Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
New Member

Failure importing from Moodle to Canvas

I am trying to move course content from Moodle to Canvas. I was able to do this successfully with one course, but with another Moodle course I keep getting "timed out" as I import it onto Canvas. It is unable to load. Any suggestions?

7 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there,  @lesliezambo ...

I was helping out another Community member with some Moodle questions he had yesterday.  I'm not sure if any of the resources I posted in this thread, Importing from Moodle, will be of help to you, but I wanted to at least provide you with a link to that discussion topic.

Also, is it possible that you are running up against the total file storage limit for the course in Canvas?  You should be able to check the total storage space allowed via your course "Settings" screen in your Canvas course or at the bottom left hand corner of your course "Files" screen.

Be well...stay safe...and good luck!

0 Kudos

Storage space is not the problem. I have plenty.

0 Kudos

 @lesliezambo ...

Thanks for that clarification.  Just to be sure, though...  is there a way you can check in Moodle to see how much total storage you used for your course?  What about the other resources I provided in the above link?  Did any of those help at all?

0 Kudos

In my downloads the content I took from moodle was 802 MB. The course that I was able to import to canvas from moodle was 1.2 GB.

The other links didn't seem to have info to help.

Community Champion


Here are some other things to consider:

Double check the course settings page. The default for the file storage unless you Canvas Admin has changed it is 500 MB.


Perhaps you adjusted it for the first course and forgot for the second?

How long did it take before it gave you the timed out message?

Was that message during the upload process or after it had started the import?

I think I remember someone else a few weeks ago talking about a course import that had failed and that they split it into parts to get it to work. They made multiple selective exports (from Moodle in your case) and then brought the content over in parts.

Could you give a screen shot of the error? I can sometimes scan the source code looking for the exact error that appears, see what part of the code it's in, and determine more about what's going on. The error messages are sometimes subtly different. The phrase "timed out" appears in the migration code (used to import content) three times.

  • The file upload process timed out.
  • Fetching data from #{} timed out.
  • External content migrations timed out for #{pending_keys.join(', ')}

It is also possible that you meant "timed out" in a generic sense and the message was something else.

I have 5.2 GB storage for both classes. 

When I press "import" - I see a loading wheel and that never changes. I have left it "loading" all night, for hours and it never shows a bar to show that the download is in progress. Finally I just leave the page and a "failure" message occurs. 

Maybe I could move stuff in stages. How do I do that? Like - just the quizzes first...

0 Kudos
Community Champion

I don't use Moodle, but it looks like there is a selective import with Canvas. That means that you could upload the file multiple times (hopefully you have a fast internet connection, it would take me 1.5 hours to upload the 802 MB file and I think that might trigger the file upload timed out message). The first time, try just importing the quizzes.

In this lesson from the Canvas Instructor Guide, when you get to "Select Migration Content" portion (maybe 60% of the way through the page), it mentions "Select specific content." How do I import content from Moodle into Canvas? 

The lesson that explains how to select specific content is How do I select specific content as part of a course import? 

I will say that information I found online about Moodle backups is that it can contain user information. That will not get imported into Canvas. Also, Moodle Lessons are not supported (per the Canvas documentation). I don't think that's causing the lockup.

Another thing you can do is to test your .zip or .mbz file from Moodle and make sure that it's valid. How to do that depends on what operating system you're using and what software you have installed, but if you aren't sure and could just extract it somewhere, that would verify the file isn't corrupt. Unfortunately, you cannot just remove files from it to cut back on the size and rezip it and have it work.

I don't use Moodle so I don't know if this is the issue, but maybe there is something you used in the second course that you didn't use in the first course that is causing problems. What you might try doing is exporting the content from Moodle and make sure it's an IMSCC (IMS Common Cartridge 1.1) file. Then, when you go to import the file inside Canvas, you may follow this lesson from the guide: How do I import content from Common Cartridge into Canvas? 

Some difference in the file seems like a more reasonable explanation given the 5.2 GB limit and the smaller size on the second course.

What version of Moodle are you using? Canvas supports Moodle 1.9 or 2.x, but I see that Moodle has been with version 3.x since 2015.

I also don't know when you made the Moodle exports. If the first one was older (from version 2.x) and the second one was newer (version 3.x), then that might explain the problem as well. In that case, the IMSCC route would be the way to go.

If you are using version 2.x of Moodle, this page (buried in a link Chris provided earlier) Content Migration from Moodle to Canvas - Help Wiki says that when you do the backup (it explains how), make sure that the only three settings are to include activities, blocks, and filters. Another handout on exporting Moodle into Canvas says that you need to uncheck the include user role assignments, but leaves other things enabled.