ExpressionEngine® User Guide

Moving ExpressionEngine to Another Server

There are many workflows available to move between servers, much that comes down to developer preference. This article outlines the basic procedure for moving ExpressionEngine to another server. Please note that you may need to perform additional steps if you are using any third-party add-ons that store their own path configurations.

1. Verify Server Compatibility

Upload the Server Compatibility Wizard to the new server and run it to verify basic compatibility with ExpressionEngine.

2. Clear Caches

Go to Developer Tools ‣ Utilities ‣ Cache Manager. Select All Caches and click Submit.

3. Back-up Database and Files

  • Back-up your existing ExpressionEngine database.
  • Back-up all existing ExpressionEngine files and folders.

4. Prepare the New Database

Create a new, empty database on the new server and import the back-up file you created in Step 3 into it. Typically this will be a SQL file (or a ZIP file containing the SQL file).

5. Copy Files and Folders

Copy all ExpressionEngine files and folders from the old server to the new server. At a minimum, this will typically include:

  • admin.php
  • index.php
  • images/
  • system/
  • themes/

Your folder structure may look a bit different if the site was configured to run with the system folder renamed or above web root.

6. Verify File Permissions

The following permissions are typical for UNIX-based hosts. You may want to check with your host to see if more restrictive permissions can be used to allow PHP to write to files (666) and folders (777). On Windows servers the following will not apply, but you will need to ensure that the files and folders are writable by ExpressionEngine. You may need to contact your host for this.

  • Ensure the following file is set to 666:
    • system/user/config/config.php
  • Ensure the following folders are set to 777:
    • system/user/cache/
    • system/user/templates/
    • images/avatars/
    • images/captchas/
    • images/member_photos/
    • images/pm_attachments/
    • images/signature_attachments/
    • images/uploads/

7. Update config.php

Open system/user/config/config.php and update the database settings to match those of the new server.

Since CSS and JavaScript cannot be loaded without access to the theme folder, it’s best to override that setting now since you are already editing the config.php file:

$config['theme_folder_url'] = "";
$config['theme_folder_path'] = "/home/user/";

The other paths and folders you can update after logging in to the control panel in Step 9.

8. Verify index.php and admin.php

Verify that your site’s root index.php and admin.php files have the correct $system_path for the new server.

9. Log In and Update Paths

At this point, you should be able to log in to the Control Panel using admin.php. If not, please verify that the settings made in Step 7 and Step 8 are correct.

There are typically several areas of the Control Panel in which paths may need to be updated, including:

  • Settings ‣ URL and Path Settings
  • Settings ‣ CAPTCHA
  • Settings ‣ Content & Design
  • Settings ‣ Avatars
  • Developer Tools ‣ Channel Manager
  • Files

You can also set many of these paths in your config.php file using configuration variables:

$config['site_url'] = "";

$config['theme_folder_url'] = "";
$config['theme_folder_path'] = "/home/user/";

$config['captcha_url'] = "";
$config['captcha_path'] = "/home/user/";

$config['emoticon_url'] = "";

$config['avatar_url'] = "";
$config['avatar_path'] = "/home/user/";

$config['sig_img_url'] = "";
$config['sig_img_path'] = "/home/user/";

$config['upload_preferences'] = array(
    1 => array(                                                            // ID of upload destination
        'name'        => 'Image Uploads',                          // Display name in control panel
        'server_path' => '/home/user/', // Server path to upload directory
        'url'         => ''      // URL of upload directory

10. Clear Caches (Again!)

Go to Developer Tools ‣ Utilities ‣ Cache Manager. Select All Caches and click Submit.

You’re Done!

At this point, your site should be fully functional. Check to make sure that there are no links still pointing to the previous server. It is recommended that links be generated using the {path} or {site_url} variables for maximum portability.