Importing an existing website


It is possible to import an existing sites into the Aegir hosting system, so that they can be managed by Aegir.

These instructions assume you've set up a shiny new server with Aegir on it, and are wanting to import sites from a completely different old server. However, it is equally possible to import a Drupal site residing elsewhere on the same server, into /var/aegir in your Aegir system (and is faster, since often the database is already present on the same server and won't need to be dumped, transferred and imported.

Option A. Importing just the sites directory

If you already have a platform setup on Aegir with EXACTLY the same codebase as your existing site, then you don't need to transfer the entire old codebase - you can just transfer the sites/ directory. However, you also need to make sure any dependencies on contrib modules that your site has, are covered on the codebase or Platform that you're importing it into.

In general it may be considered safer/less prone to confusing errors to transfer the entire old codebase into Aegir as a whole Platform, whereby the site will be imported automatically under that Platform. You can then migrate it in Aegir to one of your existing Platforms later. See Option B below for this method.

However, if you really want to just import sites into an existing platform, here's how:

1. Transfer the files

Copy the 'sites/' directory from your old server to the new Aegir server (if it was sites/ before it needs to be moved to sites/ See section below).

To do this, first create a tarball of the site on the old server. Within the sites/ directory type: tar -zcvf

(If you are importing a site from another server, you can create a directory for it in the codebase (platform) you want to put it under:

cd /var/aegir/myplatform/sites
wget title="

Instead of using wget you could of course use SCP or even from one directory on your server (e.g., /var/www/html) to a newly created Aegir directory on the same server (e.g., /var/aegir).

The three options described are:

  • A. Importing a /sites directory onto an existing platform
  • B. Importing the entire codebase

    This way of importing sites is often considered the safest whereby you transfer across an entire codebase containing Drupal core, and define it as a Platform first. This makes sure you bring any dependencies, contrib modules etc, in exactly the same version and configuration that is referenced in the database for the site.

    1. Transfer the codebase

    Create a tarball of the codebase on the old server. Within the drupal root directory type: tar -zcvf * .htaccess

    Note that we have to specify including the .htaccess because it isn't picked up by the * wildcard due to being prefixed with a full stop. It is important to bring along the .htaccess for a platform so that Aegir can consider these settings when it generates Apache configuration for this platform.

    Then, on the new platform/site

  • C. Import can create a directory for it in the codebase you want to put it under:
    cd /var/aegir
    mkdir your-new-platform
    cd your-new-platform
    wget title="

    Instead of using wget you could of course use SCP or FTP to transfer the tarball onto the Aegir server.

    Once the file is unpacked, check the ownership and group of each file by using ls -al. It should be either 'aegir:aegir' or 'aegir:www-data'. Change it if necessary. We have to assume you have basic knowledge of Linux and POSIX permissions - we can't be responsible for teaching you sysadmin skills :)

    In particular, files that may have been uploaded on your site via modules like imagecache, upload, Profile pics etc, may need to have their ownership changed: sudo chown -R aegir $platform/sites/*/files

    If your site previously resided in sites/ you need to move it because Aegir ignores the default directory (it has no way of understanding what URL this would be accessed by, so it is impossible to 'manage' it). Each site needs its own directory with the correct domain in typical Drupal multisite design:

    mv sites/ sites/

    If you do this, you may need to also update your filepath's stored in the files table by running the following query on your database:

    UPDATE files SET filepath = REPLACE(filepath, 'sites/', 'sites/');

    There are many other places in the database that can suffer the same problem, the node_revisions table for example. If you have phpMyAdmin available you can easily search the entire database for 'sites/'. Select the database, then click the Search tab. Once you know which tables are affected you can run a variation of the above query to correct these records.

    2. Transfer the Database

    Note: This step is not necessary if you are moving your site from one directory on your server (e.g., /var/www/html) to a newly created Aegir directory on the same server (e.g., /var/aegir).

    Make a backup of the database on your old server (Backup and Migrate module is good for this, or you can use phpmyadmin or your favourite MySQL management tool. It's a good idea to truncate the cache, search and watchdog tables first to reduce the size of the database (Backup and Migrate does this for you).

    On your new server, manually create a new database and upload the .sql file from your backup. Then create the mysql user that your site accesses the database as, and grant it all permissions on that database except 'GRANT'.

    3. Setup Platform in Aegir

    In the Aegir web interface click on 'Create Content' and 'Platform'. This step is often easiest when using the admin-menu on the top of your screen.

    Enter the name you want to use for the platform (eg 'My Platform import'), and the path to the platform on the server (eg '/var/aegir/your-new-platform')

    Click Save to submit the form, and Aegir will spawn a Verify task for this platform into the queue.

    Once the task is complete this the task should turn green (click through to the homepage to refesh and check. If not, see 'Troubleshooting' below).

    4. Import and Verify Sites In Aegir

    Upon completion of the above Platform verification task, Aegir will discover your new site and spawn a new 'Import' task for the site.

    Once it's done this (it may take a couple of cron runs to dispatch these tasks in the queue) the tasks should turn green (if not, see 'Troubleshooting' below).

    At this point, presuming you have updated DNS or are overriding DNS via an entry in your /etc/hosts file to access the site via the new Aegir server, you can visit site in a browser and check around to see that it has worked. Pay particular attention to any links in node content that pointed to paths referencing /sites/ if your site was not part of a multisite setup. (Drupal has a habit of storing these paths in the database, or they may have been hard-coded into nodes by users).

    It's a good idea to clear the caches, and you may need to get imagecache to rebuild its thumbnails if you use it.

    5. Migrate To Another Platform

    Now that you have your sites under Aegir's control you can take advantage of its power, and easily migrate them to another platform. In the event that your sites were on old versions of Drupal core and a new one is available and present as another Platform on your Aegir system