Advertiser Disclosure

1. A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $2.99

  • Fast forum hosting for phpBB, SMF, and others
  • More forum software choices than any other provider
  • Up to unlimited storage, bandwidth, and databases
  • Easily manage your forum hosting with cPanel
  • FREE SSL and SSDs for security and speed
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.

FORUM
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): A2 Hosting offers the most options for forum hosting we’ve seen. Whether you prefer vBulletin, MyBB, phpBB, or another forum application, you can easily install from your own cPanel portal. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited SSD New or Transfer www.a2hosting.com/forum

2. HostGator.com

HostGator review

Monthly Starting Price $2.75

  • Launch a phpBB-powered site quickly and easily
  • Install forum software in a single click with cPanel
  • Build an online community with custom themes
  • Host up to unlimited domains on one account
  • Instant shopping carts, blogs, forums, and more
  • Get started on HostGator now.

FORUM
RATING
4.8 ★★★★★ Our Review

HostGator: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): HostGator plans streamline the process of building, hosting, and growing an online forum powered by popular application phpBB. Instantly set up your forum with MediaphpBB, and enjoy all the other tools cPanel has to offer. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
45 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.hostgator.com/forum

3. Hostinger.com

Hostinger review

Monthly Starting Price $0.99

  • Multiple forum options available via 1-click script
  • Unlimited websites and bandwidth on most plans
  • Optimized WordPress hosting to pair with your forums
  • Manage your forum via custom control panel
  • High-speed hosting for less than $1 per month
  • Get started on Hostinger now.

FORUM
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

Hostinger: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 3 minutes

Laura Bernheim (HostingAdvice.com): Don’t let the low price tag fool you — Hostinger is a high-class host with tons of perks and upgrades available to site owners. The host supports phpBB, myBB, Vanilla Forums, SMF, FluxBB, and other forum programs available through an easy one-click installation script. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD FREE (1 year) www.hostinger.com/forum

4. SiteGround.com

SiteGround review

Monthly Starting Price $6.99

  • FREE forum software with powerful performance
  • Available apps include phpBB, vBulletin, and SMF
  • FREE CDN and multiple server locations
  • FREE site transfer, cPanel license, and SSH access
  • Use the latest PHP version that’s most compatible
  • Get started on SiteGround now.

FORUM
RATING
4.7 ★★★★★ Our Review

SiteGround: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 6 minutes

Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com): SiteGround is an ideal choice for application-specific hosting, including web hosting for forum creation and maintenance. Start with your choice of community-based application, such as phpBB or Simple Machine Forum (SMF), and you’re off. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days 10 GB SSD - 30 GB SSD New or Transfer www.siteground.com/forum

5. Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $2.95

  • Install phpBB for FREE with one click
  • Automatic site backups conducted daily
  • Manage forum tools directly from cPanel
  • FREE advertising credits
  • US-based support available 24/7 with 99.9% uptime
  • Get started on Bluehost now.

FORUM
RATING
4.5 ★★★★★ Our Review

Bluehost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): We trust Bluehost for many hosting niches, and the company’s forum hosting services showcase Bluehost’s focus on simple setup and reliable servers. Manage all forum operations with your choice of forum software, which can easily be installed via cPanel as you’re getting started. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.bluehost.com/forum

6. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $2.49

  • Choose your own forum application, no restrictions
  • Easily set up SMF and phpBB with 1-click installs
  • All-SSD storage means 20x-faster page loads
  • FREE SSL certificate, backups, and DDoS protection
  • cPanel management with Softaculous script library
  • Get started on InMotion now.

FORUM
RATING
4.4 ★★★★ Our Review

InMotion: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): As one of the best all-around providers in the industry, InMotion Hosting is a predictably strong option for building an interactive online community. The host pairs modern, strong hardware with unrestricted forum application options to deliver a hosting service that can grow with your forum website. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
90 days Unlimited New or Transfer www.inmotion.com/forum

7. GoDaddy.com

GoDaddy review

Monthly Starting Price $1.00

  • Reliable hosting from world’s top registrar
  • 125+ applications available via 1-click installation
  • Familiar site management with cPanel interface
  • Global datacenters with guaranteed 99.9% uptime
  • Options for Windows or Linux website owners
  • Get started on GoDaddy now.

FORUM
RATING
4.2 ★★★★ Our Review

GoDaddy: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): One of the most recognizable names in hosting, GoDaddy is more than just a top domain registrar. Combine a global hosting giant with your choice of forum software to create a vibrant community backed by 24/7 support and a 99. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days 100 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.godaddy.com/forum

8. iPage.com

iPage review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Pick from Gbook, phpBB, SMF, or other forum options
  • Hundreds of FREE templates and themes
  • Custom vDeck control panel for easy site management
  • Online help center and ticketing system plus 24/7 support
  • Unlimited disk space, domains, and databases
  • Get started on iPage now

FORUM
RATING
4.2 ★★★★ Our Review

iPage: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 5 minutes

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): Longtime hosting experts at iPage continue to simplify the process of searching for a new hosting provider. The web host only offers one shared hosting package that covers everything from forum management to online store creation. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.ipage.com/forum

9. JustHost.com

JustHost review

Monthly Starting Price $3.95

  • Hassle-free forum hosting from a dependable host
  • Host unlimited domains and websites on one account
  • Easy forum setup and management from cPanel
  • FREE email and marketing tools to grow your community
  • Nearly 75% discount for HostingAdvice readers
  • Get started on JustHost now.

FORUM
RATING
4.1 ★★★★ Our Review

JustHost: Our Expert's Review
Setup time: 4 minutes

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): JustHost offers a streamlined service perfect for aspiring forum owners. The company’s plans come with unlimited resources, giving your website ample room to grow. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Forum Hosting Plans
30 days 50 GB - Unlimited FREE (1 year) www.justhost.com/forum

Review Breakdown: Best Online Forum Hosting

Ready to start a forum website but don't know where to look? Our hosting experts compiled the table below to give you a quick glance at all the top forum-friendly web hosting providers. As you review each forum host, take into consideration price, features, and software compatibility, as well as our expert ratings.

Here are the best forum hosting services:

Best Forum Hosting of 2020
Rank Web Host Price Domain Expert Rating
1 A2 Hosting $2.99 New or Transfer ★★★★★ 4.8
2 HostGator $2.75 FREE (1 year) ★★★★★ 4.8
3 Hostinger $0.99 FREE (1 year) ★★★★★ 4.7
4 SiteGround $6.99 New or Transfer ★★★★★ 4.7
5 Bluehost $2.95 FREE (1 year) ★★★★★ 4.5
6 InMotion $2.49 New or Transfer ★★★★ 4.4
7 GoDaddy $1.00 FREE (1 year) ★★★★ 4.2
8 iPage $1.99 FREE (1 year) ★★★★ 4.2
9 JustHost $3.95 FREE (1 year) ★★★★ 4.1

Looking for something other than forum hosting?

Cheap Web Hosting

Cheap Web Hosting (21 Reviews)

If pricing is a primary concern for your hosting needs, we've got you covered. Check out our reviews of the cheapest web hosts, complete with pricing and analysis for their current hosting plans. see all reviews »

Dedicated Server Hosting

Dedicated Server Hosting (10 Reviews)

Looking for a dedicated server to host your website? Choosing the right host can make all the difference. See what our team discovered when comparing the various dedicated hosting options. see all reviews »

VPS Hosting

VPS Hosting (14 Reviews)

While not a good solution for beginners, virtual private servers offer ideal computing resources and scalability for those who are comfortable managing advanced settings. Check out our reviews of the top VPS options. see all reviews »

WordPress Hosting

WordPress Hosting (14 Reviews)

If WordPress is your platform of choice, you'll want to read about our experiences installing and maintaining WP with various hosts before deciding on a hosting plan. See which one has our highest recommendation. see all reviews »

Website Builder

Website Builder (10 Reviews)

Want your own website but don't know where to start? These services enable you to build your own site, without any coding or programming knowledge required. Be on the web in no time — and at a super-low price! see all reviews »

Best Hosts with Free Forum Hosting: phpBB, vBulletin, and Other Community Boards

Laura Bernheim
By: Laura Bernheim, Expert Contributor

Updated:

Whether I’m looking for more information about my alma mater’s basketball team or why my code isn’t working, community forums provide an immensely helpful and personal resource.

I personally prefer lurking and reading rather than posting, but forums can help build a sense of community, drive tons of traffic, and create fresh, relevant content. Forum owners appreciate the ability to quickly answer reader questions, while visitors enjoy interacting with each other and providing inside information.

To start a forum or message board, site owners need to find a hosting plan that not only delivers affordability, scalability, and reliability but also the forum solution and positive user experience that enables you to create a thriving message board. Luckily for you, we’ve tested the internet’s most popular free and paid forum software programs and paired them with the most effective hosts.

What is a Forum Host?

Because successful forums rely on robust site traffic to foster visitor interactions, you’ll want to select a host with a relatively high threshold for bandwidth and memory, along with an easy-to-use control panel. As your discussion forum grows in popularity, hot topics could further spike your traffic and boost your computing needs even more.

That probably means skipping over the bargain-basement hosts in favor of those that offer a supercharged shared hosting package with the ability to quickly upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server if needed. Dedicated hosting may sound expensive, but vibrant communities and active discussions need the extra hosting firepower.

However, several affordable options abound at ever level — it’s all about finding top-notch services and support for a reasonable rate. Skip over the free hosting services in favor of a low-cost alternative with much better performance and support.

The best forum hosts offer optimized installations of the top message board programs. Most hosts enable users to download and configure the community forums with just one click, similar to the streamlined process for adding content management systems or ecommerce software.

Best Hosted Forum Software

When shopping for forum software, key considerations include the hosting platform’s price, installation and configuration processes, and compatibility with other web development tools. Picking the right software program is never an easy task, no matter the end goal, but we’ve narrowed down your options to the five best tools for fostering an online community:

  • phpBB
  • MyBB
  • bbPress
  • vBulletin
  • Simple Machine Forums
  • Vanilla Forum

You’ll also want to consider how much support or flexibility you require with templates, user management settings, localization, and SEO tools. Regardless of which forum software or hosting account you choose, the chosen program should provide simple navigation and an attractive design at a price you want to pay. Keep reading as we pair each platform with the hosting provider that offers the most impact.

Best phpBB Forum Hosting: HostGator

Short for PHP Bulletin Board, phpBB is among the oldest open-source forum software projects. The community launched phpBB in 2000 and has continued to develop behind strong moderation functionality, AJAX capability, and support for command line interface operations. Being an open-source program, phpBB is free and includes a robust extension system and third-party authentication.

HostGator, our favorite host to grow with, tabbed phpBB as the company’s go-to option for forum web hosting. The web hosting provider boasts an extremely intuitive installation process, unlimited bandwidth, new email marketing tools, and a custom website builder. In addition to offering free transfers of existing phpBB sites, HostGator includes a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

Best MyBB Forum Hosting: A2 Hosting

Another open source option, MyBB is a simple and intuitive platform that offers powerful moderation and forum administrator features with an extensive range of plugins and a built-in theme editor. The program, written in PHP, supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite databases, in addition to database failover support.

A2 Hosting offers among the most diverse portfolio of forum script installers, but we particularly appreciate the work the company has done to optimize its infrastructure for performance. All servers are equipped with unlimited disk space and data transfer capabilities, along with an SSL certificate and solid-state drives. Upgraded Turbo server configurations boost already impressive speeds to 20 times faster.

Best bbPress Forum Hosting: Bluehost

A no-brainer pick for WordPress enthusiasts, bbPress is a platform developed with PHP and MySQL by the creators of the ultra-popular content management system. As with all things WordPress, usability, performance, and security are key focuses of bbPress, which comes with the familiar integrated administrative dashboard, multisite support, and Akismet spam protection.

Well-known for its support team and involvement in the WordPress community, Bluehost is an easy pick to run your bbPress forum. The platform can be installed with a single click, and the host runs an automatic daily backup to safeguard your information. Bluehost is one of only a few providers recommended by the WordPress Core team, combining affordability and knowledgeable 24/7 support

Best vBulletin Forum Hosting: SiteGround

Serving more than 40,000 online communities, vBulletin is one of the most popular paid forum services. Licenses range from $180 to $360 per year for a cloud-hosted version with managed and scalable infrastructure or an installable software suite that also includes blogging and poll functionality. The vBulletin Mobile Suite includes native iOS and Android apps for optimized mobile user experiences.

If you’re willing to invest in a premium message board program, you’ll want to pair it with a top-tier host. SiteGround is your best bet for premium web hosting service and support. Once you purchase a vBulletin license, SiteGround will help you install or transfer your forums for free. In addition to free daily backups, the hosting company includes multiple server locations and a free content delivery network to make sure your community can interact in real time.

Best Simple Machines Forum (SMF) Forum Hosting: A2 Hosting

Simple Machines Forum takes us back to the open source realm with the nonprofit-owned program built to require minimal server resources and accommodate various levels of technical expertise. SMF, however, isn’t watered down in the slightest: the platform features a unique server-side includes (SSI) function to seamlessly integrate forums into your website.

In addition to the company’s high-performing servers, A2 Hosting makes forum hosting easy for site owners with not only a one-click installation but automatic email notifications when new SMF versions become available, as well. The ultra-simple update process ensures users are enjoying the latest features and most secure settings.

Find the Best Forum Hosting Service for Your Online Community

Social media networks and blogs tend to get all the glory when it comes to communicating online, but message boards are a top-notch way to bring together like-minded people to solve problems, share information, and discuss subjects about which they’re passionate.

With our list of popular online software programs and the best forum hosting providers around, creating an online community should be an incredibly easy and rewarding task. Start the conversation by engaging users in a modern, well-supported forum environment.

About The Author

Laura Bernheim Expert Contributor Laura Bernheim
Laura Bernheim has spent more than 12 years crafting engaging and award-winning articles that share the passion behind organizations' products, people, and innovations. As a freelance contributor to HostingAdvice, she combines a reputation for producing quality content with rich technical expertise to show experienced developers how to capitalize on emerging technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. A professional journalist, Laura has contributed to The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the Sun Sentinel, and the world's top hosting providers. In addition to conducting interviews with industry leaders, Laura drives internal writing and design teams to deliver stellar, timely content that clearly explains even the most difficult concepts.
Advertiser Disclosure

HostingAdvice.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free for users, we receive advertising compensation from the hosts listed on this page. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where hosts appear on the page (including, for example, the order in which they appear). HostingAdvice.com does not include listings for all web hosts.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.

Laura Bernheim