Upgrade from vBulletin 4 to vBulletin 5 Connect

I wanted to share what I learned when we tried to upgrade vBulletin 4 to vBulletin 5 Connect. It started off with several failed attempts. Let me preface this by telling you that this is not running on our production site yet, only in test for now.

The first thing you are going to have to make sure of is that your server is running:

  • PHP version 5.3.0 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.1.5 or greater
  • A pre-registered domain name
  • 1 Gigabyte of hard drive space
  • Rewrite Engine – A rewrite engine is needed for vBulletin’s Friendly URL routing to work. Popular rewrite engines include mod_rewrite on Apache and “URL Rewrite” for IIS 7 or greater.

My first issue was that I assumed without paying attention that I was running the minimum requirements.

Once this is in place the biggest issue that is giving everyone trouble is that there are now two config files to edit. What isn’t clear in the vBulletin instructions is that in the root folder there is a file config.php.bkp – you need to rename this to config.php and edit the path to your install location on your server.

The second config file is located in the core/includes directory and is named config.php.new – you need to rename this file to config.php and edit the details in the file. This is where you will provide your database details, make sure the path to the install matches the first config.php file, and any other details match like database prefixes etc.

After these are edited and saved, you have to delete all the vBulletin 4 files except for the user uploaded files. **Careful not to delete these. Or install to a new directory on your site. But if you are going straight to production in your root directory… delete the vBulletin 4 files (except the user uploaded images and files in the /upload folder of your existing installation) and install the vBulletin 5 files.

Be sure to upload the .htaccess that is included in vBulletin product download. If you are on a Mac like myself you’ll need to turn on displaying all files by opening terminal and pasting: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES then restart Finder for this to take effect.

You also need to delete the install.php file from the core/install directory if you are performing and upgrade. Leave it if you are installing to a fresh new site.

With these steps in place I have been successful on our test site to upgrade vBulletin 4 to vBulletin 5 Connect. My last bit of advice is to be patient! It has taken over 3 hours for this process to complete… but I have a 15,000 member forum with over one million posts.

Good luck and I’ll try to help if you have any questions.


  1. Riyo August 25, 2013
    • neiltolbert August 25, 2013
  2. Gary M. October 15, 2013
  3. John Thompson January 24, 2015
    • Neil Tolbert February 25, 2015
    • Bimpy March 14, 2016

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