How to Install Vanilla Forum Software on Windows using XAMPP

Vanilla is forum software. It provides a modern community platform to 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

Vanilla Installation Guide

Below is step by step guide for installing forum software.

Download Vanilla Forum Software

Open vanillaforums website and click on download link. There are 2 options. Click on Download Now button just below Developers. It downloads a Zip file.

download install vanilla forum software options

On next Windows 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 XAMPP 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 MYSQL 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 of Vanilla forum software

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 like as shown in below image.

Enter database host, user to install vanilla

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

Your Vanilla forum should get installed within seconds.

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

What Next?

Play with your forum and if it meets your requirements, move it to production or get Cloud Hosting from

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

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