When it comes to bulletin board (or forum) software, phpBB, vBulletin and Simple Machine Forums are very well known and popular. But they have not been always so easy or intuitive to use, and they can be slow when there are so many users.
XenForo is created to be an intuitive and fast forum application, and bring a fresh perspective to how forum apps operate. In their quest to achieve this, XenForo brings some very interesting features from social networks to their software.
One of them is Like feature. It is basically part of their set of social engagement features where they encourage forum members to interact with each other more than just replying on forum threads or sending private messages. An intuitive Like system lets people express their appreciation for contribution from other members, and you can even integrate your forum with Facebook for easy registration and login.
These are not the only things. There are other useful features like Recent Activity Stream, which basically lets people to follow each other and see personalized news feed showing what contents they want to see, not just the threads they have posted on. Think about Quora if you are not familiar with this.
When it comes to extensions and theming, XenForo is not lacking in this department either. There are a huge array of extensions already available, and you won’t be disappointed with the theming options either.
So if you want to host your next forum using XenForo, we have hand picked 5 best hosting services for it. Check them out after the break.
Winner – SiteGround – From $3.95/month
What do you do when you are not satisfied with status quo of something? You get yourself up and change that situation. It is exactly what people behind SiteGround did back in 2003. They were pissed off with the status quo of hosting industry, and so they started SiteGround, a company that will change everything they didn’t like and stand for their values.
SiteGround is amazing in their resource optimization, even on shared hosting plans. Their servers are very well-optimized and even shared hosting accounts have access to quite decent share of system resources, which is a plus point as shared hosting tend to be troublesome once your website gets high traffic. For forums, the more members you have, the more resources you will need to run it fast. With SiteGround, you can easily and confidently host a forum with hundreds if not a couple thousands of members in it. Heck, SiteGround can even handle small eCommerce sites using resource intensive eCommerce software like Magento, so hosting a forum using XenForo is not a problem for sure. If your forum grows to several thousands of members then you definitely need to upgrade but your upgrade path is clear. SiteGround has VPS hosting or semi-dedicated plans, so you can just upgrade to them.
Been in the industry for 10 years, the company is currently providing its hosting services for over 150,000 websites. Sure, not in millions like HostGator but definitely not a small number. The company strives to offer affordable but optimized hosting services for SMEs and individuals. And judging from the responses we see on WebHostingTalk and other sites, it is apparent that they are doing a good job. Oh and they are pretty committed to not oversell too.
Starting plan will cost $3.95 a month which comes with 10GB storage space. 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. Higher tier plans are available too if you need more bandwidth or storage.
2. Web Hosting Buzz – From $4.95/month
WebHostingBuzz is well-known name when it comes to higher end hosting plans but their shared hosting plans are also equally awesome. The company has been established since 2002 and currently serving over 30,000 customers from over 140 countries. The company is very serious about resource optimization and their commitment to not overselling. They may not have hundreds of thousands of customers like some other giant hosts but as most of their customers are on higher end plans like semi-dedicated or reseller hosting plans, we can be assured that there aren’t hundreds of thousands of other shared hosting users competing for system resources on same servers, rendering your forum on shared hosting account very slow or almost unusable. For forums, they can grow to thousands of members so it is very important.
There are three plans in shared hosting plans, and basic one will cost you $4.95 a month and highest priced one will set you back just $9.95 a month. For what you get, it is a steal. All plans are backed with 45 day money back guarantee (15 days more than industry standard) so you can easily try out the service and ask for refund if you don’t like it.
The lowest priced plan gives you 400GB of storage space which is a lot for a forum (even if you allow your users to upload images) and unlimited bandwidth. The rest of the plans will give you unlimited storage and bandwidth. You will also get two AdWord and AdWord Express vouchers with $100 credits inside each so that you can test out paid traffic. If you want SSL and your own IP (required if you want to secure admin area and password protected area for members), the highest tier plan is for you since you will get a Comodo Positive SSL certificate and private IP address. Oh and accounts on highest tier plans will be hosted on servers using NGINX frontend so it will be pretty damn 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. Rose Hosting – From $3.95/month
Linux and Windows servers are commonly used in web hosting industry for web servers. Some people like to host their website on Windows servers and some on Linux. If you would like to host your website on Linux servers then Rose hosting is the name you can trust. You can get as much information from their customer support department as possible by just sending them an email and receiving a reply within 5 minutes. Yes, this is their promise – 5 minutes response to any customer support query, 365 x 24 x 7.
There are different Linux shared hosting plans offered by the company. The lowest rated plan will cost you only $3.95 a month and you can enjoy 500MB of disk space and 20GB of data transfer limit. If you need more disk space and bandwidth then you can pay $24.95 per month and get 8,000MB of disk space and 100GB of data transfer limit.
Being a customer, you can decide whether you would like to use cPanel/ WHM control panel or DirectAdmin. Another good thing about Rose Hosting is that, they backup entire data on weekly basis. It simply means that there are no chances of data loss at all. Still if you are not happy with their services, they offer a 45 days money back guarantee too. Just like many other hosting companies, Rose Hosting also lets you install third party apps like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal with just one click of mouse by using Softaculous auto-installer app. Building your own website is not that difficult too with the help of RVSiteBuilder Pro.
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.
XenForo is not your usual forum software. If you want to put back social in your forum, then get XenForo and start rolling with it. All you need then is a good hosting environment so that it won’t be down the moment you get a few hundred active members. If you think you need to find out more hosting companies to evaluate, please use our kick ass hosting services comparison tool. You can choose every features you want and find out prefect host for you.