The Best PHP MySQL Based Free Forum Software


An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where you can share your knowledge on the net. With easy-to-use interfaces & robust community features, they are still very functional & popular.

You can easily be integrated into your website to create your message board or forum by customizing the look & feel as per your site requirement. This article will read about the 9 PHP/MySQL-based Forum Software, where most of them built with PHP.

Best PHP MySQL Based Free Forum Software

1 phpBB Forum

phpBB is one of the oldest and most widely used Open Source PHP MySQL Based free Forum Software. Easy to use admin panel and a user-friendly installation process, allowing you to have a forum set up in minutes.

With an extensive and highly customizable set of key features coupled with a standards-compliant interface, phpBB will grow with and complement your website.

It supports two new database systems: Oracle and SQLite. These systems are different and prove that phpBB can work in heterogeneous environments and compatible with all major Web browsers.

Download:- phpBB

2 Simple Machines Forum

Simple Machines Forum is a PHP successor of the Perl-based forum YABB. It’s a free, professional-grade software package that allows you to set up your online community within minutes.

Its powerful custom-made template engine will enable you to take complete control of your message board’s layout.  With its unique SSI – or Server Side Includes – function, your forum and your website interact with each other.

Simple Machines Forum is written in PHP, uses MySQL for database, and has 40+ ready-to-download language files.


  • Advanced Permission and user management
  • Supports multiple languages at once
  • Open and well-documented source code.
  • It is a plan for optimal performance and scalability.
  • Multi-media output and Multi-language supported.
  • Session-based authorization code.
  • Time and IP locked, preventing ‘hammering’ security features.
  • Group boards into collapsible categories.
  • Reorder boards within categories, or reorder categories.
  • Create child boards under other boards (sub-boards)
  • Configure permissions for each member group on the board level.
  • Both cookie and session-based authentication

Download:- Simple Machines Forum

3 MyBB – Free Forum Software

MyBB is free forum software that works with MySQL Fulltext search capabilities (MySQL 4.1+). It is easy to use and Completely customizable with MyBB intuitive templates and theme systems.

It offers some excellent features like calendar/events, mass mailing to members, Automatic thumbnail creation, a built-in theme editor & more.

You can easily customize your forums’ look and feel by creating a color scheme, modifying templates, and controlling every aspect of your platforms with little technical knowledge.

MyBB is written in PHP and uses MySQL, Postgresql, SQLite for database, and compatible with all major browsers.

Download:- MyBB

4 vBulletin Forum Software

vBulletin is a professional, affordable, PHP MySQL Based free community forum solution. It gives you an instant community that lets your visitors interact, participate in discussions, ask questions, give answers, and express opinions.

Making your site a hub for information and debate encourages visitors to return again and again. It’s also a highly effective way of improving your service to customers or users of your website.

Key features :

    • Fast and efficient database back end
    • It can be work on any machine that can support PHP and MySQL (Solaris, BSD, Linux, Windows, Mac)
    • Template-driven interface
    • Powerful search engine
    • Multilanguage supported system
    • Custom user fields
    • Extensive admin control panel
    • Unlimited forums/posts
    • Inline moderation
    • Flexible plugin system

Download:- vBulletin

5 Vanilla Forum Software

Vanilla is an open-source, standards-compliant, multi-lingual, theme-able, pluggable discussion forum for the web. It is built on Garden, a new PHP development platform that comes loaded with the functionality you need to get your applications off the ground quickly and easily.

When you installed Garden on your server, you can immediately sign in, manage users, roles, applications, plugins, and all of the settings you need in any web app. Vanilla requires MySQL as the database.

Download:- Vanilla

6 bbPress Forum Software

bbPress is a simple and straightforward open-source forum software from the creators of WordPress. It’s easy to use, easy to administrate, fast, and clean. It mainly focused on web standards, ease of use, ease of integration, and speed.

  • Simple, intuitive Interface
  • Highly Customizable templates
  • Strong Spam protection
  • Easily integration with your blog

bbPress requires PHP 4.3 or greater and uses a MySQL 4.0 or more significant for the database.

Download:- bbPress

7 PunBB discussion board

PunBB is a fast and lightweight PHP-based free discussion board. Which mainly focuses on less graphically intensive as compared to other discussion boards.

It is written in PHP and uses MySQL, Postgresql, SQLite for the database. The design is updated with theming support. It is Multilanguage supported and can be extended with the extension support.

Download:- PunBB

8 FluxBB – PHP-MySQL Based Forum Software

FluxBB is a free open source forum application designed to be fast, light, and user-friendly. It is an official fork of PunBB, which supports PHP4 & PHP5 and uses MySQL, Postgresql, SQLite for a database. It generates valid XHTML 1.0 Strict pages and easily translated into any language.

Download:- FluxBB

9 Phorum – Open Source Forum Software

Phorum is also one of the oldest open source forum software designed to meet different websites’ different needs while not sacrificing performance or features. It requires PHP 5.2 or greater and uses MySQL 5.0.15 or more significant for the database.

Download:- Phorum

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