All About phpBB

No programming or database skills required!

phpBB is a type of forum software. For example, has a phpBB forum at!

It is very well liked by the PHP community because of its professional look and high security!

This will be quite a substantial tutorial, so it will be written in several parts. This is meant for new users as well as existing users of phpBB!

Please start from the beginning if you are a totally new user of phpBB, or start here if you're an existing user and want to create a board of your own. By reading from top to bottom it ensures you will understand more terms that I mention throughout the tutorial.


Introduction To phpBB

Most of you that are reading this have probably used a phpBB forum before, and know how to post, send PM's, use BBCode etc. If you know your way around the forum, then you won't have to read this. This section is really only for completely new users to the phpBB software;



There are two ways to post, Post Reply and Post New Topic. Post reply is to post your opinion on an existing topic. To do this, find a topic you want to post a comment on, and click the Post Reply button.

New Topics are for posting a topic you are interested in, that hasn't already been discussed. To do this, click New Topic in the appropriate forum. When posting a new topic, it is essential that you post a subject line.


When posting in either form, you type the post itself into the larger field. Once you have done that, you can preview it by clicking the Preview button. This gives you an exact replica of what will be posted into the live environment.

Once you are ready to post it, use the Submit button; You will then get a message stating that it posted successfully (if indeed it did post successfully! Otherwise you will recieve an error message) and would you like to return to the topic to view your post, or return to the forum.


Private Messaging

It's quite a complex feature, but at this stage you only need to know the basics. To send a PM to a member, you can click their name from a post, memberlist, usergroup etc. Or you can go to your Inbox (privmsg.php) and click New Post. Type the members username (only applies if you use the latter method as with other methods it automatically enters it there). Like a post, type the message in the large box, and use the Preview and Submit button.



Some boards allow you to email fellow members within the forum. If the board enables it, click Email under a users post, in memberlist, usergroups etc. No BBCode or HTML is allowed in these emails, so you have to type it as you normally would, add a subject, and click Email.

You have the option to send it to yourself.



It's a basic programming language similar in some aspects to HTML. You use certain commands to perform certain functions. For example, in HTML, to make text bold, you use the following code:

<b>Text here</b>


But in BBCode you use

[b]Text here[/b]


So as you can see from that the two languages are very similar! In phpBB, you can start the tag by clicking the appropriate button. These appear everywhere where you can use BBCode with the exception of your Signature Control Panel. So you should see the button when using PM's, posting replies and posting new topics. To see what the various buttons do, hover over them with your mouse.



These are emoticons that appear in your posts and PM's. To enter one into your message, simply click it. Always remember to click View More Emoticons if you can't find one in the ones that do appear.


The Links

Up the top of the page you see several links.


Frequently Asked Questions about phpBB, well worth the read



Allows you to search the board for a post or topic relating to a search term you enter



Lists all members of the forum



Lists all available (and unavailable!) usergroups on the forum



Lets you choose your preferences on the board, also change your user details, signature and avatar


Private Messages

Access to your forum inbox



Allows Guests to register and gain access to more features


Log In / Logout

Log in and out of the forum

You have now covered the basic functions of phpBB, however it is recommended that you try it out for yourself before creating your own board you test the full functionality. To see a board in action, go to phpBB, or to see a heavily modded version, see


Downloading phpBB

There are hundreds of releases of phpBB, ranging from phpBB v1.0.0 right until the latest release which is currently phpBB 2.0.18. Obviously 2.0.18 is the best and most secure, but being the newest, many people don't want to upgrade. The most common reason for this because webmasters have Modded their forum and upgrading isn't exactly user friendly. I will talk about this further on. But now you have to decide which version of phpBB you want to install. Bare in mind that most mods that work in 2.0.6 will work in 2.0.18. Another thing to think about is the upcoming phpBB 2.2 (View CricketMX's demo here) which is thought to be released late 2004 or early 2005. By waiting until the release of 2.2 it means you don't have the hassle of upgrading, but it also means you can't have a forum for around a year! So these are the options you have to consider.

If you like the look of phpBB 2.2 but want to start your forum now, I suggest downloading 2.0.18 and leaving it intact (by leaving it unmodded) and when 2.2 is released follow their upgrade instructions.

If you want to start a forum immediately and want to begin Modding it immediately, go for 2.0.6, 2.0.7, 2.0.8a, 2.0.9 or 2.0.18. Most MOD's will work in those versions.

If you don't care, and just want your forum up and running, try 2.0.18, it's the most secure and you have the choice of adding MOD's and easily upgrading to 2.2 when it's released.

Once you have downloaded the phpBB, be sure to unzip it with WinZip.


phpBB 2.0.18
 Description:  Most secure, most recent. Recommended.
 Filename:  phpBB 2.0.18
 Filesize:  680+ KB
 Downloaded:  4.5 out of 5


Finding A Webhost

Now that you have the software, you need a place to host it. There are two very important things to look for when choosing your host. They are PHP, and MySQL. If your host doesn't allow PHP and MySQL, you can't host your forum there. Other things to look for are space and bandwidth. Anyone with less than 50MB webspace I wouldn't recommend for your host. And when looking at bandwidth, make sure they have at least 5GB. It will probably only use a fraction of that (5GB) in the early stages of your forum / site, but after a few months you will be glad you chose the deal with more than 5GB!

One other important thing to remember is you get what you pay for. There are free hosts like Lycos but they are filled with Ads which can often affect the PHP code within your forum. Also, free hosts can make it quite tricky to transfer a domain that they gave you (eg in the case you stopped using their service for another company. If you get attached to this domain, you will probably have to buy it off them.


You are much better off going with a pay host, there are some important things to ask them before signing up though:


What is their average uptime?

If their average uptime is less than 95% I would not use them. 99.9% is the industry standard!


Is it Ad-Free?

If you are paying for your host, and they are not ad-free, I suggest you keep looking. Ads just don't cut it!


What happens if I exceed my webspace or bandwidth limit?

Most hosts either charge you for any excess space / bandwidth or the temporarily suspend your account. Decide for yourself whether what they do is ok for your site! 


What are the different payment methods?

They shouldn't discriminate against your preferred payment method! Most, if not all Hosts allow credit card payment, and usually the choice of cheque or money order as well. If you feel uncomfortable paying over the internet with your credit card, you shouldn't have to! Find a host that allows payment via cheque or money order!


Will I have to buy my domain separately?

If you do have to buy your domain separately, it's no big deal. Just saves time if they have it in conjunction with their hosting accounts!


Are there any start up costs or any hidden costs?

Start up costs are quite common, but any webhost with hidden costs just don't sound trustworthy!


Technical Support

What sort of Technical Support do they have available, and how fast is their response time? This is one very important thing to consider when finding a host!


There is also the option of hosting your forum from your own computer! There are instant server programs that will turn your PC into a webserver, one program is MiniPortal. Be forewarned, many ISP's (Internet Service Providers) do not allow you to turn your PC into a webserver. Before adding a program like MiniPortal, read your ISP's TOS (Terms of Service)!

If they do allow you to run a webserver, be aware your "server's" speed will only be that of your internet connection. So running a webserver off a 56k modem is not recommended!


Setting Up Your Hosting Account

This is a very simple section, decide whether you want your forum to be a subdomain (eg: or just an extension of the domain (eg:

For Subdomains, it all depends on the Control Panel your host offers, this is what to do with the Ensim Control Panel offered by

Goto: ( being your servers IP address, you will recieve an email from your host with this and other details) or (domain being your domain name) and then login with your login information. On the left hand navigational bar, click Subdomains, then Add Subdomain. Fill out the details, and click the button Add Subdomain.

To add an extension of the domain read on, as you have to do it via your FTP client.


Uploading Your Files

Firstly, you need an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Client. I use SmartFTP and find it extremely user friendly and easy to use. Once you have installed it and you're at the main screen, type in your FTP address (eg: - with domain being your domain name). Then your username, and password. Press Enter on your keyboard. Find a folder that says public_html, mainwebsite_html or similar. Click it. Now drag you phpBB folder from your Windows Explorer window to your FTP server. By default it is called phpBB2, but before uploading it, choose the name you want it to be (eg. using the default phpBB2 name, to access your forum you will need to go to or if it is a subdomain so obviously if it is a subdomain, the folder name needs to match that of the subdomain).

Make sure all the files have uploaded or it will not install correctly!

The last thing you have to do is CHMOD config.php in your root folder. Right click the file, select CHMOD and in the box provided, type in 666, press OK.


To run a forum off your PC as a webserver, read the documentation that came with your webserver software, as the methods will vary!


 Description:  One of the best FTP clients around!
 Filename:  SmartFTP
 Filesize:  3.08 MB
 Admin Rating:  5 out of 5


Setting Up Your Database

Before you start installing, you need a database set up for the forum data to be saved to! On the Ensim control panel, log in, and navigate to the MySQL section (bottom right) and click MySQL Admin Tool. Then click Create Database. Note the prefix if you have one, it may look like:   domain_com_-_   then a text box. In the text box enter what you want the database name to be, or the database suffix. For something easy to remember, choose: forums

So the final product will be domain_com_-_forums

However this can differ with different hosts!


Installing Your Forum

Now this is the fun part!

Go to either or

If this page does not show, make sure you have uploaded the entire Install directory.

By default the board language will be English, but you can install more later on. Unless you know otherwise, your database type will be either MySQL 3.x or MySQL 4.x. If you are unsure, ask your host! Make sure 'Install' is the Install Method set.

For your Database Server Hostname / DNS, enter the IP of the server with your database hosted on it. If you are unsure, set it to: localhost

If localhost does not work try Only after trying those should you contact your host for more details.

When it asks for your database name, simply log into your control panel and find the databases section, it should have something like 'List Databases'. Find your forum database that you made in the last chapter, and enter that into the field provided! Then enter your database username. This is most often your domain name without the .com, .net etc. Now enter your database password, which is usually your account password unless you have been told otherwise by your host. You can easily change your password by clicking change password under the MySQL Admin Tool in the MySQL section. After you have filled that out choose what you want your phpBB database prefix to be. This can be anything you want, as long as it ends with an underscore (_). By default it will be phpbb_, if you choose to change this to something else, remember to note what you changed it to!

For the Admin Email Address, enter your favourite email address. It doesn't matter who hosts your email account (Hotmail, Yahoo, CricketMX etc). Note that this email address will be shown when you send Mass Emails, Topic Reply Notification, and Registration Details. If it is a private email, it is not recommended you use it then. Most hosts that offer Email accounts will make a default one for you on registration, this default address is usually So you have the option of using that too!

In the domain name field enter (domain being your domain name), this will only work if you are having your forum as an extension of your domain (eg For subdomains, enter the subdomain address (eg

Your server port should be 80, if it is not your host will notify you.

Your phpBB script path, is if you are running it off an extension of the domain, the name of the extension (eg. on phpBB22 is the extension name). On a subdomain, usually the root will be your phpBB script path ( is the root) so just enter: /

Administrator Username, what do you want to be known as on your forum? The obvious choice is Admin, or Administrator, but that's not really very interesting! So choose a nickname for yourself, you will be glad in the long term!

Administrator Password, for security reasons, choose a password over 6 characters and be sure to include a few numbers as well! In the confirm box, enter the exact same password. Be sure to note your Admin username and password.

Double check everything, and press the Start Install button. You will get an error if there are any problems...

If you CHMOD'd config.php correctly when uploading the files, you will get a button stating Finish Installation. Click it. Now go back to your FTP and CHMOD config.php to 644, press OK. While you are on your FTP, delete the Install and Contrib directories. Leaving these here reveals a security hole that could put your forum at risk! To delete them, hold down Ctrl and click Install and Contrib once each. Right click one of those folders once and click Delete. Then click Yes. Now your forum is ready to use, to make sure, go to your domain extension ( or your subdomain ( If there is an error, make sure you followed every step and that every file has been uploaded, otherwise you should see an Index page with a Test Forum 1, and a post within stating that phpBB has been installed successfully.


Configuring Your Forum

Now that you have installed your forum successfully, you want to make it your own. Scroll to the bottom of the index page, and enter your login details. Press Login. Now scroll to the bottom of the page and click Go To Administration Panel. On the left you will see a navigational bar, so we shall start from the top. Remember, as an administrator of your board, you have full control over all aspects. This includes usergroups that you are not Group Moderator of, you will have access to every forum and have full Moderator capabilities. We shall start from the top of the navigational panel:


Admin Index

Here you can view your forum's statistics, posts per day, topics per day, users per day, database size etc. This is pretty self explanatory. Below that you will see a list of users that are currently online with their login time and whereabouts they are in the forum.


Forum Index

This will simply take you back to your forum home.


Preview Forum

This will take you to your forum home, but the Admin navigational bar on your left will remain there.



This is the most important part of the admin panel, this is where you control the forums. You can add new categories, add forums, delete categories and forums, edit them, move them and resync them. This is all pretty straight forward, firstly you need to make a new category. To do this type in the name of what you want it to be in the field provided, then click Create New Category, do the same to add a forum to a category except add the future forum name to the field with Create New Forum to the right of it. When making a new forum you will see several options;

Forum Name: Incase you decide you don't like the previous name, you can switch it here

Description: A brief description of that forum, this will be shown on the index

Auto Prune: Pretty straight forward, if enabled it will delete topics that have not been active in a specified timeframe

When using the move up, move down controls, it will move the forums place on the index, jumpbox etc. Resyncing makes sure that the forums post count is correct.



From here you can set who has access to each forum, to do this select a forum and click Look Up Forum, then select Simple Mode if it is not already in that;

Public: Guests and Registered Users have full access*

Registered: Guests can only view, Registered Users have full access*

Registered (Hidden): Guests cannot view topics, Registered Users have full access*

Private: View topic privileges only available to users and groups that the Admin allows. They have full access*

Private (Hidden): Only available to users and groups that the Admin allows. They have full access*

Moderators: Mods of that forum can only view the topics

Moderators (Hidden): Mods of that forum are the only ones that can view that particular forum on the index

*By default only Moderators and Administrators can create Sticky's and Announcements


Only Moderators have access to the Moderator Control Panel, so only Mods can Lock, Move, Split, Delete whole topics. Administrators have access to all forums.



Quickly delete all topics from a certain forum that have not been posted in a certain set timeframe.


Backup Database

This is one of the most useful features of the Admin Panel, it allows you to backup the phpBB tables from your database. In other words it means if something happens to your forum you can quickly get it back up and running without loss of data.

When backing up for the first time, choose Full Backup, this option backs up everything to do with phpBB. Structure Only just backs up the table and row structure of your database. Data Only just backs up the data.

Any other programs that use the same database with phpBB but with a different table prefix can also be downloaded along with phpBB, to back that up too, enter the prefix of the tables that program uses. If you don't understand about other table prefix's with phpBB's database, you probably won't have to worry as you most likely haven't installed any other programs that use that particular database!

If your server enables it you can Gzip (compress) the file for a faster download.

To begin backing up, click Start Backup.



Probably the hardest section of the Admin Panel to grasp, it is also one of the most important;

General Board Settings

Domain Name: Straight out domain or subdomain name

Server Port: Usually 80, you will be notified if otherwise

Script Path: Whatever the extension off your domain is, for a subdomain enter /

Site Name: The name that appears on the index and every other page. Refrain from using "Forum" in the name

Site Description: A brief description of your board

Disable Board: Will disable board to everyone but administrators, good if you're installing a MOD

Enable Account Activation: User = Email | Admin = Admin verification | None = User can immediately login and post

User Email Via Board: Users can email each other via the board

Flood Interval: The amount of time in seconds in which users have to wait before posting again

Topics Per Page: How many topics will be displayed in viewforum.php (also applies to memberlist.php)

Posts Per Page: How many posts are shown on viewtopic.php

Posts For Popular Threshold: How many posts a topic needs before the forum considers it 'popular'

Default Style: If you have more than one Theme (Style) you can choose the default for the board.

Override User Style: If you have more than one theme you can force all users to view just the one

Default Language: If more than one language is installed you can choose a default for the board

Date Format: Read here for information on the PHP date syntax

System Timezone: The default timezone for your forum

Enable Gzip Compression: Compress your forums database (if the server allows it)

Enable Pruning: Delete topics without a post for a specified timeframe


Cookie Settings

Cookie Domain: The domain for your cookie, leave blank unless told otherwise by your host

Cookie Name: Choose what you want the name of your cookie to be

Cookie Path: Path to your cookie, leave blank unless told otherwise by your host

Cookie Secure: If running off SSL set to enabled, otherwise leave as disabled

Session Length: Amount of idle time a user stays in for without being automatically logged out (In seconds)


Private Messaging

Private Message: If disabled, users cannot PM (Private Message) each other on your board

Max Posts In Inbox: Maximum number of PM's a user can store in their Inbox

Max Posts In Sentbox: Maximum number of PM's a user can store in their Sentbox

Max Posts In Savebox: Maximum number of PM's a user can store in their Savebox


User & Forum Basic Settings

Max Number Of Poll Options: Most options a user can have when posting a poll

Allow HTML: Allow users to post HTML within their posts

Allowed HTML Tags: The HTML commands users are allowed to use

Allow BBCode: Allow people to use BBCode when posting

Allow Smilies: Allow smilies to be used on your board

Smilies Storage Path: Where are the smilies on your board stored? Default is images/smilies/

Allow Signatures: Lets you decide if you want people to have signatures under their posts

Maximum Signature Length: Maximum amount of characters allowed in a users signature

Allow Username Changes: Lets your members change their username


Avatar Settings

Enable Gallery Avatars: Lets users choose from a gallery you choose

Enable Remote Avatars: Lets users link to other sites

Enable Avatar Uploading: Allows users to upload an avatar from their machine

Maximum Avatar Filesize: Maximum size the avatar can be in KB

Maximum Avatar Dimensions: Maximum size in pixels

Avatar Storage Path: Similar to Smilies Storage Path, except with avatars (Directory must be CHMOD'd to 777)

Avatar Gallery Path: The directory in which phpBB looks for your gallery avatars


COPPA Settings*

COPPA Fax Number: The Fax Number that parents send their child's registration form to

COPPA Mailing Address: The Postal Address that parents send their child's registration form to


Email Settings

Admin Email Address: The address shown when Topic Reply Notifications, Mass Email etc are sent

Email Signature: The signature sent on these emails

Use SMTP Server For Email: Use an SMTP Server for emails rather than PHP

SMTP Server Address: The address of your SMTP Server

SMTP Username: Enter a username if your server requires it

SMTP Password: Enter a password if your server requires it


*COPPA Settings only apply in the US. If your server is located outside of the US, you can ignore the COPPA Section

Mass Email

Very useful if you want to send out a newsletter, a public announcement, or inform a usergroup of a new member. It is very simple to do, simply click Mass Email in the ACP (Admin Control Panel). Choose the usergroup you want to email, or if you want to email all members on your board, leave it on All Users. Type in a subject, a brief description of your email. Then in the large box, type your email. Once you have typed it up, click E-Mail. Depending on the number of users your board has, or the number of members in a usergroup this process could take a while. So don't interrupt the process by clicking Stop or Refresh, just wait until you get a message that it has completed successfully!


Restore Database

If you have a crash on your forum, you can restore your database by using this nifty function! This will only work if you have previously made a backup of your database. Read here for information on how to backup!

Find the backup on your PC after clicking the Browse button. Only do this if absolutely necessary as it overwrites any data on the database!

If the backup size is over 2MB there is a chance it will not upload as your webhost may not allow files over a certain size to be uploaded. If this is the case, read alternate methods of restoring a database here.



This is where you control the smilies shown on your board, you can edit, delete and add smilies or smiley paks at the click of a button! To upload a smiley pak, make sure the *.pak is in the smilies directory along with the smilies you want to upload. Click the Add Smiley Pak button and click the Pak you want to add. Then click Submit!

To upload an individual one, click Add A New Smilie, add a smilie code, find the image, and add a one or two word description! It's as simple as that, click Submit to enter it.


Word Censors

It is extremely easy to add a word to the censor list, just click Add New Word, add the 'bad word', then add the replacement. For example, if you were to add the word crap as a 'bad word' and you made the replacement ****, in all posts, Pm's and your signature the word will show as ****. To add the word, click Submit.



This is where you manage the usergroups on your forum. To create a group, click the Create New Group button. It will ask you for a group name, this only has to be a few words (eg Moderator Group). It then asks for a description, in this area simply describe the purpose of the group. For a Moderator Group for instance, you may have something like "The team that keep this forum running smoothly". It all depends on the type of group you are making.

When it asks for a group moderator, enter a username. Who you choose will be in total control of the usergroup! This means they will get emails from users wanting to join, and can add members at the click of a button. So make sure the person you choose is trustworthy of the position!

In the final box, it asks you whether you want to make the group:


Open to all members of your board, meaning they can join immediately



Only an Admin or Group Moderator can add a member



Only an Admin or Group Moderator can add a member, the usergroup is not shown on any forums, or usergroup lists

Once you are happy with the settings, click Submit!

There are only a few more settings when editing a usergroups; find the group from the list and click Look Up Group. The new options are:

Delete The Old Group Moderator

By leaving this unchecked, it means you can make a new group moderator whilst the old one just becomes a regular member of the group


Delete Group

Check this, click Submit and the group is no more


Find the group whose permissions you want to set, click Look Up Group. It's dead simple, on Simple mode that is! Choose what forums you want the particular group to be a moderator in by finding the forum, and selecting Is Moderator from the drop down box on the far right. If you have made a certain forum Private (Hidden) or Moderators (Hidden), then you can give a group access to this forum by choosing Allowed Access in the middle column, next to the appropriate forum. Any forums you don't want the group to access, leave on Disallowed Access. The same goes for moderating a forum, leave it on Not Moderator if you don't want them to Mod that forum.

The Advanced Mode is fractionally harder, just giving more indepth options to choose from. For example, View. If you want them to view this forum, leave it on On. Read, if you want them to be able to read topics in that forum, leave it on On. And so on, you get the idea!

As usual, to save the changes, click Submit!



Adding themes, first of all you need to download a theme to add, read more here! This section is dead easy, simply click the style you want to make available to your forum, and click Install. You're done!



This is the part of making a new theme that is fun and interesting, but first we have to make the foundations of the theme. Unsure what I'm talking about? Click here!

You must remember that when making your theme, only use an Alphanumeric code. This means that EFF2F8 would be a valid code while #EFF2F8 would not. For a full list of colour codes, check out this site!

Enter your theme name in the first box and then find your theme name from the dropdown list and select it. Most of the settings in this list are self explanatory, but we will go through a few anyway. The columns that matter most are Theme Element and Value. Simple Name is not important;


Theme Element Value Simple Name
CSS Stylesheet:

Location of CSS file (eg ThemeName.css)

Background Image: Location of background image (Web Address Format)  
Background Colour: Colour of Background (eg EFF2F8)  
Text Colour: The colour of text on your forum (eg 000000)  
Link Colour: The colour hyperlinks will appear (eg 587EA5)  


And so on, as you can see, Simple Name really has no purpose. Once you have completed the full list, preview your theme by clicking Submit, and selecting it from the list of themes in your Profile! If it doesn't appear how you would like it, click here for information on how to edit it.



This simply gives you the option to update your theme_info.cfg file, find the theme you want to update from the list, and click Submit. If it fails, you will have the option to download the file yourself and upload it manually.



This is where you control your themes. You can edit them, rename them or delete them. The edit function is for changing a colour in an existing theme. Handy if you're a Style Designer, you can quickly change a colour and preview it again! The window is exactly the same as the one you see in the Create category! As usual, once you are ready to enter the changes, click Submit!

To make a theme unavailable to your forum, go back to Management, find the theme, and click Delete. To permanently delete it you must go to your FTP Server and delete the folder that the theme resides in manually (Right click the folder, and click Delete).


Ban Control

This is where you control everything to do with Banning! So you have a troublemaker on your board, from here, you can make sure they never set foot in your forum again!

Banning can be undone if you ever need to, so don't worry about that!

To ban a user, type their username into the first box onto the screen, and down the bottom click Submit!

To unban a user or multiple users, in the second field click the username, or if there are several you want to unban, in most cases use the Ctrl key, and click their names. As per usual, click Submit.

To ban an IP address, IP Range or Hostname do the following:

Single IP Address

Simply enter the IP into the box provided (eg


IP Range

Enter a range into the box provided (eg



A hostname is a name on a network, if you are with a webhost, you will rarely, most likely never need to ban a hostname. If you are running the server yourself, you can ban a computer that is part of a network

To unban IP addresses or hostnames, either click the single one you want to unban, or use Ctrl+Click to select several. Click Submit to enter your changes to the database!


To ban an email address, or email provider (which could include an ISP) enter the full email address into the box provided. If you want to stop all people from a certain email address address provider from registering, use * as a wildcard (eg *


To unban a email addresses, use the same method as with all. Single click the one you want to unban, or Ctrl+Click if you want to unban several. Again, click Submit to save the changes!


Disallow Names

This section is for disallowing future members from specifying a certain username, if someone has already registered with that name, you must first change their username, then continue with this. It is very simple, and quite similar to Ban Control. Enter in the username that you want to disallow, and click Add. Later you may want to re-allow a username, so you simply find the name you want to allow from the dropdown list, click it, and click Delete.

As with Ban Control, use * as a wildcard. (eg If you set *crap* as a disallowed name, craphead would also be considered disallowed)



Yet another Mangement within the Admin Panel, however this is for managing users! If you want to edit a users rights, or make them active, change their rank, or even delete them, you can do all this from here! Type in the users name (Or use Find A Username) then click Look Up User! What you see is almost identical to your own Profile, so we will only go through the Admin Only section, which is right down the bottom;

User Is Active
This is where you can verify users, supposing in the configuration you set Enable Account Activation to Admin, simply set it to Yes if you want them to be active, and No if you don't


Can Send Private Messages

If you're getting complaints from members about so and so PM'ing you, you can stop them accessing their PM's by setting this option to No


Can Display Avatar

If you don't want a particular user displaying their avatar, set this to No


Rank Title

Here, you can give users Special Ranks that you determine in the Ranks section of the Admin Panel


Delete This User

Check this box to delete this user from the database, beware this cannot be undone!

As usual, to enter the changes, click Submit.



You can alter a users permissions here, which forums the can access and be a moderator in! Type in their username (or use Find A Username) and click Look Up User. Be aware that any group permissions that may affect the user will override the individual users permissions. Like Group Permissions, if there are any Private forums, you can give the user access to it be finding the forum name and clicking Allowed Access! Same goes for Moderation, find the forum you want the user to Moderate, and click Is Moderator.

On the advanced mode, you can decide whether you want them to View the forum, view topics, post, edit etc. Simply choose Yes or No when you want to make a change. Click Submit to enter your changes!



Finally you must be saying! We have come to the final section of the Admin Panel!

To add a rank to the board, click the Add New Rank button, and choose a rank title (eg New Member). Decide if you want to make it a special rank, a rank only you can set from the User Management section of the Admin Panel! Or a non-special rank that you achieve by posting a certain amount of posts. If you want to do the latter, enter a number of posts in the Minimum Posts box. To set an image for the rank, you need to upload the image first (or link offsite if you have permission of the webmaster of that site). Go to a site like and find ranks that suit your forums colour scheme, upload them to the phpBB root, and enter the name of the image into Rank Image section. Remember to include the file extension as well (eg siteadmin5.gif would be correct, siteadmin5 being the filename and .gif being the extension).

To submit this to the database, click... you guessed it. Submit!


Alternate Ways To Restore A Database

If the file is more than 2MB, the chances are that it will not upload because your webhost does not allow it! Don't give up yet though! Most hosts give bonus software when you buy your account with them, one such example is phpMyAdmin. This is a great program that gives you direct access to all of your databases, one feature is the ability to upload databases.

If you didn't get phpMyAdmin with your account, download the software from and read the documentation that comes with it to install.

Now always try uploading the backup as a whole database first, you never know, it might have been an error in phpBB, so to upload it, choose your forum database from the list on the sidebar, then go to SQL on the top menu. Choose "Browse" and search for the database backup. Once you find it, press OK. Make sure in phpMyAdmin the button is set to AutoDetect. Then click Go.

Hopefully this method should work, but in the event that it doesn't, there is one more thing to try! You can try splitting the file, a long process but worth a try!

It is pretty simple to actually do, but is quite time-consuming. First of all, find out the size of your database and divide it by 2. Whatever the answer is, is how many files you will need to make (x). Just create a blank *.sql file and copy it x many times. Go back to your backup file and copy that (just incase something goes wrong). Now, to split it. Go about a x of the way down and find at the end of one of the lines a semicolon:



For example, the semicolon in the following statement is highlighted in red:

FIND phpbb2_posts;


So then cut everything above that into one of the other text files. As long as the last statement in the file ends with ; you should be fine!


Then upload each file individually!


Installing Themes On Your Forum

Nothing is wrong with the default theme subSilver, it has it all! Every MOD made with the wider phpBB in mind is compatible with it, it's slick, smooth... maybe not sexy, but you get the idea! But being the default theme for phpBB, it is used everywhere! And after a while it can get a bit boring, so you find a new one! The number one stop for themes is the Styles section of You can find the styles section at and a demo at Once you've found a theme you like, download it and unzip it! Find the theme folder (eg If the path to posting_body.tpl was C:\My Documents\AuthorName\theme\posting_body.tpl\, theme would be the theme folder. Of course the name will change depending on what theme you actually have! So you drag the folder theme into phpBB Root/templates/ on your FTP Server using a program like SmartFTP. Once this is done install it by going to Add, under Styles in your Admin Panel, finding the theme name, and clicking Install!


Creating A New Theme

It's not easy! It is one of the hardest things you will have to do on you board! First of all, decide what style you want to base yours on. Usually people choose subSilver, it is the easiest one to modify. So we will use that as the example. Bare in mind that if you decide to base it off another theme, you should always email the creator first and get his consent.

The next thing you need to decide, is what you are going to name your new theme, once you have decided on a name, go to your FTP Server, and copy the subSilver directory to your hard drive! The reason we get it from the FTP Server is so that you will retain all your MOD's!

Once it is on your hard drive, right click the folder, and select rename. Now type the name of the theme you are going to create. Now open the folder and find the files: subSilver.cfg, subSilver.css and rename them to YourThemeName.cfg and YourThemeName.css. Obviously you replace YourThemeName with the appropriate name.

With the following files, open them in your favourite text editor. For example, Notepad. Go to the Edit menu, and select Relplace. In the first box, type subSilver and in the second box type your theme name. Then click Replace All! The files to do this to are:














Now to do the same to the following files within the admin folder!





Now you are ready to start styling your theme, for information on how to do this, click here!



Where would the phpBB community be without MOD's? MOD's are Modifications to the phpBB program. They often add cool new features, modify existing ones, or change the appearance of your forum. They're excellent! has installed many MOD's. Cash Mod, Attachment Mod, External Forum Redirect... read the full list here!

Anyway, I will discuss how to install MOD's. I won't go through how to create a MOD as this is very time consuming and extensive PHP and MySQL knowledge is required! Also, then we're going into a broader programming territory, and as this is a phpBB tutorial, it won't really fit;


Difficulty Level

When you start Modding, I suggest you start with easier MOD's. Ones that are "Easy" and "5 Minutes". I assure you that if you start with these you will be more comfortable when you go for harder ones, like "Intermediate" "30 Minutes". 


Where Can I find a MOD?

The two best sites on the Internet to find phpBB MOD's are and If you've never dealt with MOD's before, just browse through the database and look for one that takes your fancy, if you're a beginner, I suggest looking at first as all MOD's in their database are thoroughly validated. Follow the download link, and depending on the way it is packaged (zip, rar, mod etc) you will need to find an Install file (if it is a *.mod file you don't have to do anything, just follow the link!). You will know if you have the right document because it will look like:

## MOD Title: Title
## MOD Version: Version
## Author: Name < Email Address > (Website)
## Description: Description
## Installation Level: Level (Easy / Intermediate / Moderate / Advanced)
## Installation Time: Estimated Time In Minutes
## Files To Edit: Files you need to edit, can be in number format or files could be listed
## Included Files: Files included, can be in number format or files could be listed
## This MOD is released under the GPL License.
## Intellectual Property is retained by the MOD Author(s) listed above
## Authors Notes: Any things you need to know about the file
## MOD History:
##   YYYY-MM-DD - Version x.x.x
##      - version notes go here
## Before Adding This MOD To Your Forum, You Should Back Up All Files Related To This MOD

#-----[ ACTION ]------------------------------------------

#-----[ SAVE/CLOSE ALL FILES ]----------------------------
# EoM


Before You Start!

You must understand that when you MOD files, you will have to MOD all the files, not the ones you want to! Also, Modding the Theme files can prove very annoying and difficult. More so if you are using a theme that isn't based on subSilver. Because all MOD's that are made in accordance with phpBB's policies are made for subSilver, you need to find similarities in code... but we will discuss that later.


Modding The Files

Firstly, I will discuss the different Actions you will come across; and what you need to do when you come across them.

We will start by looking at the uploading part. This tells you where you upload certain files:

/mod/root/mod_inst.php -> mod_inst.php


This is telling you that 'mod_inst.php' needs to be uploaded to your phpBB root.

/mod/root/language/lang_english/lang_mod.php -> /language/lang_english/lang_mod.php


This is telling you to upload 'lang_mod.php' to lang_english in the language folder.

/mod/root/templates/subSilver/mod_layout.tpl -> /templates/subSilver/mod_layout.tpl


This is telling you to upload 'mod_layout.tpl' to the subSilver folder within the templates directory. As you can see by this last statement, it does not matter what extension the file has, the method will remain the same.


Before you start actually Modding the files, you should know what the SQL Query does:

#-----[ SQL ]-------------------------------------------------


To execute the SQL Query that follows, copy it (Highlight the text, Ctrl+C) go to phpMyAdmin and find your database. Select it, go to the SQL tab and in the large box, paste it (Ctrl+V). Click Go, you're done!


Now here's how to actually Mod the files. Remember not to use FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Word etc! Notepad or Wordpad will do the job fine, however, a program like EditPlus2 that is meant to edit *.php and *.tpl files is also strongly recommended:

#-----[ OPEN ]------------------------------------------


Below the last hash, it will list the file that you need to open.

#-----[ OPEN ]------------------------------------------


Obviously, it's telling you to open sessions.php in the includes directory. If it is in the root, it will simply say the filename (eg index.php).

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------


It will list a line or more of code to search the document for. If you use Notepad or Wordpad, you can achieve this by Copying the code, doing Ctrl+F in the file which you were told to open and pasting the code. Click Find, it will then highlight what it finds for you! You will then need to do one of the following actions, it depends on the MOD you want to install.

#-----[ REPLACE WITH ]------------------------------------------


Replace the code you just searched for with this code is basically what it's trying to say.

#-----[ AFTER, ADD ]------------------------------------------


Add this code, the line after what you just searched for. Here is an example:

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------
$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_name'];

#-----[ AFTER, ADD ]------------------------------------------
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];


So the final product would be:

$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_name'];
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];


Another common action you will come across, is Before, Add. This tells you to add some code the line before what you searched for:

#-----[ BEFORE, ADD ]------------------------------------------


For example:

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];

#-----[ BEFORE, ADD ]------------------------------------------
$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_name'];


The final product will be:

$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_name'];
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];


There are several more actions you will need to know, they are Replace With, In Line Find, In Line After Add, In Line Before Add and EoM respectively:

#-----[ REPLACE WITH ]------------------------------------------


Replace the code you searched for with this code, for example:

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];

#-----[ REPLACE WITH ]------------------------------------------
echo = '$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_path']['cookie_name']';


The final product would be:

echo = '$cookiename = $board_config['cookie_path']['cookie_name']';


In Line Find is a tricky one, first you search for the code with the FIND query and you find a certain code within that line, then using In Line After, Add or In Line Before, Add you perform the action. In the following example, In Line After, Add will be demonstrated.

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];

#-----[ IN-LINE FIND ]------------------------------------------

#-----[ IN-LINE AFTER, ADD ]------------------------------------------


The final product would be:

$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_name']['cookie_path'];


Now In Line Before, Add is demonstrated:

#-----[ FIND ]------------------------------------------
$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_path'];

#-----[ IN-LINE FIND ]------------------------------------------

#-----[ IN-LINE BEFORE, ADD ]------------------------------------------


So the final product will be:

$cookiepath = $board_config['cookie_name']['cookie_path'];


Pretty easy huh!

The last thing you need to know is:

#-----[ SAVE/CLOSE ALL FILES ]------------------------------------------
# EoM


This is telling you to Save all changes to the files you have edited, and close them. EoM meaning End of Mod.

Now you just need to upload all the files you edited to their rightful place (eg includes.php goes into the includes directory, index.php belongs in the root etc). Make sure you backup all the files first! If you're dealing with SQL, remember to backup your database as well!



EasyMod by Nuttzy99 is an automatic MOD installer. While it is sometimes easier to use, it can be a pain if you have more than one style! I have not used this program extensively, so for more information you will have to visit



Installing languages are very easy thankfully! Firstly, find the language you want to install at and download the zip file of it. Unzip it in WinZip and upload the langauge folder root to the forum under the languages directory. That's it! It installs itself automatically!

Be aware that if you have any MOD's installed on the forum, you will need to MOD the new language files!


Converting To phpBB From Other Forum Software

It's not an area I have dealt with before, and can vary depending on what forum software you are converting from. So check out at and read the documentation that comes with the software.



The final step of the phpBB journey! You may be stuck with one of the older versions such as 2.0.5, and you have a heavily Modded board. But you want to upgrade, so what are you to do?

To start off, this is what you do on a vanilla (Unmodded) phpBB board. Go to and click the Zip of the changed files. Download it and unzip, find your version, say 2.0.5, you would look for the 2.0.5_to_2.0.18 file. So you unzip that. Upload all the files to their rightful folder on your FTP server, and then run update_to_210.php from the install directory.

If you have a Modded forum, you will need to upgrade manually (or through EasyMod if you have it installed). You will however have to upgrade one version at a time, so if you have 2.0.3, you will need to manually edit the files to 2.0.4, then 2.0.5 and so on. To find the changes, search through Unfortunately, 2.0.5 to 2.0.6 is the oldest upgrade file there. So for users that wish to upgrade from 2.0.4 or lower, I suggest trying or even a simple Google search!


Now you know how to run your phpBB board, but like every other thing in life, you will in time find problems. If indeed you need support for phpBB, try the official phpBB forums. There are over a million posts there so your question has probably already been answered, always search for it first. You could also ask the question in the Technical Support forum here at

All articles are their original authors

This Tutorial Is

Please note that this article is from November 23rd, 2004, and many aspects of phpBB may have changed since then. Generally, the information is still relevant.