Forum sites are popularly deployed by various webmasters. It's great website solution for both internal and public discussion. Especially when you're running a live support or shopping cart service, forum is good place to connect all your clients. However, what kind of web hosting plan is best for forum site? Is shared hosting good enough to support a forum application? This article provides in depth review and guidance of hosting your forum under shared server.
If we search forum hosting suggestion on google or webmater community sites, VPS and up server plans are mostly recommended because high server resource consumption is always mentioned by professionals. However, they're definitely focus on those high traffic forum but not smalll to medium size websites. Actually, shared hosting is perfect choice as long as we host in the right way. Here're few tips to host forum site on shared server properly.
Evaluate your forum usage
The most important thing before you build the site. Unlike any other website script, forum site is mainly about frequent interaction among users. Thus it's very important to know about your forum purpose. For example, if your forum is protected and only restricted for internal users, mostly you don't have to worry about any problem because you will know how much will be used exactly. But if your site is open to everyone with frequent updates, you might test it first and learn from your competitors' site directly and check how they're doing. There're lots of popular tools to evaluate website performance and overall traffic like pingdom, alexa etc. Compare with multiple services then you can get a rough idea how much server resource you will need.
Select the right forum software
Choosing the right forum script means half success. Different forum scripts work the best under different server environment. Depends your requirements of the site, most of the time commercial products are much better than free ones. For example the vBulletin solution is recognized the best php forum script but you have to pay for it. On the other side, the vbulletin clone script phpbb is not acceptable for business solutions. Although it's designed for the same layouts/functions as vbulletin, there're lots of well known problems such as spam attack, sql injection etc.
Based lots of editorial experience and user feedbacks, SMF(simple machines forum) is the best open sourced forum script. No matter if you need to create a forum site for internal company staff or public communication, it's recognized safe and efficient. The most important point is this software is well supported by a large community which is very similar to commercial script.
If you're looking for some reputable forum solutions, you can check out this forum hosting list for some leading choice and select the right one based your needs.
Use the right hosting provider
The right hosting provider means fully compatible with different forum scripts and come with professional support. It provides high performance hosting servers and lots of resources to support your forum side by side. Based all forum requirements, we don't recommend those super cheap budget hosting plans that's only suitable for small personal website purpose. Instead, a decent forum hosting plan is not so cheap and provided on business level. On this point, we can filter a lot of hosting providers and only those business level shared hosting plan left.
For safe and high performance forum site web hosting, we highly recommend to check out Arvixe, InMotionHosting and WebhostingHub. Their hosting plans are not the cheapest but definitely not expensive comparing to VPS server. Why they're right choice for forum scripts? Simple because they can provde more server resources comparing to most hosting providers. No matter for server configuration and network setup, they're absolutely leading from the industry. Just few bucks per month we can get vps level support.
Monitor website performance regularly
There're lots of uncertain factors about forum, because you might get burst growth in short periods or you might attract lots of attacks. It's quite essential to monitor the forum performance and do traffic analyzing regularly. In this way we will understand how things going so as to apply needful changes. There're several tools we can make use of like google webmaster tools, AWstats and hosting control panel error log reports. Properly using these tools will help us operate a healthy site.
As we see, we don't have to use a VPS server if we know our needs and operate the forum site properly. A decent shared hosting plan is good enough for most forum, we just need to use it in right way.