PhpBB 3 Review

(July 31, 2006 23:33)
Last Version 3.1.2 (November, 25 2014). Released under GPL License.
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PhpBB is one of the oldest, and without any possible doubts, the most used forum software around the world. This is so true that many users think that PhpBB is the official definition of a forum community on Internet. We have reviewed the 3rd version of this forum software, released on December 13th, 2007. The official announcement was proud to declare that it took 5 years to improve PhpBB 2 to the official PhpBB 3, with more than 200.000 modified lines of code.

What has been improved?

  • Private Messages
  • Registration
  • Search
  • Admin Control Panel
  • Moderator Control Panel
  • Polls
  • Usergroups
  • Profile View
  • Permissions
  • User Management

What's new?

  • Attachments
  • Unlimited Subforums
  • Custom BBCodes
  • Custom Profile Fields
  • User Control Panel
  • New Moderating Tools
  • Caching and performance
  • Friends and Foes
  • Warnings and Reports

You will find an more complete documentation of what has changed between the version 2 and the version 3 of PhpBB : New features and improvements.

It's now time to review these differences.

Review Updates:

  • Decembre 13, 2010: Several improvements and additional information with PhpBB 3.0.8.
  • June 10, 2010: New improvements added to the review, based on PhpBB 3.0.7.
  • December 20, 2008: The live demonstration and review have been updated to the PhpBB 3.0.4 release

PhpBB 3 is recommended for Huge Community.

(and supports smaller communities perfectly as well.)

Server & Client Requirements

Server Requirements
Programming Language
Required Architecture and Versions.
  • PHP 4
  • PHP 5
Web Servers
How the forum is delivered to users.
  • Apache 1.3
  • Apache 2.0/2.2
  • Microsoft IIS
  • Lighttpd
  • Nginx
How Forum Data are Stored.
  • MySQL
  • Postgresql
  • SQLite
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Oracle
Operating Systems
Systems Supporting this Software.
  • GNU/LinuxGNU/Linux
  • BSD UnixBSD Unix
  • Microsoft WindowsMicrosoft Windows
  • Apple Mac OSApple Mac OS
Browser & Client Requirements
Compatible Browsers
List of Compatible Browsers.
Mozilla FirefoxMozilla FirefoxInternet ExplorerInternet Explorer
Google ChromeGoogle ChromeOperaOpera
Apple SafariApple SafariKonquerorKonqueror
Mozilla SeaMonkeyMozilla SeaMonkey
Required Plugins/Technologies
Additional or Basic Requirements from Client Side.
Languages supported by PhpBB 3.
Supported Languages:
Albanian Basque
Bulgarian Portuguese (Brazilian)
Belarusian Catalan
Chinese (Simplified) Czech
German Danish
Estonian Spanish
Finnish French
Galician Greek
Croatian Hungarian
Indonesian Hebrew
Persian Italian
Japanese Kurdish
Lithuanian Dutch
Norwegian Polish
Portuguese Romanian
Serbian Russian
Arabic Swedish
Slovene Sindhi
Slovak Thai
Turkish Ukrainian
English (British) English (American)
Vietnamese Chinese (Traditional)

Additional language packs could be found in the Php Language Packs website.

PhpBB 3 Topics List

PhpBB 3 supports 2 new database systems : Oracle and SQLite. These systems are totally different and prove that PhpBB can work in heterogeneous environments :

  • Oracle database for important systems
  • SQLite for web server without any database applications.

The other databases, of course are often used, depending in which environment you are (open source / LAMP or Microsoft environment).

Compatibility with Smartphones
Compatible SmartPhones
Compatible Cellphone Brands and Manufacturers.
  • AndroidAndroid
  • iPhoneiPhone
  • BlackBerryBlackBerry
  • Windows Phone 7Windows Phone 7
  • Symbian Phones <em>(Nokia)</em>Symbian Phones (Nokia)
  • HP WebOS <em>(ex-Palm)</em>HP WebOS (ex-Palm)
Application Distribution / Type
How it is distributed / App Store Availability
  • Android Market
  • Apple Store
  • Nokia Ovi Store
  • BlackBerry App World
TouchBB Forum Browser - Topics
TouchBB Forum Browser - Topics:

List of Topics

TouchBB Forum Browser - Write a comment
TouchBB Forum Browser - Write a comment:

How to Write a comment

  • TouchBB and TouchBB Lite are dedicated plugins for phpBB 2 and 3, available for iPhone.
  • Most of smartphones operating systems are supported thanks to the Tapatalk application.

Forum Threads & Posts

Forum Threads / Topics
Forum Style Flat Forum Organization
  • Forum Categories
  • URL Redirection Forum
  • Sub Sections
Thread Icons Yes Topic Tags Plugin
Hot Topics - Unread Topics Yes
Hidden Topics No Sticky Threads Yes
Related Threads Plugin Detect Duplicate Threads Plugin
Announcements Yes
Posting Messages / Answers
Message Editing Form
How to Post Messages.
  • Rich Text Editor
  • Preview Button
Post Editing Format
Supported Markup Language (HTML, Wiki, BBCode,...).
  • HTML
  • BBCode
Spell Checker
Checks typos on posts and topics.
Image Attachment
How Images can be Attached and Displayed in Message Posts.
  • Upload via Classic Attachments. Images are all at the end of the post.
  • Use BBCode or HTML. Need to type the URL of an already hosted image.
Embedded Videos
Videos and Media Websites Supported in Message Posts.
Posting Features
Quick Reply Box Yes Smileys Yes
Attachments Yes Syntax Highlighting Plugin
Message Rating
Plugin Message Quoting Yes

PhpBB 3 Post a reply

Posts is PhpBB 3 are really well managed. The posting form is really complete and well design. You will only see the most used features (smileys, formatting buttons,...) on the main part of the screen, when optional features are more hidden in sub-tabs (polls, attachments,...) It's really difficult to find better designed form in the forum software world.

Additional & Technical Features

Additional Forum Features
Poll Creation Yes
Private Messages
Users Can Communicate using an Internal Messaging System.
Instant Messaging
Discuss with Visitors and Members in a Chat Window.
Topic, Member Birthdays, Events are available from the perspective of a calendar.
Online Users List
Connected User List (Often Found in the Forum Footer).
Members List
Search and Consult the List of Members.
Technical Features
Bundled Software
Additional Software Available with the Forum.
RSS/Atom Syndication
Posts and Threads Exported to Feeds Aggregators Syndicate.
Friendly URLs
URLs are clear and contain information about the topic (title, message,...). Highly recommended for SEO purposes.
Post by Email
Post Directly From your Email Box.
Remote Control
Remote Control from External Software/Websites.
Cache System
Cache pages to optimize bandwidth and load times.
Template Engine
It is easier to theme a forum using a known template engine (more docs & examples,...).
  • Custom Template Engine

PhpBB 3 Forum Permissions

Users management and additional features are very good points of PhpBB 3. You can configure really precisely who see what and what can be modified by who.

PhpBB 2 themes seem to be compatible with this release, but we do not no more about plugins (especially administration extensions, which have been totally rewritten)

User Profiles & Options

Some details about PhpBB 3 features regarding members.
Member Options & Features
Bookmark Threads
User Profiles Keep a List of Followed Posts and Topics.
Email Notifications
Receive Emails When New Messages are Posted in Followed Threads.
Export private messages
Private Messages can be Downloaded by Users.
Payment Subscriptions
Paying Membership Subscription.
User Profiles
User Profile
User Information and Settings.
Pictures of Members, Useful to Easily Identify their Posts.
Signatures Added at the Bottom of Each Message.
Tags and Labels Identifying the Members, based on specific criteria (Total Posts Count, Credits, Moderation Level...)

PhpBB 3 User Control Panel

Various features are also bundled with PhpBB 3, and that's why we love it!

Moderation & Users Management

Moderation & Threads Management
Pre-Moderation In pre-moderation, every post needs to be validated by a moderator before being published.
Post-Moderation The moderation is done afterwards, if an administrator notices a problem or if a member reports something wrong. Each message is therefore directly published.
Reactive Moderation By reporting any problems, members are reactive against moderation problems. Moderators' main objective is to regularly check user reports, without having to follow each threads.
Distributed Moderation By organizing the forum around moderators, who are usually power and experienced users, moderation is self-powered and only depends on the community.
Moderator per section Yes
Global Moderator Yes
Move Threads
Move Threads from Topics
Shadow Topics
When a thread is moved, the previous position is kept in order to inform users of this modification.
Close/Lock Threads
Close/Lock Problematic Threads
Users Management
User Groups
Organize and define groups of users, and apply different actions and settings on them.
Common Groups: Guests, Members, Moderators, Administrators,...
User Registration
  • Free Registration
  • Registration needs Approval
  • Invitation Only
  • Confirmation sent by email for validation
Limit Features For New Users
Features are limited if a user has created a small number of posts.
Guest Posting Yes
Multiple Administrators Yes
Send Warnings to Users
Inform users by email or PM that they infringe the board rules, and could be excluded for such behavior.
Forum/Section Restricted Access
ACL could be use to determine if a user or a group of users can access (in read only, post message) to some sections and topics.
User Banishment Yes

Administration & Support

PhpBB 3 Admin Control Panel

The Administration Control Panel is really complete, and quite well designed, in terms of ergonomics. However, we must admit it is quite long to set and configure a forum creation, and it's a little bit annoying for such common task, that you have to repeat a lot during the configuration of your entire board. We hope it will be improved soon.

Database Management
Backup Database
Backup forum datas that you could store somewhere else.
Prune Database
Remove old and unused datas from your forum.
Restore Database
Restore a backup of your database if the previous install crashed.
Administration Tools
Statistics about posts count, users, traffic...
Yes Error/Notice Log Viewer
Forum Logs could be consulted.
Tasks Scheduler
Maintenance tasks are regularly launched and could be scheduled.
Yes Mass Mailing
Send an email (newsletters, advertisements, information,...) to all users.
Installation & Upgrading
Installation Method
How this forum software could be installed.
Installation Wizard
Upgrading Method
How this forum software could be upgraded.
Upgrade Wizard
Updates Notifications
The Admin Panel informs you when a new version is released.
Forum Migration
Convert an existing forum to PhpBB 3.

PhpBB 3 Admin Logs

  • PhpBB 2.0.x
  • TikiWiki
  • UBB.threads
  • IPB
  • vBulletin
  • Php-Nuke
  • Wordpress
  • Proboards
  • SMF 1.1

Security & Spam Protection

Security & Spam Protection
Captcha protects your forum against spam bots.
e.g., Syndicate
Abnormal Behavior Detection
Detect users or request strange behaviors, and try to process proactive actions.
Words Filtering
Offensing Words are automatically replaced.
User Blacklist
Prevent specific user accounts to register (based on email address, name,...) and disable potentially harmful members.
IP Blocking
Prevent access to spam robots and other scripts that could attempt DDOS or Brute Force attacks on your forum.

Vulnerabilities Advisories Criticality

Secunia Criticality

Secunia Advisories severity affecting PhpBB 3.

Vulnerabilities Impact

Secunia Impact

Secunia Advisories impact affecting PhpBB 3.

Customization & Social Networks

Add new features to your forum installation.
~433 Available Plugins.
Modify the style of your forum easily.
~525 Available Themes.
Custom BBCodes Yes Smiley Packs Yes
Thread Icons
Yes Additional User Profile Fields
Ask more about your members with custom fields.
Integration with Applications, Social Networks, Intranet...
Social Networks
Users can share information from their social network account...
CMS / Blog Bridges
Integration with existing Web publishing tools.
  • Drupal
  • Joomla
User Accounts Integration
Do users be able to log in with their corporate, Google, Facebook,... accounts?
Content Aggregation
Forum allows to integrate news and content from other website, using an aggregation protocol (RSS, RDF, Atom,...).

PhpBB 3 Template Editor

For the moment, we do not know if PhpBB 3 will be easily plugged to existing CMS or Blog system. Likewise, existing user base mapping would probably need to be rewritten. So for the moment, don't expect to migrate easily if you use such connectors.

However, this is the first time that Forum Software Reviews team sees a bulletin board that is able to easily be plugged to an LDAP directory. A dedicated panel has been developed to allow this. OpenID is still not supported out-of-box, but a small plugins does the link to this single sign on protocol.

Another impressive feature is the connectivity with the Jabber protocol, which allow for example notification by instant messaging, and more over...

These are typically features that everybody looks for and that will allow PhpBB 3 staying the best forum software.

PhpBB allows interactivity and is well integrated to social networks using specific plugins.

W3C Norms & Accessibility

Norms & Accessibility
XHTML 1.0 Strict.
XHTML 1.0 Strict
Click to see if it respects HTML norms.
CSS Stylesheets
CSS 2.
Click to see if it respects CSS norms.
Accessibility (WAI)
Web Accessibility ensures that the forum is usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.
Conformance to AA level.
UTF-8 Support
Default encoding used to support all locales and countries.
Conformance to W3C Norms
Does PhpBB 3 correctly follow (X)HTML and CSS norms?

Finally, PhpBB follows W3C recommendations and now conforms to its norms (the default installation). That's a great news for webmasters thinking that accessibility and usability are key points to create a real and faithful community.

Recommended Books

Final Words


PhpBB Developer team has made a great job and it seems they have created something close to the perfect forum software. Administration is clear and organized by comprehensive tabs (and more over, respects W3C norms, that was one of the most problematic problem with the previous PhpBB 2).

The default theme is really well designed, and buttons are particularly beautiful. An accent has been clearly put on the design and the general ergonomics of the software. It finally gives to PhpBB 3 users a global feeling of a very well polished product. The security has obviously not been forgotten, as PhpBB provides many modern tools to prevent spamming (CAPTCHA, spam accounts detection,...) without being annoying by bothering users to prove they are human.

About users, permissions can be set really finely, and forum categories can limit the access to groups or specific kind of users, which allows setting with ease one PhpBB3 installation for multiple communities, with different moderators and users groups. This system could however be a little bit complex for a simple and classic forum set up. This is one of the reason that we do not give a 10/10 rating, even if it is not an everyday task, creating the entire architecture of new sub-forums and categories for a new community will take time, because every roles and access will have to be configured.

PhpBB, after being overtaken by other competitors, has retaken place on Internet as THE most famous and one of the most powerful existing free forum software. Congratulations to this fantastic developers team!

Additional Resources:

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Comments (39)

Hi i know the software is

i know the software is free but do they put ads on forums? i want a ad free software. I don't know which one to pick. Please help.

lastnico's picture

Hi, The PhpBB software is


The PhpBB software is free, so it would not provide ads on your forum.

If you want to add your own ads, here is an easy solution, provided by It integrates Google Adsense ads, which is the most known and powerful ads system.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


thanks for the google ad

thanks for the google ad sense link but i still don't know if phpbb would put ad on the my forum?

lastnico's picture

No, it wouldn't, no problem

No, it wouldn't, no problem with it

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Nope, they don't put any ads.

Nope, they don't put any ads. We run our forum on Phpbb and find it just great.
There are many customization possible if need be.


To answer the question

To answer the question above:

Yes, PHPBB is ad-free with the exception of the link at the bottom of the software.

Ads MAY be added by your host however if you are using a free server.


Great site, thanks for the

Great site, thanks for the info... I've decided on phpBB3 even though the forum I'm replacing was the old phpBB - and it got spammed to death by every stupid blog spammer on earth...

Using a better Captcha this time.

By the way... you have 5 Adsense blocks on this page, Google Adsense's TOS only allow you to have 3. Take the other two down or you will get banned by them... which would suck.

Don't worry, I'm not pushing the button, but it would be a shame for you not to get paid for a good site like this.



Thanks for the review and

Thanks for the review and live demo which I tried out.


I would like to setup a forum

I would like to setup a forum webside. i planned it for shared server with unlimited bandwidth and disk space. i required the latest feature and version on my webside. kinly help me out which is the best version of phpBB ? and which is the best platforum to install - windows / linux ? if i use shared webserver any issues for installation and for online community ? couldn any one assit me regarding this ?

thank you

lastnico's picture

Yes, you need the latest

Yes, you need the latest PhpBB 3.0.6 version, that you could install on a Linux server (cheapest for shared webservers). If you need more information or if you encounter any problem, do not hesitate to post a topic in the PhpBB 3 Community Forum.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


Hi, Re:



The 'shadow topics' review is incorrect. When moving a topic, you have the option of leaving a shadow topic.



Also, the latest version is

Also, the latest version is 3.0.7-pl1 and there is a quick reply included in this.


lastnico's picture

Oups, this is fixed. Thanks.

Oups, this is fixed. Thanks.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


They DO have Global

They DO have Global Moderator.

I should know since I was an Administrator of a forum based on phpBB3.


This review indicates that

This review indicates that phpBB3 has user message rating but I do not recall ever seeing that feature built in. Could the staff elaborate on this?

lastnico's picture

No indeed, it's probably a

No indeed, it's probably a mistake. Thanks for pointing this out!

PhpBB 3 Topic


FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


I read about the information

I read about the information that PHPBB3 do have the following plugin

Detect Duplicate Threads
Prevent Creation of Duplicate Content and Topic.

However I can't find such plugin when I go into phpBB to look for it.

Anyone have any ideas?


i have this on mine. if the

i have this on mine. if the same person post back to back it will add all the post in one post. it will time stamp the added post


Is it possible to get source?

Is it possible to get source? I need to add some custom features, be more than happy to let you use them as well (have ownership) as I just need them for my site.


Nothing compares Phpp3...

Nothing compares Phpp3... been using for 6-7 years now(since phpbb2)...Just love the community... and its free!

NeerjaSoftwares's picture

Let see how much it fulfills

Let see how much it fulfills users demand.
Please tell me is there any option to customize our ads.

Get in check for the best Drupal site web development services.


1) the latest version is

1) the latest version is 3.0.10 now. ,
2) modification number is 482

lastnico's picture

Thanks, it's updated now.

Thanks, it's updated now.

FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.


phpbb is safe and simple. but

phpbb is safe and simple. but your forum need some advanced manager & admin.
really phpbb mods are big and helpfull to extend your forum as portal, site or support forum.


Good morning I currently run

Good morning

I currently run a forum using PhpBB 2.0.23. Is there any way I could transfer it all over to version 3?

Thanks for your help



Check Go to the

Go to the forum and ask for help. It's very easy but can be a little tricky for some people.


phpBB just beats SMF and

phpBB just beats SMF and especially MyBB


There are things that are

There are things that are marked as no but there are "plugins" to give that functionality.
These are:


Payment Subscriptions: (probably there are more)

Content Aggregation: I already read about MOD that does that but search in that site is not working and I currently am unable to find the mod.

I think those 3 should be classified as "plugin".


Honestly, I don't understand

Honestly, I don't understand why phpBB3 is the most widely used softwares for large forums. Can anyone explain this to me?


That's probably because it is

That's probably because it is the safest freeware or opensource, most versatile bulletin board that exist. It surpasses MyBB by a lot in safety (according to tests made).
Also, its biggest competitor, MyBB requires a lot of extensions to become a good forum and extensions make the forum heavier.
phpBB is not the perfect forum for everyone, it's just the forum that works the most people.


Good point on security. I've

Good point on security. I've never ran a large enough forum to have to worry about any serious threats, or even about efficiency. Thanks Smile


i have seen there is image

i have seen there is image display with forum topic list.

we have i mean phpbb have this type of mod ? or how can we do this

i have given links for ready recnor.

pls relpy

look this small image display with each topic is it possible in phpbb ?

pls reply


Go to the phpbb support forum

Go to the phpbb support forum and ask that.


Current version is not

Current version is not 3.0.10. See here:

hitechito's picture

Thank you for the Google Ad

Thank you for the Google Ad Sense link, but I still do not know if I put an ad on my phpBB forum?

hitechito's picture

I would like to create a

I would like to create a forum webside. We had planned on a shared with unlimited bandwidth and disk space server. In addition, you must have the latest features and updates on my website. Kinloch help me, what is the best version of phpBB, what is the best setup platforum - Windows / Linux, unless you are using a shared server is not a problem with the installation and the online community, any which can sat me about it?


phpBB 3.1 (if you have some

phpBB 3.1 (if you have some time)
phpBB 3.0.13 (if you need it now)

Platform: Linux (for about 90% of the situations), Windows (for the rest). Mac is not that good to do server work, it is as good as linux.


The new update in phpbb3

The new update in phpbb3 forum software is really useful. One interesting thing in that is it's compatibility with SmartPhones. Smile

yaredi123's picture

Very nice

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