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installing phpBB updates Tutorial

Upgrading phpbb process includes core program code changes with new features added, as well as security fixes, it is important to keep your phpbb board updated as close as possible to the latest updates, this does not only keeping your forum from security vulnerabilities, it can also be less headache when there comes a major release that requires several changes a long the upgrade path to be applied before you can upgrade your forum to this major release, note that these updates are all needed to apply and cannot miss or skip, you have to apply them one at a time till the latest update in order to keep your board fully updated.

phpBB is in active development and updates are release periodically and it is important to keep yourself informed of these updates, there will be official announcement at the official phpbb site when there is a new update available, be sure to go through the release notes before applying any changes, as some of them may require additional steps to apply the update, or may cause some issues if you have MODs installed in your forum. Note that MODs are maintain by contributed member, and the contributed member is responsible to maintain the MODs compatible with latest versions of phpbb.

Below we have prepared several ways for applying the updates to your phpbb board, note that this is a general steps and there may be additional steps involve for any particular update, you should always go through the release notes of the update before applying it, otherwise you risk getting the forum board not able to function properly after applying the update.

backup database and phpbb folder

First thing to do when making any major changes is always backup, I know these are dirty work and nobody likes it, but believe me, you will thank yourself for doing so when something bad happen during the changes, and the backups you have done can recover your valuable data, and save you lots of time to reinstate the forum to the running condition before the update. So, do it now ! backup your phpbb database and phpbb program folder before moving to next step.

disable board while update

The next thing to do is disable your board, this is to avoid any new data not being captured in the backup done earlier, in fact you should first disable the board and then make a backup, in case you need a role back, you don't have to worry about loosing any data. Other than data, disabling the board during update process can prevent any unforeseen issues arising from the core code update, since core code updates usually introduces new features, and you should make sure your board is functioning properly after introducing these new features, your forum member will not be happy when they see a broken board.

After getting your backups done up and disabling the forum, you are ready to move to next step to apply updates, note that there are several ways to apply the updates, depending if your board is a clean default installed board, or you have added some MODs to your standard forum installation.

upgrading board with MODs

If you have MODs installed to your forum, you should also check out the updates at each individual MODs to ensure there is no compatibility issues arising after applying this current updates, some of the updates, for instance introducing new features, may interfere certain MODs, individual MODs maintainer are responsible to keep their MODs updated to accommodate latest changes in the core phpbb updates, and it is your duty as a forum owner to ensure there is no such issue happening before applying any updates.

There are two ways to apply changes to a forum board with MODs installed :-

using .patch file approach

You will need to have SSH access to your linux hosting account in order to perform the following steps :-

  1. SSH login to your hosting account
  2. download the patch file from phpbb download site, be sure to select the correct version number to your current board version
  3. extract the compressed file and place the .patch file in your phpbb folder
  4. place the update_to_latest.php file extracted from the compressed file to the install folder in your phpbb folder, if you have removed the install folder, recreate it and place the file in
  5. at the shell command prompt, execute the patch command (see code shown below) to patch the file to your phpbb board

Below shows the commands to run in the Linux shell prompt (assume your phpbb is install in public_html/phpbb/ , i.e access from browser through http://www.yourdomain.com/phpbb/) :-

cd /home/username/public_html/tmp/
wget http://www.phpbb.com/downloads/[patch_file_name]
tar -xvzf patch_file_name
cp correct_patch_file_name ../public_html/ cd ../public_html/
patch -cl -d phpbb patch_file_name
After running the patch commands above, open up your browser window and enter http://www.yourdomain.com/phpbb/install/update_to_latest.php, this will update your phpbb database schema and data if there is and increment the board version number to this current patch level.

Check through your board function thoroughly to ensure everything is working as expected before opening the board to public again.

using EasyMOD approach

You need to have EasyMOD installed in your board if you want to perform phpbb updates through this option, EasyMOD is a popular and handy tool for less technical person maintaining the phpbb board, it is actually a MOD by itself and what it does is having a web interface for installing and updating MODs in phpbb forum, phpbb releases code changes in the form of MODs as well and you can use EasyMOD to get the the updates in your phpbb forum.

Please note that you will need to apply all the code changes that is released one at a time, for example you are on 2.0.2 and the latest MOD is 2.0.19, you will have to apply all the MODs in sequence from 2.0.2 right up to the latest 2.0.19, missing any of the MODs may cause unknown error to your forum board.

  1. Download the php code change from phpbb download
  2. unzip the compressed file to a folder in your PC
  3. You will see a list of files similar to phpbb_2.0.xx_to_2.0.xx (xx is version number) and update_to_latest.php in the expanded folder
  4. Login to your phpbb administration panel, in the EasyMOD screen, install the MOD by selecting the appropriate code change file (phpbb_2.0.xx_to_2.0.xx), be sure to select the current version and step up one in sequence till you reach the latest version.
  5. upload the update_to_latest.php file to the install folder in your phpbb folder
  6. open up your browser window and in your browser, enter http://www.yourdomain.com/phpbb/install/update_to_latest.php to update your phpbb database schema and data if there is, and update the version number of your phpbb forum

upgrading board without MODs

Updating a standard install phpbb forum board is simple, just follow these steps :-

  1. Download the changed file only file
  2. uncompress the file, you will see a list of compressed file again, uncompress the file that of your current phpbb board version
  3. Upload the expanded files and overwrite the those of the same in your phpbb folder, also upload the contrib and install folder into your phpbb folder
  4. open up your browser window, and enter the following URL http://www.yourdomain.com/phpbb/install/update_to_latest.php to execute the update process.
  5. remove the contrib and install folder in your phpbb folder after the update.