I remember in Moodle 1.9, when the restore to new course was proceeding there was a line that actually gave text-based information as to what step it was on. Though Moodle 2.x doesn't seem to have that, I figure there is a way to still dig down somewhere to see it. I am pretty shaky at SSH, bit confident in Control Panel. If there is a Moodle or Control Panel way to do it I would jump for joy. But this is a conundrum important enough to solve to do SSH if needed. I need to get over being intimidated by making a mistake there and crashing something anyway. I am one of those teachers that learned as we grew types (we are going into our 12th year of the project) instead of being a server side guru. It makes me feel like I have many holes in my skill set, but my time is loaded down with admining, building, and teaching, so there isn't a daily need for the server side stuff and it is lost in competing with other time needs.
Want to help more? ...
If anyone wants to jump in with further suggestions, please do. Here is the needed background if you want to help more ...
We are having issues with our math course backups and restores specifically. All other courses, even some bigger in terms of mb are backing up and restoring fine. So there is some commonality to these math courses I am trying to track down.
Here is the behavior in backups ...
Automated backups work on all of them. Manual backups stalls at the 99% point in the backup for about 80% of them.
Here is the behavior in the restore to new course of the few math courses that do backup fine ...
Of the manual backups that did work and of the automated restores, the restore gets to 25% and hangs. The spinning progress wheel in the browser tab stops as well, so it appears Moodle/server is no longer working on anything. This occurs in about ten minutes or less and is well below our timeout settings on the server. No errors in error log. It just stops. Looking into the course shell that is created (title of corse restore in progress) shows it successfully makes the empty course shell but transfers no data at all into it. Nothing on the course page and nothing in the question bank. This makes me wonder if it is failing at some sort of check done prior to adding content. For the non-math courses that successfully restore, they move past this screen at the 25% mark and the screen changes in the way it looks with the progress bar actually starting over at 0%. It would seem an entirely different stage is occurring here as it transitions into adding content. Math courses just are not kicking over into it.
Details about these math courses:
All of them have between 2000 and 4,000 questions in the question bank with each having a few subcategories throughout in how it is structured. Our next closest course in question bank size that restores fine has about 2500 questions also with nested subcategories. II can see question bank size as being a possible cause of the issue. The same size question banks all backed up and restored fine in Moodle 1.9 when we used them beofre. Today we have some experimentation on if we can split the full year courses into semester courses and drop the number, but without being able to backup and restore to a new course, you might see how that isn't an easy task to tackle.
The math courses are the only courses that have had Latex copy-pastes into the questions and answers. I wouldn't think that would make a difference since the questions do behave fine in quizzes, but in the off chance it might be important, I will mention it.
Some experimenting that we have already done has led us to find that one source of backups failing was in the way the cloze questions can be coded throws off the html because it interprets the greater than symbol as html instead of a character. We replaced those particular question types with the character code for greater than and less than and that cleared several of the courses to then start backing up correctly. We are using the same process of narrowing down the questions into small groups of question pools to see if any other issues of like nature could be causing problems.
I am not in these math builds, so I am bringing in the lead builder into the trouble-shooting since she will be very familiar with any out of the norm methods that might be used across all of the math courses. I know last year she was building using Word as the question template and we discovered it was adding in hundreds of megabytes worth of formatting gobbledy-gook. That was just in one course and we did clear that. I know she is not using Word now, but it is possible she is using some other question templating outside of Moodle for new questions and importing questions in from that. We will be meeting after the holidays to follow up on this possibility.
Details about the Moodle and server environment:
Moodle 2.9 which was a fresh install just a bit over a year ago on a dedicated 4-core, 16 GB RAM server. Centos, LAMP
We have the max execution time up to a whopping 10,000 seconds to give some of the other courses enough time to backup and restore. I did one, not a math course, last night that took over an hour but it restored fine. It wasn't large in terms of mb (11.8), but the question bank is pretty big and takes up most of that. We use links to content housed outside the course to reduce the total mb since we get many copies of the same course over time.
We had a 1.9 Moodle before, but we opted to rebuild courses over upgrading to it since we knew we would need to touch about every question and course page anyway to set images to responsive (we are using a Bootstrap-based theme) and to add the hint-levels to take advantage of the redo feature for quizzes. Questions from 1.9 went through a custom-coded process to convert them to what was needed for 2.9. Essentially, it added the hint levels with some templated feedback and made images responsive. Courses with those have backed up and restored fine for all but the math courses.
From reading this you might get a feel for what an intense build year this has been and will continue to be for at least another year. Yes, we builders are exhausted. lol. I am open to server setup mistake or performance issue suggestions if there is any chance that could be an issue. Maybe something with the Latex handling since that would be math specific, database (MySQL) settings, etc. The new school year is right around the bend and I am sure hoping we can find the source of trouble in time to get new course copies. We can use the fall-back of continuing to use last year's copy for maybe one more year's worth of student load, but not more than that.