Upgrading From Online Manual

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Upgrading is moving to a more recent version of SMF by getting a fresh set of all the necessary files. It is used when moving from an earlier major version of SMF to a more recent one (SMF 1.1.x to SMF 2.0.x, for example). If you want a clean start with the same version you have now, take a look at How to upload a fresh set of files.

If you are moving from an older version of SMF (for example 1.1.1) to a newer version in the same series (for example 1.1.2) and you want to avoid uninstalling your mods, you may consider Patching. If you want to install a Forum from scratch, please see the instructions on Installing SMF. If you want to convert to SMF from another Forum software, please see the instructions for Converting to SMF.

Upgrading an SMF forum is easy! It can be done in six quick and simple steps:

Download the Upgrade Archive

The latest SMF large upgrade package can be found on the "Download" page of our website.

Firstly, you should download the appropriate package. The Large upgrade is the one required for upgrading. Most of the time, .zip files are the filetype that most forum administrators find the easiest to use. Most operating systems have tools to extract .zip archives already installed.

Backup your forum

Before starting the upgrade process, a backup should be taken. This includes, specifically, the database as it contains all the members, posts and other items in the forum. This protects the forum from accidental damage and any issues from upgrading. Although extensive testing is always carried out, sometimes unforeseen issues develop. Therefore, having a backup is crucial. The upgrading tool can backup all database tables before it runs, but the files are not backed up and however the best practice is to have a full backup available.

For more details on backing up your forum, please see the page backup.

Backup your files

Using an ftp client access your forum directory and download all the files and directories present in there.

Back up the Database

This is crucial. You MUST backup your database. If you don't, there's no way, at all, that you can revert back to v1.x of your forum, should you not be able to upgrade to v2, for some reason.

It's highly recommended that you backup from your site's CPanel, or equivalent, as the SMF backup doesn't work, with some servers.

Back up a database using SMF

To backup the database from SMF's Admin section, navigate to Forum Maintenance (Administration Center > Maintenance > Forum Maintenance). On the database section, save the data and the structure. Then, compress the file. Select "Download" and wait for the database to complete the download completely. Note: It is recommended if you use this method to verify that the backup is complete by opening the file and checking the last line. If the file is not complete and has an error please try one of the other methods to backup your database.

Back up a database using PHPMyAdmin

PHPMyAdmin gives the option to export a database, from the initial page, select the "Export" option and follow the instructions. Select your SMF database. These are different based on host.

Back up a database using a control panel

If your hosting service provides a control panel interface, this can be used to back up a database. Selecting the "Backups" or "Backups Wizard" options should take you to a page, prompting you to back up your database. With different hosts, these options may have different titles.

Extract the SMF Archive and Upload the Files to Your Website

The SMF upgrade archive contains files that need to be copied to the correct place on your website before the upgrader can be executed. Wherever these files are located on the server, that is where your forum will be located. Extracting before uploading is usually the simplest method. If your host provides the necessary tools, you can try uploading before extracting.

You will need to use either FTP (in binary mode) or the tools in your hosting account's control panel (for more information on the control panel supplied by your hosting service, please see the documentation provided by your hosting service).

SMF can be uploaded to the site root, or to a directory on the site, such as www.yourdomain.com/forum.

Extracting Before Uploading

This is the way most people do it. It is easy, but can take longer.

  1. Extract the archive, usually by right-clicking the archive and selecting the "Extract All" option. When the upgrade archive is extracted, a new folder should be created with all the files and directories in the correct places.
  2. Set your FTP client for binary transfer, select all the files and folders and copy them to the directory where you want to locate your forum.

Uploading Before Extracting

Some control panels, such as cPanel, give the ability to extract an archive right on the server. This can be a quicker than waiting for all the extracted files to copy via FTP. First, upload the file via your account's control panel. Second, select the extract option to extract the archive to the desired location -- the directory where you want your forum to be located.

Set File and Directory Permissions

File and directory permissions control who can see your files and use your directories. They can control whether you will be able to install mods to your forum. On Linux and other Unix-like servers the chmod command is used to designate permissions. On most servers, a setting of 755 for directories and 644 for files will work. If this does not work on your hosting service, you may need 777 or 775 for directories, and 666 or 664 for files. Some hosts do not allow using 777 for directories or 666 for files -- using such high values will cause Internal Server Errors, 500 erors, or other errors. If the permission on your files or directories does not make them writable, the SMF upgrader will report the problem -- if it can detect it.

Note: If a Windows server is being used rather than a Linux server, then you will need to contact your host to change the file/directory permissions.

Setting File Permissions with the Upgrader

In many cases, the SMF upgrader can handle this for you. If you want to give this a try, skip this step for now, and wait until you come to the appropriate point in the upgrader. The upgrader might need to ask you for FTP login details to get the job done, so be sure to make a note of them. If you run into any problems setting file permissions with the upgrader, you can use the instructions below for setting file permissions with FTP to handle it yourself.

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.

Run the Upgrading Tool

The final step in upgrading SMF, is to run the upgrading tool. Navigate with your browser to the upgrade.php file (it can be found in the directory where SMF is located) and run the upgrade. In example: 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 Update Process

Once all parts of the update 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. These files are upgrade.php and the .sql files whose name starts with 'upgrade'. They are a major security risk if they are left on a server unattended. Once SMF has been upgraded, they are no longer needed.

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