Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol for real-time internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. IRC was firstly created in 1988 by Jarkko Oikarinen. People communicate through IRC channels using their nicknames. An IRC server can connect to other IRC servers to expand the IRC network. Users access IRC networks by connecting a client to a server. From the wikipedia 2011 report, there're roughly 3200 IRC servers worldwide.
High Efficiency – IRC is real-time text messaging, it's almost zero delay. It's essential feature for group meetings, especially for remote group meetings. There's no limitation about how many people can join. The most important is it's completely free!
Ease of use – We don't have to be professional to get IRC working. We can either install a separate IRC client software or web browser plugin directly to start the chat. The usage is not limited in case you're travelling outside.
Anonymity and masking – We don't have to be registered anywhere to use the service. Our privacy is completely protected and our IP address is hided too. Plus the anonymity, The data we sent is always encrypted by SSL. Means no matter if we are chatting publicly or in private message, the channel is secured.
Why IRC is restricted by many hosting providers?
Since there're so many advantages of IRC, why many hosting companies restrict or even prohibit this service? To understand such policy we must know clearly what we would like to do.
If you're just looking for an IRC channel, start a channel on an established network (for example the EFnet, IRCnet etc). You'll have stable services with no worry about any of the technical stuff. For such case, most hosting service should do the work because the hosting server is not involved into the service.
On the other hand, if you're going to purchase an IRCd to host your own server, which would also give you IRCop access and mostly power benefits then you must evaluate carefully. The actual prohibition is talking about this method. In case we setup the IRC service on server in wrong way, it's easy to kill the server and introduce into DDOS attack to the entire network. That's why many hosting prohibit it restrictly.
In our opinions, it's not necessary to create our own station because it will take us lots of time to maintain the system with professional skills. Instead, we can take the advantage of existing networks and create our own channel directly.
Who provides IRC hosting service?
We do not have direct experience with IRC hosting service. However, from various reviews on the web, the Sh3lls.net provides high quality and cheap IRCd shell hosting for only 5$ per month. If you want to host your own irc server, or start your own IRC network, their service is worthy of checking out. They have several plans with different user limits. If you think it's just too less to deal with, you might need a quality VPS or dedicated server to setup your IRC network.