Restoring a Site

This page describes how to restore data from an XML site export file into an existing Confluence site.  

If you want to import data into a new site, see restoring from backup during setup.

You need System Administrator permissions in order to perform this function.

Importing a site export file will:

  • Overwrite all existing Confluence content in your database. Back up your database before you start.
  • Log you out of Confluence. Make sure you know the login details contained in the file you're about to import.

Before you start

  • All content replaced. Importing a site will replace all your content and users. Back up your database before you start.
  • Selective space restoration not possible. You can't select a single space to restore from the entire site backup.
  • Version compatibility. Confluence accepts site backups from many previous Confluence versions. You can check which versions are accepted in the Backup and Restore screen. You can only import into a later version of Confluence, not an earlier one.
  • For best results, export from and import into the same Confluence version. 
  • XML export files should not be used to upgrade Confluence. Upgrade Confluence by following Upgrading Confluence.

Check your export is compatible

To check that your site export can be successfully restored:

  1. Start up the Confluence site you'll be importing into.
  2. Go to Administration  > General Configuration > Backup and Restore
  3. Check the accepted Confluence version - it's listed under Import Confluence data.

You can't import into an earlier version of Confluence.

For example, if your site export was generated from Confluence 6.12, you can't import it into Confluence 6.6.

If your export is from Confluence Cloud you can only import it into Confluence 6.0 or later.

Import a Confluence site

There are two ways to import a site - by uploading a file, or from a directory on your Confluence server. Uploading a file is only suitable for small sites. For best results, we recommend importing from the restore directory. 

To upload and import a small site:

  1. Go to Administration  > General Configuration > Backup and Restore
  2. Under Upload a site or space export file, click Choose File and browse for your space export file.
  3. Uncheck Build Index if you want to create the index at a later stage.
  4. Choose Upload and import.

To import a site from the home directory: 

  1. Copy your export file to <confluence-home>/restore. 
    (If you're not sure where this directory is located, the path is listed in the Backup and Restore screen)
  2. Go to Administration  > General Configuration > Backup and Restore
  3. Select your site export file under Import from home directory
  4. Uncheck Build Index if you want to create the index at a later stage.
  5. Choose Import.

Building the index is optional during the import process. The content of your site won't be searchable until the index is created, but if you have a very large site, you may choose to rebuild the index manually after the import is complete.

Using Confluence Data Center?

If you're using Confluence Data Center, and you run a Synchrony standalone cluster there are a few extra steps.  You need to stop Synchrony completley, and we also recommend performing the import with just one Confluence node running, and directing traffic away from that node.

Once the import is complete, you can restart your Synchrony cluster, and then restart your remaining nodes (one at a time).

This is not required if you allow Confluence to manage Synchrony for you.


If you have problems importing a site, check out these hints. 

  • Is your file too large to upload? 
    This is a very common problem. It happens when the file can't be uploaded to the server in time. To avoid this problem, drop your export file into the <confluence-home>/restore directory and import it from there.
  • Are you trying to import into an earlier version of Confluence?
    This is not possible. You can only import a site into the same version or a later compatible version. 
  • Is the import timing-out or causing out of memory errors? 
    If the site to be imported is large, you may need to temporarily increase the memory available to Confluence. See How to fix out of memory errors by increasing available memory
  • Is the import taking a very long time?
    The size of the entities.xml file provides an indication of the amount of entities such as pages, versions, and comments. A very large site may take quite some time to import. You can check the size of this file by unzipping the export file. 
  • Is your username or password not recognized?
    All user data was overwritten during the import process. You need to log in with a system administrator account from the site that was exported. If you don't know the password, you'll need to reset it from the database. See Restore Passwords To Recover Admin User Rights.
  • Is your site export from Confluence Cloud?
    You can only import into Confluence 6.0 or later. The Cloud export does not include a system administrator account, so you will need to start Confluence in recovery mode, create a new system administrator account, and make it a member of the confluence-administrators group. See Restore Passwords To Recover Admin User Rights for more.
  • Did you download the export file on a Mac?
    If you get an error saying that Confluence can't find the file, chances are OS X has unzipped the backup for you and sent the original zipped file to the trash. You need to retrieve the original zip file from the trash and then try the import again. 
  • Importing into a site with a Synchrony standalone cluster?
    You must stop your Synchrony cluster before commencing the site import.  

Note about using site exports as backups

  • Production backup strategy preferred. We recommend that you follow the Production Backup Strategy (which involves backing up your database and home directory) for your production Confluence site, because Confluence XML exports are not recommended as the sole backup mechanism. 
  • Restoring from other backups. If your daily backup zip files can't be restored for some reason, but you have backups of both your database and your Confluence home directory, you'll be able to restore from these backups.
Last modified on Feb 21, 2023

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