Drupal 7.0 was released on January 5, 2011 and became a major milestone for the platform. It included significant content editing enhancements (e.g. the Entity system and fields in Core), better performance, built-in image handling, a new administrative theme, security improvements, and built-in automated testing.

These advances dramatically accelerated Drupal's popularity. By 2015, Drupal.org was reporting over one million D7 installations, and there were likely hundreds of thousands or millions more.

But even more revolutionary changes were right around the corner – a complete rebuilding of the platform. This new generation debuted as Drupal 8.0.0 in November, 2015. While D7 was a big leap forward for Drupal, D8 was transformational.

Built from the ground up on Symfony PHP, a robust framework with industry standard code quality, maintainability, and security features not offered in D7's homegrown PHP framework, the new generation of Drupal now far exceeds the capabilities and user experience of D7.

And yet, many organizations have hung onto Old Reliable way past its prime. So many that the "End-of-Life" (EOL) for D7 has been extended twice – past the EOL of two of its successors, Drupal 8 and Drupal 9.

The reprieve, however, has ended. Drupal 7 will be officially retired on January 5, 2025, on the 14th anniversary of its production premiere. If you still have a D7 website, we recommend you have it upgraded to Drupal 10 before that date.

What is EOL?

In short, for software it means it will no longer be supported by its developers. It will not receive updates, security patches, or technical support, making it vulnerable to security risks and incompatibility issues.

Drupal is built with and relies on other platforms and software languages (e.g. PHP and mySQL) and then also integrates with yet a whole other range of applications (like Stripe, Google Analytics, HubSpot, Salesforce, and MailChimp).

Over time, this array of software systems evolves, and if a Drupal version is not maintained to keep in step with those changes, a website built on that version could start to throw errors or cease to function altogether.

Will my Drupal 7 website break on January 5, 2025?

Probably not. But the next day, or a few weeks later, or a few months later, if a problem arises with D7, the Drupal community will not address it through official channels.

So then what? You will need to find and hire a developer who will build a custom patch for you. And you will repeat that cycle every time a security risk or functional bug is identified.

A more ominous scenario is that a malevolent actor finds a flaw, does not share the news, and exploits it until someone else discovers the problem.

Retirement of Drupal 7 has already begun

You don't have to wait for EOL to experience a slow degradation of your Drupal 7 website. As of August 1, 2023, several policies were implemented to ease site owners off of D7 and focus development and adoption of the new generation:

  • Only the most serious, mass-exploitable D7 core issues will be addressed before EOL. Less serious issues will not be fixed – instead, they will simply be posted to the public issue queue.
  • Once a Drupal 7 branch of a module is marked unsupported, it will remain unsupported. This has already happened to some D7 modules.
  • Security fixes will no longer be provided for Drupal 7 Windows-only issues.

Upgrading Drupal 7

Upgrading from D7 does require some work. But there is a silver lining: it will be the last big rebuild and migration your Drupal website will undergo. Beginning with Drupal 8, the transition from one major release to the next (e.g. D10 to D11) is a much more seamless affair, with a continuous, granular improvement process through minor releases that obviates disruptive re-engineering of the platform.

The rewards for the effort are many. You get even more Drupal goodness with all the new features and refinements that have been created since 2015, like integrated media management and the Media Library, Layout Builder, inline editing, and enhanced revision history. And you get superior capabilities through new modules, including ECA (a powerful triggered-actions system), Easy Email, Image Effects, DropzoneJS, and SVG Image Field.

Seize the moment

Now is a great time to get started on your Drupal 7 upgrade. We need to assess your current content structure, audit your module library, plan for a new information architecture, and prepare for and execute a migration.

The result will be a better, more robust, easier to use, more sustainable website with a longer, more secure life ahead of it.

Your Drupal 10 website is almost here

We look forward to making your Drupal 7 upgrade happen.