Moodle LMS software is an open-source, full-featured LMS that  can facilitate an eductors course delivery strategy. When installed correctly, it runs right out of the box; however, if installation isn't done correctly, you might experience frustrations and blame Moodle. Here are some common mistakes made during installation that could affect your Moodle site. 


1) Cron is not configured to run Moodle's Task Scheduler every minute. 

Moodle Cron Setting notification

Cron is the heartbeat of Moodle's Task Scheduler. It runs many functional and maintenance tasks simultaneously on even the smallest and simplest Moodle sites. Without it, it may look like your site is running well. Still, you will eventually notice that things are getting slower or don't work, such as processing course completions, cloning courses, resetting passwords, sending out forum emails, etc. Eventually, users will be unable to even log in, or Moodle will stop working altogether. You can find a list of scheduled tasks by navigating to;  

  • Site Administration > Server > Task > Scheduler. 

Cron is an essential feature of Moodle, so it should be the first thing you correct after installing the software. Leaving cron out of your configuration can lead to severe problems. 

If you run the cron task less often than once per minute, pending tasks will accumulate and have a heavier impact on your web and database servers. This will be more noticeable to your users. 

Solution: If you want to check if Cron is running, go to the;  

  • Site Administration > Notification  

Make sure it runs every 1 minute. It'll help keep your site responsive and operational by minimising the load on your server. Guaranteed, your users will love you for it! 


2) Insufficient disk space 

Moodle is a resource-intensive application. To run Moodle, you need enough memory to meet the minimum technical requirement of 512 MB of memory. However, when you check the requirements for each component that goes into building a Moodle website (operating system, web server, PHP and database server), you will likely discover that you need 2 or 4 GB of memory at a minimum and more memory is required if there are many active users on your site simultaneously. 

Computers and servers are not human. When they run out of memory or disk space, they will behave unpredictably and possibly crash. They may corrupt files or mess up your database on a bad day. These machines do not care if you failed to back up your data last night or if it is finals week of exams in college. 

Solution:  

  1. Always have a recent backup, and ensure you know how to recover from it. Test your restore process from time to time. 

  1. Make sure you have plenty of available free space on your servers. It's easy to upload a video into a course and use all the available disk space. Even if you never upload another file into your LMS or Moodle again, they're constantly creating cached data files and log files and making changes to the database behind the scenes. 

  1. To prevent your instance of Moodle from crashing, you should create a swap file unless you run Moodle in a containerised environment. The size of the swap file should be 2-4 times the amount of physical memory on the server. 

  1. Ensure the server has enough memory to keep your Moodle site running smoothly. Some may advise that a swap file is unnecessary and will cause your SSD drive to deteriorate more quickly. This is true. However, with enough memory, the swap file may never be used, and your SSD won't deteriorate any faster. Your students will enjoy a seamless Moodle site. 

3) The PHP extensions required to run this software are not installed or enabled. 

moodle LMS issue notification

Moodle requires several PHP extensions to function properly. If the Moodle installer did not enable them or if you applied one or more of the recommended PHP settings, you might get the impression that Moodle is broken or slow. 

It's common to overlook enabling the PHP OPcache on your web server. Moodle warns you but still allows you to proceed with the installation. However, enabling this feature can significantly improve performance. You will be amazed by doing this alone. Task completions and page loads that took minutes are often reduced to seconds. 

Solution: To check the configuration of your server, navigate to  

  • Administration > Site administration > Server > Environment 

moodle LMS troubleshooting

Ensure that every line in the Status column indicates "OK". Fix everything that is not, even if it is just a warning. The error messages will be links that will navigate you to the information on resolving the issue. 


4) File or directory permissions may be set incorrectly. 

For Moodle to work efficiently, it needs to be able to create, read, write and delete files on your web server. If you have insufficient file and directory permissions on your web server, it may cause errors when you install Moodle. This is a common installation mistake. 

Administrators sometimes set the Moodle application file area to be read-only for security reasons or to prevent the installation of themes and plugins. This is quite common and there can be valid reasons for doing this. But, if this was not done intentionally, or your Moodle website just isn't showing any signs of life, there might be a file or directory permission problem with your web server. 

Moodle  file or directory permission problem

Also, Moodle needs full access to the "moodledata" folder. Moodle uses this workspace to store caching files, additional/custom language strings, course files, and more. 

Solution: To ensure that your web server can read and write files, make sure that its user or group such as the "Apache" (or the web server you use), has appropriate permissions. This also applies to "moodledata", which needs access to create, write and delete files/directories. 

It is important to remember that manually copying files on your server file and directory permissions can confuse new administrators because they run their web servers under different users than they are.  

 

5) The application, or moodledata directory, is on the same server as the database. 

This is not much of an installation mistake as it is a performance and stability optimisation technique. The Moodle software, web server and operating system compete for CPU, memory and disk storage. This can affect the performance and stability of your Moodle site. Especially if your Moodle site is hosted on a shared hosting plan or you are installing it on a local computer, then there is not much you can do about it. 

Solution: Despite what we have said previously, however, if it is possible, moving your database to a separate server can free each server (both web and database) to have all the resources it needs to perform well and reliably.  

It is very common to do this action especially implementing on your dedicated cloud servers but it is important to ensure the specifications of the server allow for this to work without issue, so it could be worth noting that having all of these on the same server is permissible as long as the server is powerful enough to handle the same directory on the same server and also the settings are configured appropriately. 

It is recommended to always have an extra space in its own section, for backups. A very common issue we see is that customers set their “Automated course backups” in such a way that; 

  • They only have retention for a couple of days (if even that, in some cases they don't have it turned on at all). 

  • They don't check the course backups report for any courses having issues backing up.  

  • They don't change the "name" setting so that they know which course is in which in the backup files or they set it so generously it causes the server to run out of disk space. 

All of these points relates to your disk space section. Thus having an extra backup space for each of its own section will prevent database issues.

Are you getting the capabilities you expect from your current LMS? 

Is your Moodle LMS not performing as well as it used to? We understand that business is changing at a rapid pace. To stay competitive, companies need to adapt their LMS programs. To stay current with your delivery of learning solutions, you need a solution that grows with you. 

Are you currently experiencing any of the following points or situations?

  • You need help installing the latest Moodle LMS update or new system requirements.
  • You are experiencing issues or troubleshooting in your Moodle LMS that need immediate resolving.
  • You feel your Moodle LMS is behaving oddly and not performing efficiently as it used to be.
  • You would like to review your Moodle's existing configuration and processes.
  • You found some unused functionalities and would like to identify new solutions.
  • And many more…

If you are not getting the results you want from your current Moodle LMS, it may be time to consider doing a Health Check for your Moodle LMS. 

You can get your Moodle LMS health checked for FREE! Our VLE experts will do a complete audit of your Moodle LMS to look at areas of alignment and areas for improvement in your Moodle LMS system configuration. Plus, we optimise your current solution and address challenges by helping you provide the best long-term solutions.  

Click the orange button below to learn more about Overt's free Moodle Health Check.

Free Moodle lms Health Check

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