How do I get a copy of a forum outside of Moodle?

Valid for Moodle 2.5.  Updated on 10/30/2013.There are a couple of ways of doing this, none of them completely satisfactory.  You can backup the site but what you get is an XML file that doesn’t display cleanly.  And if you try to copy the contents to a Word file you’ll lose any images and retain a lot of links that will no longer work

Probably the best solution is to use the export option but it only works on individual discussions. To capture the entire forum you’ll need to export each individual discussion.

This might sound like an excellent occasion to use the A simple single discussion forum type. Unfortunately, you can’t export that type of discussion.

To export, first go to the discussion that you want to export.

Basic forum display

Next, click on the Export whole discussion link.  This brings up the Configure exported data screen.

export configuration options

Use the default values and click on Next. This will take you to the confirmation page.

export confirmation

Again accept the defaults and click on Continue. This will bring up an interface asking what you want to do with the exported discussion.

Location of unzipped file dialogue

You can either keep the zipped version or have it unzipped as part of the download. Keeping it in zip format saves space if you don’t need to access the forum until later. The export will be either a file named or a folder names portfolio-export. If you already have a file/folder with this name, a number will be added to the file name. You can’t change the filename at this time.

Click on OK and tell the system where to put the file/folder. 


Note that once this is done you are taken back to the download page. This page doesn’t change even after the download is complete.

To access the discussion, unzip the file if it is still in zipped format.  Double clicking on the zipped file will usually do this. Next open the portfolio-export folder. It will contain a file called discussion.html and a folder named site_files.  Open discussion.html in a browser.  You’ll see a poorly formatted version of you discussion.


First, if someone has used the recording tool in creating an entry, this can create problems for the resulting export.  Not only aren’t the recordings carried over but the entire exported discussion can be truncated.

Second, if an image is inserted in an posting, in the exported version a broken image icon may appear instead of the image, but the image is then displayed as an attachment to the entry.

Third, there are a lot of possible variations in what goes into a forum.  We have not tried to export all possibilities so we can’t give any reassurances how they will be work.

If you have specific export requirements that can't be meet with the standard export, please talk to Academic Technology Services.