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Back Up a Moodle Course

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At the end of each semester, we recommend instructors take the following steps to preserve their Moodle course contents, and archive student work and grades.

Step 1: Create and Download a Moodle Backup File

To archive course resources, activities, and course settings for safekeeping, we recommend instructors create and download a Moodle backup file (.mbz) at the close of each semester. The .mbz can be used to restore the course on Moodle in the Cloud (, or at a different campus in the future.

Because courses are deleted from Moodle approximately 18 months after the end of the semester taught, if you teach a class less frequently than every two years, you will definitely want to backup your course as an .mbz.

Please note that .mbz files cannot be used outside of Moodle.

Step 2: Download Course Content

Because Moodle (.mbz) backup files cannot be opened outside of Moodle, and do not include student submissions or grades, at the end of every semester, you should also download course content and capture student work and grades in file formats you can open on your own computer. It is important to remember that student information and grades are FERPA-protected data. Be sure to take security precautions with any course content that includes student information.

  • Download Instructor Files
    As a best practice, instructors should keep copies of their course content organized in folders on their own computer. It is helpful to keep copies in their original, editable file format (e.g., as Word or PowerPoint documents, or video project files), as well as in formats you would post in your course (e.g., .pdf or .mp4).

    Keep downloaded files in a well-labeled folder on your computer, on an external storage device (DVD or external hard drive), or online storage (e.g., Microsoft One Drive). This will ensure that you will be able to reuse your course content in the future.

    If you do not already have your course content saved outside of Moodle, you can quickly download all instructional materials uploaded to Moodle by you or a Course Designer. See Download All Instructor Files from a Moodle Course.
  • Copy and Paste other Text-Based Content
    Open Moodle Activities to copy and paste Activity descriptions (such as Assignment or Forum instructions), and store them outside Moodle using file formats that will be readable with desktop software (e.g., Microsoft Word).
  • Export Quiz Questions
    See Use the Moodle Question Bank (Export Quiz Questions) to export questions by category.
  • Send Yourself Sent Mail
    If you use Quickmail in your Moodle course, the default setting (under Configuration on the Quickmail block) is to Receive a copy. (Moodle CC’s messages to your UMass email). If you did not receive or cannot locate copies of the messages you sent, they are also stored in the Quickmail block under View history. You can open individual messages then send them to yourself, if needed.

Step 3: Backup Student Work and Grades

  • Export the Gradebook
    See Export Gradebook Data from Moodle, to download a comma-delimited file (.csv) which you can store in a secure location such as Microsoft OneDrive
    Note: Please keep in mind that these records are subject to FERPA privacy rules and need to be stored in a secure location and destroyed when no longer needed.
  • Export Forums
    See Export a Forum in Moodle to download entire discussions in a single click.
  • Download Assignment Submissions
    See Download Student Submissions from a Moodle Assignment, to download all student submissions as a .zip file.
  • Export Database Entries
    You can export Database activity entries as a spreadsheet in .csv or .ods (Open Office) format:
    Open the Database activity, click the Export tab, select a file format, indicate which fields to export and click Export entries.
    Note: Media files such as images will not be included in the export but can be downloaded individually if needed.
  • Export Glossary Entries
    Glossary entries can be exported from the activity’s Action menu. On the Glossary summary page, select the Actions menu (Screenshot of Actions menu), a drop-down list will open. From this list select Export entries to download an XML file of the entries.