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Unorthodox: the emergency restoration procedure



The following instructions are meant to be used in absolute emergencies, when the regular restoration procedure does not work.

If you are not sure what the regular restoration process is STOP NOW and go to our site to watch the Video Tutorials.


These instructions are meant to be first read before disaster strikes. They are not meant as a checklist you follow when you're stressed out by your site being down. Please keep that in mind while reading them. Thank you!

Inevitably, some people will end up with a backup file, a ruined site and a problem in the restoration procedure they can't work out. Almost always, the recipe includes a pressing deadline which requires that the site is on-line... yesterday. If you are in a situation like the one we just described, breathe. Do not panic. We've got you covered, with this concise manual site restoration guide. So, here it goes... it's manual Joomla! Site restoration In 7 steps or even less.

Step 1. Making sure it won't get worse.

Assuming such a situation, it's only human to be in panic and despair. Panic is a bad counsellor. It will give you wrong advice. Despair will only make you careless. So, people, get it together! Make a backup of the only thing separating you from complete disaster: the backup file. Burn it on a CD. Write it on your USB key. Put it on a couple of locations on your file server. Just make sure you'll have an extra copy in case you screw up.

This exercise has been proven to lower the probability of anything going wrong. Furthermore, it's good for your psychology. It gives you a sense of security you didn't have five minutes ago.

Step 2. Extracting the archive.

Now, we have to extract the archive somewhere on your local hard drive.

You'll have to use Akeeba Kickstart, available without charge from our website.

If you have a ZIP package you might be able to extract it using third party software. Typically, PKZIP for Windows, WinZIP and 7-Zip work best.

Step 3. Editing your database backup.

Take a look at the directory where you extracted your backup archive. Inside it there is a directory named installation. Inside this, there is a subdirectory named sql. Inside this there is a file, site.sql (older versions: joomla.sql), containing your database data. COPY THIS TO ANOTHER LOCATION NOW! We'll have to edit it, so please, don't tamper with the original, will you?

Open the copy of site.sql (older versions: joomla.sql). Use a text editor (we recommend gedit and Kate on Linux™, Notepad++ on Windows™; do not use Wordpad or Word!). If you were ever familiar with SQL, you'll recognize that each line consists of a single SQL command. But they have a problem: table names are mangled. You'll see that tables are in a form similar to #__banner instead of jos_banner. Ah, nice! We'll have to fix that.

Using your text editors Replace command, do the following changes:

  • search for CREATE TABLE `#__ replace with CREATE TABLE `jos_

  • search for DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `#__ replace with DROP TABLE IF EXISTS `jos_

  • search for INSERT INTO `#__ replace with INSERT INTO `jos_

  • search for CREATE VIEW `#__ replace with CREATE VIEW `jos_

  • search for CREATE PROCEDURE `#__ replace with CREATE PROCEDURE `jos_

  • search for CREATE FUNCTION `#__ replace with CREATE FUNCTION `jos_

  • search for CREATE TRIGGER `#__ replace with CREATE TRIGGER `jos_

The idea is to replace all instances of #__ (note that there are two underscores after the hash sign) with jos_ in the SQL command part (not the data part). DO NOT PERFORM A BLIND SEARCH AND REPLACE OF #__ WITH jos_ AS IT WILL CAUSE SEVERE PROBLEMS WITH SOME COMPONENTS. Easy, wasn't it? NOW SAVE THAT FILE!

Step 4. Restoring the database.

In order to restore the database on the server you'll have to use some appropriate tool. For small to moderately sized database dumps (up to 2Mb), we find that phpMyAdmin does the trick pretty well, plus it's installed on virtually all PHP enabled commercial hosts. For larger dumps, we found that bigdump.php from Alexey Ozerov works wonders. Another useful and very easy (or, should I say, easier) to use tool is Adminer. Use either of those tools - or any other of your liking - to restore your database.

Step 5. Upload your site's files.

First of all, delete the installation subdirectory from the directory you extracted the backup archive to. We won't be needing this any more. Then, using FTP - or any method you please - upload all of the files to the target server.

If you want to be thorough remember to set the directory and file permissions accordingly. If you just want to get the damn thing on-line ASAP, just skip this permissions thing; it will remind you of itself as soon as you try to do some website administration (like uploading a picture) after the site's back on-line.

Step 6. Edit configuration.php, if necessary.

If you were restoring to the same server location you took the backup on, nothing else is necessary. Your site should be back on-line now. If not, you'll have to edit the configuration.php.

You have Joomla! 1.5.x. Good news! Joomla! 1.5.x doesn't require you to specify some of the hard-to-obtain parameters. Your configuration.php consists of several lines. Each one is in the following form:

var $key = "value";

The key is the name of the configuration variable and value (inside double quotes!) is the value of the variable. Below we provide a list of the configuration variables which have to be modified to get up on-line.


is the database driver Joomla! will use. It can be mysql, mysqli (notice the extra i in the end) or pdomysql. This depends on the kind of database you are using. If unsure, your best bet is mysqli.


is the database host name, usually localhost


is the database user name, assigned from your host company


is - obviously - the database password, assigned from your host company


is the database's name, assigned from your host company


is the database prefix; if you followed our instructions, it is jos_


Normally this is an empty string. If, however, your Joomla! site's front page looks as if all images and CSS files are not loading, you have to modify it and enter your site's base URL. For example, if the new site is located in, you have to locate the line starting with var $live_site and change it to become:

var $live_site = "";

That's all! You're good to go.

Step 7. Enjoy success.

Your mission is accomplished. You are exhausted. Go drink whatever is your favourite drink and enjoy sweet success!