Desperately hoping someone can help - Internal Server Error only on Mod/Admin CP on Vbulletin forum

TerryCranstone

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Jul 9, 2021
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Hi all. I am desperately hoping someone can help.
I have read lots of threads on the board but nothing seems to relate to my specific problem and after many hours at desk I am totally stuck :(

I run a pretty old VBulletin forum. It is hosted with GoDaddy. Despite being pretty dated, it has worked perfectly for many years, until GoDaddy upgraded/changed servers then the forum had a database error for all users and was effectively offline.

GoDaddy support was as useless as usual so I just had to dig and dig. I am NO coder! But I managed to scour the web and learned some ideas to try. The connection to the DB wasn’t working after the move, which turned out to be two problems.

I edited config.php (in forum/includes) to change the DB location to “localhost”, and I also added an “i” to the database type to make it mysqli instead of mysql. Boom, forum came back online. I was so pleased!

However I have now realised that even though the forum appears to be working perfectly for all normal users, mods and admins can’t access the admin/moderator control panels. It just throws a 500 Internal Server Error.

As I said, I am far from a developer, but trying to understand the way it works I THINK:

Forum admin/mod panels are stored inside index.php in each subfolder, one for mods, one for admins, and those two folders are stored inside forum/includes. I have no clue where to look or what to look for.

If anyone could even just point me at ideas of files to take a look at I would so grateful. The site provides a lot of support/community for quite a few elderly folk and not being able to moderate content (especially spammers) is worrisome. Any and all ideas welcome and very much appreciated. :)

Thanks
 
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cPRex

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Hey there! Good job on making some progress with that issue. I'd encourage you to see if you can perform an update after these issues are resolved to help avoid these types of problems in the future.

Since you don't have root access, the best place to check would be the cPanel >> Errors interface. That would show any errors related to your specific account, it will tell you what is causing the 500 error. If you aren't sure what it means, just paste it here, making sure to remove any public details like domain names, and we'll take a look.
 

TerryCranstone

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Jul 9, 2021
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Wasilla, AL
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Website Owner
Hey CPRex, thanks (great username btw!)
The problem is the forum had some hand coding doing by someone many years ago (no longer with us unfortunately) and so the theme/skin is custom and we have never risked updating it as we have been advised many times that it will break the whole site. The VBulletin version is VERY old!
I eventually battled to get someone half useful at GoDaddy, after hours of attempts! He 'fixed' it, or at least got the tech team to do it. I was over the moon to see the admin panel working again, until I asked how they fixed it! He said "they disabled the .htaccess file". (This applies to the .htaccess file in both the 'moderator' and 'administrator' folders (inside forum/includes/). I asked if that would cause any other problems, as I don't really understand what htaccess files do, they said "if you have problem you must ask a developer". Not sure whether to be pleased they got it working (kind of), or annoyed that they disabled the htaccess files! All they did was rename them so the admin/mod areas (in my thinking at least) no longer have a .htaccess file at all. Is this safe?
More importantly, it created a new problem. We often look at forum stats which was a feature inside the admin panel, but that is no longer working since they disabled htaccess. We used to look at how many visits, posts, time on forum, all sorts. Now that feature is dead :(
If I were to paste the contents of the htaccess files, would you be able to take a quick look for me please? There is very little in them, just a few lines of code.
 

cPRex

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I'd be happy to look, but I'm not sure I'd be able to tell you anything useful. I could point out the sections that cPanel uses, but I would not be certain what is custom or what was added by VBulletin.

It might be worth working with a professional server admin that is familiar with VBulletin to see if you could get the data migrated to a newer instance, as you'll only continue to have issues, and likely have security holes with that version that is currently running.
 

TerryCranstone

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Jul 9, 2021
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Very kind of you thanks. There are a few of us involved with site management. I know its a security risk having such outdated software, but we have never had the budget to have someone manually go through this big and unwiedly thing (2GB database, tons of hi-res photos!) so it's just sat still all these years. I may see if I am up to taking a full copy of the site to a new domain (for testing) and see if I can find out how to update it (automated) and just double check that it won't break! We are sure it will but never know!

The only active htaccess file is inside the main top level public_hml folder, the other two in admin/mod folders are de-activated/renamed as they broke the site, if I could fix whatever is wrong with those two, I could reactivate them and then I believe the forum stats will work as before.


The active .htaccess file in public_html contains:

AddHandler application/x-httpd-alt-php56___lsphp .php
DirectoryIndex default.html default.htm index.php index.shtml index.html index.htm home.html home.htm index.php5 welcome.html welcome.htm
Options -Indexes
AddHandler server-parsed .html
AddHandler server-parsed .shtml
AddHandler server-parsed .htm



The htaccess file in forums/admin/ contains:


authtype basic
authgroupfile /dev/null
authuserfile /home/content/66/10286466/htconfig/.htpassword.ghtpassword
authname "Secure Area"
require user SiteAdmin****

(I inserted the ****)


The htaccess file in forums/moderator/ contains:

authtype basic
authgroupfile /dev/null
authuserfile /home/content/66/10286466/htconfig/.htpassword.ghtpassword
authname "Secure Area"
require user SiteMod*****


If you can see anything in the last two which would have broken the admin/mod panels (preventing access with "server error"), please let me know!

Thanks again
 

cPRex

Jurassic Moderator
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Thanks for that. Those last two are using directory-level security to try and further restrict access, in addition to the username and password required for the VBulletin area itself. I wouldn't expect anything in there to interfere with the stats on the system, though, as these aren't related to those tools.
 

TerryCranstone

Registered
Jul 9, 2021
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Wasilla, AL
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Website Owner
Thanks cPRex.
What I dont understand is why, when those two htaccess files were active, the admin and mod panels could not be accessed (server error). Yet when deactivated, we could instantly log in to both. I don't suppose you have any advice as to why this happened? No worries if not, I am just stumped so may as well ask in case you even have just a guess I can play around with!
thanks again