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How can I tell if a site is running Drupal?

People cite sooo many ways to check if a site is running Drupal or not.  Some are easy, but not entirely accurate and others are a little harder to do, but more accurate.  Rather than giving you an entirely full list (considering that you're probably already overwhelmed with the options online), let me give you a small subset with a commentary on which are more likely to be accurate.

URL checks

  • Change any internal page link on the site from www.example.com/<some path> to www.example.com/?q=<some path> If it still works, you likely found yourself a Drupal site
  • If you go to www.example.com/user/1 and it gives you a user profile page (even if you aren't authorized to access it)
    • This won't always work because a (clever) site may redirect that to its main page or something like that.  The point is, if it works, it's a Drupal giveaway, if it doesn't, just check for other clues.  This may give you false negatives, not false positives...
  • The page www.example.com/node displays a listing of the latest nodes
    • Like the above, this won't always work.  If it does, you've got a Drupal site.  If not, that does not mean it isn't Drupal (because redirections or other site modifications may mean this default structure is no longer in place), just keep checking for other clues.

Inspecting code

  • Look for the www.example.com/CHANGELOG.txt file.  Drupal installations come with this file by default, however this is not always a reliable test, because some site owners just choose to delete this file...
    • Of course, the good thing about this if the file exists is that it specifies the Drupal version of the site too as extra information... (not that you can't tamper with that, but still...)
  • If you look at the page source code, do a quick search for the word 'Drupal' and you should see one of the following

    • <meta name="generator" content="Drupal 7 (http://drupal.org)" />

    • jQuery.extend(Drupal.settings,...

    • Again, someone may have removed the <meta> tag from the site and the jquery portion depends on the number of modules on the site using Drupal JavaScript settings.  Soooo, you may get false negatives, but they're still fairly reliable indicators!!

Inspecting headers

This is, in my opinion, the most reliable way to tell if a site is running Drupal.  It may not be as simple as the 'URL checks' above, which can be done with any browser, and no knowledge of the code and protocols behind websites, but this method is not as vulnerable to false negatives due to site customizations.

  1. Point your browser to a site you suspect may be built in Drupal
  2. Chrome
    1. Right-click anywhere in the page and select 'Inspect Element'
    2. Then, instead of looking at the html as you normally would, go into the 'Network' tab... you may have to refresh the page now that you're here for it to re-load the necessary info
    3. Once you've refreshed, go to the very top of the list of objects it's loaded and click on the main page at the top (in my case drupal.org)
      • Don't select one of the css or other files that you'll see along with the html page you're looking at - just go for the actual page...  The other entries are not subject to this neat trick...

      Inspecting headers in Chrome

    4. On the sub-tabs for that page, select 'Headers'
    5. You should see an entry that says 'Expires:  Sun, 19 Nov 1978 05:00:00 GMT'
    6. Now that's a Drupal site!!!  The significance of that date is that it's Dries Buytaert's (Drupal's founder) birth date.
  3. Firefox
    1. In Firefox I always use my Firebug extension.  Install that first and restart Firefox if you don't have it yet!
    2. Then, navigate to the site you're trying to check in Firefox
    3. Right-click and select the 'Inspect Element with Firebug' option --> should be there if you have the extension enabled
    4. Go to the 'Net' tab.  You may now have to refresh the page to load the info in that tab.
    5. Once you do, go to either the 'All' or 'HTML' tabs and select the page you're requested (in my case https://drupal.org).
      • Don't select one of the css or other files that you'll see along with the html page you're looking at - just go for the actual page...  The other entries are not subject to this neat trick...
    6. The 'Headers' tab is the first one and is open by default.  Find the 'Expires' entry and make sure it's Dries Buytaert's birth date!
      Inspecting headers in Firefox

Analyzer tools

These are not always correct, because of some of the tests they run being a little unreliable (the url and file checks from above)...

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