Backporting is the practice of applying specific changes or improvements from newer versions of software to older versions. The goal of backporting is to expand functionality and increase security without forcing users to upgrade to the latest version, which they might be unwilling or unable to do.
See also: patch
Examples of backporting
- Operating systems: Critical security patches and bug fixes are often backported to older versions of operating systems to address newly discovered vulnerabilities. This may be done even if the older operating system is no longer supported by the developer, as high-profile exploits can harm the developer’s reputation and impact sales of newer systems.
- Web browsers: Although most popular browsers are free to upgrade, users may be reluctant to switch over to the latest version due to controversial UI changes or simple preference. Just like with operating systems, browser developers may backport important security fixes to protect their reputation and the browser’s market share.
- Content management systems (CMS): Many websites run older versions of WordPress, Drupal, or other CMS platforms. As a result, these CMS platforms often backport the security fixes from the latest release to older versions, ensuring that the websites remain secure without the need to upgrade their CMS platform (which might result in major changes to site functionality).