Conversions involve moving your forum from phpBB 2.0 or some other forum solution like vBulletin to the latest version of phpBB. Don’t feel ashamed if you have a forum still running phpBB 2.0. There are plenty out there and I get these requests regularly. phpBB 2.0 would probably run forever if PHP did not get upgraded on your web host.

Most conversions involve going from phpBB 2.0 to the latest version of phpBB. Converting from other forum solutions to phpBB is sometimes problematic and may be impossible. Conversions require a converter, which is software someone writes to handle the messy details of moving data from one forum solution to phpBB. A converter from phpBB 2.0 is built in to phpBB’s installer. Converters for other forum solutions may not exist or may be very old. Generally I have to research the issue to see if it’s possible. Sometimes a converter exists for a move to phpBB 3.0 and after that may be upgraded to the latest version of phpBB.

There are lots of landmines in converting a forum from inconsistent data in the database to timeouts during the conversion (usually on shared hosting) to replicating the look and feel of the old website as much as possible. This can trip up even experienced web developers, so it often makes sense to have me handle this as a service.

The process

Because conversion are so problematic, I use a systematic, failsafe approach:

  1. We discuss your requirements extensively. phpBB 3.x is a completely new platform, so phpBB 2.0 forums cannot be upgraded but must go through an extensive process to munge data. You will need a new style with a conversion. The old subsilver style does not exist. The only phpBB 2 mod that is handled by the converter is the attachment mod, so images and other attachments can be brought over. So you pick a new style and we discuss what extensions you may want installed with the conversion. After you make a number of decisions, the conversion can begin. Generally you use my secure form to provide the credentials I need.
  2. phpBB 2 forums are essentially copied, so the old forum becomes an archive you can keep or get rid of. In some ways this is easier than an upgrade since you never lose the old forum. If you want to keep the old forum, I generally move it into a forum_old folder, but you can set the name of the folder. Generally you don’t want the URL of the forum to change with the conversion, so after the conversion I move it back into a folder of the same name as before.
  3. Before starting a conversion I disable your old forum so no posts or private messages get lost during the upgrade.
  4. I create a new folder for phpBB and upload the new software. Essentially with a conversion you are creating a new forum, so I will create a new database for it. Once the database is created I install phpBB. I set all files and folders to the correct permissions, if needed before installation. Certain folders must be world-writeable.
  5. The installer has a conversion tab that I next run. Generally I run the phpBB 2.0 converter but if necessary I will upload a converter for another forum solution. I run the converter. Here’s where errors can occur.
    1. On shared hosting and sometimes on other types of hosting timeouts may occur as you “slip over” some ill-defined resource limitation imposed by your web host. I will try to run the converter program again but if the problem persists I may have to move your files and database to my machine, convert it there, then upload the converted database. If this happens I do a screenshot to document the error. There is a surcharge for this effort, which is considerable. See my pricing summary.
    2. Sometimes the converter program detects an inconsistency in your database. If this happens I have to analyze the error and fix the database. This is why I request web host control panel access. I need access to the database to fix these issues. After I fix an issue I rerun the converter program. If another error occurs, I fix the next one and try again. I keep doing this until the converter completes successfully. I have surcharges for forums with more than 100,000 posts. See my pricing summary. Why do I do this? Because it takes longer to convert larger forums and the more data in the database generally the more issues there are to fix.
  6. If you choose a style other than the default prosilver style, I install the new style and add any logo you might have
  7. I add any extensions you choose to have me install, and configure them as necessary
  8. If you need style changes I make the style changes
  9. I give the board a check up to make sure all basic functionality is working correctly then ask you to review it, reenabling the forum.
  10. I fix any remaining issues you find.
  11. I move the old forum into a forum_old forum and put the new forum in the correct folder. Users will have to login after a conversion
  12. Upon completion to your satisfaction, you pay me.

How to get started

I recommend sending me a service inquiry if you want me to give you an estimate.

If you administer a phpBB board, you should find my book Mastering phpBB Administration invaluable. Learn lots of tips, tricks and secrets I learned from serving over 400 clients. A paper (7.5 x 9.68 inches) and an ePub version are available.