Best Course Archiving Practices in Moodle™

By May 20, 2019 No Comments

Over time, your course portfolio will likely increase and the size of your site will grow.  However, bigger is not always better when it comes to site size. The best practice is to have a process in place for end of the term/year course archiving. Your archival processes will determine how large your course library may get and are key to an organized Moodle™ site.

Course Archiving: Where to Start

If you do not have a course archiving process in place, then you may want to first ask yourself some questions, such as:

  1. When should archiving be done?  At the end of each semester/term? End of the year? During downtime when the site is not used heavily?
  2. How long should data be retained?
  3. Where should archived courses be stored once removed from your Moodle™/Totara site?

Answering these questions will help you plan an archival process. Regardless of what you decide, here are our best practices on archiving…

Backing up courses

Courses can be backed up manually or automatically. eThink enables Auto backups which allow for a weekly backup of each course to be completed and then stored within the Course Restore area. This allows you to grab a course backup at any time by navigating to the Course Restore area.   

Course Archiving in Moodle™

The course backup will be within the Automated backups as seen below:

Course Archving in Moodle™

You can choose to archive the course with the backup already created by clicking the ‘Download’ option and downloading the backup to an external storage space or to your own computer. If you need a more current copy of the course, then you can create a new backup manually.

Creating a manual backup

Backing up courses manually can easily be done by administrators and, if needed, permissions can be given to allow other roles to back up courses manually. To manually backup a course, navigate to the course and click ‘Backup’ within the course admin settings.


When manually backing up a course you will want to make sure you include user data. To do this check the box for ‘Include enrolled users’ as shown below:


Course Archiving in Moodle™

Including the enrolled users will allow the individual user data to be backed up. This will then allow for a restore of that data if needed later.

Once you have the course backup saved to an external location you will then want to remove the courses from your site. This will free up data space and help ensure your site size does not get out of control. At eThink you are not charged for data space used; however, the larger a site size the tougher it will be to manage, especially when it comes time for updates. Therefore, we recommend archiving courses on a bi-yearly or yearly basis.

To learn more, check out the Course Backups Moodle™ Doc here.

Course deletion

To delete courses in bulk you will first need to know how your courses are created. If your courses are created with the eThink integration, then you will need to have the eThink integration also delete those courses. This can easily be done with a CSV file upload using the deletion action.

If your courses are created manually then you will need to remove them manually. One way to remove courses in bulk manually is to create a new Course Category. You may want to name the category ‘Courses to Delete’ as shown in the image below. You can move courses you’d like to delete into the Courses to Delete category by checking the box next to each course.

Course Archiving in Moodle™

Once courses are checked, you would then choose to Move them by choosing the Courses to Delete category by the ‘Move selected courses to’ as shown below. Once you choose the category you would then click the Move button.

Course Archiving in Moodle™

Once the courses are moved to the deletion category, you can delete the entire category to remove all the courses within it at once. To delete an entire category, you can click the cog wheel next to the category and choose ‘Delete’.

Course Reset

If you re-use your courses and utilize the course reset option, then you will not want to delete the courses. Instead, you will want to use ‘Course Reset’ to remove old student data and start with a fresh course for the new students.

NOTE: Resetting a course removes student data. If saving student data is needed, then you will need to do a manual backup of the course and include enrolled users in that backup. Then save the course backup to an external location so it can be accessed later if need be.

To reset a course, navigate to the course home page. Click on the course edit cog wheel icon, as shown in the screenshot below and click Reset.

Course Archiving in Moodle™

You will be able to choose which items to reset. To start with a clean course, you will want to reset all items and choose to unenroll the Student role. It is important to have a manual backup of the course before you choose to Reset. This will help to ensure that no student data is lost.

Here are a few helpful links for course resetting and restoring…

Want to dive into more Moodle™ tips and functionality?

Join the eThink team on an upcoming or prerecorded webinar or check out our upcoming Academy courses! Or, contact us to speak with one of our experts about course archiving or best eLearning practices.

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