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How To Install phpBB 2.0.17

What is phpBB?

phpBB is a powerful php/MySQL based forum which allows you to maintain a secure, safe and enjoyable forum for your users to post messages in. You can set it up to look any way you like, and have any amount of categories and topics you like. You can also control which users has access to what areas, ban users if needed or control their posting. Click here for more information.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are using phpBB version 2.0.11, Please upgrade immediately! Version 2.0.11 can be easily hacked and thus hackers can take down your entire forum. phpBB 2.0.17 has fixed this problem and thus people should be using 2.0.17 or later. Also it is strongly advised that you consult the phpBB mailing list and support options to keep up with updates. Install updates as soon as you can after they are released.


To use phpBB, you need to be sure your CGI account is set up. Please see How To Request A CGI Account.

In addition, you need to have an active MySQL database. Please see How To Request A MySQL Database.

You will also need to download a copy of phpBB. The version used in this tutorial was phpBB 2.0.17.

Always be sure you have installed the latest updates and/or patches for the script as well as for any additional add-ons. Updates are very important to the security and proper functioning of the script! Our instructions may be for earlier versions of scripts due to the fact that we are not able to keep up with updates to every script at all times. It is still up to the domain owner to install and use the latest version of these scripts.


Remember that only your main account can access CGI scripts on your server. Any hosting or extra FTP accounts that access these scripts may cause your account to be deactivated and you'll have to contact support.

For phpBB to work correctly, please do not put it or it's directories inside your cgi-bin directory. If you do, the script may not work. It's best to use a separate directory and leave the cgi-bin directory for your smaller scripts.


  1. Extract the files and folders from the phpBB zip file to a folder on your hard drive. (Windows users can use WinZip to do this). Do NOT delete this directory or it's files, as you might need them to modify some of the files, especially if you plan to follow all steps in this tutorial.

  2. If you want to use another style as the default, be sure to extract the new style's files and folders into a folder in the phpBB 'templates' directory. You can find more styles here.

  3. Upload all the phpBB files to a folder in your CGI server using an FTP program. The host name should be something like where represents your domain name. Log in with your domain name as the username and your CGI server password (Not your web FTP password). In this example, let's assume that you create a folder called forum on your CGI server and place the phpBB files and folders the forum folder.

  4. Change the file permissions for the config.php file to 666.

  5. Disconnect from your CGI server when done and close your FTP program.


  1. Point your browser to the index.php file. For example, if you installed the phpBB files into a folder called forum on your CGI server as shown in the steps above, point your browser to where represents your actual domain name and forum represents the folder you put the phpBB files in.

  2. Basic Configuration

    Default board language: English
    Database Type: MySQL 3.x (Chosen from drop down box.)
    Choose your installation method: Install

  3. Database Configuration

    Database Server Hostname / DSN: localhost
    Your Database Name: yourdomaincom (Type in your actual domain name.)
    Database Username: yourdomaincom (Type in your actual domain name.)
    Database Password: (Type in your MySQL database password)
    Prefix for tables in database: phpbb_

    TIP: If you plan to have more than one forum on your domain, you may want to give each one a different table prefix such as phpbb_forum1_ for example. Just be sure there's a trailing underscore _ after the prefix name. Also remember that only you, the domain owner can use your CGI server. Do not allow your anyone you are hosting on your domain to use any forums or any other scripts residing on your cgi server for their own sites. If you do, you may find your domain taken offline until you can disallow their continued use of your CGI server.

  4. Admin Configuration

    Note that you will also be creating a moderator account for yourself so you can also administer the board and post and interact with your forum users. The Admin account you are creating now is one that you use for the more critical board setup and configurations. It's not recommended that you post and interact with your forum users while logged in as the Administrator.

    Admin Email Address: (Do not use one that you will be using for your moderator account.)
    Domain Name: ( where represents your actual domain name.)
    Server Port: 80
    Script path: (Path to your forum, in this example, /forum/ - be sure to put slashes before and after the path.)
    Administrator Username: (Pick a name for the Administrator login.)
    Administrator Password (& Confirmation): (Pick a password for your administration account. Be sure to write the username and password down and store it somewhere safe so you don't forget it.)

  5. Click the Start Install button. Please wait a few minutes for the next screen to appear, then click Finish Installation.

  6. Use an FTP program and log back into your CGI account. Delete the install and contrib directories from your phpBB folder. Disconnect from your CGI account and exit your FTP program.

Administrator Profile Configuration:

  1. Point your browser to your forum's login page which looks something like this: where represents your actual domain name and /forum/ represents the folder you installed phpBB into. Type in your Admin Username and password to log in.

  2. You'll see a default forum. Click on the Profile link found at the top of the page.

  3. Leave everything set as default, except change the following:

    Always show my e-mail address: No
    Hide your online status: Yes
    Always notify me of replies: No
    Notify on new Private Message: No
    Pop up window on new Private Message: No
    Always attach my signature: No
    Always allow BBCode: Yes
    Always allow HTML: No
    Always enable Smilies: Yes
    Board Language: English
    Board Style: (Use default for now. You can change it after you are done setting up.)
    Timezone: (Choose your time zone. Note that GMT is also sometimes abreviated as UTC)

  4. Click the Submit button.

Add Categories and Forums:

  1. Click on the Go To Administration Panel link located at the bottom of the forum page. On the left side you'll see a menu containing categories with links to each setup page.

  2. In the Forum Admin area, click on Management. Create a new category by typing it it's name and clicking the Create New Category button if you want to split your forums up into different categories. Then return to the Forum Administration and create your forums.

    TIP: Write down on paper a plan of how you want your forum laid out, and a discription for each forum that you will later enter into the configuration. Use this as a guide to set up your forum.

  3. Click on "Create New Forum" after you type in the name of your forum in the associated box.

  4. Now type in a short Description which will be shown under the forum name. You can select which Category you want the new forum to appear in from the drop down box.

  5. If you want the forum to autmatically delete old messages, click the Enabled box for Auto-Pruning. Then set how old the topics (ie. posts) have to be in order to delete them and how many days to go by before checking for old posts. Leave Enabled unchecked if you want to save every post in the forum.

  6. Click the Create new forum button when done then return to the Forum Administration to add more categories and forums. Note that if you click on Edit next to any forum you will see an additional option called Forum Status and a drop down with locked or unlocked. If you lock the forum, users can not post to it.

  7. Click on the Permissions link in the Forum Admin area.

  8. Choose which forum to work with from the drop down box and click the Look up forum button.

  9. Choose a permission preset from the drop down box. Note that any option that says [Hidden] means that the forum will not show up to users that do not have that status set. So for example, Moderator [Hidden] means that nobody can view that forum unless they are logged in and that user had been set up as Moderator.

    Or, you can select specific permissions by clicking the Advanced Mode link. From here you can set it so up each action to be carried out by ALL users, REGistered users only, users with PRIVATE access permissions, MODerators only, or ADMINistrator only. Click Submit when done. TIP: If you want to turn off voting or creating polls, just set those to ADMIN since it'll only make it allowable by the Administrator (you) and not anyone else, not even moderators.

Adding More Styles:

Click on the Add link in the Styles Admin area. Click on the install link next to a style you wish to install. Note that this list will only show uninstalled styles. Installed ones will not show up in this list. You have to go through this step for any styles you have uploaded to the templates folder.

phpBB Full Configuration:

Click on the Configuration link in the General Admin area. This page is similar to the configuration you saw when you first installed the forum. However, you have even more settings you can customize. Here are some suggested changes. All others normally should be left at their default value unless you are sure of their functions.

  1. General Board Settings:

    Site name: (Type in the name of your web site or forum here.)
    Site description: (type in a description of your site.)
    Enable account activation: (This lets you decide how to allow new users on your forum. None: Users are allowed access immediately after registering (not recommended), User: The user is sent and email which they have to click on a link to activate their account, Admin: Only you the administrator can allow a user access.)
    Enable Visual Confirmation: (Set to 'yes', a user will also have to type in a code that is given at random in an image when registering)
    User email via board: (Enabled, users can email each other from the phpBB forum by clicking the 'email' icon in their posts.)
    Default Style: This is the style you want users to see when they go to your forum.
    Override user style: This makes it impossible for the user to use any other style than what you picked as a default if set to yes.

  2. Private Messaging

    (Enabled if you want users to be able to send private messages to each other, that can only be seen by the two parties and nobody else. Moderators and Administrators can also see those messages, if they need to. But it's best not read a user's private message unless a reciever is complaining about the content of a sender's message).

  3. User and Forum Basic Settings:

    Allow HTML: No (This is best for security reasons so people can't add javascript or other code that can damage your forum. If you turn this option on, be sure to specify what html tags are allowable. Other html tags will not be allowed.)
    Allowed HTML tags: (Specifiy HTML tags which will be allowed. All others will be ignored.)
    Allow Signatures: (Be careful here. Long signatures or those with code in them can be dangerous! Set a small signature length below to keep bad HTML and other code out of their signatures.)

  4. Avatar Settings:

    WARNING: Be careful here! Do not allow people to use avatars that are from copyright images as you could be held responsible and may have your entire domain (including your forum) taken offline! If you want to allow avatars, the safest is to provide some safe ones for folks to use, and then disable their ability to use avatars from Remote links (ie. from other web sites). Also be sure to keep the avatar file size down so that those on dialup won't have problems loading the forum topics.

  5. COPPA Settings:

    COPPA stands for Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. In this area you can set up your fax or mailing address that parents can send you permission for their children under 13 years old to access your form. Otherwise, you must take precautions to not allow children under 13 to access or use your forum. You can do this with a special downloadable modification which is addressed later in this tutorial. Otherwise, you will need to create a COPPA registration form for parents to fill out to give approval for their child to use your forum.

  6. Email Settings:

    At least fill in your administrator email address (the same as you used for your administrator's account log in would be a good one). This is an email where users can contact you in case of problems.

Sensoring Words:
  1. Click on the Word Censors link in the General Admin area.

  2. Click Add A New Word

  3. Add an offending word you don't want your users to use.

  4. Type in a word or phrase to use in place of that word.

  5. Click on the Submit button to add your setting.

If a user uses the offending word, your replacement will be displayed instead. You could have a lot of fun with this, substituting foul words with clean yet humorous phrases.

User Admin

Ban control: Use this area to ban users, IP addresses, email addresses, etc. so that you can keep out or stop unwanted users from causing trouble on your board.
Disallow Names: Use this to set up what types of usernames will not be allowed on the board. Users trying to register with these usernames will not be allowed to do so and will have to pick another name.
Ranks: You can set up ranks that a user can inherit depending on how many posts they had made. You can name the ranks anything you like and determine how many posts a user has to make to achieve each rank. Click on the Add new rank button, then type in Moderator for rank title. Select yes for Set as Special Rank. For moderators, it's best not to set a minimum post amount. Click the submit button when done.

Click on the Forum Index link in the Administration area. This should be at the top of the left side menu. Click the Log Out link at the top of the page.

Setting Yourself Up As Moderator:

Be sure you have completed the Ranks step in bold in the User Admin area above. Setting a moderator account for yourself is the best way to administer the board and also post and interact with your visitors.

  1. Click on the Register link at the top of the forum.

  2. Agree to 13 and over if you're 13 and over.

  3. Register yourself as a new user as you normally would. Avoid using the name Moderator as a username.

  4. Depending on how you set up the system, you may get an email asking to confirm your account or to activate a user account. You can do this in the next steps and just disregard the emails regarding your new user account when you recieve them.

  5. Log into the forum with your administrator username and password.

  6. At the bottom of the page, click Go To Administration Panel.

  7. Click on the Management link in the User Admin area on the left side.

  8. Type in your new moderator username and click the Look up user button.

  9. Scroll to the bottom and select Yes for User is active. Click the submit button.

  10. Click on the Permissions link in the User Admin area. Type in your moderator username again and click Look up user button.

  11. For each forum you want to be moderator of (you should actually do this to all of them), select Is Moderator from the drop down box under Moderator status. When done, click the Submit button. Note that if you create any more forums, you will have to come back to this page to set yourself as moderator of those new forums.

  12. Click on the Forum Index link in the Administration area and log out as administrator. You can now log in with your moderator account username and password, and start using and maintaining the forum as moderator.

Setting Up Forum To Not Allow Users Under 13 Years Of Age:

To do this, you need to execute what is known as a MOD or Modification to the phpBB board system. You can find the modification to keep out users under 13 here. Download the file and extract the files using WinZip or compatible archiver. Read the text file "13 or older only 1.0.4.txt" carefully.

  1. Scroll down to the area that starts with [ COPY ]. These are the instructions that you must follow. The instructons may seem difficult, but here is a key to help you determine the steps:

    [COPY] Copy the file the specified location
    [OPEN] Open the specified file in your favorite text editor.
    [FIND] Find the following text in the file you opened.
    [AFTER, ADD] Cut and past the text after this heading into the area after the text specified in the previous [FIND] area.
    [BEFORE, ADD] Cut and past the text after this heading into the area before the text specified in the previous [FIND] area.
    [SAVE/CLOSE ALL FILES] Save all your files and exit your text editor.

  2. Hopefully you have kept the installtion files to your phpBB forum on your hard drive after you uploaded it. If not, you'll need to log into your CGI server and download the files to your hard drive and then edit them. To copy a file, upload the file from the directory specified from the files you extracted from the archive to the appropriate directory in your forum directory on the CGI server.

  3. If you set up other styles in your forum, you must copy the following file from the archive you extracted to your favorite style's directory:


    For example, if using MyTheme style (which would be in your forum's /templates/MyTheme directory) then you copy the .tpl file to /templates/MyTheme). This ensures that this works no matter what style your user sees when trying to register.

  4. The includes/usercp_register.php is the one from your forum directory.

  5. When looking for the "That's All Folks!" line, be sure you add the [AFTER, ADD] text before ?> symbol in the lang_main.php file.

  6. If you have more than one style uploaded in the themes directory, you need to also open any other style's templates/subSilver/admin/board_config_body.tpl file and make the same changes as you did to the subSilver Style. Note that they are referring to your forum files, not files included in the 13 and over archive.

  7. Be sure you have logged out of the forum and closed your browser window before you proceed with the rest of this tutorial.

  8. Upload the following files to your cgi server in the appropriate directories where your forum is located. Be sure to set your FTP program to overwrite the existing files or delete the existing file and upload the new one.



    (Note that if you have other styles uploaded in your themes directory, you'll have to upload the board_config_body.php file for those styles as well into the style's admin directory).

    (Note that if you have other styles uploaded in your themes directory, you'll have to upload the 13_or_older_body.tpl file to those style directories as well).

  9. Disconnect from your CGI server and go to your forum URL in your web browser again.

  10. Try a test by registering as a user, only click the link saying I Agree to these terms and am under 13 years of age. You should get a message saying that only those 13 and older may register for the forum. You'll then be redirected to a child-friendly web site.


I get a database error when I try to run [name of program].

Be sure that you have set up the configuration properly. For more information, please see I get a database error when I try to run a script that accesses the MySQL database.

I get an error saying that the configuration file isn't writable.

Be sure that you have set the file permissions of the config.php file in the forum directory to 666.


If you have any problems or questions about phpBB, please consult the phpBB site.

Active Web Hosting may not be able to provide support for this program or it's installation.

Alternative Software:

Below you'll find a list of alternative software that you may also want to try. Click on the program name to go to the author's site. Click on the 'Tutorial' link to view our installation tutorial.


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