If you are gearing towards having a new website for your products or services, you have several options to consider. Understandably, you may not be willing to risk investing too much. This is precisely why you need to have a good grasp of the various types of hosting before you even decide which one to take on.
For many website owners, forum hosting is quite a popular hosting solution. Forums or discussion boards, as they are also known, have become pretty much the trend in recent years and play a significant role for most thriving websites. Creating a forum site is a brilliant way to instigate topic discussions among people from different parts of the world; and eventually attract regular website visitors as it deals with a variety of topics that people can relate to and discuss online. Forums may cover several interactive components; thus, require features that enable its members to post their opinions, send private messages, cast votes, and a lot more. An even more ingenious technique is supplementing the forum with a community, which would encourage people to recurrently visit the site; hence automatically increase your traffic. Before that happens, however, you need to first find the most suitable web hosting service (that meets your requirements) to host your forum site.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Suitable Forum Host
Different web hosts offer different services – some may specialize in helping you set up your forum site all the way through the time when it’s ready to run; and some may just go as far as providing the web design. There are web hosts that provide basic and simple format; while others may willingly offer a lot of extras. For many beginners, finding the suitable forum host can be a bit overwhelming. Take heart; though it may seem a gargantuan task, it’s not really that hard if you know what to look for. Here are a few pointers to help you get started.
Bandwidth and Disk Space: The Numbers Game
“How much storage space and bandwidth does forum hosting require?” is a valid question. The simple answer is: Enough to handle and support the anticipated huge traffic. This may vary from one forum to another. For small to medium-sized forums, a typical 50GB of bandwidth and 10 to 15GB of storage per month are more than adequate. However, if a forum anticipates the users to post a lot of images, such as in a Travel Forum, for instance, it may require a lot more bandwidth and storage space than, say a Jobs Forum.
The Price: Hosting Plans and Packages
Web hosting plans are typically sold in an assortment of packages based on 2 considerations: storage/disk space and bandwidth. Along with these, you may choose from three plan options: Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS), or Dedicated Server. Your choice depends on your hosting budget and the projected size of your forum.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to move your website from one host to another. The stability of the forum hosting provider you pick is a critical factor. Logistics show that switching hosts is not only inconvenient (with the hovering risk of losing precious data); you also stand to lose revenues while your site is down during the transfer period. Do a background-check on the provider and make sure that it has clean track record for being solid-rock stable and reliable.
The Ambiguity (Ambiguousness) of Popularity
In web hosting, popularity isn’t always as straightforward as people think. A web host’s popularity may be indicative of the high quality service it provides, which could guarantee that you are in good hands. However, the drawback to this is, a web host may have one high-profile client too many, which could affect service delivery. Deterioration in service quality may occur in the long run with the possibility of slower page loading because of traffic influx; or worse, slowed-down customer service response due to a long queue of clients requiring assistance.
The same ambiguity applies in the case of a forum site’s increasing popularity. If your site grows too rapidly, traffic constraints can happen because of too many users simultaneously attempting to connect to the server. The drastic increase in the number of requests sent to the server may cause it to temporarily slow down; other users nay start complaining and result to your site being suspended.
Technical Support: A Question of Reliability
There is no such thing as enough technical support. The absence of appropriate technical support spells loss of money. Therefore, you should at least be assured of a 24/7 customer support with knowledgeable (expert is better) technical support staff that fully understands your platform’s specifications. A technical staff should be on call to answer your queries thoroughly, proficiently, and skillfully.
Forum Hosting Software that Works for You
Now that you are aware on what to look for when choosing a forum host, you are probably ready to make a choice on the ideal software for your forum hosting. Check these three most widely-used and popular forum software, and see which one is your most likely choice.
PhpBB Forum Hosting
PhpBB is the world’s foremost Open Source forum software that most webmasters use in running online communities and managing flat style discussion forums. This software is downloadable and free to use by anyone. It includes all the best possible features that anybody could ask for in high-end software. The user-friendly administrator panel is so powerful; you can create multiple forum categories, send massive emails, and incorporate polls, among other capabilities. Supported both by Windows and Linux Servers, you can easily install and activate PhpBB in less than 15 minutes.
vBulletin Forum Hosting
Produced by Jelsoft Enterprises, vBulletin is another top of the line software specifically used to create web forum. Unlike PhpBB, you will need a license to be authorized to use vBulletin. Likewise supported on Windows and Linux hosting plans, this powerful forum software is written in PHP and developed with strong back end database MySQL. It’s very popular among many companies and individual webmasters for its innovativeness, outstanding performance and high level of security.
Simple Machines Forum (SMF) Hosting
A free forum hosting software just like PhpBB, SMF is a professional-quality software bundle that enables you to set up your very own online community in a matter of minutes. The powerful customized template engine provides you with complete control over the kind of layout you want for your message board. On top of this, SMF’s unique Server Side Includes (SSI) feature allows your website and your forum to “interact” with each other. SMF uses MySQL database; while its script is written in the widely-held PHP language. SMF is designed to furnish you with all the features you require while also maintaining the least possible impact on the server’s resources. SMF is so versatile and efficient that people sometimes dub it as the next generation forum software.
There are plenty of factors to consider when searching for an excellent forum hosting provider. Choosing the right forum hosting provider for your forum hosting site is one of the most crucial strategic decisions that need careful thought and deliberation, if you want to stay on track to develop and establish your online presence and that of your business. You don’t have to rush and make rash choices, take your time and look around; learn as much as you possibly can about the forum hosting provider you have in mind. It’s the nearest guarantee you can have of getting the most for your forum site from your chosen provider.