How to Install Vanilla Forum Software on Windows using XAMPP

Vanilla is forum software. It provides a modern community platform for organizations. It helps to improve customer service, increase advocacy, and strengthen brand loyalty. This forum is also available as software-as-a-service (cloud). It is open software, you can download and install, manage it by yourself.

In this article, I will show you how to install Vanilla forum on Windows Desktop using XAMPP. This should give your hands-on training before moving to the cloud or self-hosted forum on a web host.


This tutorial assumes basic working knowledge of Windows Operating system.


We are using XAMPP which is free Apache MySQL distribution. If you are not aware of XAMPP. Read below article

Read:- XAMPP (Apache-MariaDB-PHP-Perl) – Installation Guide on Windows

Installation Guide

Below is step by step guide for installing forum software.


Open vanillaforums website and click on download link. There are 2 options.

Developers – This version is for the development community. You need to download, install, configure and optimize yourself. It is free if you know how to manage installation and configuration.

Big Communities –  This is paid option. You get the support required to host and grow the community. Check this link for pricing.

download install vanilla forum software options

Click on Download Now button just below Developers. Enter your name and email id, if you want to receive updates. It is optional, if you don’t want, do not enter any details and click on download.

Start Apache and MySQL Service

Open XAMPP control panel and start Apache and MySQL service. Both services are needed, as Vanilla is built on PHP and MySQL Technology stack. Make sure Module icon turns green and PID(s) and Ports(s) are populated.

xampp control panel

Create Database and User

The forum needs MySQL database to store database object. Open my PHP admin and create user and database.

create database mysql

create mysql database user

Create MYSQL Database myforum and User forumadmin as shown above using phpMyAdmin dashboard.

  • Database – myforum
  • User: forumadmin


Start Installation

Extract the downloaded file in C:\xampp\htdocs\forum folder. XAMPP is installed under C:\xampp folder on Windows.

Open any internet browser and type localhost/myforum/ in the address bar. It should start the installation process. Enter all necessary information as shown in below image. Host should be localhost as you are installing on local desktop. Database name and user created in earlier step. Enter application title and Admin user details and click Continue.

Enter database host, user to install vanilla

Database username and admin username should not be same. I kept is same only for demo purpose.

Your Vanilla forum should get installed within seconds…….!!!

Below is the main dashboard. You can configure Banner, Homepage, and Themes. There are good options and easy to understand. If you need any help, just click on Help & Tutorial Links.

vanilla forum dashboard

Wasn’t it easy to install on localhost?

Click on Visit Site button shown on right-hand side top to check default forum dashboard.

vanilla forum default dashboard

By default, Vanilla comes with the basic and plain installation. You need to add some add-ons and themes to customize and configure it.

What Next?

Play with your forum and if it meets your requirements, move it to production or get Cloud Hosting from If you face any issue, just ask it in this forum.

Do let me know if you liked this article on installing Vanilla forum software on Windows using XAMPP in the comments section below.

Related Post