Introduction

WooCommerce has been evolving over multiple versions along with new features added, issues fixed and security tightened. Therefore, in order to keep your store technologically up-to-date with the latest innovations, WooCommerce upgrade should be taken into consideration.

When it comes to WooCommerce upgrade, you can either perform it manually or using an automated migration tool. In this article, I will be walking you through the process of the two methods, upgrading directly from WooCommerce system and using LitExtension automated tool so as to help you decide the best solution for your WooCommerce upgrade.

WooCommerce upgrade methods infographic

Basically, uplifting WooCommerce to a higher version involves the update of many parts of the store including database, theme, plugins and payment gateways.

The chart below will help you grab an overall picture of the whole WooCommerce upgrade process.

WooCommerce upgrade methods comparison
WooCommerce upgrade methods comparison

Upgrading WooCommerce on its system requires manual operation throughout the entire process. On the other hand, the LitExtension upgrade method is much more time-saving with almost all steps executed automatically.

To be fully aware of the differences between these 2 methods, you need to dive into the detailed steps of each method. Keep reading this article to find out the best WooCommerce upgrade method.

Upgrade directly from WooCommerce system

If a new WooCommerce version is released, we can see the “Update” button beside WooCommerce plugins on WordPress admin site.

WooCommerce update button
WooCommerce update button

However, one should not choose to upgrade straight away this way since it potentially causes compatibility-related issues. In order not to put your long-established business in danger, always test upgrades on the staging site first and then upgrade on the live site. 

Note: This method is best suited for advanced WordPress users with a knowledge of MySQL database operations. If you find yourself unsuitable for this method, you can skip to our next method.

Step 1: Create a staging site

As I had mentioned before, upgrading WooCommerce via live site involves serious risks. Thus, we recommend you test the upgrade on a staging site before applying on the WooCommerce live site.

A staging site is basically an exact simulation of your existing website. Any changes you make on your testing environment have no effect on your live site. There are 3 main ways to create a WooCommerce staging site:

  • Use your hosting provider: Some hosting providers such as Bluehost, SiteGround, or WP Engine offer staging environments. However, this additional option comes with a higher plan fee. 
  • Use a plugin: You can use many WordPress plugins such as WP Staging Pro, WP Stagecoach or All-in-one WP migration to set up a staging environment.
  • Create a staging site manually: This method gives you total control over the staging setup process.

If you don’t want to pay for hosting provider or plugin, below is the manual staging site creating process that you can easily follow:

1. Log in to your cPanel and choose the Subdomains option

Subdomain option in cPanel
Subdomain option in cPanel

2. Enter the name of your Subdomain

Note: Your staging subdomain can not include the exact address of your main domain, or else it will end up being a directory inside your live store.

3. Click the Create button to generate a subdomain

Create subdomain
Create subdomain

The process might take a few minutes depending on how large your store is. Once it completes, you can access and interact with your staging site exactly as you normally do on your live store.

Step 2: Update staging site

Next, it’s time to update data to your staging site. Please note that themes, payment methods and plugins that are from third-party developers cannot update, you need to contact the third-party developer for compatibility and support on updates.

Update theme

The manual theme upgrade process consists of these main steps:

  1. Log in to your WooCommerce.com account  and download the latest version of your theme.
  2. Unzip, rename and then compress the downloaded folder to a zip file again. If you forget to rename the file, error will occur because you already have a theme folder on your server with the same name as the folder inside your ZIP file.
  3. On your website, go to Appearance > Themes > Add New
  4. Click Upload to upload the ZIP file you just renamed
  5. Go to Appearance > Themes > Activate

If your old theme has been customized, you need to reapply these modifications to the new one later.

Update payment methods

WordPress allows you to modify, add, disable and update payment methods for your WooCommerce store. To update your current payment gateways, stick to these steps below:

  1. In the WordPress menu column, go to WooCommerce > Setting.
  2. Click the Payment tab on the top of the page and a list of payment methods will appear.
  3. Clicking the Manage button in the right-hand column and then go to update your payment methods

Update plugins

Let’s follow these steps for a WooCommerce plugins update!

On WooCommerce dashboard, go to Extensions > WooCommerce.com Subscriptions.

WooCommerce.com Subscriptions

Right here, you need to connect your WooCommerce.com account to your WooCommerce store by logging into your WordPress account and allowing connection.

After that, you will be brought back to your WooCommerce.com Subscription tab with your account automatically connected. Then, you will see a list of products you have purchased from WooCommerce.com.

WooCommerce.com Subscription tab
WooCommerce.com Subscription tab

Right here, you can manage your extensions by choosing these following options: activate, renew or update. If there is a new version available, you will see an update notification with an update button beside the extension.

Manage WooCommerce extensions
Manage WooCommerce extensions

After clicking on this button, you will be navigated to the next update page. Now, you can click Select All to update all the extensions which have released new versions and available for update.

WooCommerce update extensions
WooCommerce update extensions

Update database

The database stores your products, orders, posts, and pages. Updating WooCommerce database to staging site involves creating a new database first and then uploading the old database to the new one. 

1. Back up database

To have a database from the live site uploaded to the staging site,  you have to export your database in a file first.  Moreover, a backup ensures that you can always roll back to the last version in case the upgrade unexpectedly fails. 

Database backup will not take your time. All you have to do is to choose Tools > Export to export all of your site contents including your pages, products, variations, orders, refunds, coupons and media in a XML file.

2. Upload database to staging site

To be able to upload the database backup to the staging site, you need to use FileZilla, a free software for transferring files over the Internet. When you have downloaded and set up FileZilla, open it and provide credentials. Then, wait for the connection to establish.

After that, navigate to Remote site > public_html > staging. Then the backup folder that you downloaded will display on your local computer. Select it and do a right-click then choose Upload. Now your backup folder is into your staging folder.

Upload the WordPress files to the new Staging folder
Upload the WordPress files to the new Staging folder

Upload WordPress database: This step involves creating a new database first and then uploading the old database in the new one.

Log in to your hosting account and then navigate to Databases > MySQL Databases > Create New Database.

Create a new database
Create a new database

Next, you need to create a MySQL user for your database by scrolling down on the same page and creating a new user.

Now, it’s time to upload the database you had downloaded in an earlier section to this new database. Just head over to phpMyAdmin from the hosting dashboard. Select the database you just created and then click on Import. This will make sure that you are importing the right database. Then just go ahead and import the database from your computer.

Select the new database you just created and navigate to Import
Select the new database you just created and navigate to Import

This step involves modifying the wp-config file to connect the database with the staging site.

From FileZilla, navigate to Remote site > public_html > staging > wp-config.php. Right-click on the file and select Edit. The file has information on your old database (or the database of your live site). Replace it with the new database name, username, and password. Once having modified the information, you need to save the file.

Edit the config file and remember to save it after making modifications
Edit the config file and remember to save it after making modifications

The URL of the website will appear like this: staging.yourwebsitename.com. The login credentials will be the same as on your actual website. 

Step 3: Test staging site

The next important step is to test the updates data on your staging site to ensure compatibility. Besides compatibility, please make sure that you look into other aspects as well, including loading time, stability and responsiveness. To do this, you will need to check both your store back-end and front-end.

Note: For front-end tests, remember to execute tests via a clean browser session to ascertain that your website’s cookies will not send you to the most common use cases of your customers.

Check store back-end

  • Check if there are any outdated items left in your backend
  • Test updating personal information
  • Try adding and removing products in your store

Check store front-end

  • Try browsing the important pages including categories pages, individual category pages and single product pages, etc
  • Check whether the search system works
  • See whether you can make a purchase
  • Try searching for any product, order, and customer

What are the possible errors?

The most common error is broken compatibility between extensions or plugins. Others are caused by WooCommerce itself such as:

  • Shortcodes are not executed in variation descriptions
  • Some orders miss variation attributes
  • Billing and shipping fields are not in the right place during checkout
  • Emails are being sent more than once
  • You get a redirect loop when trying to reach your site

Step 4: Push the staging site to live.

Before you push the staging site to live, you need to switch your live store to maintenance mode. Despite causing store downtime, this action will guarantee that you would not miss any new orders placed during this phase. When finished, remember to remove your maintenance mode.

As I previously mentioned, the testing environment could be generated in 3 ways. If you create staging environment via your hosting or plugin, you could push the changes from the staging site to the live site with the options they provide.

On the other hand, if you follow the manual method to set up the staging site, you have to upgrade your live WooCommerce store to the latest version. After that, download the files and database from your staging site and then upload them to your live site using the same process we discussed before.

Using LitExtension automated tool

Currently, with more than 10 years of experience, LitExtension is one of the top Data Migration Providers in the world. Without any technical or coding skills needed, your WooCommerce upgrade would be done straightforwardly in 3 simple steps and within a few hours

When upgrading your WooCommerce store with LitExtension, first you need to create a fresh new store in a version you want to upgrade to. After that, perform data migration to transfer all your data from your old WooCommerce store to the new one. When this process completes, you need to take further steps to transfer custom codes and plugins along with the newly occurring data. More on that later. 

Let’s start!

Step 1: Set up source cart and target cart

Suppose you log in to the LitExtension website already. On the Migration Page, click Create New Migration at the top right button on the screen. Choose WooCommerce as your source cart and fill in the URL.

Then, click LitExtension Connector to download the connector. Unzip it and upload to WooCommerce source store’s root folder. The LitExtension connector functions as an access gateway helping to establish a connection between your two WooCommerce stores.

WooCommerce set up carts
WooCommerce set up carts

After that, follow the same actions to set up the WooCommerce target store.

set up target cart
set up target cart

At this step, you may encounter some connector setup issues regarding permission but that’s alright, we’ve summed them up and provided solutions in this document. In case you have any other questions, a dedicated support team is already awaiting.

Step 2: Configure migration

After you click Next: Configure your migration, you will go to the next step to configure migration. Here, you will select entities to migrate and additional options for your migration.

configure migration
configure migration

At this step, you can choose any data that you want to migrate or all of them. Then, scroll down to select additional options to expand your migration possibilities.

For example:

  • With SEO URLs Migration & 301 Redirect, you can migrate Products and Categories URLs to the new store or create 301 redirects to the new URL. This will help maintain the  SEO rankings you have built up for years.
  • Customer Password Migration allows you to migrate your passwords from your WooCommerce store to the new one.

Step 3: Perform full migration

You can try a demo first or run full WooCommerce to WooCommerce migration immediately.

  • Try Demo: Before proceeding with full migration, you can launch our free demo migration with limited entities to see how the tool performs in action. Once you’re satisfied with the outcome, you’ll have confidence in proceeding with full migration.
  • Perform Full Migration: Click the Skip Demo Migration button to perform full migration immediately.
Perform full migration
Perform full migration

Once the migration starts, it will run seamlessly on the server. Therefore, there’s no need to keep your PC on while the data is being transferred. It is completely safe to turn it off! Take a break, have a cup of coffee and we will inform you via email when the process completes.

Step 4: Migrate custom code and plugins

Along with the fundamental data, you may have customized functionalities in your old WooCommerce store. These custom fields can not be transferred automatically through the basic migration process. Therefore, you need to hand it over to LitExtension. We will analyze and make those codes compatible with your new WooCommerce store.

Also, you may have multiple plugins installed in your WooCommerce store which have tremendously supported you to manage your business the whole time. However, some plugins only work in some particular WooCommerce versions, so the plugins in your source store may be incompatible with the version of your new store.  To migrate these plugins, you need to check if the plugins you are using have a version compatible with the WooCommerce version you are upgrading to. Otherwise, you need to find other plugins for that WooCommerce version that have similar functions as the old ones. Then, LitExtension team will help you transfer data from old plugins to new ones.

Step 5: Recent Data Migration and plugins migration

During and after the migration, LitExtension still keeps your source store active normally to ensure the service doesn’t affect your sales or business performance. Therefore, your store will still receive new orders, customers, and new products throughout the data transfer or when you’re configuring your new store after the migration.

After finishing the setup, you have to transfer the data that recently appeared in your old store to your new store as well and that’s when our Recent Data Migration comes in handy. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. Go to your account on LitExtension site.
  2. Find your migration ID and click the Recent Migration button
  3. Follow the simple steps that you did when setting up the full migration process.
Recent data migration

Note: Recent Data Migration service is only available without any fee in 3 months after the initial migration (In condition that the total additional entities is fewer than 10% the number of entities in initial migration).

Final verdict

Let’s have a quick recap of which data migration method is better through the most crucial traits of each approach. Then you can decide which way is the best way to upgrade your WooCommerce store.

Features Upgrade directly from WooCommerce system Use LitExtension automated tool
Ease of use The upgrade process is complicated and time-consuming because you have to test the changes on your staging sites and then replicate the same on the live site. The tool is not only automatic but also provides step-by-step instructions for users to follow easily.
Demo migration Staging site plays as the demo migration. However, it obviously takes much time and effort. Free Demo is available where you can transfer limited entities. Plus, you get 5$ in your balance after running demo migrations!
Downtime You may lose potential customers since you have to put your site to maintenance mode. The migration runs smoothly with no store interruption and no data loss.
Support WooCommerce community and WooCommerce Docs are the only sources of support that customers could go to when they have any issues. Professional and friendly support available 24/7
Security The third-party involvement reduces the security of upgrade process (with methods using plugins and hosting) LitExtension prioritizes data security and has policies in place to ensure the highest level of security for your data.
Risk Your upgrade process will possibly meet some unexpected issues due to the incompatibility between two versions and even issues from WooCommerce system. LitExtension can guarantee 0% data loss during your migration with our advanced technology and excellent customer support team.

Overall, upgrading WooCommerce by using LitExtension migration tool totally outweighs the other method because of its greater user-friendliness, security, safety and support.

Conclusion

While WooCommerce upgrade can be performed in various ways, using LitExtension automated tool would be the best choice for you.  

LitExtension provides the automated migration services that help online store owners migrate their data between two platforms with a great automation, preciseness and security. We currently support data migration for over 90 most popular platforms and have successfully migrated more than 140.000 stores for over 40.000 customers so far. LitExtension has obtained great satisfaction from our migration services which is proven through reviews from our customers that you can see on Trustpilot

It’s no coincidence that LitExtension stands in the list of top best Shopping Cart Migration Providers over the globe, you can run our Free Demo to see for yourself. We always try to give each and every customer the best services and support. Any questions and recommendations from you will be responded to as soon as possible. If you have any concerns about your store migration, feel free to contact LitExtension.

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