Migrate small Discourse forum back to phpBB


I have been running Discourse now for about a year on one of my fora. It used to run on phpBB 3.1, but I wanted something more modern. Discourse is certainly that, and overall I’m quite happy with it. However, my forummembers aren’t happy, and I can see why. The desktop site doesn’t run well on desktops and ipads, often posts in threads disappear and are replaced by whitespace, and the unread posts counter is driving my members crazy. It shows posts as unread even though they have been read.
And overall, they just want to go back to what they were used to have, even if it is a clunky old crapthing like phpBB.

So… how do I migrate back? I can’t find any information on it (but I may have been looking in the wrong places, like, searching on this forum). There’s a lot of information on migrating to Discourse, but not on getting my data back out. So, how can I do this?


I went to read your posts about the problems you’ve been having with your Discourse install and couldn’t find any. So I’m wondering why there is no sign that you’ve tried to resolve the issues here? :confused:

(Rafael dos Santos Silva) #3

That’s strange. Aren’t you on some broken host or version?
If Discourse did that on every instance people wouldn’t use it at all


I couldn’t find anything about the quirks my forum was experiencing, so I wrote it up to minor well, quirks. I didn’t actually mind, the forum runs great when accessing it on a smartphone. It’s the desktop-version that’s acting weird on my server.
Unfortunately, my users do mind. They don’t want a fix, they want their old forum software back.
This topic isn’t meant for fixing those quirks. It’s for migrating out of Discourse.
(I don’t intend to be rude, but it appears that the goal of me creating a topic here wasn’t clear enough.)

(cpradio) #5

Probably would be best to query the phpBB community to see if anyone has done an import from Discourse to phpBB. The postgres database is in your backups, so it should be a matter of someone writing a process to get the data from there and import it to the appropriate tables for phpBB.

(Mittineague) #6

My apologies if I’m wrong, but I suspect you tried an unsupported install.

In any case, restoring your old forum will be as easy as using your last back-up of it.

As for migrating from Discourse to phpBB, I really don’t think it’s within the purview of Discourse to provide what’s needed to do the migration.

That is, it would be phpBB that should provide what’s needed to import Discourse into it.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

It sounds like you have a broken install. It might be easier to hire someone like @pfaffman to take a quick look and fix it, rather than having someone build a whole importer for phpBB?

See https://www.literatecomputing.com

(Jay Pfaffman) #8

It’s like you walked into a protestant church asking how to get your kid to return to the Catholic Church. It’s a fair question, but the wrong audience. If you want help understanding how this world works, we can help.

If you want help with bbpress, this isn’t a good place to ask.

Conversion: Discourse (back) to vBulletin

Thank you for your input. I think, after considering your answers, that my question should have been: how can I export my Discourse forum to csv or something like that :slight_smile:
I will pose my question over at the phpBB forum.

(James North) #10

Came from phpBB myself and experience absolutely nothing like that.

If any of it were common in any way, Discourse wouldn’t have survived.

But - very sorry to hear of the difficulties and all the best with your solution!

(Sam Saffron) #11

I think that is a very good plan, as stated before you have a database and uploads directory on your box. You can generate full backups from the UI download locally and experiment.

Keep in mind, migrations are hard and usually quite costly in time.

(Jeff Atwood) #12

It really will be easier to fix your Discourse install, which seems legitimately broken based on your description, than migrate away.

I am not saying that because I prefer you stay with Discourse (although obviously I am biased), I am saying it from a pure effort perspective. Migrations are tough, and should not be taken on lightly.

(Jay Pfaffman) #13

Like others have said, the backup file you can download provides all the data in a more convenient format than any other forum I have seen. It’s usually quite difficult to get all the attachments. The database dump, while not useful to a non programmer is actually much more valuable than a csv file.

Someone who has written importers for bbpress will be in good shape with just the backup file. They might not be familiar with postgres, the database that discourse uses, but it shouldn’t be a show stopper.

If you decide to give discourse another try, if he happy to help see what the problem is. Though I expect people might be moving from Discourse to something else in a decade or more from now, I don’t think anyone here has heard of that yet.

(Stephen) #14

Unless your users are paying a subscription this sounds a lot like the tail wagging the dog.


Your goal was clear but surprising because you are not attempting to fix your broken Discourse and you are using the Discourse support forum to dump (and dump on) Discourse.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the replies you have received are unfailingly polite and helpful. I guess that you might have left the forum already but the supportive and helpful developers would be a big reason for me to stick with Discourse.

(Jay Patel) #16


Also maybe follow -stable version might change it? haven’t experienced such a problem like this on desktop or mobile.


(Jeff Atwood) #17

Step 1 – try to fix Discourse, since we think you have a broken install

Step 2 – if that doesn’t work, absolutely switch!

(William Di Luigi) #18

I think it would make sense to note that, if you want your goal to be as clear as possible, there is no reason to explain in full detail all the different issues you had with this software (marking unread posts, whitespace and so on). This is just to say that, maybe, the goal would have been more clear if the question was more direct :slight_smile:. Also, you can’t expect people not to wonder about those issues after mentioning them :smile: