Moodle Backup – Best Practices

While creating Moodle backup for a Moodle course, normally two approaches are adopted:

Creation of Moodle backup file or .mbz file: .mbz files are created for safe keeping the resources, activities and settings of the Moodle course. If you have to teach the same Moodle course to different groups of students of you have to teach the same course frequently then this backup file will be most useful for you.

Capture the students’ grades in a format outside the Moodle: .mbz files do not include the submissions and grades of the students at the end of any semester. They can be captured in a format that can be used outside the Moodle course.

Best Practices for Moodle Backup

Moodle backup by manual download of files along with other text content

The best practice of creating Moodle backup by the instructors is that they should keep the original content of the course organized on their computer in folders. If you have not already saved the content of your course then you should download the assignment descriptions and course materials to store them in a file format outside Moodle to read it through a desktop software including Adobe PDF, Microsoft or Excel.

If you have already saved your course then you should keep the files on your computer in well labeled folder, on an online storage or on an external device to reuse it later on in future. The copies of these files should also be kept in their original format so that they can be edited easily when required.

Why You Should Download Moodle Backup Files

A Moodle backup file or .mbz file has to be downloaded to store the Moodle course on different servers of the Moodle t make it helpful while teaching it at different institutions.

Creating a backup of the course after the end of each semester of the course can be a goo option for the instructors as they are removed from the server after 18 months of the end of the semester. The administrator of the Moodle can restore the contents of the course from the .mbz if it is not taught again by the instructor within 18 months.

Things included in .mbz files

Backup files in .mbz format includes activities, resources and the settings of the Moodle course including themes, formats, settings for assignments and quizzes and settings for course completion. But they do not include information about Groups, student enrollment and guest access settings along with contribution made by the members of the course including instructors to the collaborative activities.

Export of the Gradebook

In order to keep the record of the grades of the students gradebook data from the Moodle can be exported in the for of a .csv file or comma-delimited file an stored in a safe location like apps at unshared UMass Amherst drive or an unshared folder on your UDrive. It will allow you to take printout of the spreadsheet of the gradebook if you want to make a permanent record of it. But while creating such record you should keep in mind that according to the privacy rules of FERPA they have to be stored at a safe location and should be destroyed when not needed any longer.

Creation of Export Forums

In order to get Moodle backup, Moodle allows to the teachers to export and download complete discussions in just a click like many other types of forums. You have to click only on Export button on the forum page to export the whole forum to be saved as an HTML file to be viewed on any Web browser. The best option to create a simple discussion type forum for a single course Print command can be used on your browser and to print as a PDF to print the discussion.

Download the Submission of the Assignment

Submissions of all the students to an assignment activity ca also be downloaded as a .zip file for creating backup of their assignments.

Creation of Backup of Sent Mail

Sent messages are stored under View history in the Quickmail block, if you are using it in your Moodle course. Individual messages can be opened and if required sent back to themselves by the instructors.

Backup of Chat Logs

Moodle backup of chat logs can also be created by opening the page of chat activity after the chat session and clicking on View to view this session finally. The chat text can be copied and pasted on Word document for future use.

Export of Database Entries

Database entries can be exported as spreadsheet in .ods or .csv format by opening the Database activity and clicking on Export button. The field to be exported has to be selected by you before clicking on Export.

Export of Quiz Questions

In order to create category wise Moodle backup of quiz questions in the Administrative block of Moodle course you will have to Export them by click on Question Bank. These questions can be exported in various formats including Moodle, Gift, XHTML, XML etc. From these formats XML and Gift can be imported to Moodle along with other LMS systems whereas XHTML can be opened as MS Word type word processing application or a web page on a browser. You can also use Respondus quiz management software to get more comprehensive backup of the quizzes in the question bank to connect them to your Moodle course on Windows and exporting them as a whole.

Exporting the Glossary Entries

The page of the glossary entries has to be copied and pasted on a word processing document for exporting it. The entries in the glossary are chosen by category, alphabet, author or date by opening the glossary activity page. All the entries can be viewed by clicking on ‘All’ button on it. For all the purpose of grading the glossary entries it is better to browse them by author.

Moodle backup created through these methods can be helpful in reusing them in future sessions while teaching the students and maintaining their records.


Nicole Lewis is the Lead Author & Editor of MyLMStips. MyLMStips is dedicated to providing the most engaging topics, information, tips and tricks surrounding Moodle®. It's a place where Moodle® users can receive guidance on how to get the most out of it and increase their productivity and progress.