Managing zero downtime upgrades

Zero downtime upgrade (ZDU) allows you to upgrade your Jira Data Center with no downtime for your users. Your instance will remain available throughout the upgrade process.

About Zero downtime

Zero downtime upgrade (ZDU) is a special method available for Jira Data Center. It introduces the upgrade mode that allows your nodes to work on different Jira versions while you upgrade them one by one. During the upgrade, Jira remains fully functional and open to your users.

ZDU is available for both Jira Software Data Center and Jira Service Desk Data Center. Jira Software 7.3 or Jira Service Desk 3.6 are the minimum versions you need to be able to use this upgrade process. If you're running a Jira installation with both Jira Software and Jira Service Desk, don't worry, we got you covered!

As the zero downtime upgrade process can be quite lengthy (depending on how many nodes you have), we've also got a handy checklist you can use to make sure you've done everything you need to. We still recommend you go through all the steps on this page, the checklist is just a handy tool to help keep track of what you're doing.

Technical overview

For more information on what happens with your cluster in terms of upgrade, see ZDU technical overview.


If you still have doubts, have a look at our Zero downtime upgrade FAQs.

Before you begin

Before you start your zero downtime upgrade, there's a few things you'll do:

Ensure you have the installer for your intended version.
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Download the appropriate Jira Software or Jira Service Desk installer. Make sure you have it available for all your nodes, as you'll need it to upgrade them one at a time.

Ensure you know about your intended version.
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Review the release notes and upgrade notes for the version of Jira platformJira Software and Jira Service Desk that you're upgrading to. If you plan to skip a few versions during your upgrade, we strongly recommend that you read the release notes and upgrade guides for all versions between your current version and the version to which you are upgrading. Remember, the minimum version you need to be on to use zero downtime upgrades is Jira Software 7.3, or Jira Service Desk 3.6.

Ensure you're on a supported platform.
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Confirm that your operating system, database, and other applicable platforms and hardware still comply with the requirements for intended Jira version. The End of Support Announcements page also has important information regarding platform support for future versions of Jira.

Ensure you check your add-ons.
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If you have installed Jira add-ons (i.e. not included with Jira), verify that they will be compatible with the version of Jira Software you are upgrading to. You can find add-on compatibility information on the add-on's home page on the Atlassian Marketplace

  • If the add-on currently supports your current and your intended version, you don't need to do anything.
  • If the add-on has an update available that supports your current and your intended version, update the add-on before you start your Jira upgrade.
  • If the add-on supports your current version, but requires an update to support your intended version (and the update doesn't support your current version), you should disable the add-on to avoid any issues during the upgrade. Once the upgrade is complete and finalized, you can update and re-enable the add-on. This will mean the add-on is unavailable during the upgrade.
  • If the add-on supports your current version, but not your intended version (and there is no update available that supports your intended version), it may cause issues during the upgrade and should be disabled if you decide to proceed with your upgrade. You should not enable the add-on until such time as it supports your new version, and can be updated.
Back up your database
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Zero downtime upgrades rely on the database being available throughout the upgrade process, so you should perform a database backup using your database's native tools as close to the start of your upgrade procedure as you can.

Ensure your Support Healthcheck, Instance Health, and Troubleshooting and Support Tools plugins are enabled, and up to date with the latest versions. plugins are enabled, and up to date with the latest versions.
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Zero downtime upgrades checks rely on both of these plugins being enabled to make sure Jira has the correct information to help you during your zero downtime upgrade. These are enabled by default, but to check you need to:

  1. Navigate to  > Manage apps.
  2. Search for the plugins by entering "health" or "support" as applicable, and selecting System in the drop-down.
  3. Expand the relevant plugin to check if it's enabled or disabled. If disabled, enable it by clicking Enable.

If there's an update available for any of the plugins, you'll see an Update button. Click it to update to the latest available version.

Prestaging and testing your new version

We strongly recommend performing your upgrade in a test environment that best reflects your production environment first. Don't upgrade your production instance until you are satisfied that your test environment upgrade has been successful and is functioning correctly. This includes checking your add-ons and customizations. If you have any problems with your test environment upgrade which you can't resolve, create an issue at our support site so that we can assist you.

1. Put Jira into upgrade mode

Putting Jira into upgrade mode allows the nodes in your cluster to run on different versions of Jira Software or Jira Service Desk until you finalize or cancel your upgrade. To put Jira into upgrade mode, all your nodes need to be running on the same versions.

  1. Navigate to  > Applications > Jira upgrades.
  2. Click Put Jira into upgrade mode. This will only be available if your nodes are all on the same version.

When you first put Jira into upgrade mode, you have the option to cancel the upgrade, which will take Jira out of upgrade mode. This is available until you start upgrading your nodes. Once you've upgraded your nodes to the same version, you can finalize the upgrade. To cancel the upgrade, you'd need to roll each node back to it's original version.

2. Update your Jira applications

If you run both Jira Software and Jira Service Desk in your cluster, then you need to copy the Jira Service Desk files manually into your Jira shared home. If you're running Jira Software or Jira Service Desk alone, then you can skip this step.

  1. Download the required Jira Service Desk OBR file. Make sure you download the version that is compatible with the Jira Software version you're going to install. You can check the compatibility here.
  2. Change the extension of the OBR file you downloaded from .obr to .zip.
  3. Unzip this file to extract the contents.
  4. Copy all the jar files from the directory where you extracted the contents of the zip file and from the child directory "dependencies" and place them in <Jira shared home>/plugins/installed-plugins (Read more about the shared home directory in section 3 here). The terminal commands are:
    1. Linux: cp *.jar dependencies/*.jar <Jira shared home>/plugins/installed-plugins
    2. Windows: copy *.jar + dependencies/*.jar <Jira shared home>/plugins/installed-plugins

During the upgrade process, upgraded nodes will pick up the new Jira Service Desk jar files from the shared home, while nodes that haven't been upgraded will continue using the old versions of jars. When your upgrade is complete, all your nodes will be running the new version of Jira Service Desk.

3. Upgrade your nodes

Once your Jira instance is in upgrade mode, you can upgrade each node individually. Upgrading a node will involve stopping Jira, upgrading the installation, and then starting Jira. Stopping Jira will remove the node from your cluster, making it unavailable, and any users logged in to that node will lose their current session, before being routed to another node. As the administrator, it's up to you to decide which nodes to upgrade and in which order. You always need to have at least one node online and connected to your cluster to achieve zero downtime. There's some useful information on monitoring a Jira Data Center node here, and depending on your setup, you may be able to 'drain' your nodes to minimize impact.

You'll be upgrading your nodes by using the Jira installer, just like in the case of a regular upgrade. The installer performs most of the upgrade tasks for you. However, if you have made customizations to your Jira installation, you'll need to migrate the customized files manually to the upgraded installation.

You're now ready to upgrade your nodes. Make sure you can access the installer before you start, and select the node you want to upgrade. Then, follow the procedure described below.

Upgrade Jira by using the installer

When you've upgraded your first node, check that it's available on your cluster, and that users are able to log in and use the node. Once you've done this, repeat the process for each node.

4. Finalize your upgrade

Finalizing an upgrade will allow any required upgrade tasks to run on your instance, and take Jira out of upgrade mode. Once the required tasks have completed, your installation is upgraded.

  1. Navigate to  > Applications > Jira upgrades
  2. Click Finalize upgrade. This will only be available if all your nodes are all on the same, new version.

Congratulations! You've upgraded your instance and achieved zero downtime! 

Last modified on Sep 3, 2019

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