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How to set up phpBB

Even though many people now operate forum-style community groups using social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, traditional forum websites are still very popular, especially in certain subject-areas.

If you are under 20 years old, you may have still been quite young when forums formed the cornerstone of online communities. If you’re older, however, we would consider it a fair bet that you have at some point been a member of at least one Internet forum. Many of these forums are powered by phpBB, one of the most popular open source forum solutions on the Web.

It would be wrong to say that online forums (a.k.a bulletin boards) are no longer popular. Yes, there are some areas where communities are moving towards social networking sites, but there are still thousands of thriving forum communities for many societies and groups around the world.

The great news is that using phpBB, you can have a new and robust forum up and running within minutes.

In this tutorial, we are going to show you the basics of setting up phpBB on your own domain and Web space.

What You Need

You will need your own domain and Web hosting account upon which to install phpBB. If you don’t have your domain yet, check out our step by step guide to obtaining domain and hosting services from HostGator. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this guide easily later.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we are working on the assumption that you are using HostGator for hosting services. If you are not, don’t worry. HostGator uses cPanel, which is the most popular Web hosting control panel in the world. Many other Web hosting services use it too, so there is every chance that you’ll still be able to follow this guide.

So let’s get started:

1. Go to your cPanel login link and enter your username and password. This information is provided to you by your hosting service provider in an email when you first sign up.

Main panel

Even though the wealth of cPanel options can seem initially daunting to novices, it is actually very easy to use. Stay tuned on Make a Website for a comprehensive tutorial on cPanel that will follow soon.

2. Locate the “Software/Services” group of icons on the right. You will have to scroll down a fair way to find it.

3. Look for QuickInstall and Fantastico De Luxe, both of which are excellent automated installers for Web applications. phpBB is available via both installers (at HostGator at least), but we are going to use QuickInstall for the purposes of this tutorial.


4. Click the “QuickInstall” icon, and then locate phpBB – you will find it in the “Forum Software” section on the left. Select it, and then click “continue.”

QuickInstall - phpBB


5. If you have setup your domain properly, you will see it in the drop down list. The blank field afterwards lets you specify a subdirectory in which to install phpBB (i.e. www.yourdomain.com/forum).

We will assume for the purposes of this guide that you want to place your phpBB forum in the root directory, so it appears as soon as people visit your Web address. For this reason, we will leave this field blank. However, if you are building a forum as a new section of an existing site, you will need to use this option to place it in a subdirectory.

Installing phpBB

6. Fill in the requested information, ensuring you use a valid email address. Once you are done, click  ”Install Now.”

7. When the installation is complete, you will be given a login URL to administer your phpBB-powered forum, along with confirmation of your admin username and password. You should keep a note of these. You should also receive an email containing the details.

If you’ve installed phpBB very shortly after arranging your registration and hosting, and receive a “page not found” error when you try to access the site, don’t be alarmed. Your domain registration needs time to propagate across all the global DNS servers. The process can take anything from few hours to 48 hours. If you want to learn more about this, click on this link.

phpBB Index Page


8. Once access is available, the new front page of your forum site should appear when you visit the URL. Once you have logged in, you will again be directed to the forum homepage, but this time you will see “Administration Control Panel” to the bottom right under the copyright texts. Click there, you will be prompted for your password once more before gaining access to the phpBB administration panel.

phpBB admin

We won’t get into details of how to set up different forum categories and suchlike, because it is beyond the scope of this article. However, we are currently working on a detailed phpBB tutorial, and will provide a link on this page as soon as it’s complete.

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Author Picture Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Make a website and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+