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Create a successful forum without paying one penny

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It is often assumed that starting a successful forum must begin with an initial investment of at least several hundred dollars to pay for all costs between forum software licensing, hosting, domain names, and any tools you'll need to manage your website. While certainly much money could be spent on a website, the costs can be significantly reduced knowing where to look for great deals. If you are really tight on cash, it is entirely possible to host your own forum website without paying a single penny.

There are many free forum hosts out on the market today. They range from basic phpBB hosts, to hosts running full, custom software, to fully featured myBB hosts packed with many plugins.

Advantages to good free forum hosts:

* They are always 100% managed.This can make it a good choice for those who are completely new to forum administration, as it takes the huge load of server maintenance on the host, not on the forum admin.

* With a good host, there is rarely a limit on the number of posts, members, etc..., meaning you generally don't have to worry about CPU usage, bandwidth, storage, etc..., as this is all on the host.
It's generally a good option for those on a tight budget.

Disadvantages:

*They are almost always advertisement supported. Some hosts tend to be more considerate with their advertisement choices than others.

* Some hosts will hold your database hostage, making it difficult to move hosts if you decide to move away from free hosting.

* The security and reliability of your forum is at the mercy of your forum host, as you do not have access to the files or database without asking for it explicitely. Some free forum hosts are some of the most reliable webhosts I've ever seen, whereas others have have been notorious for constant downtime. This is where user reviews and research will become useful.


Our recommendation here is icyboards.net. Like all forum hosts, they are advertisement supported, but they have a good balance that does not overdo the advertisements to the point that your forum becomes unusable. They also give database exports for a reasonable price of $20 and are fairly reliable as a host, having minimal downtime and data loss.

Icyboards is a full myBB host, so you get a complete install of myBB right out of the box, complete with many plugins, without having to know anything about server maintenance. They have no limits on the number of users, posts, boards, or bandwidth that is allowed, making it a good choice for people who want to be able to trust their host as their forum grows.

A free forum host will usually give you a subdomain, such as myforum.icyboards.com or forum1234.proboards.com. You can also purchase your own domain for around $10/year, then use your own domain for the forum. This is rarely required for a free host, and is an optional feature that most hosts will offer.

When free forum hosting is good for you

* When you want to get a small forum started, but don't have the money to pay for good paid hosting.

* When you want to get your feet wet with forum administration, but you don't want to have to worry about bandwidth limits or server administration duties.

When free forum hosting is not for you.

* If you are trying to host a very large forum. (Most free forum hosts will gladly host large forums, but large forum admins still tend to want their own server. )

* If you need complete control over the files, plugins, etc... on your board. Free forum hosts usually don't give you FTP access to the files on your board. They usually contain plenty of settings available to build your forum to your liking, but if you need complete control, free hosting probably isn't for you.

Free forum hosting isn't for everyone, but for new forum admins on a tight budget, it can give them an opportunity to start a dream website without paying a single penny. If you decide to start your own forum, be sure to let us know what you come up with!
Saturn-Moon.com - Our next project...
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