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The Beginners Guide To vBulletin Hosting

vBulletin is an affordable and professional software solution for online communities. It provides sites with an instant forum that allows users to interact, discuss, ask question and express opinions. It was created by Jelsoft Enterprises and produced by vBulletin Solutions. It’s written in PHP and uses MySQL database server.


Guide to vBulletin

Where to find it

You can find and buy vBulletin by visiting http://www.vbulletin.com/en/purchases/.
They accept Paypal, credit card and wire transfer.

Once your order has been processed, you’ll receive an email with your customer number and password. This gives you access to the members’ areas where you can download the software.

Why use vBulletin?

If you’re going to start a community forum from the ground up, then vBulletin is a good catch all solution that won’t require too many additional plug ins or features. You get most of what you need in terms of forum software straight out of the box, including content syndication options, email notifications, easy to use permission systems and group management.

How does vBulletin work?

As vBulletin is web based, there are a few minimum requirements. You’ll need a web hosting provider with PHP version 5.4.0 of greater, as well as MySQL version 5.1.5 or greater. You’ll also need a pre-registered domain name and at least 1GB of hard drive space free. A rewrite engine may also be needed but most hosting providers already have these applications installed. As long as all the above are met, vBulletin will run on any operating system.

How much does vBulletin cost?

The regular forum price is $195/£137 and the suite price is $399/£280 but discounts are available if you buy multiple licences.

How long does vbulletin take to install?

Installation is easy and shouldn’t take more than half an hour.

Does vBulletin work with WordPress?

Yes it does but you might need a plug in.

Where does vBulletin store images?

They’re stored in the database by default but can be moved to the file system.

Can vBulletin be hacked?

It can (like almost anything online) but security is good and always being improved.


Once you have purchased the software license and have the latest version downloaded to your computer, you can start preparing to install.

Extracting archive

First off, you’ll need to extract the archive in a separate folder. It should contain the following folders:

  1. ‘do_not_upload’ – these are maintenance files which do not need to be uploaded.
  2. ‘upload’ – this contains the files and folders for your vBulletin forum and must be uploaded on your account.

Uploading installation files

Now you have to decide where you are going to install vBulletin. If you want to use your site only as a forum then it’s easy to upload the necessary content in the public-html directory of the account. Simply place your domain name in the URL for your forum. Your forum URL will then be http://www.yourdomainname.com.

If the forum is just a part of your website you will need to put it into a subfolder, often entitled community, forum or something similar. In this case, your forum URL will be http://subdomain.yourdomainname.com.

Once you have decided where they are going, simply upload the vBulletin folders in the correct place. During the set up process you may be asked where you are going to store the data. Like most PHP software, you’ll be using a MySQL database. Name this using a username that has access to it.

How to install vBulletin

Once you have uploaded the files, you will need to change the permission to 755. You also need to fill in the database details in the file named ‘config.php.new’.

Database details


  • Step



      Go to your cPanel and click on ‘File Manager’. Go to the ‘Includes’ folder, which should be in the directory where your recently extracted files are stored. Click with the right mouse key on the file named ‘config.php.new’ to see which actions can be carried out.


  • Step

Rename the file ‘config.php’. Click on ‘Edit’ to open the file for reading. Editing this section is the most important part of the installation process.



  • Step

Enter the name of the MySQL database you have created in the line that looks like this:


§config[ ‘Database’ ] [ ‘dbname’ ] = ‘forum’ ;

Enter the name you have chosen within the ‘ marks. For example

§config[ ‘MasterServer’ ] [ ‘dbname’ ] = ‘table’ ;


  • Step

Now do the same for the password


§config[ ‘MasterServer’ ] [ ‘password’ ] = ‘opensesame’ ;

Being careful not to delete any of the ‘ marks, save by clicking the button.


  • Step

Open your preferred browser and input the address http://yourdomainname.com/install/install.php. Replace your actual domain name into the URL.



  • Step

You’ll be asked to enter your unique customer number, which is the 13-digit code you used to get into the customer area. Enter and click the ‘Enter Install System’ button.



Installation process

Now you should be ready to install vBulletin using the following steps.


  • Step



      Click the ‘Begin Install’ button, which should be on your screen and you should be redirected to general settings.


  • Step

Select the title of your forum. Your browser will automatically select a number of the settings (BB and Home URLs) so they don’t need to be changed. Change the administrator’s email to an address associated with the forum. Click ‘OK’ when done.




  • Step

Leave all cookie path data unchanged on the next page, as it may affect your ability to log in. Click on ‘OK’ to proceed.




  • Step

Fill in the form with your username, password and email, and click ‘OK’ to proceed.




  • Step

Once you are forwarded to a confirmation panel, click the ‘Go to Admin CP’ button.




  • Step

Go to the ‘File Manager’ section on your Cpanel and find where you have uploaded the vBulletin’s files. Enter the ‘Install’ directory and remove the ‘install.php’ file.


The administrator can then find their control panel at http://yourdomain.com/admincp/index.php.


Once you have installed any new software, it’s essential to backup your site for security purposes. There are two main methods of doing this for vBulletin, including manually logging into phpMyAdmin and exporting the database or you could install a plugin that automatically backs it up.

Automatic backup guide

    1. Step
      You’ll need to download a vBulletin Cron Based Database Backup mod. You’ll need to be a member to do this. Then unzip the file into a folder of your choice. It will be called ‘Auto-backup-4200’ and should contain:

      1. Includes (folder)
      2. Auto-backup.txt
      3. Auto-backup.xml


  • Step

Use an FTP programme or ‘File Manager’ from cPanel to upload the files from the ‘Includes’ folder to your web hosting server. Then login to the vBulletin control panel.



  • Step

On the navigation menu, expand the ‘Plugins & Products’ menu and click ‘Manage Products’. Then on the system screen click ‘Add/Import Product’ link.



  • Step

Click on the ‘Browse’ button, then select the ‘Auto-backup.xml’ folder from your unzipped file from Step 1. Click ‘Import’ and you should see it appear under ‘Installed Products’ section.



  • Step

You’ll be required to configure the settings for this mod. To do this, expand ‘Settings’ and click on ‘Options’. Under ‘vBulletin Options’ select the ‘vBulletin Automatic Backup’ option and click on ‘Edit Settings’.




  • Step

Change the backup parameters to meet your needs. The most important is ‘Backup Path’ which you need to set to where the SQL database file will be saved. You’ll probably need to play about a bit to get the right pathway depending on your domain and URL options but it should be something like: ./../backups/


When you’re done, click the ‘Save’ button. If you have put in an incorrect path, you’ll see an error message, so you’ll need to try again.


  • Step

To set up further scheduled backups, expand the ‘Scheduled Tasks’ menu and click on ‘Scheduled Task Manager’. Scroll down and find the ‘Automatic Database Backup for vBulletin’ and click on ‘Go’. You can now select how often you want to run the backup. Click ‘Save’ to confirm. Run the task to check and you should see the ‘Backup Successfully Completed’ message.


Manual backup guide

If you’d rather do it manually or have problems using the automatic guide, then follow these steps.


  • Step



      Login to phpMyAdmin web server and select the database of your forum from the menu on the left hand side. Then click the ‘Export’ tab on the right of the screen.


  • Step

Under ‘Export method’, select the ‘Quick’ or ‘Custom’ options. Then choose a ‘Format’ (the default is SQL) and click ‘Go’.




  • Step

A pop up will ask you to save the SQL file, so click ‘OK’.


How to upgrade vBulletin

From time to time it may be necessary to upgrade your vBulletin software in order to get the latest features. It’s a very good idea to back up before you attempt any upgrade as things can occasionally go wrong.

Why upgrade?

Upgrades are important as it means you will be using the latest version of the software. This means that any previous issues or bugs will have been discovered and ironed out. The latest versions also give you access to the newest features and smoothest operating for your forums.

How to prepare


  • Step



      You’ll need to login to the members’ area and download the latest software files. You also need to ensure your system can handle these files.


  • Step

You now need to upload these files to the server. Click on the folder marked ‘Upload’. You need to make sure you are overwriting all requested files.



Upgrade process


  • Step



      Access your website and add the ‘/install/upgrade.php’ suffix to the URL. This will take you to the screen where you can complete the upload.


  • Step
    Click on the ‘Begin Upgrade’ button. The process will begin automatically but may take some time to complete.




  • Step

Once complete, you’ll receive a message allowing you to proceed to your AdminCP or review a report. Your upgrade is now complete.