How to Upgrade SocialEngine

Updated on May 10, 2023

SocialEngine is a script written in PHP that aims to cover a certain niche for website development, mainly social networks. Since PHP is involved, you would want to keep your SocialEngine installation always up-to-date. In this post, we will help with the upgrade of your SocialEngine, as well as cover the troubleshooting process of some common errors that may occur after upgrading.

This post includes:

Backup Your SocialEngine Files

First and foremost, whenever you are making changes to any files and database, always perform a backup. That rule applies to all software, including SocialEngine. If you are not entirely sure how to make a backup of your SocialEngine database and files, contact our technical support team, and they will gladly assist you.

Upgrade Your SocialEngine Installation

After you have backed up your data, you can proceed with your upgrade. You may refer to our comprehensive tutorial on How to Upgrade SocialEngine.


SocialEngine upload packages have a .tar extension. If you see a .zip file, you are not using the proper upgrade package and will need to download the correct file from the client area. See below for troubleshooting tips if the file won't finish uploading.

Additionally, you need to upgrade the SocialEngine core themes (required after version 4.9.0). To do that, navigate to AppearanceTheme Editor and click Upgrade Theme (version) for each one that has the button as shown.

In the popup that opens, read the warning and note that this will overwrite the theme and remove any changes if you edit the core theme. We recommend making clones of the main themes and working on those, so you don't have any issues with upgrades. Click Upgrade Theme when you are ready to upgrade the theme.

Common Issues After Upgrading SocialEngine

SocialEngine Core Upgrade File Upload Failure

If you find that you can't get the file to upload, it either keeps spinning or keeps saying you've not selected a file; you'll want to have your host raise the PHP settings for upload_max_filesize and post_max_size as the upgrade file is large. Alternatively, you can use FTP to upload the upgrade file in order to proceed. Mainly in Ubuntu servers, you may see a white screen or an error message about "cache_dir is not writable" set full permissions on temporary/cache." As the error message suggests, this is an issue with the write permissions of the "temporary/cache" directory.

Server Returned HTTP-Status #302

One way around this problem is to upload the file directly to SocialEngine using an FTP client. Log into your website over FTP and locate the "/temporary/package/archives/" directory in your SocialEngine path. Upload the tar file to this directory, and set the permissions of the file to 777. Then, proceed to the Manage → Packages & Plugins page. SocialEngine should be able to detect the file and extract its contents, allowing you to proceed with the rest of the installation.

PHP Errors After Selecting More than 5 Packages

Your server may not have sufficient memory allocated to PHP to upgrade all the packages selected. Try only checking 4 or 5 packages at a time until all packages have been upgraded.

Bonus: Upgrade SocialEngine with Customizations


Proceed with caution! You assume any and all risks and liability in customizing your SocialEngine files and in re-applying customizations. SocialEngine does not recommend altering the SocialEngine files. The following basic guide is provided as a general learning tool. SocialEngine assumes no liability for damages to your website as a result of following this guide.

It is recommended that those with advanced experience with the SocialEngine script continue with these steps. If you are a novice or don't know how to edit and/or compare files, you should seek expert help for your upgrade.

Tools Needed

In addition to a copy of the SocialEngine files, we recommend that you have the following:

  • SocialEngine Changelog opened in a browser tab and/or a file compare program such as Beyond Compare.
  • A list of files you've modified with modifications added(or copies of them saved on your computer) if you want to have edited files ready to load to your site after the upgrade. This is recommended as this saves time. If you don't have a list of edited files, you can either wait to edit your files until you are in the Upgrade process, where it will show you the modified files; or you can use Beyond Compare and have it run a comparison of the SocialEngine files you downloaded and your SocialEngine backup files from your site.
  • A good text editor such as NetBeans, Notepad++, and Brackets.

How to Apply Customizations

Once you know which files need to be edited, follow the next steps.

  • Apply your edits to the SocialEngine Upgrade files that you downloaded before. Make sure you save a copy of these so that you have it for the next time. It also helps in case you have issues on your site; you will know what to tell technicians if they ask.
  • Perform the Upgrade steps above, skipping the modified files.
  • Once the Upgrade is completed, upload the modified files you just made.
  • Check the site. If you have errors, test by renaming one of your modified files on the server and loading the default SocialEngine file in its place. If the error goes away, you know it's that modification. If it doesn't go away, name the modified file back and try another until you find the culprit.


Modifications may need to be updated. Be prepared to have to update your own code. Also note that deprecated functions, hooks, and features may have been removed, and your code might not work if it relies on those. You would need to either make new code or seek Expert help in cases like this.

Final Thoughts

Upgrades are usually mandatory, especially when the security and speed of your website are at stake. Upgrading SocialEngine doesn't take long, and from this guide, you can perform the task with no hassle, so why wait?

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