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Moodle migration

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Revision as of 08:40, 28 February 2008 by Helen Foster (talk | contribs) (→‎See also: rewording)

There are times when you will need to move your Moodle site from one server to another. This is known as migrating your Moodle site and occurs when you need to change the $CFG->wwwroot value in your Moodle config.php. The process is divided into the following tasks:

Upgrade Moodle

When migrating Moodle it is often a good idea to take the opportunity to upgrade Moodle to the latest version. If you manage your own server, follow the instructions in upgrading moodle, otherwise check if your host can upgrade for you.

Restore a single course

You may need to restore a single course from an old site to a new one, especially if you are testing the migration. When restoring a Moodle backup file to Moodle on a different server than the one used to create the backup, the absolute referenced links to files maybe broken. To fix this problem open the file and edit the moodle.xml file replacing links with $@FILEPHP@$.

For example, replace with $@FILEPHP@$

When the file is restored it will use the correct file path for the new course.

Migrating a complete Moodle site

This involves moving a whole site from one server to another. If you are changing the domain/IP address to the new server you need to do these steps:

  • Maintenance mode. Place your current Moodle site in maintenance mode to prevent any further additions to the Moodle database. Don't let administrators login during the migration as they are not affected by the maintenance mode setting.
  • Backup your current Moodle database. Do this by following the instructions in the upgrading Moodle page. This will give you a text file containing the mysql dump.
  • Copy the Moodle software. You will need to copy the Moodle code itself to the new server - upgrade the code to the latest version if you can.
  • Change $CFG->wwwroot. In your (possibly new) Moodle directory, change the $CFG->wwwroot variable in the config.php file for the new server.
  • Copy data directory contents (moodledata). Copy the contents of your data directory (check for the value in $CFG->dataroot) to the new server. Check also that permissions remain the same on the new dataroot folder and change the value if you have changed its location on the new server.
  • Change your Moodle URL. If you have a new URL, you'll need to change this in the Moodle database to the new server. This is needed as links to pictures, files, etc are stored as absolute links and will reference the old $CFG->wwwroot value. So when loading a mysql backup dump of the Moodle server into mysql on another server the absolute referenced links will be broken. There are two methods of doing this:
(a) The first method changes the Moodle URL using the Moodle script replace.php while your site is currently running just before you backup the Moodle database. Point your browser to
Enter the url for your old server ( and new server ( and it will fix the mysql tables. You will also need to clear out any cached links by restarting your webserver. Now, take another backup of the Moodle database - this one will have the correct URLs.
(b) The second method is to backup the Moodle database first, then use the search and replace feature of your text editor (or use a unix tool like sed) to replace the old URL with the new one in the mysql backup file. Here is an example sed command:
#sed -e 's/' oldmysqldump.sql > newmysqldump.sql
Tip: You may want to check the mysqldump file to see how the old server was referenced.
After changing the URL, restore the mysql database
  • Test the migration. To test the new install, access Moodle using your browser and the new server's URL. When you have tested that a number of links in the courses work, take the new Moodle site out of maintenance mode.

See also: Forum discussion on migrating Moodle's data directory on a Windows system.

DNS changes

You may have had to change the DNS entries for the new Moodle site. If you have done so, it will take some time for the changes to replicate, so be patient.

Internal and external access

Lastly, check that the new site can be accessed internally and externally.

See also

Using Moodle forum discussions: