After over a decade, Oracle is officially suspending support for Database 11g. Whether you’re a longstanding 11g user or someone else curious about database upgrades, you may wonder, “When is the best time to switch to a new database?” Every situation is unique, but the guide below can help steer you in the right direction.

Understanding Oracle database names and support life

Before we recommend when to upgrade and which database to upgrade to, let’s take a brief look at how Oracle names their databases. Each database has a long-term release, along with innovation releases (release 1, release 2, etc.). Oracle used to name their databases according to release:,, and so on. 

In 2018, Oracle switched to a new naming system. Now databases are named after the year they were released. Technically, 18c and 19c are just updated versions of There is not a tremendous amount of difference between the three versions, only incremental changes. 

Oracle Database 19c is the current long-term release, and 21c is the latest innovation release. There are substantial differences between 19c and 21c, and 21c is projected to have a long-term release version with time.

Support life for Oracle databases

As Oracle releases new databases, support for the older versions starts to fade. Terminal releases experience a period of premium support, followed by extended support and limited support. Innovation releases may only have a period of premium support without the option for paid extended support. 

Think of the support life as the lifespan for the database. Long-term releases, also known as terminal releases, have a longer lifespan than innovation releases. 

When is the right time to upgrade to a new database?

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend upgrading databases when a new long-term release comes out. The longer you wait to upgrade, the more adjustments have to be made. However, upgrading to each new innovation release may be more cumbersome than it is worth. Unless you can benefit from the specific adjustments made in the innovation, it’s probably best to wait for the next innovation.

Which Oracle Database should I upgrade to?

If you’re still using Oracle 11g release 2, we recommend upgrading to 19c. This is because and 18c have much shorter lifespans. Support for 18c is set to run out later this year. Database 19c is the most advanced version of that grouping and the current terminal release.

While you could transition to 21c, you’re likely better off holding out for the next long-term release. Database 21c is currently available in the Free Tier for testing, which means it has issues that still need to be worked out. When the terminal version comes out, that would be a wise time to transition. 

If you don’t want to upgrade to 19c, you can pay for extended support as long as it is available. 

Be leery of blog info about release dates

There are plenty of blogs out there announcing new release dates and innovations. Many of them are even run by Oracle employees. That doesn’t mean they always have accurate information, though. 

Don’t get caught up on an announcement someone made two years ago because that information is subject to change. The best way to remain up-to-date on database releases is to review the Release Schedule on My Oracle Support. This is updated when new information emerges. 

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