Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Internet » Web Hosting » Forum Hosting

The focus of this guide is on forum hosting. This may include hosting companies that specialize in hosting forums, but it most often refers to managed forum hosting.

Also known as message boards, discussion forums, or online forums, Internet forums are online discussion sites where registered members can carry on conversations through posted messages. Messages are generally organized into categories, forums, threads, and posts, and arranged in a tree-like structure.

Usually, logged-in members are organized into groups defined by a forum administrator, commonly with automatic promotions based on predetermined criteria, such as the number of posts the member has made or the length of time that user has been a member of the forum, or it may be based on the payment of a fee. Privileges and rights are based on the user's membership level.

Internet forums are built onto a software platform usually known as a script, which operates both the public and administrative sections of the site. Many of these scripts are offered for free, while others require the payment of an initial fee as well as additional fees for upgrades or additions. These scripts are then installed on web server space leased from a hosting company.

Most web hosts will allow Internet forum scripts to be installed on their leased servers. This category is for those web hosts that specialize in hosting Internet forums, usually one specific type of forum software.

Many of these forum hosts own the proprietary software that is used to create Internet forums for their subscribers and, as a part of the hosting agreement, will install the forum software, upgrade it, and maintain it, while allowing forum administrators (their subscribers) to modify the appearance of the forum, set up categories, establish rules, and so on. The range of modifications allowed vary from host to host.

For example, one of the oldest Internet forums still in operation, DelphiForums, allows Basic members to create a basic forum on their site without the payment of a fee, while Plus (premium) members are allowed more control over the forums that they create, including customizing the color theme, but forums created on DelphiForums look more alike than different.

On ProBoards, someone can create a forum for free on its attractive, easily customizable, feature-rich proprietary platform, but there is an annual charge for those who want to use their own domain name, and ProBoards will place ads on the forum unless the administrator pays a monthly fee that is based on site traffic, which can get expensive once a forum becomes popular. Its paid options, on Forums.net, include three levels of hosting, each of which includes a limit on page views, with additional charges for overages and for other features.

Online since 1998, Boardhost allows people to create and host a forum for free on their servers, although as a subdomain on their domain, but with no usage or bandwidth restrictions. Message boards are also available. Ad-free premium plans are also available for both forums and message boards, although older messages are automatically removed on all but the highest message board plan.

Additionally, some of the forum software companies offer managed hosting plans.

Managed Internet forum hosting plans are the focus of this category, although other hosting plans that specialize in hosting forums may also be listed in this category. These plans will usually promise familiarity with the forum script, and offer specialized services, such as installation, maintenance, support, or upgrades.

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