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How to upgrade from Joomla 3 to Joomla 4

| Gianluca Gabella | Joomla!
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Troppo testo da leggere?

This is it! Joomla 4 is finally stable and available for download and installation! In this post we will see how to upgrade a Joomla from version 3.9.x to version 4 via the "bridge" version 3.10.

Foreword: What changes with Joomla 4?

The list of improvements is very long, it would deserve a separate post. The most promising new features are certainly these:

  • SEO-optimised templates and core: it is possible to manage everything SEO-related without the need for heavy or unreliable third-party components.
  • Accessibility: Joomla4 has made a giant leap forward in terms of accessibility, which is now a fundamental requirement to ensure an inclusive web that is truly accessible to all.
  • Design: the brand new Bootstrap 5 has been integrated into the core and this allows new templates and graphics to be implemented fom scratch without unnecessarily burdening the system with external frameworks.
  • Workflow: A new feature that is a little 'complicated' to understand, but very useful for managing complex systems. It is possible to assign permissions to one or more users to manage the publication of an article. For example, there will be the content creator, who passes the article to the reviewer, who passes it to the SEO specialist, who passes it to the title writer who, if everything is OK, publishes it. In a completely automated and controlled way.
  • Customisation of emails: it is finally possible to customise system emails!

Is it already time to switch to Joomla 4?

As of today (August 2021) the answer is both yes and no.

Joomla 4 has just been released and it is a very, very, very different system to Joomla 3. This means that there could potentially be problems in the event of an upgrade.
However, it must be emphasised that it is a system that has been conceived and developed over several years and this has allowed programmers and webmasters to test it far and wide in all its functions. My advice is therefore this:

  • Update a site with a lot of content and many add-ons: wait.
  • Upgrade a 'showcase' site with very few add-ons: proceed with Joomla 4.
  • New site with a lot of content and many add-ons: check if these add-ons are certified for Joomla 4, if yes then proceed with the new version.
  • New "showcase" site that uses very few add-ons: proceed with Joomla 4.

What are the minimum requirements for Joomla 4?

The constantly updated minimum requirements can be consulted here. To date these are:

PHP 8.0+ 7.2.5
Supported Databases
MySQL 5.6 + 5.6
PostgreSQL 11.0 + 11.0
Supported Web Servers
Apache 2.4 + 2.4
Nginx 1.18 + 1.10
Microsoft IIS 10 + 8

Let's proceed with the upgrade from Joomla 3.9.x to Joomla 3.10.x

Why start with Joomla 3.9.x? Because many of you will probably be stuck with this version which has been the last stable one for many months, in fact it was decided to postpone 3.10 until the release of Joomla4 as it is a 'bridge' version, necessary to upgrade.

The first step is therefore to upgrade from 3.9.x to 3.10.x.

On your Joomla site you should see the classic banner informing you of the presence of a new upgrade:

banner j4

The system is ready to be updated, but before proceeding, the advice is always the same.


If you have a way of making a simple backup of files and databases from hosting, then so be it, otherwise you can install the very convenient Akeeba Backup. You can find a guide on how to make a backup directly in this blog post.

In theory, Akeeba installs and enables a feature that automatically starts a backup when Joomla is updated. It is very handy and useful if one forgets to do it, but be careful because it is not always enabled. So just in case, make a backup before upgrading anyway.

Then click on the blue "Update Now" button (if you don't see the banner you can go to the top menu -> Components -> Update Joomla!).

The screen that appears is as follows:


If you do not see 3.10.0 as 'Latest Joomla version' you can click on the top left button 'search for updates'.

Then click on the blue 'install update' button.


Let the site work without closing the window or changing pages. If everything went well, the message "Your site has been updated. Your Joomla version is now 3.10.x".

If you are starting from a version much older than 3.9.x, you can follow this guide to proceed with the step-by-step installation and avoid any problems.

Well, the first step is done. Check your site, make sure everything is in place and make another backup because it's time to make the big jump to Joomla4!

Upgrade from Joomla 3.10 to joomla 4!

Returning to the main page of the control panel you will notice that there is no banner warning you to upgrade to the new version.

To fix this we click on the menu at the top -> Components -> Upgrade Joomla!

Click on the "search for update" button in the top left-hand corner.

The following screen should now appear:

controllo pre aggiornamento joomla4

This screen is crucial. Read it and study it carefully before upgrading. To see the details of each individual section, click on "More Details".

  • Required PHP & Database Settings: These are the minimum requirements to be able to use Joomla 4. Failure to meet even one of these settings means that you will not be able to run Joomla 4 on your server. In order to solve the problem, you must contact your hosting company and schedule the required updates with them..
  • Recommended PHP settings: these requirements are not mandatory, but recommended. Having 'yellow' checks is not recommended, but you can proceed with the upgrade anyway.
  • Pre-update check of extensions: In this list you will find all extensions (components, modules and plugins) installed on your site. If the author has indicated on the JED that his extension is compatible with Joomla 4 then it will be placed on the "green" checklist. Otherwise you will get a warning message.
    This is the most critical part. If you are not sure if an extension is compatible with Joomla 4 consider disabling it (in case it is not critical) or ask the developer for more information. Upgrading to Joomla 4 with the 'wrong' extension can completely compromise the visibility of your site.

If everything is in order then we can proceed but... there is no button to start the upgrade!

This is because by default Joomla only allows system upgrades and not version upgrades, to avoid "unwanted" upgrades.

To enable the upgrade to Joomla 4 you need to click on the top right on "options" and in the upgrade channel select "system and version upgrade".

avanzamento di versione

We then click on "Save and Close" at the top.

At this point, we are back to the previous screen and a red line of 'update information not available' will appear. This is normal, as it concerns the Italian language version. You can ignore the message.

We then click on the 'Automatic Update' tab:

aggiornamento automatico

4.0.0 will appear in the "Latest Joomla version" line.

Let's make a nice backup with Akeeba Backup and then click on "Install the update".

Let the system work.

If everything went well, the usual message "Your site has been updated" will appear. Your Joomla version is now 4.0.0." but... with the new administration template!

sito aggiornato joomla4

This is it! Your site is now updated to Joomla 4.

The very first thing to do is to update all your extensions if you need to and then... test the site! Go round and round and test every function!

If everything is working properly then you can go back into your control panel and start "playing" with the new features and settings of Joomla4!

Happy updating!


P.S.: I recommend that you change the update channel from "version progress" to "system (default)" again. This is always done from the "options" button at the top right.

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