VB -> XenForo Migration - Plz share your story!


Active member
For those that have migrated from VB to XF, plz share your story.

- What bumps did you encounter along the path of the migration?
- What were the positives after the migration?
- How did the users of your community react?
- Did you encounter any negatives?
- How did your search engine rankings change, if any?
- Would you do it again?
- Did you have any subscriptions enabled in your forum? Did you port those over?
- How has your server CPU and memory load been affected by the migration?
- What are your lessons learned?

Looking to hear some battle stories that have forged on with the migration on both small and large forums.


Well-known member
What bumps did you encounter along the path of the migration?
My board is fairly large and we migrated before the big board importer was available. Jake Bunce's importer worked great, but it just took us several hours of downtime. I'd really recommend having a test site where you do a test import to get an estimate of the time it will take to import (and to make sure everything imports correctly of course). I ended up going to sleep while we imported on the live site, waking up every hour or two to check the progress.
What were the positives after the migration?
Well, one of our major reasons to look at other community software was that vBulletin 4 had (and still has, as far as I am aware) a major security hole. Moving to Xenforo gave us a great deal of peace, knowing that security was no longer a concern (at least, in terms of the forum software--strong passwords and locking down your server are still important!).

Xenforo is also a lot more modern from a user interface standpoint. It's been great to freshen up the site like that. I also can't understate the importance of alerts in keeping users engaged.

The add-on community here is far more positive, helpful, and lively than I ever found vBulletin's. On vB, I never felt any of the add-ons were high quality enough to justify paying (especially when developers would often offer "lite" versions). Here I am happy to pay for add-ons because they're top notch and most developers are great about supporting add-ons, especially if they're paid. Developers are also very friendly and accessible--there's a definite sense of community here, and having add-ons centralized on the official boards means that the development community is also friendly and accessible (as opposed to vB, where things are segmented into three levels: vB.com, vB.org, then individual dev sites).
How did the users of your community react?
My userbase is a bit persnickety. It's composed of largely teenagers & young adults, many of them with, shall we say, strong opinions that they're not afraid to vocalize. As I said, we moved to Xenforo largely out of security questions--after the site was secured we banned some members who had taken advantage of the security holes to break our rules. Those members were "popular" throughout the forums, so a lot of the anger at their bans became confused with anger about Xenforo.

Adding to that, many of the members in that vocal minority don't react well to change. Generally, most users were perfectly okay with the change, if a bit confused (we didn't announce anything in advance). Now that a lot of time has passed I think a lot of users have warmed up to the change and seen some of the things it has to offer. Those who were grumpy about the change I think I have come around a bit, but we've adopted a mostly tough love / "posting is no different so deal" approach to dealing with them.
Did you encounter any negatives?
Our community had been on vBulletin for six years, and we lost a lot of the functionality vBulletin offered in the moved. Third party add-ons have helped that immensely, but still, we've lost somethings (and gained things we've never had). A lot of users have been upset about that. It's something we work on all the time, though, and it's good to get rid of waste sometimes.
How did your search engine rankings change, if any?
I don't really pay much attention to things like SEO or anything. We produce content and stay active, whatever traffic we get is the traffic we get--we definitely do things to get users more engaged and make the site more user friendly, but I've never charted page rank or anything. Our traffic has remained about the same since the move, though it took a dip when we first moved while Google re-indexed the site.
Would you do it again?
Absolutely. No question about it. I went on a vBulletin 4 forum not too long ago, the first time since we moved to Xenforo, and I couldn't believe how clunky it felt by comparison. Even if users don't like little things, adding new content/features to the site is so much easier on my end with Xenforo that I'm happy to put up with some complaints and put extra work into making some things more "vB-esque." Xenforo is my software of choice and when I have good tools, it's easier to create a quality product.
What are your lessons learned?
Like I think I said, we never did a test import beforehand, so a lot of the initial user complaints I had to deal with on the fly. Basically once we reopened the site's doors our staff had to help users find their way around, field member complaints, while I (as the sole admin at the time) had to do a lot of behind the scenes work to get old pages up, create a new style, and try to mitigate some of the complaints. It was incredibly stressful, and a lot of those initial complaints could have been a non-issue if we'd done work on a test board beforehand.

We also did not announce the move in advance because we had security concerns, but given all the "OMG WHAT IS GOING ON WITH KHV???" ims I got in the time the site was down, I know now that I should announce downtime/maintenance beforehand, when possible. Also I should get a lot of sleep in advance and request off from work, prepare to pull an all-nighter. Totally wasn't ready when we imported, ended up exhausting myself!