UTF-8 conversion helper

This script will help you with the UTF-8 conversion. Please remember to create a database backup before execution! If anything fails, you need that database dump to revert the changes.


  1. Find out which collation your database currently uses (see below)
  2. Create the file utf8.php in your BIGACE root folder
  3. Copy the code from below into the utf8.php script
  4. Open it in your browser
  5. Select your collation (from step 1) from the select box and hit "Convert"
  6. You should see "Congratulations, your data was converted!"
  7. If you see errors, please report them in the Forum
  8. Delete the file "utf8.php"

Detect current collation

Its simple to find your database collation using phpMyAdmin.

See this screenshot:


This installation used latin1_swedish_ci as collation.

Another one of my installations runs with latin1_german2_ci, as you can see here:


You could also execute the following SQL statement:

SELECT collation( 'your-database-name' )

Note: The result must NOT be the collation of all your tables. If possible use phpMyAdmin to find the tables collation.

This value is what you must select in the drop down at Step 5.

Conversion helper code

Please note, the conversion helper is meant to be helpful, it worked for me and others as well, BUT:

I do not guarantee that it will work in every environment. The code is provided as is and without any warranty.


require_once(dirname(__FILE__) . '/system/config/config.system.php');

mysql_connect($_BIGACE['db']['host'], $_BIGACE['db']['user'], $_BIGACE['db']['pass']);

    print "<h1>DID YOU CREATE A BACKUP ?!? If not, do it first!</h1>";
    print '<form action="'.$_SERVER['PHP_SELF'].'" method="post">';
    print "Select your database collation: ";
    print '<select name="convert_from">';

    $charsets = mysql_query(" SHOW COLLATION ") or die(mysql_error());
    while ($char_row = mysql_fetch_row($charsets)) {
        print '<option value="'.$char_row[0].'"';
        if($char_row[0] == 'latin1_german1_ci')
            print " selected";
        print '>'.$char_row[0].'</option>';

    print '</select>';
    print '<input type="submit" value="Convert">';
    print '</form>';
    $convert_from = $_POST['convert_from'];


    // collation you want to change it to:
    $convert_to   = 'utf8_general_ci';

    // character set of new collation:
    $character_set= 'utf8';

    $rs_tables = mysql_query(" SHOW TABLES ") or die(mysql_error());
    $error_occured = false;
    print '<pre>';
    while ($row_tables = mysql_fetch_row($rs_tables)) {
        // only convert prefixed tables OR all if an empty prefix was used
        if(strlen($_BIGACE['db']['prefix']) == 0 || stripos($row_tables[0], $_BIGACE['db']['prefix']) !== false)  
            $table = mysql_real_escape_string($row_tables[0]);

            $conv_table_sql = "ALTER TABLE `$table` DEFAULT CHARACTER SET $character_set;";
            if(mysql_errno() != 0) {
                echo $conv_table_sql . "\r\n";
                echo "<b>".mysql_error()."</b>\r\n";
                $error_occured = true;

            $conv_started = false;
            $conv_sql = "ALTER TABLE `$table`";
            $rs = mysql_query(" SHOW FULL FIELDS FROM `$table` ") or die(mysql_error());
            while ($row=mysql_fetch_assoc($rs)) {

                if ($row['Collation']!=$convert_from) {

                // Alter field collation:
                $field = mysql_real_escape_string($row['Field']);
                    $conv_sql .= ", ";
                $conv_sql .= " CHANGE `$field` `$field` $row[Type] CHARACTER SET $character_set COLLATE $convert_to";
                $conv_started = true;
            $conv_sql .= ";";

            // execute the conversion if at least one column with old collation was found
            if($conv_started) {
                if(mysql_errno() != 0) {
                    echo $conv_sql." \r\n";
                    echo "<b>".mysql_error()."</b>\r\n";
                    $error_occured = true;
    print "</pre>";

        echo '<h1>An error occured :( <a href="http://forum.bigace.de">Please contact us at the Forum</a>.</h1>';
        echo '<h1>Congratulations, your data was converted!</h1>';

This code was inspired by http://www.phpwact.org/php/i18n/utf-8/mysql. Thanks!

If you want to convert your database at the end, you can use the following statement (where "DatabaseName" must be the name of your BIGACE database).