Convert phpBB Forum to SMF

From Lunarpages Web Hosting Wiki

How would I convert my phpBB forum to SMF?

It is actually very easy to do. After installing SMF (Simple Machines Forum), you will have an auto-installer for mods and auto-upgrader for new versions in the Package Manager directly in the admin area. Quick Replies are not a mod, but part of the default script. If you do not know how to do manual updates for other forums, SMF may be a good choice for you.

phpBB portion

If you already have phpBB going, there isn't anything you need to do to get it ready.

SMF portion - Installing SMF (Manual)

1. Install SMF to a different folder than phpBB. Go to and download the lastest full release (it will say something like smf_1-0-5_install.tar.gz not upgrade or update in the filename).

2. Go into cPanel, click on File Manager and click on the folder icon next to public_html folder, then click the "Create New Folder" link toward the top. In this example, our new forum will be called smf.

3. Now click on the folder icon next to the folder name, and click on the link "Upload file(s)" toward the top. Click the browse button, and locate where you downloaded the SMF zipped file, then click the "Upload" button and wait for the screen to refresh (it may take quite a few moments).

4. Click on the uploaded file, then in the upper right click the "Extract File Contents" link. A new screen will open with the extracted contents, but you will not yet see those contents in the folder listing itself. Click out of the new window that opened, and in the window where you were before, click the link "Up one level" then click back on the folder icon next to the smf folder and you will now see all the files and folders (this wasn't visible before because cPanel doesn't refresh after an extraction).

Note: The files may extract with permissions set to 777 and 666. Due to the use of suphp on our servers, these must be changed to 755 and 644 or you will get 500 Internal Server errors. You can select and change many files or folders at a time by using an FTP program.

5. Open a new window in your browser, and now load the page where is replaced by your domain name and smf is the folder location where you installed the forum.

6. This screen is the forum settings area with the following fields:

Basic Settings

  • Forum name: Your forum's name here
  • Forum URL: (should already be filled in correctly)
  • Gzip Output: checked already, click to test it is working using the "here" link beneath it
  • Database Sessions: checked already

MySQL Server Settings

  • MySQL server name: localhost
  • MySQL username: cpanelusername_dbusername
  • MySQL password: dbusername's password
  • MySQL database name: cpanelusername_dbname
  • MySQL table prefix: smf_

Most of these settings are pre-filled in. You do need to know the MySQL username, password and database name. If you are going to use the same database as phpBB has and do not remember the MySQL username or password, you can find them in File Manager by clicking on config.php in your phpBB forum folder and then click Edit in the upper right corner. You can copy and paste them from there. Or, go into MySQL database section by logging into another Window of cPanel, click on that area, and create a new DB user with a password, then add that user to the MySQL database. You should copy the database name, database user's name and password at that time and then paste into the fields.

If you are using a different database and db user for SMF, be sure to add the SMF db user to the phpbb database as well.

Click to Proceed to the next screen.

7. This area you will create your administrator account.

Create Your Account

  • Your username: Admin username (might want to use the same one as you had on phpBB)
  • Password: Admin password
  • Password: Retype admin password
  • Email Address: Admin email address

MySQL Database Password

  • Use the same password you did for the password MySQL database user in step 7

Click "Finish".

8. You will receive a congratulations screen, and then you can click on "your newly installed forum" to see the new forum. You should click on the box to delete the install file first to avoid a security warning. Just clicking on the box will delete the file immediately.

9. If you get a security warning now:

You have not removed install.php!

Go into File Manager and the smf folder, then click on the file named install.php. In the upper right, click the "Delete File" link, then click the trashbin icon to clear it out of the trash. Refresh your forum, the warning should disappear.

SMF portion 2 - Converting phpBB to SMF

1. Go to , find the converter for phpbb2, and click on it to download it. Go into File Manager and navigate to your smf folder, click to upload the file similar to how you did for SMF itself. You will need to extract the file by clicking on it and then click on "Extract File" in the menu on the right.

2. Open a new window in your browser, and go to where is your domain name and smf is the folder where you installed SMF.

3. The screen will ask for the path to phpBB and SMF on your account:

Where are they?

  • Path to SMF: /home/username/public_html/smf
  • Path to phpBB2: /home/username/public_html/phpbb
  • SMF Database password: MySQL database user's password used above 2 times already

The path will be /home/username/public_html/smf where username is replaced with your Lunarpages username and smf is the folder where smf is installed for the Path to SMF field. It is likely this will already be filled in correctly. The same for the Path to phpBB2, however, it would instead be the location of your phpBB forum. The password needs to be the one to your MySQL database user and you should be well aware of what it is as this is the 3rd time you've had to use it.

Click to Continue.

4. You will get several success messages. Copy any fails to see if they affect the forum. You should not receive any fails other than perhaps avatar ones or smileys.

Then click the box to delete the converter file immediately and then the "your installation of SMF" link and your SMF should now be running.

The best part of the the conversion script is that you do not lose your phpBB forum at all, so you can test SMF after you convert your forum to see if it is what you want to use. If you do not, then simply remove it. The database will have smf_ as the prefix in your database, and you can drop any tables with smf_ if you decide to not use it.

The time to do each of the above is as follows:

SMF install - 4 minutes phpBB to SMF conversion - 2 minutes

Be sure to login to the admin area to be sure you can, change settings as necessary in admin, change links on your site to it.

When satisfied, delete your old phpBB forum folder and the tables in the database for phpbb_. Do this as soon as possible to avoid exploitation.