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Reverting to a former database has been a tricky business with error messages and problems cropping up when I try to re-install modules that were installed or re-create content types, or re-do anything that was done since the back-up was made. In an attempt to avoid these problems I've been deleting the database using phpmyadmin before reinstalling the backup. Better, maybe(?) but now I've had other problems. Should I delete all the contributed modules also? Anyone direct me to the correct procedure for restoring database using phpmyadmin and ftp?

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Deleting the database and re-importing an earlier backup is the correct procedure. Module states (enabled/disabled/version), content types, and other settings are stored in the database, so if those changes are not part of the backup you have, they will be lost. That said, you should be able to re-create them without any problems.

Modules you've added since the backup will remain there as files, and you can re-enable them at will. There is no need to delete the files themselves.

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