How to update a Drupal 7 website with Drush (notes)

As a brief “note to self,” this is how I just updated a Drupal 7 website using Drush. Please note that the output of some of the commands below refer to early versions of Drupal 8, but these commands also work with Drupal 7.

First, do these things:

  • Backup the Drupal 7 database and files
  • Backup the site-specific files
    • .htaccess
    • robots.txt
    • sites/default/settings.php

Then run these commands:

drush sset system.maintenance_mode 1
drush cr
drush up drupal
drush updb
drush entup
drush sset system.maintenance_mode 0
drush cr

As an important note, I ran these commands using Drush 8. It looks like the commands will be different with Drush 9.

Note 1: I created an alias named drush8 to run these commands, because they are run with Drush 8.

Note 2: In 2020, several of these commands now fail to run properly. Fortunately the “update” commands work.

That’s the short answer of how to update a Drupal 7 website using Drush. If you’re interested in more information, see the notes below. (The notes are cryptic, but hopefully useful.)

Output from the drush “update drupal” command

Here’s the output from running the drush up drupal command:

$ drush up drupal

Update information last refreshed: July 22, 2017 - 12:00pm
 Name    Installed Version  Proposed version  Message          
 Drupal  8.3.4              8.3.5             Update available

Code updates will be made to drupal core.
WARNING:  Updating core will discard any modifications made to Drupal core files,
most noteworthy among these are .htaccess and robots.txt.  If you have made any
modifications to these files, please back them up before updating so that you can
re-create your modifications in the updated version of the file.

Note: Updating core can potentially break your site. It is NOT recommended to update
production sites without prior testing.

Do you really want to continue? (y/n): y

Project drupal was updated successfully. Installed version is now 8.3.5.
Backups were saved into the directory /root/drush-backups/.../20170722180058/drupal.     [ok]
No database updates required

(Note: Even though it says no database updates are required, I attempted them
to see what would happen.)

$ drush updb

No database updates required                                                                                                              [success]

$ drush entup

No entity schema updates required                                                                                                         [success]
Cache rebuild complete.                                                                                                                   [ok]
Finished performing updates.       

Notes on the Drupal 7 drush process and commands

Here’s a link to the official Drupal 7 update docs.

Notes related to the overall process:

  • To identify what packages can be updated (without changing anything):
    • drush ups (aka, drush pm-updatestatus)
  • Clear the caches before running a database backup
    • drush cr (or drush cc all, if you prefer)
  • Put Drupal 7 site into maintenance mode
    • drush sset system.maintenance_mode 1
    • Drupal 7 commands:
      • drush vset --exact maintenance_mode 1
      • drush cache-clear all
  • Update drupal core
    • drush up drupal (same as: drush pm-update drupal)
    • note: drush pm-update is the same as running drush pm-updatecode and then drush updatedb
  • To update an individual module, such as the Views module:
    • drush up views
  • To only apply security updates:
    • drush up --security-only
  • To apply any required database and entity updates (in theory this isn't needed, because drush up should do this)
    • drush updb # database update
    • drush entup # entity update
  • If all is well, put your site back online:
    • drush sset system.maintenance_mode 0
    • drush cr
    • Drupal 7 commands
      • drush vset --exact maintenance_mode 0
      • drush cache-clear all

In addition to updating Drupal core, I also ran these commands to update the Drupal modules shown:

drush sset system.maintenance_mode 1
drush cr
drush up login_security
drush up metatag
drush up mollom
drush up similarterms
drush up token
drush updb
drush sset system.maintenance_mode 0
drush cr

Other drush commands

To get an overview of your Drupal website, using drush status:

$ drush status

 Drupal version                  :  8.3.4                                                                                        
 Site URI                        :  http://default                                                                               
 Database driver                 :  mysql
 Database hostname               :  localhost
 Database port                   :  3306
 Database username               :  omitted
 Database name                   :  omitted
 Drupal bootstrap                :  Successful                                                                                   
 Drupal user                     :  
 Default theme                   :  omitted
 Administration theme            :  omitted
 PHP configuration               :  omitted
 PHP OS                          :  Linux
 Drush script                    :  /usr/local/bin/drush                                                                         
 Drush version                   :  8.1.2                                                                                        
 Drush temp directory            :  omitted
 Drush configuration             :  
 Drush alias files               :  
 Install profile                 :  standard
 Drupal root                     :  omitted
 Drupal Settings File            :  sites/default/omitted
 Site path                       :  sites/default
 File directory path             :  sites/default/files
 Temporary file directory path   :  omitted
 Sync config path                :  sites/default/files/omitted

To identify what packages/modules can be updated, without making any changes (query only), use drush pm-updatestatus, or its alias, drush ups:

$ drush ups

Checking available update data ...                                                                                    [ok]
Checking available update data for Drupal.                                                                            [ok]
Checking available update data for AddToAny (addtoany).                                                               [ok]
Checking available update data for Login Security (login_security).                                                   [ok]
Checking available update data for Metatag (metatag).                                                                 [ok]
Checking available update data for Mollom (mollom).                                                                   [ok]
Checking available update data for PHP Filter (php).                                                                  [ok]
Checking available update data for Similar By Terms (similarterms).                                                   [ok]
Checking available update data for SMTP Authentication Support (smtp).                                                [ok]
Checking available update data for TOC API (toc_api).                                                                 [ok]
Checking available update data for TOC filter (toc_filter).                                                           [ok]
Checking available update data for Token (token).                                                                     [ok]
 Name                             Installed       Propose  Message                                                           
                                  Version         d                                                                          
 Drupal                           8.3.4           8.3.5    Update available                                                  
 Login Security (login_security)  8.x-1.0         8.x-1.2  Update available                                                  
 Metatag (metatag)                8.x-1.0-beta9   8.x-1.1  Update available                                                  
 Mollom (mollom)                  8.x-1.1         8.x-1.2  Update available                                                  
 Similar By Terms (similarterms)  8.x-1.2         8.x-1.3  Update available                                                  
 Token (token)                    8.x-1.0-alpha2  8.x-1.0  Update available                                                  

If for some reason you want a list of all available extensions, including modules and themes:

drush pm-list
drush pml

Clear the caches:

drush cr
drush cc all

To enable/disable modules:

drush pm-enable project_name
drush pm-disable project_name

Drush help:

drush help
drush topic

See also