You might think it's tricky to install a Forum, but this is not the case at all! For some forum applications, it can take a matter minutes from stating your installation, to writing your first post. The intension of this article is to show you how to install your forum from scratch.
If you aim to use a third party forum, and use an external web host, then setting up a forum should be a piece of cake.
There are lots of free forum software packages available. Amongst the most popular are phpBB, MyBB, SMF.
If you would rather a professional paid forum software package, vBulletin and Invision Power Board are the amongst the most popular.
Before you start figuring out how to install your forum, you will need to know what the minimum requirements are for the given forum.
Most forums these days require a hosts that supports a database (often MySQL) and a sever side language (such a PHP). If you use the popular forums mentioned above, then read the following to find out what the forum requirements are: A Comparison of The Top 5 Most Common Forum Types.
Once you've know the requirement of your forum application, use a host that supports these. Contact the host and confirm that there a no hidden costs in setting up the required database and server side language. If you plan to self host (host on your own machine) you will need to install the database and server side language your self, if this is the case then the following links may be of interest to you: php installation, mySQL installation.
How to Setup a Forum Using a Paid Host
How to Install a phpBB Forum
Managing Your Files - FTP
Before you can start installing your forum, you will need a way to copy files to and from your host, and a mechanism to manage the files. To transfer and manage files you will need an FTP application. FTP (file transfer protocol) applications make it easy to transfer files with a easy to use graphical user interface (GUI). Many hosts provide a file management system, but these can often quite restrictive. There are many free ftp applications available and one that I would highly recommend is Core ftp. The free lite version of Core ftp is available from here: http://www.coreftp.com/download.html.
Once you have installed an ftp application, you will need three things to connect to your server and start transferring files. You will need your Host IP address (or the URL), your FTP password and your FTP username. If you don't know these, contact your host, and they should be able to guide you / send you the details. Generally the rest of the ftp setting can be left as default.
Creating Your Forum Database
In order to store the content, the forums require a database connection. You may need to create the database, and add a username and password to the database before you can install the forum. If you are unsure, ask your host how to do this. At this point you only need to create an empty database, with no tables or data. The Forum Installation script will often build and populate the database for you.
Running The Forum Installation Script
Now that you have your database create, a file management system for transferring your files, and your sure the host has the require silverside language, you're ready to run the forum install script.
1) Go to the forum site and download the installation files
2) Follow the instruction within the installation manual, this will unusually involve:
* unzipping the files to a local folder
* updating a configuration file to include your database location and password
* uploading the files to your server (using Core FTP)
* browsing to the install script
* The install script may ask you for the details for the database, from this point onwards the install script should create the database tables
* Once the install script has finished, check the install manual. You'll often find that you will be required to then delete any installation scripts from the server to prevent others using the scripts maliciously.
That's it, piece of cake!... now all you need to do is configure the forum, make it look aesthetically pleasing, fill it with content and attract forum posts ;)