This is the second post of the “free forum host” series. You can find the post – “Reasons not to use a forum host” here.
I can honestly say that everybody has seen what a forum is. Most people would have used one and some would have owned one. There was a time where setting up forums was a long process and costly but due to technology, this is no longer the case.
Free forum hosting has been around for a long while now. Personally, the last time I actually used a free forum host for an actual reason other then to see how well a service is, must have been around 2-4 years now.
Regardless, I know enough to know why to use a free forum host and below, I go into details.
Because it is free
First and most often the common reason is because it costs you nothing for you to host a forum. Free forum hosts doesn’t charge you for the basic service (might do for add ons for domains, backups etc). How the free forum host supports itself, is the next heading.
Free forum hosts tends to stay around then if you paid for it
Good free forum hosts tends to make enough money to be able to survive without any other income. These free forum hosts tends to use ad (such as Google Adsense) on all hosted forums that can’t be removed by the users. This brings in money that the host needs.
Unlike if you paid for your own hosting and put ads it, unless it is a very massive forum, I highly doubt you will be nearing enough to cover the costs. Reason for this is that the free forum host puts ads on ALL the forus and covers it via that.
Some free forum hosts allows you to remove the ads for a one of cost, but I wouldn’t use these as it means they no longer have any income for your site. Ones that allows you to remove ads on a monthly basic or on a par-view basic, thends to know what they are doing.
Updates “tends” to be done quickly
With free forum hosts, you typically don’t have any access to the core files that runs your forum. The reason for this is that the script they use, is programmed in a certain way so that one set of files can be used to power millions of other forums.
When an update comes out for the forum script that is used by your free forum host (such as phpBB) that the patch is often applied quickly. This is often the case if the backend of the script is programmed by themselves. If they use a pre-made script, they often have to wait until the creator of that scripts releases a patch and depending on the bug or flaw, it is possible that your forum is easy to deface etc.
Little / no techincal knowledge is needed to setup
Unlike hosting your own forum, you need little knowledge on how to do so. On your own host, you would need to download the forum script, upload it via FTP, SCP or even via HTTP. Once you have done that, you will need to create a database (if it needs it) in SSH, Telnet or a control panel if your host gives you one. Once all that is done, you then need to set up the correct permission on files and folders so such things as uploads will work. Once you have done that, you then to need to actually install the forum.
Now, if you have your own server, it is even longer to do so. You will first need to install an operating system, get some IP address on your NIC, install web server software, database software (if needed). Then you need to install software that is able to run your forum (Such as PHP, ASP etc). If you plan to use a domain, you will then need to know how to setup DNS.
On a free forum host, you click a link, fill in the form and it is done. You got a forum setup, in no time at all.
Now, this is a major differents between free forum hosts and paid hosts. On a free forum host, the support tends to come from the community and the support is given because they want too, rarely then they are paid. On paid hosts, the support staff typically don’t help with forum problems so that you will then need to go to the creator of the forum scripts which can be a hassle.
On free forum hosts, you will never have to fix anything yourself that is caused due to the script. If it is something that you have done due to deleting half the forum, you tend to need to fix that yourself.
And others …
There are other reasons to use a free forum host that isn’t published here. Also, there are millions of free forum hosts out there and it is simply a matter of searching for the one that is right for you.
I won’t post which one to use as admittly, I no longer know and each forum host is different. If you have any other reasons, please do post them in the comments but please don’t go posting links to free forum hosts – that is what Google is for.