Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 4.0. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version of Moodle may be available here: Upgrading.


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This page explains in detail how to upgrade Moodle. For a summary of the process, see Upgrade overview.

Check the requirements

Before upgrading, check that your server meets all requirements for 4.0 in Site administration > Server > Environment.

See the release notes in the dev docs for both server and client software requirements.


  • You can only upgrade to Moodle 4.0 from Moodle 3.6 or later. If upgrading from earlier versions, you must upgrade to 3.6 as a first step.

Before upgrading

We advise that you test the upgrade first on a COPY of your production site, to make sure it works as you expect.

Consider setting the upgrade key for your site.

Backup important data

There are three areas that should be backed up before any upgrade:

  1. Moodle software (For example, everything in server/htdocs/moodle)
  2. Moodle uploaded files (For example, server/moodledata)
  3. Moodle database (For example, your Postgres or MySQL database dump)

See Site backup for more specific information.

Check for plugin updates

If you have Automatic updates deployment enabled, you will be able to update installed plugins automatically during the upgrade. Just make sure you check for available updates (via the button for it) at the Plugins check screen.

If you are updating plugins manually, it is a good moment now to check in the Moodle Plugins directory whether there is a 4.0 version available for any plugins (including themes) that you have previously installed on your site. If so, download the plugin package. In the next step, you will copy it to the appropriate location in your Moodle code (see Installing plugins).

The upgrade of the plugin will then happen as part of the Moodle upgrade process.

If an out-of-date plugin causes your upgrade to fail, you can usually delete the plugin code rather than uninstalling it from within Moodle so that the data associated with it is not deleted.

Put your site into maintenance mode

Before you begin upgrading your site, you should put it into maintenance mode to stop any non-admin users from logging in. Then you should wait for any currently running cron processes to complete before proceeding.

Install the new Moodle software

You can download the latest release from Moodle downloads.

Standard install package

  1. Move your old Moodle software program files to another location. Do NOT copy new files over the old files.
  2. Unzip or unpack the upgrade file so that all the new Moodle software program files are in the location the old files used to be in on the server. Moodle will adjust SQL and moodledata if it needs to in the upgrade.
  3. Copy your old config.php file back to the new Moodle directory.
  4. As mentioned above, if you had installed any plugins on your site you should add them to the new code tree (Moodle directory structure) now. It is important to check that you get the correct version for your new version of Moodle. Be particularly careful that you do not overwrite any code in the new version of Moodle and that you place the plugin folders in the correct directory (the same directory that they are in in the current installation.)
  5. Your moodledata folder should be located separately to your Moodle code folder and, as such, should not need anything done to it. Moodle 3.0 will throw a warning if it is located in a web accessible folder and the moodledata should never be located in the Moodle code folder. If you are moving your installation to a new server or new location on your server, then you will need to follow the Migration documents.


mv moodle moodle.backup
tar xvzf moodle-latest-4.0.tgz

Next, copy across your config.php, any custom plugins, and your .htaccess file if you created one (check that custom plugins are the correct version for your new Moodle first):

cp moodle.backup/config.php moodle
cp -pr moodle.backup/theme/mytheme moodle/theme/mytheme
cp -pr moodle.backup/mod/mymod moodle/mod/mymod

Don't forget to make moodle/config.php (and the rest of the source code) readable by your www server. For maximum security the files should not be writeable by your server. This is especially important on a 'production' server open to the public internet.

chown -R root:root moodle (Linux debian - or even create a user especially for moodle. Don't use the web server user, e.g. www-data)
chmod -R 755 moodle

If you use cron, take care that cron.php is executeable and uses the correct php command:

chmod 740 admin/cli/cron.php (some configurations need chmod 750 or chmod 755)
copy the first line from cron.php (if it looks like '#!/usr/local/bin/php' or '#!/usr/local/bin/php5.3', no need to copy '<?php') 

if necessary. However, for a simple upgrade, there should be no need to change anything with cron.

Using Git

You can use Git for updating or upgrading your Moodle. See Git for Administrators for details.

Command line upgrade

On Linux servers, Moodle 4.0 supports running the upgrade from the command line, rather than through a web browser. This is likely to be more reliable, particularly for large sites.

Finishing the upgrade

The last step is to trigger the upgrade processes within Moodle.

If you put your site into Maintenance mode earlier; take it out now!

To do this just go to Site administration > Notifications.

Moodle will automatically detect the new version and perform all the SQL database or file system upgrades that are necessary. If there is anything it can't do itself (very rare) then you will see messages telling you what you need to do.

Assuming all goes well (no error messages) then you can start using your new version of Moodle and enjoy the new features!

Note: If you are running multiple servers then you should purge all caches manually (via Site administration > Development > Purge all caches) after completing the upgrade on all servers.

Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded...

If your server uses a main language other than English, you may encounter a 'Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded' when you try to upgrade it. You can increase max_execution_time = 160 on php.ini to allow the scripts enough time to process the language update. Otherwise, you can switch to English as the default language before doing the upgrade and back to your original language after a successful upgrade. See the forum discussion at

After upgrading

Note: If BigBlueButtonBN was previously installed, because the recordings are processed asynchronously in the background, the data migration starts after the Moodle upgrade has been completed. This means that in large deployments (with many recordings), the process may take some time (it can be hours) and therefore recordings may not be displayed immediately. But they are still there.

Possible issues that may affect you in Moodle 4.0

Indentation on the course page (4.0.8 onwards)

Teachers, and other users with the manage activities capability, can indent items on the course page for courses in Topics or Weekly format. This feature is enabled by default in new 4.0.8 sites.

If you are upgrading from 4.0 or an earlier 4.0 version, to enable the feature go to Site administration > Plugins > Topics formats and tick 'Allow indentation on course page'. Do the same for Weekly format. If required, you can reset indentation previously set for each course format.

If you are upgrading from 3.11, the feature is enabled. However, in 4.0.8 you can only indent items one place to the right (or left for right-to-left languages).

New user tours

Moodle 4.0 has four new user tours highlighting new features. If desired, they can be disabled in Site administration / Appearance / User tours.

New plugins in Moodle 4.0


Note: For recordings to work properly, Cron Jobs must be enabled. Also, if you are using ScaleLite for load balancing your BigBlueButton servers, make sure you are running the latest release of ScaleLite.

BigBlueButtonBN has been contributed plugin for more than 10 years. It enables Moodle to interoperate with a BigBlueButton server and it is part of Moodle 4.0 as a core plugin. For more details see BigBlueButton in Moodle 4.0 When upgrading to Moodle 4.0, there are two possible scenarios.

BigBlueButtonBN was not installed

If the plugin was never installed, there are only two considerations to make.

  • BigBlueButton is disabled by default. Administrators must enable it from Site administration > Plugins > Manage activities and then check the box to accept the data processing agreement.
  • BigBlueButton is an external service. The plugin comes pre-configured with a Free Tier Hosting that comes with some restrictions.
BigBlueButtonBN was already installed

If the plugin was already installed, and the steps were followed correctly, the upgrade should be completed normally. But there are also some considerations to make.

  • BigBlueButton may be disabled by default. If this is the case Administrators must enable it from Site administration > Plugins > Manage activities and then check the box to accept the data processing agreement.
  • BigBlueButton is an external service. The plugin will only change the BigBlueButton credentials if the former Free Tier Hosting `` was used. If it was not, then the existing service will still be the same.
General consideration

Regardless of the scenario, there is one general consideration

BigBlueButton is still the repository for recordings, but the metadata is now stored in Moodle, so instead of making a getRecording requests each time a BigBlueButton activity is displayed, the view is entirely populated with Moodle data. While this makes the code more efficient, it also means that every recording needs to be processed as part of the upgrade.

  1. For recordings to work properly, cron jobs must be enabled
  2. Since the recording are processed asynchronously in the background, the data migration starts after the Moodle upgrade has been completed. This means that in in large deployments (with many recordings), the recordings may take some time (it can be hours) to be processed and therefore to be displayed as part of the activities.

The details of the process can be checked in the cron job logs.

And remember that if the Plugin was not uninstalled, and the pre-existing rooms are there, the recordings are still referenced. Nothing is lost even if they are not shown immediately. They only need to be migrated.

Additionally, when using Scalelite as the Load Balancer for BigBlueButton, make sure the latest version is deployed. With any other Load Balancer, make sure the BigBlueButton service updateRecordings is correctly implemented. Otherwise the migration will not be completed.

Custom user tours

If you have created any custom user tours where the URLs do not end in a % symbol (for example '/course/view.php'), these will no longer appear when viewing a page which has extra text at the end of the URL, such as /course/view.php?id=123. To make these tours work again, add a % to the end of the URL ('/course/view.php%'). The % symbol was always supposed to be necessary, but due to a bug in earlier versions, was previously not required.

New capabilities in Moodle 4.0

  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:addinstance
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:addinstancewithmeeting
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:addinstancewithrecording
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:deleterecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:importrecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:join
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:managerecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:protectrecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:publishrecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:unprotectrecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:unpublishrecordings
  • mod/bigbluebuttonbn:view
  • mod/quiz:emailnotifyattemptgraded
  • moodle/question:commentall
  • moodle/question:commentmine
  • moodle/reportbuilder:edit
  • moodle/reportbuilder:editall
  • moodle/reportbuilder:scheduleviewas
  • moodle/reportbuilder:view
  • qbank/customfields:changelockedcustomfields
  • qbank/customfields:configurecustomfields
  • qbank/customfields:viewhiddencustomfields

See also

Moodle 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10 and 3.11 improvements

Depending on which version you are upgrading from, please see the section 'Possible issues that may affect you' in the documentation

Any questions about the process?

Please post in the Installing and upgrading help forum on

See also