Is there a way to backup all posts on someone else's site?


Hey everyone,

I was a part of a discourse based forum site for 3.5 years and the owners of the site decided to pull the plug of everything because they don’t want to keep paying to host & discourse anymore. Forum had 7000+ users and even though owners don’t want to pay, we said we want to save the forum somehow. We offered paying the fee ourselves, we offered migrating forum to less costly forum template but they don’t want to deal with the forum anymore, so no luck. We(as ordinary users) at least want to somehow save all the posts we created in this 3.5 years but all we can do is exporting our own posts, which is not enough for most of us. Is there a way to backup/export everything from a discourse based site without admin privileges? Thank you so much.

Ps. We have 2 days before they close the site, and the site is so valuable to us. I even have friends who met in that site and married afterwards. Any help appreciated.

(Mittineague) #2

Hi meliodastablet welcome to the forum

Unless you have an Admin or developer account, you can not access the Download page. If you have an Admin API key or CLI access then downloading could be possible. But if you are a non-staff member and the current Admin does not provide you with any of those and does not give you a backup file then you’re out of luck.

I don’t know if would be possible to use member post exports in some way to kick start another forum, but I am highly doubtful. In any case, I suggest you and any others interested in saving their posts to do so ASAP.

(Robert McIntosh) #3

Sounds a little odd that they would not allow you to take it over at all. Have you offered to “buy” the forum?

The actual transfer would be simple enough, but you would need admin access to the forum at least, or the server (depending on hosting).

Surely if you agree a fee of some sort to “take ownership” and the terms of the site (and therefore the contract with users) allows this, they would simply make you admin of the site and give you some time to get a copy of the backup file.

I can understand that they cannot simply hand it over and there might actually be some extra administrative (and legal) costs to handing over a community to another person or group, so it would not be unreasonable to recognise that in some way.

If you can, and they HAVE to close the current site in the next few days to avoid costs, encourage them to take a copy of the final backup at least while you negotiate this, and this would be used to recreate the site in future - but users themselves have no ability (or right) to download all other users’ content in this sort of situation.


The thing is, they have a blog/news kind of site and this forum was like a branch of that site. Even though they are closing the forum part, main site will still stay so they are claiming they don’t want to give the forum because even if we cut the ties with them, the forum was used to theirs and something that can happen in our forum in the future may affect their reputation or something :man_shrugging: I offered deleting/removing everything about their so called ‘brand’(forum was pretty much independent except their logo and 1 category) but no luck. I guess there is nothing I can do in this situation. Still, thanks for your reply.


Well, technically you could write (or hire someone to do it) a crawler which would extract all posts and then recreate forum using that data. Obviously, depends how much you want to preserve it because it’s not the easiest task.

(Stephen) #6

But that couldn’t recreate the users and associate the accounts with the original owners.

(Robert McIntosh) #7

… and would probably be illegal if you were then republishing this without the agreement of those whose content you were using, I’m afraid.

The only way is to get agreement.

I can totally understand that a brand that has invested in a community and is still running a related publication, may not be keen to have a “competitor” forum be created - so you definitely risk repercussions.

The only sensible route is to get agreement, and if not, consider starting afresh