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Location: Administration > Development > Debugging (Moodle 2.x) - Administration > Server > Debugging (Moodle 1.x)

Debugging messages are intended to help diagnose problems and/or help Moodle developers. If you have a problem with your Moodle site and ask for help in a forum, a developer may ask you to turn debug messages on, in order to locate the cause of the problem. By default Moodle does not show any error messages at all. If you are having problems (e.g. blank screens or incomplete screens) turning on debugging is usually the first thing to try.

How to turn on debugging

Go into the admin screens, and look under Administration > Server > Debugging (In Moodle 2.0 it is Site administration ▶ Development ▶ Debugging). Set the...

  • Debug messages to ALL, and
  • Display debug messages to Yes.

(You must do both). There is rarely any advantage in going to Developer level, unless you are a developer, in which case it is strongly recommended.

Once you have got the error message, and copied and pasted it somewhere, you are recommended to turn debugging back off again.

Debug messages


From Moodle 1.7 onwards, further options are provided for controlling how to handle PHP error messages. The administrator can select the types of error messages to be displayed or logged.

The options for debugging include:

  • NONE: Do not show any errors or warnings
  • MINIMAL: Show only fatal errors
  • NORMAL: Show errors, warnings and notices
  • ALL: Show all reasonable PHP debug messages. When you want to find the cause of a problem with your site, this is probably best the setting to use.
  • DEVELOPER: extra Moodle debug messages for developers - If you turn this on, then PHP's error_reporting will be increased so that more warnings are printed. This is almost essential for developers, but not very helpful for anyone else.

Display debug messages

There is an option to choose whether to display error messages or simply record them in the server logs.

Debug email sending

Determines whether or not to enable verbose debug information during sending of email messages to SMTP server.

Performance info

The Performance info option determines whether performance info will be included in the footer of the standard theme (and some other themes). Performance info includes the time for the page to load, the amount of memory used to generate the page, cpu usage, load, and the record cache hit/miss ration.

If you add define('MDL_PERF', true); define('MDL_PERFDB', true); define('MDL_PERFTOLOG', true); define('MDL_PERFTOFOOT', true); to your config.php file, then it will also count database queries. (This has to be in config.php, because Moodle starts doing DB queries before it loads the config information in the database!

What to do if you cannot get to the admin screens

If the error is stopping you even getting to the admin screens to turn on debugging, then you can set the debugging setting manually.

Try typing the URL directly

The debug settings are at the URL http://.../admin/settings.php?section=debugging on your server. Sometimes that URL will work, even though the pages you need to go to to get there (for example the site front page) do not. So it is worth trying to enter that URL directly.

In config.php

In moodle/config.php you can add the lines:

$CFG->debug = 2047; $CFG->debugdisplay = 1;

Or even more debugging messages:

$CFG->debug = 6143; $CFG->debugdisplay = 1;

Moodle 2.0

For Moodle 2.0 the possible settings are as follows:

// Force a debugging mode regardless the settings in the site administration // @error_reporting(1023); // NOT FOR PRODUCTION SERVERS! @ini_set('display_errors', '1'); // NOT FOR PRODUCTION SERVERS! $CFG->debug = 38911; // DEBUG_DEVELOPER // NOT FOR PRODUCTION SERVERS! $CFG->debugdisplay = true; // NOT FOR PRODUCTION SERVERS!

// You can specify a comma separated list of user ids that that always see // debug messages, this overrides the debug flag in $CFG->debug and $CFG->debugdisplay // for these users only. $CFG->debugusers = '2';

Remember to remove those lines again when you have finished diagnosing your problem.

In the database

Using a tool like phpMyAdmin, execute the following SQL commands:

UPDATE mdl_config SET value = 2047 WHERE name = 'debug'; UPDATE mdl_config SET value = 1 WHERE name = 'debugdisplay';

To turn it back off, use the admin screens, or the commands:

UPDATE mdl_config SET value = 0 WHERE name = 'debug'; UPDATE mdl_config SET value = 0 WHERE name = 'debugdisplay';

(If you use a different database prefix, you will need to adjust those commands accordingly.)

See also