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ExpressionEngine—Bridging the Gap Between Old And New

By Erin  |   Business Website Tips

Computer, Cogs, Spanners and Hammer

An article for businesses with ExpressionEngine websites

If you’re taking the time to read this, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with the small but tightly-knit ExpressionEngine community.

(For those not in the know, ExpressionEngine was developed by EllisLab as an alternative platform to WordPress. Designed to cater to higher-end web developers, ExpressionEngine is, oftentimes a far superior solution in comparison most other open-source Content Management Systems available.)

Why are we giving ExpressionEngine advice?

We’ve spent a digital eternity working in the world of ExpressionEngine have built many ExpressionEngine sites along the way, have successfully tackled every ExpressionEngine challenge new clients have arrived with, and are now considered top-level ExpressionEngine developers by our colleagues, clients, and the ExpressionEngine community.  

The new version of ExpressionEngine

When EllisLab released a new version of their ExpressionEngine software (who are we kidding?—it was a wholesale rebuild) a few years ago, we were both excited…and upset.

Excited because the new version made major improvements to the stability, security and functionality of the Content Management System.

Upset because the new version made upgrades for existing users complex—so complex that many businesses running ExpressionEngine ultimately chose not to perform the upgrade.

At first, it wasn’t a big deal….

At the time, choosing to not upgrade your ExpressionEngine site wasn’t a big deal.

The original version was still fully supported and, frankly, the benefits of improved security and stability didn’t necessarily outweigh the headache of conducting the upgrade.

Unfortunately, the passage of time has also brought about a diminished capacity of EllisLab’s support team to support older versions of ExpressionEngine. That means sites running old versions  are going to need an upgrade ASAP—or they’re running the risk of having their sites suddenly stop working without notice.  It’s no longer a matter of how bad it’s going to be—it’s become a matter of when.  (And it’s probably soon.)

A real-world nightmare

A Denver-based business recently reached out to us for help with their ExpressionEngine 1.0 website.

The problem? Their the site had suddenly become completely non-functional.

It didn’t take our team very long to see the issue: Their hosting provider upgraded to a new version of PHP.

Since ExpressionEngine 1.0 is no longer supported by EllisLabs, when the hosting company updated to the more modern PHP language, the website couldn’t support the new server configurations.

The site simply…broke.  The company was without a fully functioning website. It was costing their business A LOT of money on a weekly basis.

We explained the news to the client and let them know that in order to perform a complete upgrade, their website would need to be completely offline until the upgrade was complete—a process likely to take several days.  Additionally, performing the upgrade after the fact was going to require a significantly higher investment than had they performed the upgrade before things stopped working.

Understandably, the client was anxious and disappointed by the news, but knew that had they been proactive and taken care of the upgrade before the hosting provider upgraded PHP, their nightmare would have been completely been avoided.

Is it time to upgrade?

Perhaps at this time you’re wondering: So, other than our company’s site completely crashing, how do I know if I need an ExpressionEngine upgrade?

The easiest way is to log in to your ExpressionEngine control panel glance at the bottom of the page you see after you log in. ExpressionEngine displays its version number in the footer.  If you’re running 1.x you should immediately get started on an upgrade!

(Additionally, if your site is struggling to run new add-ons or starting to see lots of errors, it’s definitely time to consider on overhaul.)

Now, if your site version is above 2.0 but less than 2.9 you’ll still benefit greatly from an upgrade, especially in the worlds of improved functionality and (most importantly) security, but your situation is not as dire as our friends rocking a 1.x version.

Ready to take the upgrade plunge?


If you’re not quite ready to handle an upgrade on your own, our ExpressionEngine developers are happy to talk to you about bridging the gap between the very old and the very new.

As for those of you planning to stick it out with your antiquated versions of ExpressionEngine, we do wish you the best of luck. Chances are you’re going to need it. (Gulp.) 


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