How to import data from Vbulletin to XenForo

import data from vbulletin to xenforo

Vbulletin ruled the whole forum market for around a decade after its launch in 2000. However, the technologies and software change with time, and those who are too lazy to upgrade or adopt the innovations are mistreated by those who pay. Right after the launch of XenForo in 2011, the same thing happened with VB. We saw a rapid increase in people searching for ‘How to import data from vBulletin to Xenforo.’ Vbulletin started receiving criticism for being slow and poor customer support; XenForo, on the other hand, introduced secure software with fantastic support and extensions. But if you have landed on this page, I am sure you are familiar with these things. Let’s go straight to the correct way recommended to import data from Vbulletin to XenForo.

Steps to import data from Vbulletin to XenForo

Converting vbulletin seems to be a straightforward process, But still, at times, you may find yourself in an unpredictable situation before I take you straight to the importers and stuff. I want to show you what to plan before making this decision.

  1. Do you have custom add-ons developed for your Vbulletin forum that are important for your community? They will only be imported to XenForo if you find some add-ons already developed by XenForo developers. Search for such add-ons in the XenForo resource manager. Otherwise, you would have to go for custom development and custom importer to import data related to that add-on. Also, it would help if you considered costs for custom development. This step is essential when importing data from Vbulletin to XenForo.

  2. Do you need a custom style? There are some awesome themes available in XenForo RM. You can also go for custom style development to adopt the existing color scheme used at your Vbulletin forum.

  3. What are your forum statistics? If you have a big forum, you should have an excellent server to run and test the imports before the transition. Fast servers help you to import data in less time. You can rent a server for some days to run a test import if you think your current server is not fast enough.
  4. Directly import data at the live site? NO. It would help if you cloned your live forum first at a dev URL without messing up your live site. Take a backup and make a clone. Run the import process there, note the total time, and test the imported data to ensure you get what you expect.
  5. Do you like to miss some content? Once you have checked the imported data and have the necessary add-ons and styles to be used at XenForo, the next step is to take your new software to live in front of your users. Because the data that you used at the test site would be some days old, and you have got new registrations at the forum, members are creating new content. You should discard the old ImportImport and take a backup of your live site. Remember, We noted the total import time in step 4? Inform your members about this transition and turn off your live forum.

  6. How to go live? If you have turned off your site and have completed the Import. Install the add-on and style you chose in steps 1 and 2. Analyze the permissions, rebuild master data, and test everything once again. Once pushed, you are ready to surprise your members. The purpose of step 4 was to make sure you shake your members and not your members surprising you.

  7. Is everything done? NO, when importing data from Vbulletin to XenForo, you can always see big G. Yes, google, and link juice. You have to get appropriate URL redirects prepared and upfront right after you go live. You cannot afford to miss those links. Because XenForo’s URL structure is different than that of Vbulletin, you have to arrange redirects to be added in .htaccess. Also, there are different types of redirects if you use some SEO add-ons at vbulletin, like Dbseo, Vbseo, etc. Those redirects are written in the xenforo community at different places. I am writing a new post to arrange those redirects on a single page along with those I have written for my clients.

These steps should be followed before importing data from vBulletin to XenForo. Now, let’s go deep into the technical things of Import. If you are doing that Import by yourself, you should be able to handle pretty much everything.

Default importer to import data from Vb to Xf

XenForo 1 had built-in importers that came with the default package. But for XenForo 2, you have to download them from your customer’s area. After installation of the importer, follow these steps:

  • Go to Admin->Tools->Import data. Here you will see different systems to import from.
import data from vbulletin to xenforo
  • Select your Vbulletin version and press the continue button. You will see this image on the next page. Fill up the information. This is your Vbulletin configuration details, like VB database credentials and table prefixes, etc. If you need more clarification about the table prefix, find that in your vBulletin config file, including/config.php. Search for table prefix. You will also need to add your attachments directory path. Add either an absolute path or a relative path. “../vbulletin/attachments” OR “var/www/html/vbulletin/attachments’ depending upon your directory name. You should also retain content IDs to use them later on. It is important.
import data from vbulletin to xenforo
  • Once the configuration details are correct, it will take you directly to the import steps. Various steps should be taken. Some actions, like Users and Threads, etc, would take time, But they would import everything.
import data from vbulletin to xenforo
  • As mentioned in the above image, Once all the steps are triggered, you can press complete import button. Do not run that before running all the steps.
  • Finally, rebuild caches and search index. Search index can be rebuld using this url: Admin Panel -> Tools -> Rebuild Caches.

That’s all. If everything goes smoothly, you can see all your data imported from Vbulletin to XenForo now. You can test the permissions and other things now.

Some important points related to Import

  • You should retain content IDs of imported data to make sure you have a record of the Import. That would be used by developers who code custom add-on add-ons for you.
  • You can continue importing from the same step where you left off if you accidentally close your browser tab.
  • Wait to press the complete import button before the necessary steps. Otherwise, you will get a partial import, and there is no way to restore that Import.
  • For custom add-on data import. Search for some importers that are already written by developers and use them. For example, I wrote these importers to import data from Vbulletin to Xenforo: Dto Garage to XenForo Showcase add-on.

The final point is to test everything and take backups of your Vbulletin and XenForo forum after data import so you keep everything.
Suppose you feel overwhelmed by the process and are entirely new to such things. Consider hiring a developer to handle these things for you. You can also get in touch with me to take your complete Import. I develop custom add-ons and themes for XenForo. You can read more about me as a xenforo developer.


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