It is important for any cloud provider that you use to have a strong data ownership policy. Ours is pretty simple: It’s your data.
In the event that we need to part ways, here is how our off-boarding process works. By default, Vanilla will require a minimum 90 days written notice, from the end of your current contract, that you will be terminating your subscription.
We have seen that this amount of time will give both your team and ours adequate amount of time to coordinate a successful off-boarding in which you will notify your users of the upcoming closure of the community or migration to another platform which may result in scheduled downtime and a new user experience, allow users time to close their community account or download/save any content that they wish to retain and for your team to receive a test copy of your data and a final full database dump.
>90 days before end of contract
Notify Vanilla in writing that you will be terminating your subscription agreement. This will allow our team to coordinate the necessary steps of our off-boarding process and support.
45-60 days before end of contract
Our recommendation would be to notify your users of any upcoming changes that will be happening within the community as soon as possible. We have seen that this is extremely important to be as transparent with your users especially if you will be closing the community permanently or will be moving to a space or platform very different from Vanilla. This will give users time to download any content they wish to retrieve.
This notification can be created as a moderation message, a banner at the top of the community to let users know that there will soon be a change and to direct any questions to the Community Manager.
30-45 days before end of contract
Send an email to current community users to notify them of the change, necessary steps on how to either retrieve any data that they wish to keep or close their account desired, and direct them to a Community Manager if they have any questions.
< 30 days from end of contract
Notify users of any changes that may occur with regards to their login process, for instance, will they need to reset their password when moving to the new platform or will there be any other changes to their normal community workflow they should be aware of.
Coordinate with Vanilla to have a full database export scheduled for the last day of your contract and identify when the community should be placed in a read-only state to capture all data.
< 7 days from end of the contract
Identify any outstanding tasks that need to be taken before the closure or migration of your community. Schedule a final call with your Vanilla CSM.
Last day of contract
Your CSM will send you a full database export of your community as a .zip file.
Getting Your Data
There are four custom components to any forum:
- Uploaded files (avatars, images, etc)
- Theme or plugin done as a customer-specific customization
Of these, the only one we do not ever provide is the config. This is simply because it would not help you at all (useless data & incompatible anyway).
We only provide custom themes or plugins that you created yourself, or that we created from scratch on your behalf under contract. If you customized one of our proprietary cloud themes via your Dashboard, we cannot assist with transitioning that theme.
We provide complete database backups and uploaded files. There is no charge for this, with the reasonable caveats explained below. However, your billing must be up to date without exception.
We require two business days notice to get a database backup (with exceptions). They are provided as a standard MySQL dump. No other format is provided, because this format lets you create any other format you want; it’s the master tape, if you will.
Here is the exception: if your site exceeds any of the following limits, we may need up to a week to schedule your backup. We might be able to do it quicker, we’re just playing it safe here because it’s a lot of data to move around.
- 1 million users
- 10 million discussions
- 100 million comments
Barring your objection, we may truncate your activity or log tables because they’re not very helpful and can make the dump exponentially larger (and therefore more difficult for you).
We only provide one database dump per month. If you are leaving, we will make a one-time exception so that you can get an advanced copy for preparation. We can coordinate a final backup for a specific time of a weekday during the hours 10am-4pm Eastern time if requested. Doing so outside of those hours may cost a fee to schedule staff to be available.
We typically need two working days’ notice to provide your uploaded files. For sites with exceptional amounts of files (in excess of 100GB) we may require a week’s notice.
Please only request this once. We generally cannot coordinate a “final backup” of these files for a specific time (downloading from a CDN is very slow) unless it’s very small.
If you plan to continue using Vanilla on your own, there’s both good news and bad. The good news is that we don’t maintain a private fork of Vanilla. Therefore, your data will mostly work as-is without further data conversions. The bad news is it’s a little more complicated than that.
First, you may need to build the latest version of the code from GitHub (master branch). Try the latest stable release of Vanilla first, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll need to use Composer.
Second, not all cloud-based addons are open source. There are open source alternatives for some, but you may need to convert the data yourself (We do provide any cloud-based addon data in your database). One example of this is Badges.
Thirdly, you may need to do some manual work to make existing file uploads appear correctly. You’ll want to unzip what we send you into your /uploads folder if you’re moving to open source. You may need to find and delete any instance of cf: or ~cf/ in file paths stored in the database (try GDN_User.Photo and GDN_Media.Path). These prefixes trigger a CDN lookup in our cloud environment. The open source default is the /uploads folder (which you should not need to prepend).
You may find additional help from the volunteer community and the developer docs.
Open Source Support
We do not provide support for leaving the cloud beyond this document and delivering your data as promised. It’s a hard goodbye, but if you roll up your sleeves, we’re confident you’ll have the tools you need to build your own future.
That said, never forget: We offer free migrations from Vanilla open source to cloud if you ever want to return.