Forums are some of the most useful places on the internet: full of ideas, advice, and information. And for a forum owner, they can be pretty profitable too.
But before you begin, forums need good hosting just like regular websites do.
Because I know most forum admins operate on a tight budget, I've been careful to include the best free forum hosting choices.
However, there are some big advantages to using a paid forum hosting service. For that reason, while some of the services I've included are entirely free, others are premium web hosts offering best forum hosting.
Here are the best forum hosting services that are affordable or completely free:
- Forumotion: Completely free forum hosting
- ProBoards: Free and quick forum setup
- 000webhost: Free web and forum hosting
- A2 Hosting: Forum hosting with unlimited data
- Hostinger: Cheap and scalable forum hosting
Best free forum hosting
Forumotion is a web host that's dedicated to letting users create free forums. It's one of the easiest services to create a forum with. All you need to do is click 'Create a Forum' and select your forum software of choice.
Four different forum design packages are included. These are phpBB3, ModernBB, Invision, and PunBB. For a classic forum look, I recommend you go with phpBB3, but first-time forum creators may prefer PunBB.
Your forum will appear on a Forumotion subdomain, such as www.forum.forumotion.com. If you own one, you can also connect a custom domain.
There are some significant advantages to using a specialist forum-only host, like Forumotion. For example, you get access to a custom forum admin panel that lets you manage advanced settings.
Forumotion also offers a wide selection of different forum themes and a litigation tool to allow forum members to contact the forum founder directly and resolve conflicts. Remember, it's important to keep your forum well-moderated.
However, the most impressive thing about Forumotion is that it manages to offer all of these functions for free! There is one major downside to using a free forum hosting service like this though, which is that you get a lot less control over your server environment than you would with a traditional host.
- Totally free forum hosting
- Multiple forum design packages
- Add your custom domain
- Less control over your server environment
- Limited support options
Best forum hosting with free plan
Like Forumotion, ProBoards is a web hosting service that is entirely focused on forum hosting. ProBoards is actually one of the largest forum services with over 22 million active users and 3 million hosted forums.
It offers totally free hosting for forums and doesn't place any restrictions on bandwidth, page numbers or storage. Basically, you don't need to worry about outgrowing ProBoards, even if you have thousands of active members.
A major advantage that ProBoards has over other free forum hosting services is that it offers 24/7 customer support. So, if you run into technical trouble, you won't have to solve it alone.
So, if you thought it was easy to set up a forum with Forumotion, ProBoards takes things to another level. It only takes a half a minute to create a forum, as all you need to do is enter a name and select which subdomain address to use.
The free ProBoards package doesn't include some important features such as SSL certificates or phone support. To get those, business users should consider its sister service, Forums.net, which is available from $49.99/month.
- No page, bandwidth or storage limits
- Free plan available
- Redundant backups included
- Quick forum creator
- 24/7 customer support
- The free version doesn't include SSL certificates
- Business version is expensive
Completely free forum hosting
000webhost isn't a specialist forum hosting service, but it is a completely free web host that supports forum creation software.
To create a forum using 000webhost, you'll need to upload a forum management package using 000webhost's file transfer protocol (FTP) service. This requires a little more technical knowledge than other forum hosts in this list, so this isn't an option I'd recommend if you're not tech-savvy.
By default, 000webhost accounts come with a free subdomain such as www.forum.000webhost.com. And the best part is, if you already have a domain registered elsewhere, you can connect it for free.
One advantage that 000webhost has over other best free forum hosting providers listed here is that it offers more control over your hosting environment. You can manage your server using cPanel and support for MySQL software means you can install whatever forum toolkit you like.
If you do use 000webhost, you'll benefit from an extremely reliable hosting experience. 000webhost servers come with a 99.9% uptime guarantee, which I personally verified in my 000webhost review. In short, your members won't have any trouble connecting to your forum.
000webhost's free package comes with 1GB of storage and 10GB bandwidth. Unfortunately, that means it isn't suitable for hosting large forums.
- Completely free to use
- More server control than competitors
- Supports custom domains
- 24/7 customer support
- Limited storage and bandwidth space
- Not very easy to use
Best Forum Hosting Alternatives
Free forum hosting does not always work. It comes with limitations and in the end, you'll be paying for something - SSL, a domain name, backups, you name it.
Fortunately, some web hosts do excellent in forum hosting.
For a couple of dollars a month (or less) you'll get everything any free forum hosting would give you and a bit more - a domain name, SSL, customer support, etc.
So here's the best forum hosting if you have a spare dollar or two a month.
4. A2 Hosting
Wide range of affordable forum hosting packages
A2 Hosting is a regular web host that offers some excellent support for forum websites. Unfortunately, it isn't completely free. Plans are still affordable though, beginning at $3.92/month.
Every hosting package comes with unlimited storage and bandwidth, which is excellent if you want to create a large forum that can support thousands of members.
All A2 Hosting's storage is based on rapid SSD drives, so your forum will load quickly for members and visitors alike. In my A2 Hosting review, I found response times to be as low as 23ms.
The main limitation of A2's bottom tier $3.92/month 'Lite' plan is that it only allows you to create a single website. If you want to host multiple forums at once, I suggest you consider the $4.90/month 'Swift' package.
However, no matter which option you go for, you'll get access to A2 Hosting's comprehensive library of different forum creation packages. By my count, A2 Hosting offers access to at least 35 different forum creation toolkits. Whatever your forum design suite of choice is, you'll find support for it there.
All in all, if you can afford to spend a couple of dollars a month for your website, A2 Hosting is offering one of the best forum hosting solutions.
- Unlimited storage and bandwidth
- Access to lots of forum toolkits
- Rapid site speeds
- 24/7 phone and live chat customer support
- Starter plan limited to a single website
- More expensive than other options
Cheapest forum hosting alternative
Hostinger is not only one of the cheapest web hosts in the industry but it is also one of the best. And while not completely free, Hostinger plans start at $0.80/month, making it affordable even for those on a tight budget.
But the price itself doesn't make a hosting provider a good forum hosting provider.
All Hostinger plans include a custom hPanel through which you can manage your hosting account. And in there, you'll find many auto-installer scripts for forums that include phpBB, myBB, Vanilla, and other popular options.
Not only that.
In our Hostinger review, we also found out that it's powerful and fast provider averaging at 162ms response time.
Talking about the pricing, Single Shared Hosting plan for $0.80/mo will fit great a small community forum but you'll need to purchase a domain name separately.
If you want everything included, Premium or Business shared hosting plans will do better - both of them include SSL installation, a domain name, and unlimited data.
With all of the plans, you also get weekly backups through Business Shared Hosting plan includes daily backups for your security.
So, if you are looking for a premium forum hosting for an affordable price, Hostinger might be your best option.
- Powerful and fast hosting
- Several forum software options
- Weekly and daily backups
- Affordable pricing
- 24/7 customer support
- Cheapest plan does not include domain
- No phone support available
Best Free Forum Hosting Option - The Verdict
In our list of the best forum hosting providers, all of them have something to offer. Whether it's affordable or completely free hosting, great customer support, or advanced forum management panels, everyone will find a solution for their forum hosting needs.
Depending on what you need you can try any of these hosts and you should be satisfied. However, if you're looking for premium yet affordable service, you can check out some of the industry best web hosting providers.
The best forum hosting can be divided into 2 options - regular web hosts like A2 Hosting or Hostinger that support forum hosting, and then there are forum-only hosts like Forumotion. If you want more server control, make sure you pick a standard web host.
But what do you think? Please add your own forum hosting service recommendations below!