I have tried importing the database from a production server running civicrm 4.4 into a development server running 4.7 - but it appears that only contact names are present - email, address, activities, memberships and contributions are all missing. Does this mean that I need to start again, downgrade civicrm to 4.4 on the dev server and only upgrade it after porting the database?
If you want to migrate the complete database you should indeed do the following:
- Set your old environment in read-only maintenance mode
- Set up the new environment (CiviCRM & CMS) using exactly the same versions
- Migrate the databases
- Update CiviCRM and CMS to the latest versions
- Properly test (quite some changes between 4.4. and 4.7)
- Go-Live or rollback
As an alternative (if your data isn't too complex) you could export everything you need as csv-files and either use the UI import function of CiviCRM to import into the new environment or give Eileen's import extension a shot.