • Pre-installed tools to deploy your store to Magento’s cloud hosting service

Planning your Migration

Now that you understand the benefits of making the switch, what does it take to migrate to Magento 2? First, it’s important to understand that Magento 2 is a completely new platform to Magento 1. Moving between the two platforms will necessitate full migration of your product catalog, customers, orders and design. Therefore, it’s essential to have a detailed plan to ease the process. With so many functions and products to be transferred, moving from one version of Magento to another can be more involved than moving house!

For successful migrations, you will almost certainly need help from an external developer (for the scale of the job, you will probably need an entire team), but even with outside help, you will still need to set an ideal launch time. A typical migration can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, depending on your store’s complexity. As you plan for your launch date, consider whether your products are seasonal. Also look at whether sales have, historically, tended to come more at one time of the year than another. In this way, you can adequately prepare yourself for a radical change of your site structure, without causing major disruption to your business.

After carrying out a full audit of your business and set a launch date, there are a few key areas you should look at before starting your migration.

Review Extensions

One step you will need to carry out is to check and review all the extensions on your site. Whether these are integral to your store or supplementary, they will need to be replaced with equivalent Magento 2 extensions. If there are no Magento 2 versions of your existing extensions, you can explore Magento Marketplace to see if there are any others which share the same features. Most extension developers are already investing in Magento 2 development, so there are increasing options not only to upgrade your existing extensions but to install all new functions. In all likelihood, you should be able to discover extensions which improve what you already have.

For a quick site review, run through this simple checklist:

  • Remove outdated and useless data from the database, e.g. old products no longer active.
  • Make a full backup of your Magento 1 store including all files, folders, and the database.
  • Create a clone of your Magento 1 store. You should not use a live store for the migration process.

Backup your Database

Before migrating to M2 it is important to backup your database and files first. If you do not do this, and something goes wrong, this may create issues difficult to rectify once you have transferred the data over. Similarly, it is important that your migration is run on a test site. This is to ensure any problems can be amended without affecting your core site. Your developer will be able to set this up for you in a staging environment. From your end, all you need to focus on is downloading and saving your site data.

Make sure to run through these steps: 

  • Login to Magento Administration Panel
  • Step 2: Go to System menu -> Tools -> Backups
  • Step 3: Create Database Backup
  • Step 4: Download the Backup to your computer

If this is outside the remit of your onsite IT manager or site admin, you can ask your developer to do this for you, otherwise you can find more detailed steps in this official Magento document. If and when you carry out this step, you should also enable maintenance mode on your site while you are exporting over your installation files and site data. This means your visitors will see a ‘service temporarily unavailable’ message when they visit your store rather than a blank page/404 error.

Check your Hosting Plan

Although often overlooked, before beginning your Magento migration you should consider whether your hosting plan will be suitable for the upgrade. While your hosting provider may have served you well on your Magento 1 website, a Magento 2 website has a significantly different set of requirements. Therefore staying with your current hosting provider may not be feasible. We recommend looking closely at Magento’s own Magento 2 hardware requirements before starting any major overhaul of your platform.

Summing Up

We hope this article has given you a head start in planning your move to Magento 2. As we say, with the deadline approaching, time is of the essence. However, try to avoid rushing your new site to market. There is still enough time to execute your site with a comprehensive ground plan. Nevertheless, we recommend starting sooner rather than later and we unquestionably recommend recruiting the help of a Magento developer. Migrating to the latest version is a significant undertaking – almost as big a change as moving to a completely new platform – so it is essential to have expert help in making the transition.

Ready to Make the Switch? See our Magento 2 Migration Page for Help and Advice

Have a Question or Want to Check out our Credentials? See our full list of services here.

Further reading