Patching and locking modules

Modification of contributed module and core files must implement one of the following options to ensure that changes are not overwritten by Remote Administration (RA) updates. RA uses Drush to update both core and contributed modules, so all modifications will be overwritten during the update process.


If you’re working with a third-party development team who won’t be a part of your ongoing support, ensure that they understand and supply the information in these guidelines.

Locking modules

  • If modified contributed modules should not be updated even when insecure, they must contain a drush lock file to ensure that they are not overwritten by drush. For installation instructions, see Using drush lock files with contributed modules.
  • This lock must exist on the production tag, because this is the default tag from which all RA Updates begin.
  • Modules that are locked will not receive security updates. Any security vulnerability that results is the responsibility of the Client’s development team.
  • Modified modules overwritten as a part of the update process can be reverted. The RA team can assist with installing lock files to prevent further modifications. At this time, update automation does not detect differences between the installed module and its official release on

Patching core and contributed modules

Acquia RA supports patches to core and contributed modules at its discretion. To provide support, patch information and files must be provided and correctly set up. Update automation will attempt to apply the provided patches, and all results will be noted in the corresponding ticket.

Update automation implements a slightly modified version of the Drush Patch File extension. The following steps detail examples of each different use case.

  1. Create the patches.make file in the following location:


  2. Ensure that the patches.make file contains the following information for the patch:

    • A link to the patch, either on (preferred) or in the repo
    • If the patch exists only in the repo, place it in [reponame]/patches/my_custom_patch.patch, as patches placed in the directory of the module they modify will be overwritten before automation attempts to apply the patch, and the patch will be unavailable
    • A comment linking to the original issue which the patch addresses
    • A comment noting anything special about the applicability of this particular patch
  3. Repeat the previous step for each discrete patch.


    It is also possible to combine all patches into a single patch file. However, this method makes it more difficult to discern which part of the patch is still relevant.

A complete patches.make file with a Drupal core patch, a remote patch file from, and a local patch would look similar to this:

; Specify the version of Drupal being used.
core = 7.x
; Specify the api version of Drush Make.
api = 2
; N/A
; Patching README.txt file.
projects[drupal][patch][] = "patches/minor_core_patch.patch"
; Error when attempting to clear cache that is related to ctools.
 projects[ctools][patch][] = ""
; Devel generate fails when generating data for a field.
projects[devel][patch][] = "patches/devel_generate_textfield_maxlength-1713076-1.patch"


Acquia recommends placing local patch files in a directory called patches, which is located above the docroot directory.

Automated patching is still being tested, and functionality improvements will be added. It is imperative that all functionality affected by the patch be thoroughly tested to ensure it behaves as expected. While the RA team can help troubleshoot such functionality, all customizations are ultimately the responsibility of the Client’s development team.

Acquia RA recommends moving to stable, unmodified module releases as soon as possible. We recommend that development teams regularly check to see if a patched issue was resolved in either a security update or bug-fix release in order to move from modified code to a clean release.

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