Free Forum Hosts - Why They Suck

Discussion in 'Community Forum Software' started by Donkey, Sep 9, 2009.

  1. Donkey

    Donkey Addict

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    Posted this on another forum, thought I'd share it here.

    I've seen a lot of people here use free forum hosts and it really bugs me because they really are terrible. In this half rant, half educational lecture I'll explain to you the different ways that makes being self hosting so superior.

    And where to begin other than the most obvious point? The paid alternatives are better. You can't get vBulletin from free hosting which is the best forum software. Don't argue. It is. IPB comes closely second. They have everything. Everything. That's why you pay $180 for a owned license and in comparison to the free alternatives even that sounds like a good deal.

    No database backups. No brotha, not only are some free forum hosts modded so badly that they probably wouldn't even be able to produce efficient and working backups, but they want you to stay with their company and they don't want you to be able to switch. Their excuse? "Databases are private things which the administrators here would like to maintain to themselves," rubbish! They could provide backups so that you could export your forum to self hosting but no. Instead they hold onto them.

    0-Customization! You can't install your own mods and only very small likely-to-go-down-soon free forum hosts allow you to request mods. The bigger ones have modded them themselves and are usually filled with bugs that cause your forum to malfunction. You don't get the mods you want and you don't have the option of editing the PHP code to make your own mods.

    Skins? Yes, but not very much... Although you can customize your skins with colours and different images, you usually can't template edit and if you can then you can't edit the more important things. For example, you have a phpbb-modded-we-think-its-phpbb3 free forum hosted on phpbbfreeforums4u.com. You absolutely hate having the username under your avatar but cannot change it. You decide you want to move hosts and have already got a userbase of 1000 so ask the admins there to export your database. They, of course, decline and you're stuck with undernames under your avatar.

    It's a liability. They host your files, so if they go bust you don't get them back. However if you have a self hosted forum you can backup onto your hard drive so you always have your beloved posts and members. There is no such satisfaction with free hosts and you're constantly under pressure knowing that you're not fully safe. Free forum companies go boom often so don't be surprised if you wake up to see your site isn't there.

    Loads of Admin CP permissions are stripped off you because it would be dangerous for you to give you them. This means you don't have full control of your boards. You don't get any of those fun options that you had last time you worked with someone else on a self hosted forum.

    Adverts. No free hosting forum site gives you a forum and doesn't put a link to their sites or ads on them. That's a fact. Whether it's a small link on the footer or a flagrant header advertising banners, you're gonna get them which can put users off and can make the site as a whole very unattractive and professional to look at.

    So, I hope you've learnt your lesson and will go on to read how to self-host for free that I shall write some other time.
     
  2. cheat-master30

    cheat-master30 Grand Master

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    True. I don't think this article covers everything though.

    True. Don't forget a few things though:

    1. There are some free forum hosts which are so bad they don't even use proper forum software, as in, use some threaded hybrid thing that should have died in 1996, and hence make converting to a self hosted forum even worse.

    2. Some free forum hosts even charge for backups. See; Invisonfree.

    True. It also means you can't make radical changes to the general layout of the forum, like having more columns, or changing it to resemble a non forum website, or using it to power a blog, etc.

    Some have the audacity to charge to remove advertisements, and chage for more Admin CP permissions. Don't think the non addition of features in future, because many of these can't be bothered to upgrade the forums hosted there, and won't let anyone else do so. Or the fact you're stuck with the security holes in out dated software. Or the refusal to add anything to the software the admins don't like, which is usually a lot of stuff (see Proboards and their refusal to add anything that would make a forum hosted there resemble a modern day forum).
     
  3. Donkey

    Donkey Addict

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    Yep, I agree. The ones that charge to remove adverts annoy me even more. They charge more than it costs to buy hosting and install phpbb3 in the first place!
     
  4. cheat-master30

    cheat-master30 Grand Master

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    When I'm reading this, I'm curious... what are the reasons why anyone here who's currently using a free forum host is still using said host? I'm curious if any reasons exist beyond 'it's free'.
     
  5. FullMetalBabe

    FullMetalBabe Zealot

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    Not only are there people who know NOTHING about forum softwares and hosting, but some people are not leet enough to handle a simple ch mod. You have to keep im mind that there free forum hosts look for profit for the most part, other are stuck and can't do better because they are just kiddy friendly.

    That is why forums like AdminAddict come in play, who provide the users new and old to the industry the right resources to learn.
    So, if you don't like these free forum hosts make one your self, you will notice how hard is to manage one and to actually keep the user away from abusing it.
     
  6. cheat-master30

    cheat-master30 Grand Master

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    To be fair, the difficulty of managing one is not exclusive to self hosted forums, users will sometimes ruin your work on any kind of forum, hackers, spammers... those things are just as common and even worse to put up with on free hosting.
     
  7. Nick

    Nick Regular Member

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    Moved to Hosting and Servers.
     
  8. cheat-master30

    cheat-master30 Grand Master

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    Out of curiosity, doesn't this also come under forum software? Zetaboards, Ezboard/Yuku and various other free hosted services sometimes use unique forum software. Still, wise move I guess.
     
    2 people like this.
  9. Nick

    Nick Regular Member

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    Oops, I totally misunderstood. I made that decision based only on the title and thought of it as "free hosts", not "free forum hosts". :rolleyes:

    Moved to Forum Software. :)
    Thank you for pointing that out.
     
  10. cheat-master30

    cheat-master30 Grand Master

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    You do know, it's basically a bit of both. It's forum software in that it's free forum software, but hosting related in that it's about the free forum software being hosted on free forum hosts and why that is bad...
     

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