Howto: Converting from vBulletin to IP.Board

I am getting ready to convert Computer Help Forums from vBulletin to IPB. This is in a way a more complex change because the users use the album feature extensively. We also have a downloads section so those will have to moved over to IP.Downloads.

I am starting this to document the steps I take so it can serve as a tutorial for others that are going to switch from vBulletin to IPB. The vBulletin version running is 3.8.4. The version of IPB that will be installed will be 3.0.5. I will also install IP.Downloads, IP.Gallery, IP.Blog and IP.Content.

Watch this post to follow the progress of this vBulletin to IPB conversion. Each step and procedure as well as post conversion configuration will be outlined so that anyone that  wants to convert from vBulletin to IPB will have a set of procedures to follow.

Read on to see the steps I took to convert Computer Help Forums from vbulletin to IPB.

Preparing for the Import:

I made sure I created backups of the vbulletin database and vbulletin files. This would make it easy for me to rollback to vbulletin in case something didn’t go well with the conversion. After the backups were uploaded to the backup server I was ready to begin. I shut the site down and put up a temp index page letting users know what was going on and an estimate of how long it would take.

Removing vBulletin and installing IPB:

Once the site was shutdown I deleted all the vbulletin files in the sites directory. I then uploaded all the IPB files, edited the config file and started the installer. Since I was doing a conversion of a blog and gallery I also upload all those files. I then started the installer. I selected all the addons to also be installed as well as the portal and chat. The install went well. I then copied smilies, custom avatars, custom profile pics and my old vbulletin attachment dir to the new IPB install. I’m now ready to start the conversion.

The conversion:

The first thing I did was configure the site by editing all the site settings. Then I uploaded the converters and activated the app in the admincp. When you start the converter you’ll be given options for each app you have installed. In my case I had options to import forum, blog and gallery.

I started the converter and I chose the vbulletin conversion scripts to do the forum first. I went along with each step and when it was time to import smileys I used the path to the vbulletin dir that I added to the root after the IPB install. The whole process is pretty much straight forward and if you get any errors the script will let you know and then you can decide if you want to do that step again. If you do make sure you check the checkbox to clear the data first.

A couple things to do during the conversion.

  1. When you are importing usergroups make sure you create new usergroups and don’t associate with IPB permissions. It’s a little more work after the conversion to set up permissions or move users into IPB groups, but, makes things easier in the long run.
  2. Make sure you set the correct paths to the avatars and profile pics that you copied over from your vbulletin install when you import members.
  3. After the forum conversion set the permissions before you proceed to the post import. You get a link that will allow you to that before you continue.

The forum conversion took a little over 2 hours. This was with editing the forum permissions and editing the new permissions sets to be used for the usergroups I imported. I removed the vbulletin registered users group and moved all the users into the IPB member group. Same for banned users. I setup the super mod group and permissions to mirror what I had with vbulletin and moved the imported mod group users into the IPB mod group and reassigned forum permissions for the moderators. I then rebuild all the counters and the cache.

The end result and thoughts:

Once the forum import was done and permissions where in place I opened the forum for the staff members only.

I then started the blog and gallery conversions. Nothing earth shattering happened during the conversion. Just make sure you move you vbulletin albums dir to the IPB dir. Everything went  well without errors. Once I had permissions setup on the gallery and blogs I updated counters, = and ran the picture tool to convert vbulletin .picture to images for IP.Gallery. I then rebuilt thumbnails and albums and opened the blog and gallery.

A few minor tweaks had to be done the first few days, but, now 2 weeks later, everything is running smoothly and the users like the new software. Adnins are getting used to the new admincp and I have heard from more than one of them that things are much easier once you get used to where everything is.

Moderators had a problem at first with deleting posts. We used soft delete instead of actually deleting or moving posts to the recycle bin. This my my fault because I don’t like to actually remove anything. I like to keep spam for reference in the recycle bin or have it soft deleted. Once I explained how the trash can featured worked they seem to like it better.

During the first run PM’s didn’t convert correctly. This was not a fault of the IPB converter. It is a problem with the way deleted users are treated in vbulletin. When you delete a user the PM’s associated with the user don’t get removed. If you deleted users in vbulletin chances are you’ll get errors importing PM’s.

The gallery import failed on the first run. Couldn’t find the path to the albums. I never was given a place to add the path so of course it failed. When I re-ran it I was given a place to add the path and once I did it went without a problem.

The blog import worked, but, each blog was given the userid for name instead of  the username. I just told my users to rename the blog.

All in all I am very happy with IPB. This is the third site I have converted and was the most complicated because I was also doing the gallery and blog. It all went well and took much less time than I though it would. My users like IPB.  My staff like IPB and I love IPB.

I am doing some rearranging of my sites and will have 3 more conversions to do over the course of this year. My goal is to be vbulletin free by the end of 2010.

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4 Comments on "Howto: Converting from vBulletin to IP.Board"

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Brandon Sheley

Great article Bob, thanks for documenting the conversion.


Thanks for this great article. It helped me a lot. However I ran into the same problem than you this night: The conversion of the personal messages didn’t work. Could you please tell me if you could find a solution? If yes, what did you do? Thanks for any help.