Choosing the right web host for your forum

Your choice of web-host can make or break your new forum project.

  1. euantor
    Your choice of web-host can make or break your new forum project. It's therefore crucial to think your choice through thoroughly. In this guide, we'll look at choosing the right web host for your forum. Some of the key points we'll look at are: value for money; reliability and up-time; and features. These are all key things to look at when choosing a new host.

    Please note that this guide will be specifically focusing on choosing a shared hosting provider. If you're looking for something bigger (like a VPS or a Dedicated Server), chances are that you know what you're looking for already.

    First things first though, let's talk "unlimited web hosting". Steer clear. No matter what. These so-called unlimited hosts tend to oversell their servers until they run at a snail's pace. This is obviously a bad thing. Another reason to steer clear is the sheer fact that the hosting is obviously <strong>not</strong> unlimited - there's no such thing. A quick check of the Terms of Service will reveal some small facts such as a limit on space averaging around 20GB and bandwidth restrictions to boot. Not looking so unlimited now, are we?

    Onto actually choosing a real host now that we've got that out of the way. As I mentioned earlier, there are a few things to look for in your future host.

    The first is value for money. This is obviously a must - why pay over the odds for your hosting if you can get quality at a lesser price? Always shop around for your hosting and go for the best price you can find (that's not necessarily the cheapest mind).

    The second points are reliability and up-time. Both of these are also important, obviously. You don't want your site going offline all of a sudden for no reason. Most hosts of a good quality should let you demo their service (or at the very least, provide a money-back guarantee) should you contact them. It's worth doing so if you can as then you can sample how fast your hosting with said company should be. You should also check out reviews on the host. Some good sites to find reviews on hosts include:
    • Web Hosting Talk - a forum based review site that allows it's users to review their hosts. This means that you can find reviews from real-life users along with feedback on each review by other users.
    • Web Hosting Jury - a site focused solely on reviewing hosts. Reviews are user submitted and the site provides an average rating of each host based on all the reviews submitted of said host.
    Obviously, if a host receives bad reviews, keep away from them. I'd say that's fairly obvious though.

    Our final thing to look for is the features on offer by the host. Although I've advised you keep away from any unlimited host, we also want to try to get the best value for money we can - as I've also already mentioned. Therefore, the more features, the better. We therefore want to look at the amount of disk space and bandwidth on offer. It's also worth looking at what other extras are included - does the host offer cpanel for example? Do they allow SSH access? How many domains can you host on your account? These are all key things to loom at. If you're running a forum, disk space does not matter all that much (20GB is usually more than enough for a forum unless you're going to be having an absolute ton of attachments). The more bandwidth, the better though - bandwidth can quickly be eaten up as your forum grows and you start to receive more and more visitors to your forum. Other features such as SSH access are added bonuses though - they're not required, though they're always good to have on offer.

    Some good hosting company recommendations

    So now we've gone through some of the key things to look for, let's look at some examples of good hosts in my opinion.
    • MyBB Web Host - MyBB Web Host offers premium hosting focused to the needs of MyBB forum owners. MyPureBB is actually hosted with them and I can honestly say nothing about them. The support is fantastic and the simple to understand single plan setup means that there's no hassle in getting your site set up.
    • A Small Orange - A Small Orange is quite a new start-up offering shared hosting, VPS hosting and dedicated servers. Their philosophy is "Provide the best quality service and support to customers at an affordable cost". The rates are extremely affordable and the service is just outstanding.
    • DreamHost - DreamHost is a little more expensive than our other two suggestions, but they do offer some features such as IPv6 support that neither of the others do. They also provide VPS hosting so you can once again ensure the future of your site with the same host.

      These are only 3 of my recommendations though - there are plenty of other great hosts out there. As long as you put my recommendations and tips into practice, you can't really go wrong.
    PS: This tutorial was written entirely by me. Originally posted at MyPureBB