More success converting from CommunityServer to vBulletin

Back in July, I wrote about my initial experiences converting from CommunityServer to vBulletin. At the time of that post, I was importing users, forums, and threads, but had issues importing posts. Well, I’m happy to say I’ve had more success since then.

Together with the help of Jerry (a member of the vBulletin team), we’ve improved the import scripts a number of ways. Prior to this effort, you were only able to import users, forums, threads, and posts. Now…

  • Performance has been improved by rewriting some SQL queries, and in some cases optimizing them for SQL 2005. (SQL 2000 compliant queries are available, but commented out in the code.)
  • Private messages are imported, however they are not threaded (by design; vBulletin doesn’t thread private messages).
  • Forum groups are imported as top-level forums, so your CommunityServer group/forum structure is preserved.
  • SQL scripts are available to clean up post formatting differences between CS and vB.
  • Not a fix, but an important note: If you have lots of posts, you definitely need to increase your timeout periods in your php.ini. I set mine to 600 seconds before things started working reliably importing posts.

There’s still a little more I want to do before I consider this “good enough” — notably, add support for migrating attachments, polls, and avatars — but the process now is certainly working, since I’ve used it to migrate the 700,000 post CSFBL forums from CommunityServer to vBulletin in a non-production environment.

Since vBulletin is a commercial product, to get access to the latest conversion files, you’ll need to contact vBulletin — don’t ask me for them, as I can’t give them out.

If you’re looking for an alternative to CommunityServer, now may be the time to seriously consider vBulletin.

0 thoughts on “More success converting from CommunityServer to vBulletin

  • as per this post your were to change from CS to vBulletin.

    i saw your forum is still with CS.
    did it not work for you? i need to do a switch myself and am not finding much info on it.

  • The migration does work — though there’s logistic issues I need to resolve before doing this (most notably, writing hooks from other web sites to integrate with the forums).

    The attachments migrated, but they wouldn’t open after migrated. This could be due to data conversion from Windows binary files to MySQL binary columns — I’m not sure.

    Unfortunately, whatever (limited) guidance I did get from vBulletin is over — they said they are on to other projects. Not that they did much anyway…

    As it is now, my modified migration handles forums (including forum hierarchy), threads, posts, private messages. I am doing another test migration now.

    Final note — unless the vBulletin guys integrate my modified code into their ImpEx utility, I am not sure if I can distribute it (licensing violations). You may want to contact them about this, asking if they would incorporate my changes with their master builds.

  • you were right about VB support when it comes to CS , they dont offer much help.

    i was wondering if you can she any light as to the following post i posted on vb fourms and have not yet gotten answer.

    “i am a newbie when it comes to this, and i dont have any experience with Windows hosting, databases, etc.

    but here is what i have in hand and need your help step-by-step:

    – i have my VB site running on a Hostgator Linux server
    – i have my Community Server running on a Windows server.
    – i have a backup copy of the Community Server database in .bak format (1.4 GB size) produced via the database back system on
    – i have successfully uploaded the needed Impex files and a link shows up in my VB admin control panel for Impex.
    – i have configured the impexconfig.php as best as i know (can provide code if needed)

    – i was told for the import to happen, the source (CS) needs to be on the same server as the vB database, i.e: ‘localhost’. so i have uploaded the whole 1.4 gig of the .bak to my linux host under folder.

    – i have tried renaming the .bak file as .mdf (the format that is on windows server) and .mdb but nothing has worked. dont laugh, cause i dont know if its the right way of going about handling the database back up file.

    … so when i click on the import in admin CP, im getting error:

    PHP Code:
    Warning: mssql_connect() [function.mssql-connect]: Unable to connect to server: localhost in [path]/impex/db_mysql.php on line 57

    Warning: mssql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MS SQL-Link resource in [path]/impex/db_mysql.php on line 193

    what am i doing wrong?
    what should i do?
    what file format should the source database be?”


  • Your vBulletin Impex utility must be configred with the connection information to your CommunityServer MSSQL database — i.e., the database server IP address, database name, username, and password used by your CommunityServer forums.

    Note that you also need to make sure that your vBulletin web server (i.e. Impex) can access the remote SQL database. Some web hosting companies restrict access to their SQL servers to internal IP addresses only. If this is the case, you need to find a temporary place to host your MSSQL database in order to make it accessible to your new forums.

    Hope this helps!

  • that does help Brian,

    i never thought about the restriction to connect only to internal ip’s.

    now i have a .bak copy of the mssql database .
    can i convert it to a format that would be accessible/readable ? and what format would that be? .mdb, .mdf ? do you know what format/extension was your MSSQL file that Impex could connect to?
    do you know any converter tools?

  • The .bak file is a Microsoft SQL backup (‘dump’) file. That file needs to be restored to an MSSQL server that can be directly accessed by your vBulletin Impex web server.

    Impex does not connect directly to the SQL file — it must connect to the SQL server which is hosting the database (the same way it connects to a MySQL database).

    Does your vBulletin hosting plan also have MSSQL support? If so, you can probably restore it there, and with luck your host can probably help you out restoring it. Heck, maybe the vBulletin guys can help. 🙂

    If still lost, let me know who your vBulletin web host is, and I’ll do some quick research.

  • Hah, and all from blog comments. 🙂

    Hostgator doesn’t support MSSQL. How big is your database? If it’s not too big I may be able to it on a shared hosting account I have temporarily, so you can do your vBulletin migration and then we can be done with it.

    Shoot me an email with more info:

  • im sorry its like 1.4 gig. im not sure if that is considered too big.
    if so, then i would not want to burden you with the job or the hassle.
    i will see if i can get a free host or some other way. if not i will seek your help with that regard.
    i really appreciate the offer

  • Hi Brian,

    I understand this blog post is a bit out of date, but I was just wondering if vBulletin had taken your modifications to the ImpEx utility and incorporated them into their distributed ImpEx build?

    I’ve been looking – albeit for a while now – for definitive answers on exactly what versions of Community Server vBulletin can import from, and what objects can be imported (e.g. posts, threads, users, forums at least – which is all we care about. Permissions, attachments, private messages don’t matter to us.)

    Would it be possible for you to shed some light on this if you are still using vBulletin or have your ImpEx scripts? I understand it is 2 years on, but you still blog so I thought I’d send you a message.

    – Tom.

  • I am definitely still using vBulletin, happy to have moved off CommunityServer — vB is far superior.

    I don’t know if they ever incorporated my ImpEx changes. I will download the most recent ImpEx and look…

    Nope, changes aren’t there. I will ask the vB guys if they’ll allow me to publish my ImpEx files for CS onto or some place where only members can access.

  • Hi Brian,

    Thank you for the reply and the info. That would be very useful! Glad to hear you’re still using vB.

    I hope vB do decide to allow you to post your files to or another vB community site.

    Let us know how you get on, I’m sure there are still a lot of people who want to use vB and import from CS.

    – Tom.

  • Hi Brian,

    Would you by any chance be able to bundle up your ImpEx modifications and send them to vBulletin sales/support so that users such as us could get access to them? We are looking to migrate a large quantity of Community Server users and posts to vBulletin, and would be grateful if you could allow the distribution of your modifications through vBulletin sales/support?

    Please feel free to contact me on this e-mail address if you would like to take this discussion further privately.

    – Tom.

  • @Digital Doctor: I share your frustration. I don’t know why they didn’t incorporate the changes. They were responsive to me for a while, then they said “OK, we can’t help any more, we’re moving on to other tasks.” Sad, because there is a significant potential market in CS to vB.

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