If you want to establish an online community, creating a forum can be a great start. Fortunately, many great forum scripts can help you create one on your website. That’s why in this tutorial, we’re going to cover how to install phpBB – one of the best forum scripts around – and cover its ins and outs.
We will also provide three different methods on how to install phpBB on your website, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
Are you feeling up to the challenge? Let’s get started then!
What is phpBB?
phpBB, which is an abbreviation for PHP Bulletin Board, is one of the best free and open-source forum scripts for creating a forum. Aside from having a convenient flat forum structure and advanced control system, the popular PHP-based bulletin board also supports 55 different languages.
Due to its ease of use and user-friendly interface, phpBB is an ideal option for beginners who haven’t dabbled in forums before.
Here are a few of phpBB’s best features that you can use to help launch your first online forum:
- Responsive design — supports the latest version of HTML5 and CSS3, thus providing you with a responsive and cross-browser compatible design.
- Search engine crawler handling — comes with configurations and access control for over 100 crawlers for board optimization.
- Unread message tracking — notifies users whether or not they have seen new published posts and topics.
- Private message system — allows users to send direct messages to each other via the forum.
- COPPA registration — prevents underage users from registering to the forum.
- OAuth login — allows users to register using Google, Bit.ly, or Facebook accounts.
- Data management — supports various popular database management tools like MySQL, Oracle Database, and SQLite.
Reasons to Create an Online Forum
Despite the rising popularity of social media platforms, many users still prefer using online forums as their method of community building. Reddit proves this claim as the platform ranks 18th for global traffic, beating Twitter and Instagram. Garnering over 300 million monthly active users in the past year, Reddit shows no signs of slowing down.
Popularity aside, there are many ways your website can benefit from having an online forum. Here are the reasons why you should consider creating an online forum:
- Encourage discussion and feedback — users can use the available space to exchange ideas and give you insights into the quality of your content for further improvement.
- Support audience research — lets you observe visitor preferences and browsing habits in a closed environment.
- Build a community — having great communication and sharing similar interests with other people will give your users a sense of belonging to a community.
3 Easy Ways to Install phpBB
One of phpBB’s biggest perks is the ease of installation. There are three ways to install phpBB on your website — using the manual method, Hostinger’s auto-installer, or the Softaculous App Installer. Feel free to check them all out below and go with the one which best suits your preference.
Option 1 — Using the Manual Method
Despite taking the longest time of the three methods to complete, the manual method works on all hosting platforms. Thus, this method is ideal for users whose web hosting provider doesn’t have an auto-installer tool.
Here’s how to install phpBB manually:
- Create a MySQL Database for your phpBB forum. If you use Hostinger, you can do so by accessing MySQL Databases in the hPanel. If you’re using cPanel, check out our cPanel tutorial for help.
- Download the latest version of phpBB. After that, access your hosting account via FTP or File Manager and upload the phpBB installation file to the public_html directory. Don’t forget to unzip the file before moving onto the next step. For convenience, you can rename the folder to phpBB.
IMPORTANT! Make sure to unzip the installation file in the same directory where you want to place the forum.
- Run the phpBB installation file via the web browser by entering its directory path — yourdomain.com/phpBB/phpBB3/install/app.php. Then, click on the Install tab.
- In the first section, click Next to confirm you already have a database dedicated to the forum. After that, create an administrator account by entering your login details. Once you’re done, click Submit.
- In the next section, you will need to enter your MySQL Database details. See the following explanation to know what information this step requires. After you input all the required information, click Submit.
- Database Type – your choice may vary depending on your hosting provider. If you use Hostinger, choose MySQL with MySQLi Extension. The other available options are MySQL and SQLite 3.
- Database server hostname or DSN – in most cases, you can use localhost to fill in this field. With Hostinger, you can confirm your MySQL Hostname by accessing Databases -> MySQL Databases on the hPanel.
- Database server port – you can leave this field blank unless your hosting provider uses a custom port. The default MySQL port is 3306.
- Database username and password – these fields require your MySQL Database administrator login details.
- Database name – this field contains the name of the MySQL Database you’ve created in Step 1.
- Prefix for tables in database – The default table prefix is phpBB_. We advise you to change it to improve protection against MySQL injections. In this tutorial, we’ll be using phpBBfrm_ as the table prefix.
- Next, you’ll have to configure your server. See the following explanation to know what information this step requires. After you input all the required information, click Submit.
- Cookie secure – this field allows you to secure visitor data. However, it requires an SSL certificate. If your website doesn’t use an SSL certificate, choose No.
- Force server URL settings – you can forcefully turn the forum’s HTTP URL to HTTPS. If you plan to use HTTPS for your phpBB forum, choose Yes. Otherwise, leave it as No. Keep in mind that you can install an SSL certificate and force the phpBB forum to use HTTPS at a later time.
- Server protocol – leave this field as it is unless you enforce the settings.
- Domain name – this field lets you specify the domain name for your phpBB forum.
- Server Port – the default setting for the server port is 80. Change this detail if your hosting provider uses a custom port.
- Script Path – this field specifies the location of your phpBB forum. If you want to locate it directly under your domain name, enter the slash (/) symbol. In case you wish to have it on another directory, enter a slash symbol followed by the directory name. Make sure to use the directory in which you uploaded the installation in Step 2.
- In the Email Configuration section, you will have to manage the forum’s email settings. Below is all the information you need to provide in this step. After you input all the required information, click Submit.
- Enable board-wide emails – this field allows you to enable or disable email sending via phpBB. The installation recommends disabling this option if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed.
- Use SMTP server for email – you can configure the SMTP protocol for your phpBB forum. If you choose Yes, you will need to fill in your SMTP Details. In Hostinger, you can find this information in the Emails -> Email Accounts section.
- In the last step, you will need to configure your bulletin board. The Default language field lets you choose your phpBB forum language. While the installation sets British English as its default language, you’re free to choose other languages by checking the available phpBB language packs.
Then, add your forum’s desired title and short description in the last two fields. Once you’re done, click Submit.
- If the installation is successful, the following confirmation message will appear on your screen.
- Remove the install directory from your phpBB forum’s root directory. Otherwise, you won’t be able to access the phpBB admin area.
- Congratulations, you have successfully installed phpBB! You can launch the phpBB forum by entering its URL (yourdomain.com/phpBB/phpBB3) into a web browser.
Option 2 — Using Hostinger’s Auto Installer
If you use Hostinger’s web hosting, the best way to install phpBB is by using the Auto Installer tool. This method takes less time than the manual installation and doesn’t require any technical knowledge to perform.
Here’s how to install phpBB using Hostinger Auto Installer tool:
- From the hPanel, navigate to the Website -> Auto Installer.
- Use the search tool to find the phpBB installer. Once you’ve found it, click on the icon.
- In the Install phpBB popup form, you will have to provide the required information as listed. Once you’re done, click Install.
Once you click Install, wait a minute until the installer does its work, and you’re ready to access the forum!
Option 3 — Using the Softaculous Apps Installer
If you use cPanel hosting, you can create a phpBB forum via the Softaculous Apps Installer. Similar to Hostinger’s auto-installer, Softaculous simplifies the installation process.
Here’s how to install phpBB using Softaculous Apps Installer:
- From the cPanel dashboard, navigate to the Software -> Softaculous Apps Installer section.
- In the Softaculous search field, type in phpBB and select it. Once the phpBB page appears, click on the Install Now button.
- On the installation page, there are several sections that you need to fill up. Below is the breakdown of what information each section requires. Once you’re done, click Install. You will need to fill out some forms similar to the ones you would in other methods.
- That’s it! If the installation is successful, this confirmation message will appear on your screen.
phpBB is one of the best free and open-source forum platforms. There are three ways to install phpBB on a website:
- You can install phpBB manually
- Use Hostinger’s Auto Installer
- Install phpBB via Softaculous Apps Installer
For more information about phpBB usage, you may refer to the official phpBB documentation.