phpBB Forums – Upgrade pain from 3.0.14 to 3.20 and moving host!

I hope the following bits and pieces may help someone else out in a similar situation

My hand was forced really by my current web host’s (this site has a different host) inability to make sense of their overzealous anti-malware scripts. So on and off in pockets of spare time for the last week I took on the mammoth task of moving a massive phpBB forums across to a new host and upgraded to the latest version of php and phpBB. No easy task especially considering that the site’s database backup weighed in at 1.3gb! (There are posts dating back to 2001)

I realised the transition to a new web host wouldn’t be plain sailing and that I’d have to go off-piste with phpBB’s directions which assume your db size is around 2 meg 🙂

The following describes the areas of pain experienced:

Back the hell up

First steps were backing up all phpbb files on my existing server along with exporting the forums MySQL database (I did this through phpmyadmin.

Place forums files on new host

Went down a bit of a blind alley first in attempting to install the latest phpBB software through my new hosts control panel. It just didn’t want to play with the DB and I was seeing all sorts of weird config issues. So I placed the existing forums files from my old host onto the new one.

Database size is too big to import

Once I had the forum files on the new host I needed to bring the database over. Having backed up the forums database weighing in at 1.3gig it’s not exactly the 2meg file that phpBB seems to think is standard. Therefore, I had to use “BigDump” :).
Although Bigdump is a god send I did struggle initially with it. I was seeing timeout issues and it would bail half way which meant I’d have to go back into phpmyadmin – drop all tables it had brought in and restart the process.

Just when I thought I was getting somewhere with it it had processed 54% in about 3 hours then seemed to slow massively. I started to time things and it took another 3 hours to hit 64%. At this rate I’ll have to leave it going for days!.

I jumped back into phpmyadmin and had a nosey at what table it was bringing in and why it was taking so long.
Turns out it was taking it’s sweet time with phpbb_search_wordlist and similar tables which relate to the forums search index. I’m no DBA but I’m guessing that as the data was being imported the process was taking exponentially slower as it went on.
After a bit of digging I realised I could empty these tables and rebuild the index once the board is up and running.

Soooooo, back to the old forums, empty the offending tables (I could’ve just not backed up the data). Then back up the db again – This time it’s a much more manageable 350Mb. Onwards!

Time for another BigDump

So we now have a much more smaller DB backup file which I placed on the new host and showed it BigDump. After about an hour the restore was successful.

Forums up!

Following a successful DB restore I headed over to a browser and hit the forums url on the new board. Success! Well almost there’s a few errors appearing in different parts of the forums. After a bit more digging turns out the old phpBB software I’m running is clashing with the version of PHP on the host. Certain functions are now obsolete or replaced. So there’s only one thing for it…

Upgrade the old forums from phpBB 3.0.14 to 3.2

Ok over to the phpbb downloads for the update package . Hang on they don’t have a route from 3.0.14 to 3.2 only 3.1 and 3.2 are supported. On the footer of the site I noticed “Older Versions” which lead me to . I downloaded the and then copied the install folder across to my new forums and hit the install url.

Hmmm things didn’t look too great. Firstly, there were 100s of files flagged which are no longer supported and I would have to delete and about the same amount of files for ones that would need manually merging due to 10+ years of mods and so on. This is not an option. There’s only one thing for it…

Install of new phpBB 3.2 files

I had no other option that to bite the bullet and install the latest phpBB 3.2 files. I deleted every file on the forums apart from config.php and the following folders; \Store , \etc, \Files . I uploaded the full 3.2 set of files and folders then hit the install url. It all went through without issue.

Forums Up! (again)

I checked the forums and they were up and running. I carried out some quick checks (new post, reply, PMs etc) then got a couple of others to help me out. It all checks out fine and all posts are there dating right back to 2001. Sure, I’ve lost some mods and some styles but these can come back with time.

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