With the advent of social networks, you might be thinking forums are already obsolete.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Up until now, forums are one of the largest form of community websites on the Web, despite the popularity of all those social networks like Facebook, Ning and others. Forums are still dear places for many.
And by many, we mean for millions of people. Case in point, a popular commercial forum web app vBulletin counts for 2.2% of websites that use some sort of content management system. 2.2% may seem small to you but there are at least nearly 1 billion websites in total, and they keep growing everyday. Around 80% of that uses some sort of CMS. Now imagine 2.2% of that!
vBulletin is very powerful web app. In the past we have hosted some forums using vBulletin and loved every moments of it. Although there are some mighty powerful forum software like phpBB around, we just can’t deny the power and flexibility of vBulletin.
So if you are thinking to host a forum using vBulletin, then welcome to the club!
You will of course need a good hosting service to handle thousands of members on your forum. But that is the easy part, because we have a list of 5 best hosting services for your vBulletin website. Check them out after the break.
Winner – SiteGround – From $3.95/month
SiteGround is awesome in their resource optimization even on shared hosting plans. Their servers are very well-optimized and even shared hosting accounts have access to decent share of system resources. So you can easily and confidently host a forum with thousands of members participating in it. Heck, you can even host small eCommerce sites using resource intensive eCommerce software like Magento, so hosting a forum using vBulletin is practically no-brainer even if you have thousands of members. If your forum grows to tens of thousands of members then, you can easily upgrade to semi-dedicated plans or VPS hosting from SiteGround.
SiteGround has been in the industry for 10 years, and currently providing its hosting services for over 150,000 websites. Their primary goal is to offer affordable but optimized hosting services for SMEs and individuals. Judging from the numbers of customers they are serving, and their pricing plans, it seems that they are not overselling either which is always a plus.
The fees will begin from $3.95 a month which comes with unlimited storage and data transfer. You have to pay a setup fee of $14.95 for monthly billing cycle but if you commit to 12 months or longer, it is waived.
2. Web Hosting Buzz – From $4.95/month
WebHostingBuzz is well-known for higher end plans but their shared hosting plans are pretty awesome too. The company has been around since 2002 and have over 30,000 customers from over 140 countries. The number seems small compared to many other giant hosts but that also tells a lot about the dedication and resource you will receive from Web Hosting Buzz. Since there aren’t hundreds of thousands of other shared hosting users competing for system resources on same servers, you can be assured that your website performance will be really good even on shared hosting plans.
There are three tiers in shared hosting plans, and basic one will cost you $4.95 a month and highest one will set you back just $9.95 a month. All plans are backed with 45 day money back guarantee so you can easily try out the service without losing money.
The lowest priced plan comes with 400GB of storage space which is a lot (and something you won’t use unless you are going to let forum users upload images and files), and unlimited data transfer. The rest of the plans come with unlimited storage and bandwidth. There are two AdWord and AdWord Express vouchers with $100 credits inside each for you as a bonus gift. If you want SSL and your own IP, the highest tier plan is for you since you will get a Comodo Positive SSL certificate and private IP address. NGINX frontend is used for servers hosting highest tier plan so it is pretty darn fast too.
3. Eleven2 – From $4.95/month
Eleven2 ROCKS. Okay, forgive us for the caps but that’s how we feel. There are plenty of reasons to love Eleven2, and we will tell you some.
They have four data centers now in three continents. Those data centers locate in US, UK and Singapore and they practically let you choose any data center you want to host your website. Do you feel like your forum members will be Asians? Go with Singapore. Europeans? UK is best choice. Yankees? You have two data centers to choose from in US! Now, being closer to your audience lets them enjoy better loading speed and access time when they come to your forum. Speed is important and critical, amigo.
They now have over 1000,000+ websites on their servers at the moment, and Eleven2 is very committed to delivering top-notch services. How committed, you ask? All shared hosting plans are backed by 60-day money back guarantee. That is already a double of industry standard. See how confident they are to their services? Although they mainly focus on shared hosting and cloud hosting, they also offer other services like VPS servers and dedicated servers. All shared hosting servers are well optimized too.
The lowest tier shared hosting plan starts from $4.95/mo but only available at yearly billing cycle. But the price is still a steal though so there is no reason to balk at it. You will be provided with 10GB storage, 50GB data transfer and can host up to 10 websites. The next tier plans will see an increase on storage, data transfer and you can also host unlimited domains. The two highest-tier plans will also give you a free SSL certificate and dedicated IP address, but a forum won’t need them. Judging from the numbers of resources they give for each hosting plans, we can conclude that they are not overselling their resources.
4. HostGator – From $3.96/month
We have talked about hosting companies with under one million customers and placed an emphasis on not overselling their resources. So what about HostGator, the most well-known and famous shared hosting company serving over 8 million domains? We don’t know how many servers they have but only that there are thousands at different data centers owned by Ace Data Center and SoftLayer.
Their hosting plans are pretty well priced too, and although we don’t know hoa many shared hosting accounts occupy each server, we know that HostGator is doing a great job in optimizing the resources so that sites will not suffer significant slowdowns. You can get shared hosting, dedicated hosting and VPS plans from HostGator so the choice is all yours.
Managing your shared hosting account is easy with cPanel, and they are backed by 45 days money back guarantee which is 15 days more than industry standard 30 days. Starting shared hosting plan will cost $7.16 a month if you go monthly or 6 months, but if you go for 3 years then it is cheapest since then each month will cost you only $3.96. All shared hosting plans come with unlimited storage and data transfer so you don’t have to worry about them.
5. Web Hosting Pad – From $3.99/month
Been around since 2005, Web Hosting Pad is based in Chicago and currently a home for over 200,000 domains on their servers. We don’t know how many servers they are running but you will have to keep in mind that Web Hosting Pad primarily targets the budget end of hosting market, so the servers may not be the best optimized as others in this list. Still, their pricing is hard to beat. There is not much choices and they actually only have two plans: Power Plan and Power Plan Plus .You will get unlimited data transfer and storage on both, and you can host unlimited website on your account although we will advise against it since it can bog down the system resources a lot more.
Power Plan Plus will be something you should choose if you are looking for more advanced features like private SSL certificate and SSH access. It also comes with advanced security scan which will help you to prevent some sorts of attacks, but they never really tell what those scans really do. Another reason we can’t list it higher than #5 in this list is because of its less-optimized servers compared to other firms in this list.
Still, for running a small forum it is good enough. The Power Plan will cost you $3.99 a month, and Power Plan Plus is going to cost $6.99 a month. It seems that there are only yearly payment plans.
If you are dissatisfied with the companies we have featured here, and want to venture out and evaluate other hosting companies yourself for your new online forum, please use our kick ass hosting services comparison tool. You can choose every features you want and find out prefect host for you.