I spent far more time than I liked trying to move the Zems Forums from shared hosting to Azure cloud. I’ve written this post in the hopes that it will help someone else who is also struggling with the process.

  1. Set up custom user.ini to extend time before timeout from 120 to 300: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kaushal/archive/2014/01/02/php-user-ini-and-windows-azure-web-sites.aspx
    One of my early tests was trying to do a fresh install, but it kept timing out on me. Somewhere in the database setup it times out, so if it happens to you, put this in your user.ini file:

    max_execution_time= 300;
  2. Create a file named ‘web.config’ and add the IIS code here: https://xenforo.com/help/friendly-urls/
    Put the file in the root directory for your site (not the root directory of the FTP). For me, this was a folder named ‘site’
  3. Sign up for an email sending service: http://blog.smarx.com/posts/emailtheinternet-com-sending-and-receiving-email-in-windows-azure
    Azure doesn’t naturally support email services since spammers would likely use it and Azure email services would get flagged as spam, which is not what you want to happen to your emails. You need to use a third party SMTP service (I use AuthSMTP) and put the SMTP details in Admin CP -> Options -> Email Options. Note that a SMTP server does not have slashes in it, so don’t put ‘http://’ or have a trailing slash at the end. I recommend using port 2525, but check your SMTP service for recommended ports.

Note: If you are moving a forum to Azure and need to import a large database, I recommend using bigdump: http://www.ozerov.de/bigdump/