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Moodle (.mbz) Backup Files

Moodle Backup Files FAQ

What is an .mbz file?

  • A Moodle Backup File (.mbz) is a compressed archive of a Moodle course that can be used to restore a course within Moodle. The file preserves course contents, structure and settings, but does not include student work or grades.
  • During the transition from Moodle legacy (moodle.umass.edu) to Moodle in the Cloud (umass.moonami.com), you can transfer your course from one platform to another by creating a Moodle Backup File (.mbz) in Moodle legacy and restoring it in Moodle in the Cloud.
  • The contents of the .mbz cannot be accessed from your computer (outside of Moodle). For example, you cannot extract PDFs from the backup file, but if the course is restored on a Moodle server, files that were uploaded into the original course (and links to files stored elsewhere) will appear in the restored course.
  • Instructors can create and download an .mbz file of any course they teach to archive course Resources, Activities, and Settings for safekeeping.

What is included in an .mbz file?

Moodle Backup Files include:

  • Resources (e.g., Files, Folders, Pages, etc.)
  • Activities (e.g., Assignments, Quizzes and Quiz Questions, Questionnaires)
  • Settings (e.g., Course Format, Theme, Course Completion settings, and settings for Assignments and Quizzes)

Moodle Backup Files do NOT include:

  • Student enrollment
  • Groups
  • Guest Access settings
  • Contributions to collaborative activities (Wiki, Forum, Glossary, Database, etc.) made by any course member, including the instructor

Why download a Moodle Backup File (.mbz)?

  • An .mbz file can be used to restore a course previously taught on Legacy Moodle (moodle.umass.edu) to Moodle in the Cloud (umass.moonami.com). If a course has been removed from Moodle, you can restore the course contents in Moodle in the cloud from an .mbz file.
  • An .mbz file can also be used to restore a course on a different Moodle server (e.g., at a different institution, or on open.umass.edu).
  • Because courses are removed from the Moodle server 18 months after the end of the semester taught, it is a good idea to create a backup at the end of each semester you teach a course.
    Note: When a course from a previous semester is still on Moodle, and you are using the same Moodle site, you can reuse its contents using the Import tool (see Reuse a Moodle Course Using Import). This is only possible for courses hosted on the same Moodle site. In other words, you can import a Moodle in the Cloud course to another Moodle in the Cloud course, but you cannot import a Moodle legacy course to a Moodle in the Cloud course.

Why should I also back up course content and student work, in addition to downloading an .mbz?

Manually backing up your course content can help you reuse course materials in future semesters and keep a record of your students' work. Because .mbz files cannot be used outside of Moodle and do not include student data, you should also manually back up course content, grades and student submissions in a form you can easily access on your own computer. For more details, see Back Up a Moodle Course.

Create a Moodle Backup File (.mbz)

You must have the Teacher role in a course to create and download a Moodle Backup File.

  1. Log in to Moodle and open the course you would like to back up.
  2. In the menu bar at the top of your course page, select the Course Management button (gear icon Course Management button looks like 3 gears). The Course Management panel will open.
  3. On the Course Management panel, under Course Settings, select Backup course. The first of several backup pages will open.
  4. On the Initial settings page, select which content to include and click Next. The Schema settings page will open.
  5. The Schema settings page lists content to be exported. Make any desired changes and click Next. The Confirmation and review page will open.
  6. In the File name field, you can rename the backup file (optional), then scroll to the bottom of the page and click Perform backup. When the backup is complete, you will see a confirmation message: "The backup file was successfully created."      
  7. Click Continue. On Moodle in the Cloud, the Restore course page will open (On Legacy Moodle, this page will be named Manage backups).
  8. Scroll to the User private backup area. Your most recent backup file appears at the top of the list.
  9. To the right of the file name to download, click Download. (You may need to scroll right to view the link.)
    Note: Do not select Restore here as this will simply restore your Backup in the Moodle course you just backed up.

Manage Backup Files Stored on Moodle

As described above, when you first create a backup, you can download the file. To access backup files at a later date:

  1. Log in to Moodle and open a course for which an .mbz has already been created.
  2. In the menu bar at the top of your course page, select the Course Management button (gear icon Course Management button looks like 3 gears). The Course Management panel will open.
  3. To locate your backup files for the course:
    • On Moodle in the Cloud (umass.moonami.com), on the Course Management panel, under Course Settings, select Restore. The Restore page will open.
    • On Legacy Moodle (moodle.umass.edu), on the Course Management panel, under Course Settings, select Manage backups. The Manage backups page will open.
  4. Scroll to the User private backup area. Your most recent backup file appears at the top of the list.
  5. To download a file, to the right of the file name to download, click Download (you may need to scroll right to view the link).
    Note: Do not select Restore here as this will simply restore your Backup in the Moodle course you just backed up.
  6. (Optional) Legacy Moodle provides additional options: click Manage Backup files (at bottom of list), then select a file and choose to DownloadRenameMove or Delete a file.

Restore a Course from a Backup File

If a course is present on Moodle in the Cloud (umass.moonami.com), you can use the Import tool to copy it into an empty course for a new semester without creating an .mbz backup.
Note: The Import tool only works for courses within the same Moodle (e.g., Moodle in the Cloud courses can be imported to other Moodle in the Cloud courses, but courses cannot be imported into Moodle in the Cloud from Legacy Moodle). For more details, see Reuse a Moodle Course Using Import.

  • On Moodle in the Cloud (moodle.umass.edu), instructors can restore .mbz backup files on their own. See Restore a Course in Moodle.
  • If you are restoring a course created at another institution, please be aware that Moodle at UMass Amherst may not have all the same features enabled.
  • If you are moving a course to another institution, contact their Instructional Technology team.

If you have any questions, please contact the Instructional Media Lab at instruct@umass.edu.

Sharing a Course from a Backup File

You can Allow another Instructor to Copy your Moodle Course by sharing a Backup with them. Please note that UMass Amherst considers the course content you have created to be your intellectual property.

When you give permission by sharing a Moodle backup file with another instructor, you should clearly communicate with your colleague the specific rights you are granting them — ideally in writing, such as an email. You should also be clear about what content in the course is not yours, and if you have received permission to use it, or if you are relying on fair use.

Please read more about examples of fair use on the Allow another Instructor to Copy your Moodle Course page.