There are several ways to speed up your phpBB board/forum, and before I jump into the technicalities, I highly recommend a review of how your server resources are being consumed. Next, I would like you to do a quick web load test.

Tip: If you are on cPanel, you can check resource consumption through cPanel –> Resources Consumption. You can check the page load speed through any of the online tools. In managed hosting, you can track resource consumption through the Monitoring option of Server Management.

If you do not see satisfactory numbers in these two tests, you want to optimize the website for better speed.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the three popular techniques for speeding up the performance of your phpBB forums, those techniques being:

  • Database Optimization
  • Optimization using the .htaccess file
  • Optimizing the Hosting Server (and selecting the right hosting)

Database Optimization

cPanel

The first technique involves database optimization because all forums, user information, posts, and configurations are stored in the website’s database. An unoptimized database is a serious performance drag and can increase website loading time. As a result, the visitors get a poor experience.

To start optimizing your database, visit phpMyAdmin from the cPanel and sort the database by size. Now, you need to identify which tables are unnecessarily large.

In a managed hosting environment, you can access the database through the console without accessing the backend of the server. Visit the access details in the application management area and you should be able to locate the Database Manager.

If you have spam posts on your forum, you’ll see that the *_posts table might be the largest in size. In this case, you need to remove the spam posts from your forum to reduce the table’s size.

You should perform the same procedure for every table in your database with an unusually large size. Once you are done, you should run the Check Table, Repair Table, and Optimize Table procedures.

To perform these procedures, select all the tables in your database and scroll down to the bottom of the database manager. You’ll find a dropdown labeled “With Selected”, choose the procedures mentioned above and perform each one for all tables.

Optimization Using the .htaccess File

Laptop with php code

Now that we have optimized the database, let’s jump to the server-side optimization. We could leverage the browser caching which allows you to set an expiry date in HTTP resources for static resources.

By doing this, you’ll be instructing the browser to load the resources from the local disk instead of downloading the resources over the network. In other words, this procedure will allow your users to download the static content of the website on their local disks and won’t require them to download those resources each time they access your phpBB forum.

The file can be accessed through the Code Edit feature of cPanel -> File Manager.

To activate this feature, you’ll need to access and add the following lines in the .htaccess file.

Once you open the .htaccess file, copy and paste the following lines of code:

## EXPIRES CACHING ##

<IfModule mod_expires.c>

ExpiresActive On

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/pdf “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType text/x-javascript “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash “access plus 1 month”

ExpiresByType image/x-icon “access plus 1 year”

ExpiresDefault “access plus 2 days”

</IfModule>

EXPIRES CACHING ##

The instructions listed above will tell your browser to download and list the resources in local disk for 1 year.

Optimizing the Hosting Server

Server racks

This technique might not work for everyone because it requires server access which is not always available on shared hosting, but it will work fine for VPS or Dedicated phpBB hosting servers.

I need to install Memcache on the server and that isn’t natively supported by phpBB. To make it work, download this file from the PECL, a PHP repository for plugins, and install it in the following folder;

/phpBB3_installation_folder/includes/acm/

phpBB3_installation_folderis the folder where the phpBB installation files are installed. The downloaded Memcache file should be named as the following;

acm_memcache.php

Once you have the file in the right folder then access the phpBB installation folder and locate theconfig.php file to alter some code and enable the installed plugin.

Find the following line of code in the file;

$acm_type = 'file'

Replace the complete line with the following;

$acm_type = 'memcache'

This will tell your phpBB website to start using Memcache.

As you saw, making this work requires technical knowledge and an understanding of server files and folders. So if you are new to server management, it is highly recommended that you contact the support of your phpBB hosting provider to make sure things do not break.

Selecting the Right Hosting

Board game pieces

Along with the above-mentioned techniques, it is essential to consider the importance of hosting your phpBB forum on a quality hosting server.

Cloudways is one of the highly recommended options when it comes to managed hosting with quality customer and technical support. Cloudways has managed server resources that offer fast page-load speed and database performance.

There are a number of managed cloud hosting providers on the market but Cloudways stand out because of the features they provide you with. The speed, user-friendly platform, security, and scalability offered by Cloudways is unparalleled. They allow you to focus on business and take care of all hosting matters for you.

Conclusion

These are a few of the techniques which can be used to speed up your phpBB website. Before you start implementing any of these techniques, first make sure that you have the adequate server resources to power the phpBB forum according to your traffic and usage.

Lastly, always ensure that you are signing up for quality phpBB hosting. Meaning you should take a close look at the services offered and the technology stack provided.

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