Readme and Installation Guide

Table of Contents

What's new in vBulletin 5 Connect

Site Builder - One of the best new features of vBulletin 5 Connect is Site Builder. Site Builder is a new way to build and manage your sites. It features drag and drop technology to enable you to build custom pages that fit your needs quickly and easily. Site Builder also includes a Style Generator so you can quickly and easily create a new styles with custom color combinations.

Everything is Content - In vBulletin 5, we've developed an idea that everything is content. This is built around a new content model involving channels, nodes and the actual content. In this model everything works the same, everything is searchable and everything provides a modern input system. Adding new content should be more intuitive for your users.

New Search - The Search Engine architecture has also been reconfigured so that all content is easily searched. Rewritten from the ground up, the new search engine should provide more relevant details and accurate results.

MVC Architecture - vBulletin 5 Connect introduces a new MVC Architecture designed to separate the business logic from the presentation logic more than ever before. This will allow vBulletin 5 to be quickly and easily extended as we bring new features to the software.

Responsive Design - People are using devices of many different sizes these days. These include phones, tablets and ultra-high density monitors. We've included a responsive design in vBulletin 5 that scales to the device being used. No more worrying about mobile styles and trying to configure things for multiple devices. vBulletin adjusts to the screen-size of the user's device automatically.

Expanded API - The API of vBulletin has been expanded. Not only can mobile apps take advantage of the API, the web interface of vBulletin uses it for its own purposes as well. This provides a more structured design and the ability to code everything once regardless of how it is accessed.

System Requirements

In order to install vBulletin you need to have a web server meeting the qualifications below. In addition to this you need to have a fully qualified domain purchased through a Domain Name Registrar like Namecheap, Enom or your Hosting Provider. The Domain name should be pointed to your webserver via the registrar's provided DNS services. If you need assistance setting up Domain Name Services (DNS), your hosting provider can offer this to you.

Minimum System Requirements

The following sofware is required to be installed on your server before vBulletin will function.

  • Apache 2.2+, IIS 7+ or NGINX 1.4+
  • PHP 5.4.0
  • MySQL 5.1.5
  • mod_rewrite, URL Rewrite or equivalent.
  • Additional PHP Modules: MySQLi, cURL, OpenSSL Support, iconv, mbstring, JSON Support, XML Support
How can I tell if my server meets the minimum requirements?
You can download a server test script from our site.

Terminology and Software

FTP Client
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A FTP client allows you to connect to your web server in order to upload or download files. We recommend using Filezilla. It is a free and full features client that works on all major operating systems.
Text Editor
Allows you to edit simple text files. You may need to use a text editor when installing vBulletin. We recommend Notepad++ on Windows and TextEdit on Mac OSX.
Customer Number
This is the unique ID number our systems use to identify your customer account. It is needed to provide authorization to the Install and Upgrade Wizards. If you don't know this number, you can obtain it from the Member's Area. It will be listed at the top of the main page.
License Number
This is the unique ID number assigned to a specific license. It isn't needed to use the system under normal operations.
Folder / Directory
These refer to software storage locations on your local computer and web server. They are synonyms and can be used interchangeably.
This is your domain address. This is what you would type into your browser to access your website.
This is the directory where vBulletin is installed. Example: /public_html/forums
This is the directory of the main vBulletin engine and API. This will be "vbulletin_root/core". example: /public_html/forums/core

Installing vBulletin

Uploading vBulletin to your Server

  1. If you have not already done so, uncompress the vBulletin Package that you have downloaded. This contains all of the files for vBulletin along with some support tools.
  2. Choose a directory location on your server where vBulletin will be installed. This will become your There are basically three choices:
    • If vBulletin is going to be the main part of your site, you will install it into the public_html or httpdocs folder that already exists on your site. Some servers also have a www directory link that redirects you to the proper location.
    • If you have a pre-existing site then you will want to install vBulletin into a sub-forum. Most people name this directory "forums". You will need to create this directory on your server.
    • If you're knowledgable in servers, you can install vBulletin in a sub-domain. You would need to create this on your server before proceeding.
  3. On your local computer find your download package and locate the Upload directory. This would be the same folder this file is located. It should be named vB5_Connect_V_L. The V will be the version number and the L refers to your license number.
  4. Copy the contents of your local Upload folder to your server into the directory you have chosen. You only need to copy the contents, not the Upload folder itself.
  5. In your vbulletin_root find the file named htaccess.txt. Rename it to .htaccess using your FTP client.

Creating your vBulletin Database

vBulletin stores all of its data in a MySQL database. To install the software you need to create a database for it to use. When creating your database, make note of the Database Server, Database Server Port, Database Name, Database User Name and Database Password. You will need these later. Contact your hosting provider's technical support if you need help with this step. Here are some common instructions to create a database:

If none of the methods above work for you, you will need to contact your hosting provider for assistance.

Running the Install Wizard

  1. After uploading the files to your chosen location on your server, open your web browser and enter in the address followed by your vbulletin_root and install/install.php.
  2. Since this is your first time installing, the system should automatically redirect you to the Installation Wizard.
  3. The first screen of the Wizard will ask for your Customer ID to authorize you. Enter this and click "Begin Install"
  4. The Configuration Builder will create the necessary config.php files for you. Fill in the values for:
    • Cookie Prefix - Use the default of bb
    • Database Type - vBulletin support mysql and mysqli. mysqli is preferred.
    • Database Name - The name used when you created the database on the server.
    • Table Prefix - Unless you have other applications installed in the same database, it is best to leave this blank.
    • Technical Email - Your email address
    • Database Server Name - This will be provided by your hosting provider. Most use localhost.
    • Database Port # - Use the default port of 3306 unless directed otherwise by your hosting provider
    • Database Username - The username specified when you created your database. If you don't know this, contact your hosting provider.
    • Database Password - The password specified when you created your database. If you don't know this, contact your hosting provider.
    • Admincp Directory - Should specify the default of admincp
    • ModCP Directory - Should specify the default of modcp
  5. Click "Create Files"
  6. The system should create your config.php files for you and present a message of "File Creation Complete".
  7. If the system was unable to create your config.php files, please see 'Manually editing the config.php files'.
  8. Return to your install location:
  9. Click "Begin Install".
  10. Follow the instructions on the screen. You should encounter two dialog boxes:
    • The first will ask for the name of your forums, paths of the forums and webmaster email address.
    • The second will ask for information to create your first Administrator user.

Deleting the Install Folder

When you are done installing vBulletin, you need to delete the install directory for security purposes. You will find this directory in the vbulletin_core directory on your server. Delete the entire directory and all of its components. You won't be able to enter your vBulletin Admin Control Panel before you do so.

Manually editing the config.php files

Occasionally, the Configuration Builder tool will fail to write your config.php files. When this happens you will need to edit the files manually. If you're still on the Configuration Builder tool, you can copy and paste the contents of each window into their respective files and save. If not, you will need to manually edit the files using a text editor. Do so following these steps:

  1. In your vbulletin_root find the file named config.php.bkp. Rename it to config.php using your FTP client.
  2. In your vbulletin_core enter the includes folder. Look for a file named Rename it to config.php. You will need to edit this file. If you're using Filezilla, open the context menu (right-click in Windows) and choose "View/Edit File". It will ask you what application to use. We recommend Notepad++ or Wordpad.
  3. You will need to update several values in this file in order to connect to your database and receive error emails. These are:
    Database Name: $config['Database']['dbname'] = 'forum';
    Replace forum with your database name.
    Server Name: $config['MasterServer']['servername'] = 'localhost';
    Replace localhost with your servername if required by your hosting provider.
    Server Port: $config['MasterServer']['port'] = 3306;
    Change 3306 with the port number that your hosting company provides, if any. Otherwise don't change this.
    Database User Name: $config['MasterServer']['username'] = 'root';
    Replace root with your database user name.
    Database User Password: $config['MasterServer']['password'] = '';
    Place your database user password between the quotes.
    Technical Email $config['Database']['technicalemail'] = '';
    Replace with your email address.
    If you don't know any of these values, you will need to contact your hosting provider to obtain them. vBulletin Technical Support does not have this information.
  4. After making your changes save your file.
  5. Return to your FTP client and upload the file to your server. If you're using FileZilla and it was running in the background, it will automatically prompt to upload the updated file.
  6. Once this is completed, you can return to Step 8 of Running the Install Wizard.

Common Installation Issues

I've finished the install but my forum doesn't have any form or colors.
Make sure that you have uploaded the .htaccess (Apache), web.config (IIS), or vhosts (NGINX) file to your server as required
While installing, the wizard just stopped and hasn't progressed
Sometimes you might experience a server timeout. Refresh the page in your browser and the wizard will continue from where it left off.

Upgrading vBulletin

Backing Up Your Database

It is recommended that you create a complete backup of your database. If you have a small database (less than 50 megabytes), you should be able to use PHPMyAdmin to do this. The most reliable method of backing up and restoring a database is with shell access via ssh. This is because backing up with a PHP script like that in the Admin CP or phpMyAdmin can result in PHP timeouts errors and an incomplete backup file. Please see the instructions here:

To backup with SSH run the following command from your shell access:

mysqldump --opt -Q -u dbusername -p databasename > backupname.sql
For more information see:

If you don't have shell access, your hosting provider's control panel may offer a solution. Here are links to some popular solutions:

If you're hosting provider has a different control panel, you will need to ask them for documentation in order to create a backup.

Uploading vBulletin to your Server

Upgrading vBulletin is similar across all versions. There is an additional step below if you are upgrading from a version before 5.0.0.

  1. Before proceeding, you should review the release announcement on the forums for any updates.
  2. It is recommended that you create a complete backup of your existing files before proceeding.
  3. If you have not already done so, uncompress the vBulletin Package that you have downloaded. This contains all of the files for vBulletin along with some support tools.
  4. Using your FTP Client, navigate to your existing vbulletin_root directory on your server.
  5. Important: If you are upgrading from vBulletin 3 or 4, backup your existing files and delete the files off your server before proceeding. vBulletin 5 needs to be installed in an empty directory. Do not delete your attachments, customavatar, customprofilepic, or signaturepics folders.
  6. Copy the contents of your local computer's Upload folder to your server into the vbulletin_root directory on your server. You only need to copy the contents, not the Upload folder itself.
  7. If you receive a prompt asking if you want to overwrite the existing files tell it yes, for all the files in your Queue.

Running the Upgrade Wizard

If you have a large site (1,000,000 posts or more), please visit our online manual. for information on the command line upgrader.

  1. After uploading the files to your chosen location on your server, open your web browser and enter in the address followed by your vbulletin_root and install/upgrade.php.
  2. The system will ask for your Customer ID. Enter it now.
  3. Click the button labeled "Begin Upgrade"
  4. Follow the steps onscreen. Some steps may take a while to process. If processing does stop, refresh the screen and the Upgrade Wizaard will pick up where it left off at.

Deleting the Install Folder

When you are done installing vBulletin, you need to delete the install directory for security purposes. You will find this directory in the vbulletin_core directory on your server. Delete the entire directory and all of its components. You won't be able to enter your vBulletin Admin Control Panel before you do so.

Common Upgrade Issues

After upgrading, all my previous styles and plugins were disabled.
This is done on purpose. They are not compatible and trying to use them will cause problems.
While upgrading, I received a database error. What do I do?
Visit the support forums and post the database error in order to receive support.
I am getting a message on the screen that the Upgrade has aborted. What do I do?
Visit the community forums to receive support with your issue.

Language Support

We currently offer language support in English, French and German. New languages may be added in the future. In order to download additional languages follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Member's Area using your Customer ID (or Email Address) and Password.
  2. Click "Download vBulletin 5 Connect".
  3. On the Download Page select "More Download Options".
  4. Under Additional Language choose either French or German
  5. Agree to the License Agreement and Download.
  6. Extract the ZIP file on your local computer.
  7. Upload the /core/install directory to your server and run /core/install/upgrade.php in your browser.
  8. Follow the steps for Upgrading your vBulletin Site above.
  9. Repeat these steps for each language you want to install.

In addition to the officially supported Language Packs, vBulletin includes a Language Manager in the admin control panel. This allows you to translate the vBulletin interface into your own language or several languages, as well as being able to import language packs created others. Your users can then select the language they prefer to view the board in. We do have a Languages & Phrases forum where you can find packs donated by our customers and also receive help for creating your own:* Also, here's the forum containing downloads of the current Language Packs made available by our customers:*

Please note, the Language Management System only covers the board text and not individual posts. The posts themselves will be displayed in the original language they were written in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about getting started with vBulletin.

None of my vBulletin 3 or 4 Addons work.
These are not supported in vBulletin 5.
None of my vBulletin 3 or 4 Styles work.
These are not supported in vBulletin 5.
I successfully installed vBulletin but there is no formatting on the page
Make sure that you have configured your vBulletin to work with your Webserver. For Apache 2, you need to make sure the .htaccess file in the upload has been added. IIS uses the web.config file for this purpose. On IIS you will also need to install the URL Rewrite module from Microsoft. If you're using NGINX, you'll find a vhosts file in the do_not_upload folder. You would have to configure NGINX to use this file.
I am using a Mac and do not see an .htaccess file in the upload folder.
Open a Terminal command window and enter the following command:
defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES
Restart Finder when you have finished running this command. A copy of this file can also be found in the upload folder with the name htaccess.txt. You can upload this file and rename it to .htaccess afterwards.
How do I turn off Blogs, Social Groups, Albums?
The short answer is that you cannot do this. However you can set permissions so that end users cannot see these features. Please open a forum thread for assistance in doing this.
How do I remove the Activity Stream?
You can't however you can disable the specific tab, rearrange the tabs and change the default tab. Please see the support forums for assistance.

Appendix: Links to More Information

Here are some important links with more information:

  • The vBulletin Online Manual - With installation and upgrade instructions, indepth feature and options information and more technical documents.
  • The vBulletin Members Area^ - Download area for vBulletin, private customer support tickets area, etc.
  • The vBulletin Support Forums* - Free priority support forums, latest announcements with indepth release details, etc.
  • vBulletin Release Changelog^ - The changelog links to the release announcement for every version of vBulletin. Release announcements contain specific information about that release including updated files, updated templates, links to bug fix lists and more.
  • vBulletin JIRA Changelog* - Similar to the above but a concise list of bugs, enhancements and other issues applied to vBulletin 4 by version.