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Migrating your Drupal database to Cloud Servers

This article will walk you through migrating your Drupal database from Cloud Sites to Cloud Servers.

A few pieces of advice that should be noted before beginning:

  • Cloud Servers does not have a direct way to talk to Cloud Sites. Because of this you may incur expensive bandwidth charges while running over the public interface (eth0).
  • This tutorial assumes you have a basic understanding of how to operate in the Linux environment. If you do not, please research this first and then return to this tutorial. Failure to properly understand the Linux environment may lead to data loss or your server and/or data becoming compromised.
  • This tutorial was built on a Cloud Server running Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) with 512MB RAM. While this will work as a minimal setup it is recommended that you run a larger server (1GB or higher).



Creating Your Cloud Server

To begin we will need to create your Cloud Server via the control panel (https://mycloud.rackspace.com).  For more information, refer to this article on creating a new Cloud Server.

Connecting to the server

Once the server has finished building you will be presented with an overview screen. You have two different ways of connecting to the server: SSH or Console. SSH is by far the superior way to connect because it gives you a better, more reliable connection. The Console uses your web browser and may not always be compatible with your current environment -- it is considered a last resort method of connecting.

For our tutorial we will assume that you are using SSH to connect to your server. Each operating system has it's own way to connecting either native or with a helper application. If you are using Windows you can use an application called PuTTY which can be freely downloaded on the Internet. If you are on a Macintosh or Linux-based computer you can use the ssh application that comes pre-installed with the computer.

(You can access the ssh application on your Macintosh through Terminal (Macintosh HD -> Utilities -> Terminal)

To connect from your Windows computer with PuTTY please use the following article to help you: Connecting with PuTTY

To connect with your Macintosh or Linux computer simply type the following:

$ ssh root@

Be sure to replace with the IP address of your Cloud Server. You can see this on the overview screen of your server or in the e-mail that you'll receive after it is setup. You may be prompted to accept the RSA key, simply type yes.

Your screen should look similar to this once connected:


Change Root Password

The first thing we need to do is change our root password. To do this type the following command:

# passwd

You will be prompted for your new password twice, please enter it. You will not see the characters on the screen as you type!

Performing System Updates

Next we need to do is make sure that our system is update to date. We will use the apt-get program to do this. Type the following command to make sure our update catalogs are up-to-date:

# apt-get update

Once that finishes we need to tell our server to update it's software. To do this type the following command:

# apt-get upgrade

Configure Time Zone

The next thing we need to do is configure our time zone data so our server has the correct time for logs. To do this we'll type the following:

# dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

You'll be presented with a screen that looks like the image below. Select your geographical location to select your time zone and then select <Ok>.


Once you have set your time zone you'll be sent back to the command prompt and you'll see something similar to the following:

Current default time zone: 'US/Central'
Local time is now:      Thu Jan 14 09:47:05 CST 2010.
Universal Time is now:  Thu Jan 14 15:47:05 UTC 2010.

Configure Firewall (iptables)

Next we need to configure our firewall to keep our server protected on the Internet. The firewall that is built into your server is called iptables and works very well. By default Ubuntu does not have any firewall rules configured so we will need to configure them.

We will configure our rules based on the following assumptions:

  • We will accept all traffic that is established
  • We will accept SSH traffic (port 22/tcp)
  • We will accept incoming MySQL requests (port 3306/tcp)
  • We will accept incoming HTTP traffic (port 80/tcp)
  • We will drop everything else sent to us

Let's begin adding rules to our firewall and get secured! Keep in mind that when you enter these rules they are added real-time and can lock you out of your server! If you do this you must use the console as the root user and type ipconfig -F to flush your iptables rules. Please note that these are basic rules and may not cover all situations or server configurations.

For more information about iptables rules with Ubuntu, check out the following link: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/IptablesHowTo

Let's start by adding a rule to allow established traffic to our server:

# iptables -A INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

Next we need to add a line to allow incoming SSH traffic. Type the following line to do this:

# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport ssh -j ACCEPT

Now we need to add a line to allow incoming MySQL traffic. Type the following line to do this:

# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport mysql -j ACCEPT

Next we need to add a line to allow incoming HTTP traffic. Type the following line to do this:

# iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport www -j ACCEPT

Finally we need to set all other traffic to block. Type the following to to do this:

# iptables -A INPUT -j DROP

If you look at your resulting rule set (by typing iptables -L) it should look like this:

Chain INPUT (policy ACCEPT)
target     prot opt source               destination         
ACCEPT     all  --  anywhere             anywhere            state RELATED,ESTABLISHED 
ACCEPT     tcp  --  anywhere             anywhere            tcp dpt:ssh 
ACCEPT     tcp  --  anywhere             anywhere            tcp dpt:mysql 
ACCEPT     tcp  --  anywhere             anywhere            tcp dpt:www 
DROP       all  --  anywhere             anywhere            

Chain FORWARD (policy ACCEPT)
target     prot opt source               destination         

Chain OUTPUT (policy ACCEPT)
target     prot opt source               destination  

If all looks well we are ready to save our rules. To save our rules simply type the following:

# iptables-save > /etc/iptables.rules

The next step is making sure that our rules are loaded when the server reboots. This involves creating a script that is executed when the server boots up. Type the following to create the file:

# nano /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables-load

You will be presented with a text editor on the screen. Type or copy in the following text:

iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.rules
exit 0

Save the file by pressing CTRL-X followed by Y. You will be prompted for the filename, simply press Enter.

Finally we need to make sure the script is executable:

# chmod +x /etc/network/if-pre-up.d/iptables-load

To test our rules, let's issue a reboot to our server and make sure they are applying as we expect:

# reboot

Once the server comes back up please connect again with SSH and login as the root user. You can issue iptables -L on your server and you should see your rules listed. If you do not see them, be sure that you created the script above correctly.

Installing Apache

Next we need to install Apache to handle phpMyAdmin, our web-based management system for MySQL. To install Apache simply type the following:

# apt-get install apache2

Once you have the server installed you can go to your server's IP address in a web-browser and you should see something like this:


Install MySQL

Next we need to install our MySQL server. To do this simply type:

# apt-get install mysql-server

You will be prompted to enter your MySQL root password. Please choose this password carefully! This user will have full control of your MySQL server and have permissions to ALL data! You will be asked for this twice.


Install phpMyAdmin

Next we need to install phpMyAdmin which will be used to manage your MySQL server from a website. This is the same interface used with Cloud Sites to interact with your MySQL databases. To install it on your Cloud Server type the following:

# apt-get install phpmyadmin

Once the installation finishes you should be presented with a prompt asking you which web-server to auto configure. We will select apache2 by pressing the space bar and pressing Enter. A screenshot is below:


You will be prompted to configure a database required for phpMyAdmin to function. Select Yes and press Enter.


You will be asked for the root password for the database to create the associated database and tables. Type this in and press Enter.


You will be prompted for the password that you'd like to set for the phpmyadmin user. Since we will never use this account to login we will allow it to generate a random password. Press Enter to allow this.


Once the install finishes we need to test our phpMyAdmin installation. Point your web browser to (change to your Server's IP). You should see a screen like the one below:


You may test your login by using the root user and entering your MySQL root password.

Download Your Drupal Database

We are ready to get a database dump from your Cloud Sites account. To do this we will need to have you login to phpMyAdmin on the Cloud Sites system. The location you need connect to depends on where your site is located. Please refer to the Control Panel to determine what data center your site is hosted in.

For the sake of demonstration we will assume you are using the DFW data center.

When you click on the link you will have a phpMyAdmin login screen appear. You will need to type in your database user name and password associated with your Drupal website. You will also need to select the appropriate MySQL attached to your database. You can find all of this in the Control Panel on your site's Features tab.


Once you are logged in we need to begin pulling a copy of the database. To do this scroll down on the right window pane and find the Export link; click this.


You will be presented with an export screen. On the left side under Export select your Drupal database (eg: 388488_drupal). Scroll down to the bottom and check the checkbox labeled Save as file -- this will save your database output to a file. Finally click the Go button on the bottom right. You may get prompted where to save your file... save it somewhere on your computer.


Once you have your database file (it may take a while to download) you can close phpMyAdmin.

Import Your Drupal Database

Now we are ready to import your database into your Cloud Server. Let's pull up phpMyAdmin that is hosted on your Cloud Server. Point your web-browser to Be sure to change to your IP address!

You should see the login screen. Type in root for the login and type in your MySQL root password that we chose earlier. Click Go to login.


Once you are logged in you will need to click on the Import tab at the top.


You will be presented with an import screen asking for some variables. Click on the Choose File button and choose your backup file that we downloaded earlier. Scroll down and then click the Go button to begin the import.

NOTE: phpMyAdmin will only allow database import less than 2MB in size. If your database is larger than this it will have to be executed from the command line or through the SQL window.


If your import worked successfully you will see something like the picture below. You may close the window.


Importing databases over 2MB:

If your database is larger than 2MB in size you will have to copy your file to your server and import it using an SSH command line. This is an advanced task but we will give you a quick run-through. You can upload your file using WinSCP or the scp command, if available. Simply login with the root user if you'd like and copy your SQL file. Once the file is copied you will need to connect to your server and login as the root user (since you copied with it). You can import your file with the mysql command-line tools. If your file is named database_backup.sql, the command you would type is as follows:

# mysql -u root -p < database_backup.sql

Please note that you will be prompted for your MySQL root password.

Setup Drupal User

At this point we simply have the database copied but have not created the Drupal user yet. We can add these permissions easily with phpMyAdmin. Return back to the phpMyAdmin window that we have open and click on the Privileges tab.


Once you click on the tab you will be presented with a list of users. Click on the Add a new user link near the bottom.


You will be presented with a form asking several pieces of information. We are going to duplicate the user information that was used on your Cloud Sites database. For User Name: type in your user name. Jump down to the Password: line and type in the password for your Drupal user in Cloud Sites. Type it again in the box that follows. Once you have this filled in scroll down to the bottom and click Go. Refer to the examples below:


Once the user is created you will be asked what permissions to grant this user. Scroll down to Database-specific Privileges' and type your Drupal database name in the text box. Once you have done this click the Go button. sites_mysql_cs_pma_dbspec_privs.png

Locate the box titled Data and check the following boxes:


The image below shows the boxes that should be checked. Scroll down and click the Go button.


You should now have the correct user setup for your Drupal installation. Next we need to modify your settings.php file to connect to your new Cloud Server database.

Modifying settings.php

We need to modify the settings.php file of your existing Drupal installation and tell it to point to a new database server. The file will be located in /yoursite.com/web/content/sites/default/. If you have created your Drupal installation under a sub-directory your path may be slightly different. Download the settings.php file to your local computer and open it in your favorite text editor. If you are on Windows you can simply use Notepad, TextEdit works on the Macintosh.

The line that we are looking for looks similar to this:

$db_url = 'mysqli://388448_drupal:MySecurePassword@mysql50-61.wc1.dfw1.stabletransit.com/388448_drupal';

The line should be around line number 92 if your editor counts lines.

You will need to change the portion that reads mysql50-61.wc1.dfw1.stabletransit.com to match your Cloud Server's IP address. An example of a newly formatted connection string would look like this:

$db_url = 'mysqli://388448_drupal:MySecurePassword@';

Once you make the change save your file. Upload it to your website and replace the existing settings.php file. If you receive an error overwriting the file you may need to change the permissions to 744 with your FTP program.

Modify MySQL Configuration

If you were to try your site right now it would not work and would eventually tell you the site is offline. MySQL by default does not allow external connections -- we need to change this! To do this we will modify the MySQL configuration and tell it to no longer bind to localhost only. To do this you will need to SSH to your server as we did previously, in fact you may still have it open. On your server type the following command to modify the configuration:

# nano /etc/mysql/my.cnf

Be sure to run this as the root user!

You will be presented with the nano text editor and your MySQL configuration file. Scroll down to the line that looks like this:

bind-address            =

We need to comment out this line by placing a pound symbol (#) in front of it. The new line should look like this:

#bind-address            =

Save the file by pressing CTRL-X followed by Y. When asked for the file name just press Enter.

Now we need to restart the MySQL service. You can do this by simply typing:

# /etc/init.d/mysql restart

You should see the following output:

 * Stopping MySQL database server mysqld                                 [ OK ] 
 * Starting MySQL database server mysqld                                 [ OK ] 
 * Checking for corrupt, not cleanly closed and upgrade needing tables.

If you see any errors or [FAIL] you may have mistyped in the configuration file.

Test Your Installation

It is now time to test your installation. Jump to your Drupal website and you should be able to login. It may take some time the first go-around to login -- this is normal.

--Kelly Koehn 14:25, 14 January 2010 (CST)

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