How To: Install Forum Software phpBB 3 on Windows Home Server

This week, we have shown you how to install your own blog on Windows Home Server, powered by WordPress, as well as your own wiki, both of which you can do once you have installed PHP for IIS.  Now we are going to to show you how to install your very own personal forum, so you can go and create your own Windows Home Server community that kicks We Got Served’s ass! 🙂  The forum software we are going to use is phpBB – it is very well established and works very well. Now as to why you would want to install a forum, or why you want to install phpBB3 over something else?  Well, phpBB3 says it best on their About page!

Also, check out the WGS Wiki for the most up to date version!

What you will need

What to do

Before you do anything else, make sure php is already installed.  If it isn’t, click the link above and go ahead and do that first.

First of all, you are going to want to download phpBB and Image Magic and put them on a network share. Then you are going to either use Remote Desktop Connection or Advanced Admin Console to gain access to the server.

Install phpBB

First things first, install ImageMagick. This program will be used by phpBB in the background to render thumbnails while keeping them fairly decent quality. After that is done, open up the phpbb zip file and extract the phpbb3 folder to "C:\inetpub\". It should look something like this:

Now, right click on the phpbb3 folder and select “Properties”. Find and open the security tab. Click the “Advanced” button. Now, click the “Add…” button. Add the user "IUSR_SERVER", replacing "SERVER" with whatever you named your server. For instance, I named my server "UMMON", so I added "IUSR_UMMON". Now give that user Full Control. Enable “Replace permission entries on all child objects with entries shown here that apply to child objects”, and click okay.

  • This will reset permissions on the files, and will revert back to being unchecked when it is done.

Now find “Administrative Tools” and open “Internet Information Services.” Under your computer’s name there is three entries. Open “Websites”, and then find “Default Web Site.” Right click on it and open the “New” group and select “Virtual Directory.” Not Virtual Directory from file. Now give the alias “phpbb3” or whatever you want. This will be the path to your phpBB installation. Click “Next” and set the path to “C:\inetpub\phpbb3”. Click “Next”. It will give you options for the new virtual directory. Tell it to “Read”, and “Run scripts”. Now you are done setting up the web service side of it.

Virtual Dir

Now we just need configure the database.

Configure Database

Go the the start menu, and run “MySQL Command Line Client”. This will immediately ask you to enter a password. Enter the password you used when setting up MySQL. Now you need to create the database that phpBB3 is going to use. We’re going to the name “phpbb3” for the database. Feel free to change the name to whatever you want. It should look like this:

mysql> create database phpbb3;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.01 sec)

Now that we have created the database, we need to create a user specifically for phpBB because using the root account is very unsafe and recommended that you never do it. So we are going to create the username and give it permission to use the new database. The username we are going to use is “phpbb3admin” and the password “phpbb3password”. It should look like this:

mysql> use phpbb3;
Database changed
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON phpbb3.* to phpbb3admin@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'phpbb3password';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

Now you have the database and the info you need. Again, you will need to remember this or write it down.

Configure phpBB3

Now navigate to your forum. It should look something like: "" and you should see a page like this:

Click The install tab at the top to start the installation. It will give you another welcome screen and go ahead and proceed to the next step. This page will list a number of requirements for phpBB3. Everything except some of the database should be green. As long as “MySQL” or “MySQL with MySQLi Extension” are available, you will be fine. Now click “Start Install” and you should see a page like this:

Enter in all the information that you see up there, except for what you have changed. Click “Proceed to Next Step”. It should tell you it was successful. Good. Now continue to the next step. It will ask you for Administrator details. Go ahead and set those how you want and then “Proceed to next step”. And again, and again. This time, most of the settings here should not need to be configured. phpBB does a pretty good job of detecting these settings. Proceed, and proceed again. Now you should see this:

Now go back to "c:\inetpub\phpbb3" and delete the "install" directory, or else you won’t be able to You are now done. Go ahead and log in and play around with your new forum!

Stay tuned for more later, and head over to the forum for questions or if you have ideas for more php packages!


  1. Isn’t PHPBB one of the most common attack vectors and most breached pieces of software on web servers? While I’m not certain it would give access to the server itself, users would want to keep on top of updates religiously to avoid falling prey to an exploit.

  2. Technically exposing your computer is the biggest security risk. And phpBB3 is much improved over v2, but then again phpBB is probably the most popular and most used forum software out there. Not to mention, regardless of what software you are using, you always want to stay up to date. This is no exception. Especially with software that is exposed to the internet.

    While I understand your concern, and am absolutely not dismissing it, phpBB3 is vastly improved over v2, and a huge overhaul was done on it.

  3. v1 was like that. The only people who get attacked are the weirdos who refuse to update.

    Unless you have a large upload bandwidth through your ISP, I couldn’t imagine running a phpbb board out of house!

  4. Well, you don’t need a huge amount of bandwidth. I’m running my site on 512mbps upload (which is 512mbps max download for you people) and it may be a bit slow with images, but it isn’t bad. Now if you are going to be running hundreds of users, then yeah. But if it is friends and family, then you will be more than fine.

  5. Just found your site by accident doing a search for something completely unrelated. Looks like you have some good stuff here! Added your RSS feed to my rss reader, looking forward to reading more.

  6. This is really great thanks! One question though…how do I change the headers on the phpBB front page..or change the look in general? I don’t see an option in the ACP

  7. Thanks Drashna – I see the themes selection but at the top of the page there is a little modifiable text “ A short text to describe your forum” and I’m looking to change this. It doesn’t appear the themes control this. Any ideas?

  8. Hi – I just installed windows home server and wanted to make a PHP site for the learning experience. Decided I was going to go with phpbb3 because I was most familar with this.

    I configured PHP to work with IIS, however I am stuck on the part where it states

    Go the the start menu, and run “MySQL Command Line Client”. This will immediately ask you to enter a password. Enter the password you used when setting up MySQL. Now you need to create the database that phpBB3 is going to use. We’re going to the name “phpbb3″ for the database. Feel free to change the name to whatever you want. It should look like this:

    When I run it – says it does not exist do I need to download this software?

  9. I am having difficulties getting this installed properly. I have followed all the instructions exactly as stated here for installing phpBB3. I installed PHP, mySQL etc… I keep getting an error page instead of the install page. I made a link on the “home” page of my site for access to the forum. All the access permissions were set, I restarted several times, the SQL service is running. Only thing that appears to be odd is PHP extension files, when trying to open them, loop back to an open dialog over and over again without actually opening it. Any ideas?

  10. First, I would be nice if people stopped posting spam here!!!!

    Second, even though I know that you could easily write the URL down or copy and paste it in IE and then bookmark it so your message is SPAM…

    But if there is any chance it is true, then if you followed the instructions exactly, first by installing MySQL, then installing PHPBB3 as above, it should work. If it is not working, start over fresh (i.e remove PHPBB3 and MySQL). I had to do that after it did not work the first time in order for PHPBB3 to work properly. I also had to use a different database name the second time around cause the first one was still in use even though I had removed MySQL.

  11. hi ive been at this for hours now and i cant get phpbb3 to see mysql and i have tried it with mssql with no luck so can someone help please and firefox screwed up so i cant add this to my book marks so could you send me an email please.

  12. Assuming you mean for WHS. There are a few good books out there, but check out the forums (search is your friend:)) and the WGS Wiki. Lots of good info in both.

  13. I have installed php and have been able to configure PhPbb but when I try to access the bb it says page cannot be displayed. Any Ideas? Please help.

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  16. My SQL command clinet is not accepting the following syntax:

    GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON phpbb3.* to phpbb3admin@localhost IDENTIFIED BY ‘phpbb3password’;

    It either tells me the syntax is incorrect and to check the manual or just gives me another line option. Everything to this point is perfect. Any thoughts? I have copied and pasted the text from the site into the command client and same issue (I ensured that no extra spaces were pasted).

  17. Hello.
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