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Moving data from EE3 on a production site to EE4 staging site for launch

Posted: April 20, 2016 at 11:32 am


April 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

I have been running EE3 on my production site concurrently while having a developer do a site refresh and upgrade to EE4. My issue now is moving all the data from the current site to the development site in order to prepare to launch the new site. My question is what is the best way to do this? Can I downgrade the EE4 on the development site in order to transfer the data and then re-upgrade to EE4 so that I have EE4 moving forward?

The process would look like:
Step 1 back up everything
Step 2 downgrade to ee3 on staging site
Step 3 upload all current data to staging site
Step 4 fix all codes to work with ee3
Step 5 move staging site to live site
Step 6 upgrade to ee4
Step 7 fix all code to match ee4

Also I want to verify that there is a process for export and importing events and registrations between two EE3 installs. If there is a more straight forward easier way of accomplishing this that would be helpful as well.

Lorenzo Orlando Caum

  • Support Staff

April 20, 2016 at 11:42 am


I remember replying to this question via email.

The reason why I recommend getting a fresh copy of your live site is so you can run through a migration in your testing/staging site so there are no surprises when you do migrate the live site.

If your staging site is already running Event Espresso 4, then you can’t move to Event Espresso 3 by removing the Event Espresso 4 plugin and then installing Event Espresso 3 again. This is because there will already be information from Event Espresso 4 in the database so you won’t be prompted to migrate any data.

I would move a copy of the live site (e.g. database and plugins) onto the staging site for testing. This means that you’ll be replacing all existing information on the staging site and your live site will not be affected.

Then you can complete the migration on the testing site and then verify everything looks good on the testing/staging site. At this point, you can then migrate to Event Espresso 4 on the live site.

Just a heads up that the following features are not yet available in Event Espresso 4: recurring events, mobile apps, and waitlists.



April 20, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Thank you for the prompt response. I think the issue that is not fully understood is that there are substantial updates on the staging site besides the EE4 update. There is a completely new theme setup, new pages, new structure all things that will have to be redone if I understand this process correctly. Sounds like though that there is no process where downgrading is an option though so either we have to move data manually or we have to recreate the whole new site manually. I appreciate the help.


  • Support Staff

April 22, 2016 at 5:44 am

Normally a data migration from EE3 to EE4 will only be done once on a single site, this is the first time you activate EE4 on the site and it detects EE3 data.

The migration takes all of the data from your EE3 tables and imports them into EE4, as long as you have not altered the database structure for EE3, or re-purposed system questions for other uses such as changing a name question into DOB, or country to ‘coupon’ (in other words changing the default behavior of EE questions) this should work.

Now the problem is merging the changes from Live to Dev, this is an issue to EE but all development like this. Merging dev to live overwrites live and merging live to dev overwrites dev!

With EE3 its possible to export ONLY the EE3 tables and import them into your dev site, one way to achieve this to use a plugin such as WP Migrate DB Pro to export the EE tables (the tables names will begin {prefix}_events_) from the live site and then import them into the dev site.

So if you are using EE3 on the Live site, and have already migrated the EE3 data to EE4 on the development site once, the only way to re run that migration is to reset Event Espresso 4 back to defaults, pull in the latest EE3 tables and re-activate EE4 to run the migration again. This does NOT mean you need to reset the whole site but you will lose all of the current EE4 data on the dev site.

Before moving any further make sure you have a full site backup (the database and all files) for both live and development sites so if it goes wrong, you can revert to that backup and try again. (I can’t emphasize this enough, if had blinky text, it would be used here!)

Use WP Migrate DB Pro to export all of the EE3 tables on the LIVE site.

On the DEV site go to Event Espresso -> Maintenance -> Reset/Delete Data.

‘Permanently Delete ALL Event Espresso Tables and Data’

That will remove all EE4 tables from the Dev site.

You want to import all of the EE3 Tables you migrated from the live site to Dev. If you currently have EE3 tables in Dev you may need to drop those first and then import the new ones. Activate EE3 and make site it works.

De-activate EE3 and activate EE4.

EE4 will detect you have EE3 data and offer to run the migration again (which should be the latest version of EE3 data from Live)

Keep your fingers crossed that everything works 😉

Note that the ONLY data this will bring over from the Live site is EE3 data, any new posts/pages/comments/anything within WordPress tables, will not be imported to dev.

Try this on a copy of the development site if you prefer, but just make sure before you try anything, you have working backups of each site. This is not a problem to work around by any means and it can (and often will) go wrong if your not careful.

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Support forum for Event Espresso 3 and Event Espresso 4.
Documentation for EE3 and EE4
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Updated by  Tony 4 years, 5 months ago ago

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