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Upgrading an SMF forum has never been easier! Upgrading SMF from any version can be done in six fast and simple steps:

Download the Upgrade Archive

The latest SMF upgrade package can be found on the downloads page of the official Simple Machines website.

Download the latest version of SMF from the official Simple Machines website. Commonly, .zip files are the preferred download type. Most operating systems have the tools available to extract .zip archives already installed.

Extract and Upload the Install Archive

Once the upgrade archive has been downloaded it will need to be uploaded and extracted before the upgrade tool can be run. There are two possible methods for this step. The method used will depend on the tools available with the control panel supplied by the hosting service provided. Please ensure you upload in Binary if using an FTP client.

Uploading Before Extracting

Some control panels have the ability to extract an archive, such as cPanel. This allows for hassle free uploading and extraction of the archive. Once the archive is uploaded, select the extract option to extract the archive to the desired location. Ensure that overwrite files is selected to have the newer files replace the old ones.

Extracting Before Uploading

If extracting abilities are not available inside the control panel, the archive can be extracted before uploading. Generally right clicking the archive and selecting the extract all option will work. The directory structure should be retained when the upgrade archive is extracted, so all files and directories are in the correct places.

Set File Permissions

After the upgrade archive has been uploaded and extracted, the files need to have their permissions set. This is commonly called CHMOD. The correct for SMF files is either 777, 775 or 755, depending on the hosting service provided. There are two methods for this step, the method used depends on the hosting service provided.

Setting File Permissions With the Upgrade Tool

The SMF upgrade tool can set file permissions simply and easily. Navigating to the directory where SMF resides, should redirect to the upgrade.php file and prompt the upgrade tool. For eg: www.yourdomain.com/forum/upgrade.php. If the upgrade detects files that need their permissions adjusted it will prompt for FTP details so it can CHMOD the files it requires for the install. This may not work on some servers.

Setting File Permissions With FTP

Using a control panel or FTP client, file permissions can be changed quickly and easily. Usually, FTP programs will allow permissions to be changed by right clicking files/directories and selecting properties, attributes or permissions. The desired numerical value can be entered, or if provided, check boxes can be changed.

The Following files and directories should have CHMOD values of 777, 775 or 755:

  • /attachments
  • /avatars
  • /Packages
  • /Packages/installed.list
  • /Smileys
  • /Themes
  • /Themes/default/languages/Install.english.php
  • agreement.txt
  • Settings.php
  • Settings_bak.php
  • upgrade.php

Backup the Database

Before starting the upgrade process a backup of the live database should be taken, this protects the forum from accidental damage and any issues from upgrading. Although all steps are taken, and extensive testing carried out, sometimes issues develop so having a backup is crucial. The upgrade tool can backup all database tables before it runs, however best practice is to have a full backup downloaded.

Backup a Database using SMF

From within SMF navigate to Forum Maintenance, (Administration Center -> Maintenance -> Forum Maintenance), in the database section select to save the data, and the structure, and finally to compress the file. Select download and wait for the database to complete downloading in full.

Backup a Database Using phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin allows the option to export a database, from the initial page select the export option and follow the instructions and select your SMF database, these are different based on host.

Backup a Database Using a Control Panel

If the hosting service provides a control panel interface, this can be used to backup a database. Selecting the Backups or Backups Wizard option should take you to prompts for backing up a database. With different hosts these options may have different names.

Run the Upgrade Tool

The final step in upgrading SMF is running the upgrade tool. Navigating to the directory where SMF resides, should redirect to the upgrade.php file and prompt the upgrade tool to run. For eg: www.yourdomain.com/forum/upgrade.php.

Upgrade Settings

Backup database with the prefix "backup_"
Selecting this option will get the upgrade tool to copy all data in the database before upgrading within the original database.
Maintenance Mode
Selecting this option will place the forum into maintenance mode while upgrading rather than showing errors, this is highly recommended.
Output extra debugging information.
The upgrade tool can give detailed information while performing an upgrade by selecting this option, it will aid the support team to solve any errors if they occur while upgrading.

Finishing the Upgrade Process

Once all parts of the upgrade have completed, check the box to remove the upgrade files from the server. If this does not work they will need to be deleted via FTP. All upgrade files should be removed from the server once the upgrade process is complete as they are a major security risk if left on a server unattended. Once SMF is upgraded they are no longer needed. The upgrade.php file will be the only file needing removed.

Congratulations on upgrading SMF successfully! Simple Machines hopes you enjoy using SMF!