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[Suite OR Forum] How 2 Guide - Backups, Upgrades, and Recovery!

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  • [Suite OR Forum] How 2 Guide - Backups, Upgrades, and Recovery!

    vBulletin 4.0 - Backups, Upgrades, and Recovery! Updated 1.15.2010

    I wanted to post this here as well i.e. the Installations and Upgrades section as some may not simply visit the Beta forum any longer to be honest . This is a revised Tutorial from the original info found here: which as you can see by my comment below the Community Tutorial, it has been updated! This information can also be found on as an Article found here:

    If your unsure of ANY steps below please post but remember I color coded each section so when your scrolling for info bare in mind what's in blue pretty much relates to the blue text area and the other colors accordingly as well etc etc .

    Upgrading is an important process and should not be taken lightly. Please be aware you should always do a backup and here is the best way to be perfectly safe about it:

    Section 1 - Don't be stubborn, read the instructions you Grinch .

    1. Check the Minimum Requirements found here:
    Also found here:
    If your Hosting account/Server is not up to par with the minimum requirements it might not upgrade at all or cause you more trouble then it's worth! Some host will move you to another server with the minimum requirements if available or perhaps for an additional fee or monthly cost.

    1a. Trevor Hannant has released a very detailed Guide to Upgrading including screenshots so I highly recommend you view all of Trevor's upgrading instructions, they might be just what you need for a super simple upgrade then you can skip the upgrade information below and simply use this forum tutorial if you need to recover your forum or learn some useful information on backups!

    Please see all five parts via the vBulletin CMS however here are the links:

    1b. Another bit of helpful information is Wayne Lukes information on upgrading to 4.0 located here:

    2. Test the backup to see if it will restore in a test environment.
    3. If it restores then use it to test the upgrade but remember to disable all mods in admincp product manager and via Section 4 below in the config file.
    4. If the upgrade was successful... now what? You decide! Change your forums folder name and rename the test one to be your forum, redo cookies to prevent login problems using tools.php and any posts since the time of the backup used are lost... or tell your members now about upgrading and close the board and repeat? Make that choice now and simply read for your parts below it's quite simple to keep up with otherwise post a comment and await a reply.
    5. Well this is step number five so did it work? If so great copy this article and save on your computer with your vbulletin files so you don't have to track it down later if needed - always be prepared!

    Now if you need more details on how to backup, test or restore here is some more information for you.


    Section 2 - Patience is a virtue.

    1. If your upgrading a live site please take the proper precautions such as testing in advance as listed above in Section 1.
    2. You are allowed to run a vbtest under your license I suggest you install or upgrade a backup of your live site first to make sure it goes smoothly IF you are going to in fact upgrade, disregarding our warnings of upgrading a live site. More information on that is here:

    Section 3 - Better Safe than Sorry.

    1. Backup your Database and Files so you can restore to your current version on your live board now i.e. 3.5/3.6/3.7/3.8 etc if anything goes wrong or to use for making a test site.

    How to do this Mike?

    Database Backup - Cpanel? phpMyAdmin? Do you have any of these? If so let's review some options in each:


    There is an option to copy a database using Cpanel but I have not been successful on with it and found simply exporting using cPanel the using BigDump to import into a new databse saved me time trying to figure out other ways with each host being slightly different.To backup follow these steps:

    1. Close your forum.
    2. Use Cpanel to access your phpMyAdmin.
    3. In phpMyAdmin, select the database you want to copy from the menu on the left.
    4. Click export, then click choose "save as file" and save it you your computer along with your vbulletin files.


    Can be found here: & Special Thanks to FF|Skyrider for the reminder!!
    1. Follow the information on installing it, run a backup and test a restore. Simple enough and secure using htaccess although I still find BigDump (listed below) to be easier.


    Some host though have timeouts or limited sessions in place as mentioned above so you attempting to restore it will never work unless you use something like BIGDUMP. Here is some more info on automated backups (do this when you have time) which has links for BIGDUMP so you can upload a large Database.

    1. See the info below, I like to give credit and that's where I found the reference on google.

    From that page, credit to XOOPS see post for details on author:


    Bigdump, The script

    Thanks Alexey Ozerov (alexey at for this script that imports big SQL dump files on limited sessions servers. Script Valid with IE 6.0 SP1, mozilla 1.x and Netscape 4.8.


    Staggered import of large MySQL Dumps (like phpMyAdmin 2.x dumps and even GZip compressed dumps). Do you want to restore a large backup of your mySQL database (or a part of it) into a new or the same mySQL database? Maybe you can't access the server shell and you can't import the dump using phpMyAdmin due to hard memory/runtime limit of the web-server. BigDump will achieve this
    even with webservers with hard runtime limit and those in safe mode in a couple of short sessions.


    Installation and configuration

    One unique script. Modify setup vars ( DB connection and gzip file URL) and upload it on your server.


    This is a manual operation (Databases are not usually restored daily)
    Post gziped sql Dump at devoted URL and run the script.

    Simple, ths script is an excellent DB_Backup complement. No more sql files cut to fit phpMyAdmin sessions that a so boring (and dagerous) as your DBs bocomes too big.
    When using phpMyAdmin here are the setting I normally check (within the yellow highlighted area in the image) that I normally check before exporting, otherwise some systems default options checked will not work properly if re-importing

    1a.Check out this information as well posted by Floris!

    Originally posted by Jhumon
    Hello users and team

    how do i restore my databases after upgrading to 4.0 ?

    can anyone help me in this ?
    Originally posted by Floris

    Section 4 - Practice Makes Perfect.

    Now that you have made a test site (or if upgrading now on a live site) you need to do a few things first to make sure it all goes smoothly. You have backed up and either already rushed off and upgraded or you have restored a copy of your database and your ready to create a test environment for mods or to test an upgrade on! Let's see how to restore the files below:

    1. If your making a backup of your site to test for mods or an upgrade copy the folder your forum is in and rename it then upload back to your server via FTP (i.e. Filezilla) or the Cpanel File Manager or Legacy File Manager (Retain a copy of the original files and do not alter them). Filezilla I find to be quicker than Cpanel file managers but long story short you want to make a backup all the files, every single folder and file. Why? Well if you have problems while upgrading to 4.0 you have already uploaded the new files so they will not work if you try to restore if the upgrade fails OR if making a test site you need ca copy of the original files to properly restore the site exactly as it is. Some FTP Clients do not automatically upload files in the correct mode, please read the install information provided by vBulletin to upload the correct files in the correct mode i.e. ASCII or Binary etc.

    2. Download your current version (3.6 or 3.7/3.8 etc etc) and I mean the exact same version your forum is running now before the upgrade this will be needed to restore if required. Also retain an unaltered copy fo your entire forum folder on your computer as listed above in step 2.

    3. Turn off ALL MODIFICATIONS. You can do this by disabling them all but the best and highly recommended way of doing this is by locating your config.php file and edit it (make a copy of it first and do not use notepad to edit use an external editor such as notepad ++ google it etc) and at the top below <php? add this:

    define('DISABLE_HOOKS', true);
    *YOU MUST DISABLE MODS BEFORE UPGRADING, not afterwards when it failed the first time, NOW.

    3a. Revert back to your Default style, this is important and can be the difference between a viewable forum after your upgrade. If you do not have a default style or have modified it in some way please remember you can simply create a new fresh default style via the Style Manager.

    ** DELETE ALL OLD vBulletin 3.x Styles this can cause problems when upgrading if you do not! Only revert to default OR make a new Default for your 3.x before you upgrade!!

    3b. While your in the config file of whatever site your upgrading be sure to change the database details to match the new database!!!

    3c. In your browser navigate to your forums url i.e. provide your customer number and then follow the prompts on screen and upgrade!

    Did it work? If yes then great! Enjoy

    Quick Tips
    * Don't forget to turn back on the mods so your CMS and Blog will work, you can now uninstall unwanted 3.x mods one at a time until they are removed if you did not uninstall them before upgrading and remember to delete the files associated with the modifications as well.

    ** If your experiencing some problems with links not working properly or something seems funky try:
    (Thanks Birute for the Reminder!)
    a) Clear your cookies, CLOSE your browser and then launch your browser again i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera etc etc.
    b) If that does not remedy it try: AdminCP > Maintenance > Update Counters and start updating! READ them all carefully as some can reset statistics you wish to retain and they will not be recoverable once the counters are updated unless you fall back to the most recent backup and possibly redo the upgrade process so be very careful and if anything refer to the older vBulletin 3 Manual as much of it stil pertains to the 4.0 version it just needs a bit of updating but for reference it's perfect:


    If the backup worked and your forum is upgraded and running fine please stop reading this guide now and go have fun with vBulletin 4.0! If you have any Bugs please confirm they are not specific to only you for some reason i.e. MySQL or PHP versions (Although you should have confirmed the minimum requirements were met before upgrading regardless).


    Section 5 - What a bloody mess...

    Continuing with this Guide from here down means you had a failed upgrade and wish to restore!

    Big forum or you just don't want your live site to stay down while you wait on a fix.. is there a fix? Frantic are you? Well simply restore back to your previous version if you saved a copy of your forum files and database as you were told to above!

    Depending on where the install script failed, it might not have modified you current database so you see errors because it's new files for 4.0 not communicating properly w/ the 3.x database . Simply re-upload your previous versions files as if you were updating and then run the upgrade script, there is an option to run it anyways please click that and proceed.

    If it did not alter the DB then you should see your live site back up! If it still shows errors then you might be in trouble and want to restore back to your previous version or if you did not make a backup now might be the time to submit a support ticket otherwise without a backup you will need to do a fresh install and have all your members re-register.

    Section 6 - The mop bucket.

    1. You can try restoring your database via phpMyAdmin but some host have file upload or session limits/timeouts in place. You can ask them to restore it for you which is the quickest way.

    They won't restore or charge $$$.$$ ?

    Now you must do the rest plain and simple, buck up and let's get this done Good Sir! (or Lady )

    1a. Restore it yourself by using Cpanel, MySQLDumper, or BigDump as listed above in Section 3 - Better Safe than Sorry and remember when restoring to change the config file details to the new database and you might have to run the tools.php as listed above in Section 1 - Don't be stubborn, read the instructions a copy of it is located in your do_not_upload folder that came with your vBulletin forum or suite download. Again, in regards to restoring your Database, if your not having success and it's getting to you that bad simply contact your host and ask for their assistance.

    1b. Your files... Upload all of them back to the same directory and all the files are as they were with the database now restored!

    Now check and see if it's restored? I hope it goes well for many of you, I had to save a 3.8 forum a while back from an owner who jumped then gun and tried to install herself so I thought I would post this up since many will be here for 4.0 ?'s and support just like many will only be on!
    Last edited by TheLastSuperman; Wed 9th May '12, 10:19pm.

  • JChaz
    I've just done a test post on your demo site. I have to say, I do like the way it works. My forum is heavily dependant on images being uploaded as per my test. I found the image upload and insert very familiar, very much like the way its done in Wordpress with many more options available to the user. Layout is very much the same and embedding video clips (seen on another test post) looks very much the same. I'm liking what I see.

    Leave a comment:

  • JChaz
    Thanks Mark. I have in mind that being stuck on vB4 means the forum is going no-where dreading water with no vision and slowly losing functionality. If vB5 changes things cosiderably, maybe that could be what we need. I've looked at the Demo in your signature and looks good. I think I could strip out articles from the CMS (wordpress) and put them into a vB5 site. I notice there is some sort of upgrade tool that might help with vB4 to vB5?

    Would still ask if there is a decent upgrade guide for vB4 - as always the first time doing something is difficult, once I've done something once I'm usually OK with it.

    Leave a comment:

  • Mark.B
    A 'clean install' means a blank database with no posts, as if you have never had a forum before, so you can't have a clean install and keep your posts and members.

    You should consider what you want to achieve with an upgrade. An upgrade to vB5 won't magically fix broken things, but vB5 is a very different product to vB4 and your forum will change considerably. If your only issue is that some of the vB4 functionality broke due to a php upgrade, then at this stage you should consider upgrading to 4.2.5. This will work with php 5.6, php 7.0 or php 7.1 (but NOT php 7.2).

    Leave a comment:

  • JChaz
    I know this is a very old thread, but I'm new to this and need to upgrade from 4.2.2 to 4.2.5 as the host has upgraded PHP to 5.6.30 and its broken a few things like images inserting in posts but then repeated at the bottom of teh post as "attached images" having scrolled through the forum, seems its PHP version upgrade thats done it.

    OK, so I'd love to upgrade to the latest version 5, which I can, licensed to do so, but this will be a first upgrade for me after looking after the forum for a while. Is there a good step by step guide still available somewhere as the links in this and other threads of help seem to be either dead links or out of date (like my forum clearly) information.

    I'm also considering moving to cloud version - the thing thats stopping me is that I don't want to lose the forum posts, but want a clean install.

    Leave a comment:

  • Ekshi
    wow wery nice

    Leave a comment:

  • TheLastSuperman
    Originally posted by TANKSALOT View Post
    Is there a thread that explains set by set how to upgrade from v4.1.10 to v4.1.12?
    Or is the info in this thread going to work for me?

    This was actually written when 4.x was first released and is intended for 3.x to 4.x upgrades and issues etc. You should refer to this

    HOWEVER here are some newer links by staff w/ tons of helpful information, you can view quite a few CMS articles regarding upgrades here:

    Leave a comment:

    Is there a thread that explains set by set how to upgrade from v4.1.10 to v4.1.12?
    Or is the info in this thread going to work for me?


    Leave a comment:

  • Trevor Hannant
    Please start your own thread with a full description of the problem

    Leave a comment:

  • rhoula
    Please help me Threads not showing

    I upgraded to VB 4.0 the new version looks excellent but the the threads are not showing on my forum. It's showing how many members we have but it's not showing the threads and posts. Please Help.

    BTW: I made the upgrade over two months ago, before I read this thread. The Forums have been closed since then.

    Thank you

    Leave a comment:

  • TheLastSuperman
    Apologies for the delayed reply however yes it's perfectly do-able .

    1. Close the live forum.
    2. Backup the database and file system.
    *Remember you can preview your new site by modifying your "host" file and or by using the direct IP of the new server to check things out.
    3. Create a new blank/empty database on the new server, assign a user with full permissions to it.
    4. Import the Database backup you made earlier into the new empty database.
    5. Upload the files.
    6. Update the config.php file to let it know the new Database name, username and password for the user you associated with it., now upload it and overwrite the old file.
    7. Test... is it working?
    8. ^ If yes then leave the live site off on the old/current server, now go update your nameserver info for your domains and or update the IP addresses etc. *If no please post below*
    9. Wait for the DNS changes to fully propagate then turn the forum back on. *To test propagation I typically upload a index123.html a blank page to the new site, type in your current URL i.e. and when that page refreshes and is a blank screen or shows your contents on screen you know on your end at least that it has propagated.
    10. Done! *Unless you changed servers AND domain i.e. website names then you need to update the forums URL in your AdminCP > Settings > Options > "Site Name / URL / Contact Details" other than that if you experience login issues you will need to run tools.php and reset your cookies.*

    Post any ?'s below .

    *Related info; and
    Last edited by TheLastSuperman; Sun 28th Nov '10, 9:57am.

    Leave a comment:

  • hawkfire
    I would like to transfer my forum to a different server that already hosts another site of mine.
    The forum would be a add on domain, in a subdirectory of the new server.

    Is this do-able?

    And as is my first time that i ever done a transfer of sites between servers, can anyone list the steps that i need to follow ?

    Thank you...

    Leave a comment:

  • TheLastSuperman
    Originally posted by rnmcd View Post
    Thanks a great deal!!!

    If it goes as smoothly as your steps above I'll let you know, thelastsuperman.

    Is there an advantage of running update counters after the upgrade versus before, just curious.
    No sense updating them if you have not "stirred up the muck at the bottom of the pond, making the water cloudy" basically. If your forum is very small then you could possibly skip that step however if your not seeing all posts in a search result by a member or something seems a little off simply check the options and update the counters you deem necessary to remedy the "little off" behavior.

    Leave a comment:

  • rnmcd
    Thanks a great deal!!!

    If it goes as smoothly as your steps above I'll let you know, thelastsuperman.

    Is there an advantage of running update counters after the upgrade versus before, just curious.

    Leave a comment:

  • TheLastSuperman
    Originally posted by rnmcd View Post
    Are there any guides as useful as this one for upgrading from 3.6.8 to the most recent 3.8.x version?
    Well I can sum it up real quick in a few steps:

    1. Turn off the forum.
    2. Backup the Database and the entire /forum folder i.e. all the vbulletin files.
    3. Disable plugins via config.php (see the first post in this thread for the code to add).
    4. Upload the vBulletin 3.8.6 PL1 files into the forum directory which in turn overwrites the old 3.6 files.
    5. Run the upgrade script.
    6. Depending on size of your database and number of members/post you might want to update the counters (AdminCP left column under Maintenance just be careful not to update one that will for example reset your statistics completely etc).
    7. Enable the mods again by removing the code from config.php, if any errors after this disable each mod one by one in the product manager until the error disappears, then you know which mod was the culprit.
    8. Make a test post as admin while the forum is still turned off, if it works no errors etc then see below.
    9. Turn the forum on!

    *Any style issues will need to be addressed for example 3.6 to 3.8 means you now have Albums and more so you might need to update the style manually or check and see if there is an updated version for 3.8.x out now.


    Leave a comment:

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