Moving a Site

It can be a very useful technique to prototype a new XOOPS site on a local system or a development server. It can also be very prudent to test a XOOPS upgrade on a copy of your production site first, just in case something goes wrong. To accomplish these, you need to be able to move your XOOPS site from one site to another. Here is what you need to know to successfully move your XOOPS site.

The first step is to establish your new site environment. The same items that are covered in the section Advance Preparations apply here as well.

In review, those steps are:

  • obtain hosting, including any domain name or email requirements

  • obtain a MySQL user account and password

  • obtain a MySQL database that above user has all privileges on

The remainder of the process is quite similar to a normal install, but:

  • instead of copying the files from the XOOPS distribution, you will copy them from the existing site

  • instead of running the installer, you will import a database already populated

  • instead of entering answers in the installer, you will change the previous answers in the files and database

Copy the Existing Site Files

Make a full copy of files of your existing site to your local machine where you can edit them. If you are working with a remote host, you can use FTP to copy the files. You need a copy to work with even if the site is running on your local machine, just make another copy of the site's directories in that case.

It is important to remember to include the xoops_data and xoops_lib directories even if they were renamed and/or relocated.

To make things smoother, you should eliminate cache and Smarty compiled templates files from your copy. These files will be recreated in your new environment, and might cause issues with old incorrect information being retained if not cleared. To do this, delete all files, except for index.html, in all three of these directories:

  • xoops_data/caches/smarty_cache

  • xoops_data/caches/smarty_compile

  • xoops_data/caches/xoops_cache

Setup the New Environment

The same items that are covered in the section Advance Preparations apply here as well. We will assume here that you have whatever hosting you will need for the site you are moving.

Key Information (mainfile.php and secure.php)

Successfully moving a site involves changing any references to absolute file and path names, URLs, database parameters and access credentials.

Two files, mainfile.php in your site's web root, and data/secure.php in your site's (renamed and/or relocated) xoops_data directory define your site's basic parameters, such as its URL, where is sits in the host file system, and how it connects to the database.

You will need to know both what the values are in the old system, and what they will be in the new system.



Old Value in mainfile.php

New Value in mainfile.php






Open mainfile.php in your editor. Change the values for the defines shown in the chart above from the old values, to the appropriate values for the new site.

Keep notes of the old an new values, as we will need to make similar changes in other places in some later steps.

As an example, if you are moving a site from your local PC to a commercial hosting service, your values might look like this:


Old Value in mainfile.php

New Value in mainfile.php













After you have changed mainfile.php, save it.

It is possible that some other files may contain hardcoded references to your URL or even paths. This is more likely in customized themes and menus, but with your editor, you can seach across all files, just to be sure.

In your editor, do a search across the files in your copy, searching for the old XOOPS_URL value, and replace it with the new value.

Do the same for the old XOOPS_ROOT_PATH value, replacing all occurrences with the new value.

Keep your notes, because we will have to use them again later with as we move the database.



Old Value in data/secure.php

New Value in data/secure.php





Open the data/secure.php in the renamed and/or relocated xoops_data directory in your editor. Change the values for the defines shown in the chart above from the old values, to the appropriate values for the new site.

Other Files

There may be other files that may need attention when your site moves. Some common examples are API keys for various services that may be tied to the domain, such as:

  • Google Maps

  • Recaptch2

  • Like buttons

  • Link sharing and/or advertising such as Shareaholic or AddThis

Changing these types of associations cannot easily be automated, as the connections to the old domain are typically part of the registration on the service side. In some cases, this may simply add or changing the domain associated with the service.

Copy the Files to the New Site

Copy your now modified files to your new site. The techniques are the same as were used during Installation, i.e. using FTP.

Copy the Existing Site Database

Backup the Database from the Old Server

For this step, using phpMyAdmin is highly recommended. Log in to phpMyAdmin for your existing site, select your database, and choose Export.

The default setting are usually fine, so just select "Export method" of Quick and "Format" of SQL.

Use the Go button to download the database backup.

If you have tables in your database that are not from XOOPS or its modules, and are NOT supposed to be moved, you should select the "Export method" of Custom and choose just the XOOPS related tables in your database. (These start with the "prefix" that you specified during the install. You can look up your database prefix in the xoops_data/data/secure.php file.)

Restore the Database to the New Server

On your new host, using your new database, restore the database using tools such as the Import tab in phpMyAdmin (or bigdump if needed.)

Update URLs and Paths in the Database

Update any http links to resources on your site in your database. This can be a huge effort, and there is a tool to make this easier.

Interconnect/it has a product called Search-Replace-DB which can help with this. It comes with awareness of Wordpress and Drupal environments built in. As is, this tool can be very helpful, but it is even better when it is aware of your XOOPS. You can find a XOOPS aware version at

Follow the instructions in the file to download and temporarily install this utility on your site. Earlier, we changed the XOOPS_URL define. When you run this tool, you want to replace the original XOOPS_URL definition with the new definition, i.e replace http://localhost/xoops with

Enter your old and new URLs, and choose the dry run option. Review the changes, and if everything looks good, go for the live run option. This step will catch configuration items and links inside your content that refer to your site URL.

Repeat the process using your old and new values for XOOPS_ROOT_PATH.

Alternative Approach Without SRDB

Another way to accomplish this step without the srdb tool would be to dump your database, edit the dump in a text editor changing the URLs and paths, and then reloading the database from your edited dump. Yes, that process is involved enough and carries enough risk that people were motivated to create specialized tools such as Search-Replace-DB.

Try Out Your Relocated Site

At this point, your site should be ready to run in its new environment!

Of course, there can always be problems. Don't be afraid to post any questions on the Forums.

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