To access the phpBB Administration panel, log in to your forums with your user account (if you aren't already logged in) and click the Go to Administration Panel link at the bottom of the page. Your screen should resemble Figure 8-6.
phpBB's Administration panel is laid out in a straightforward manner. The left pane contains all the navigational links for the various options for phpBB; this will remain on your screen as you work in the Administration panel.
The front page of the phpBB Administration panel offers a few useful statistics on forum activity and information about the state of your board. phpBB calculates the average signups per day, average posts per day, when your board was started, and a few additional tidbits of information that can help you determine if you need to tweak your marketing or upgrade your server hardware. You'll also notice an enhanced version of the Who's Online feature. In addition to the usual statistics about who's online and where they are, you also get a look at the IP addresses of the users as they browse the forum, with a link to a network tools site that lets you perform WHOIS queries, pings, and traceroutes on that particular IE! This link can be useful, for example, if the IP address is of someone who is causing problems on your board, and you need to get in touch with the user's Internet service provider.
Another nice feature, found in later revisions of the phpBB 2 series, is an upgrade notification, which shows you when your phpBB version is outdated (you can see this in Figure 8-6). The upgrade notification checks phpBB.com for updates every time you enter the Administration panel, so you can rest assured that it has all the latest information. This frees you from checking phpBB.com daily for major version revisions (although it's still a good idea to keep tabs on the site for interim security fixes, as they can and do happen).
■Caution If your version of phpBB doesn't have the upgrade check functionality in the Administration panel, chances are your installation is incredibly outdated (and is most definitely at risk for security flaws!). An upgrade is highly recommended.
It's easy to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of options offered by the Administration panel. Here's a brief overview of the functionality of the Administration panel, accessed through the navigational links in the left pane.
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