Hosting Tutorial & Guide

Best Forum Software to Start a Forum Online

updated on Dec 19, 2017
Best Forum Software to Start a Forum Online Micro-blog and social network become the mainstream for the online communication, but forum is still widely used for building small/medium sized websites or holding conversations on the products and services of companies in the form of questions and answers. Quantities of webmasters want to find the best forum software for creating forums to build a community website around a theme. However, due to the wide options, it is hard to find the best one.

To relieve our readers' worry, we have reviewed dozens of forum software and found several of the best that are with powerful features, outstanding customizability and quality support. In below, we have worked out a review on the selected software to introduce why they are the winners. Learn detailed information in the following part.



Millions of people use phpBB every day, which makes the software the most widely used open source forum system. This software has all features you need, no matter you want to communicate with some friends or would like to start a large board for corporate use, the extensive and intuitive administration panel of phpBB can meet the needs. It does not require much coding-related things.

Some outstanding forum features are listed as below.
  • Password Protected Forums: Require a unique password to be entered in order for any user to access a single forum.
  • Forum-Specific Styles: Set individual forums to use a different installed style.
  • Subforums: phpBB allows for an unlimited number of subforums in the hierarchical structure.
  • Topic & Post Sorting: Users have the ability to change the order in which topics and posts are displayed, such as oldest to newest, alphabetical order or by the number of replies.
  • Print & Email Topic: phpBB creates a custom formatted page that is printer-friendly. Besides, users also have the option to email to a topic to their friends.
This company provides support through multiple ways. They have worked out a number of documentations, flash tutorials and in-depth articles to help users deal with the problems about installation, database, login and how to use the product. Besides, they have created a tool to help you offer them with the information they need to help you in the Support Forum in which you can post your question and wait for the reply from other experienced users or the support team.

Best Forum Software - phpBB



MyBB has evolved from other bulletin boards into the forum package it is today. It is a professional and efficient discussion board, developed by an active team of developers. This software's administration panel is extensive and allows you to control every aspect of your discussion board and easily change the behavior, layout, options and structure of your discussion board. Besides, the panel allows limiting the frequency of posting.

When coming across any issue about features, you are able to go to the company's wiki for help, which includes solutions to common problems and a list of all the MyBB features and how they work. If you have not found the solution you need in wiki, you can search the community forum for an answer. If you still have not found a solution, post a thread in the appropriate support forum. The community members and MyBB staffs are happy to help.

Best Forum Software - MyBB



XenForo is an intuitive, social, engaging and fast forum software which keeps your users staying by allowing them to win trophies. In addition, users are able to use the software's simple color changer to easily change the look to suit their needs. More features are:
  • Alerts: It keeps users staying update with updates. Moreover, when quoting their post to status update, people will receive alerts.
  • Recent Activity Stream: This feature enables people to see all the recent happenings on your forum easily. Besides, users can follow other people to get personalized news feed and see what they want to see.
  • SEO Built-in: Clean URLs, simple HTML with embedded MicroData and many other SEO features are avaialble in the core of the board system. Therefore, you don't need to pay more for your search engine optimization needs.

Furthermore, if you have any questions or problems with XenForo, you can go to the XenForo Help which includes manual covering basics like performing installation and upgrades, as well as walking you through many of XenForo's concepts and features. Besides, in the community forum, other customers and XenForo team are available to help answer your questions. Additionally, you are able to submit your questions or troubleshooting requests directly to the XenForo team.

Best Forum Software - XenForo



bbPress, a free forum software, allows the easy creation of a forum. When it refers to bbPress, there is the need to make a comparison with BuddyPress. It lacks competitiveness on usage, feature, and management in the race. To put it simply, bbPress is suitable for small to medium sized websites.

Best Forum Software - bbPress



BuddyPress allows users to create a social network platform where users are given more freedom on topics, forums, and more. There is more possibility you have with BuddyPress. With a great number of fixed readers, big websites are more advised to opt for BuddyPress. Then their users will have freer discussion with others.

Best Forum Software - BuddyPress

How to Choose the Best Forum Software?

There are some features that must be considered when choosing forum software, and the following ones are the main points taht forum administrators may expect from a software package. They are important for both the board management and using experience.

The threaded forum allows users to reply to either posts or replies, and it can display the messages in a well-organized structure by the relationship. It helps users reply on the correct messages and have them make sense, as the following sample.

Threaded Forum

SPAM Prevention
The SPAM prevention of a forum is the key to success. Most forums are risky in the attack by spammers for building links or injecting advertisement to non-relevant even illegal, political or adult websites. CAPTCHAs, auto spam detection and deletion, blacklist, and anti-forum spam database are the features that efficiently keep your forum safe and clean.

Look & Feel Customization
As an open source, free or commercial forum software, it has to support forum administrators to customize the look and feel by adjusting the layout and selecting themes for different images, fonts, and colors.

Attachment feature allow users to upload images or files along with the post. But the feature should allow forum administrators to configure the limitation of the uploads to prevent users filling up the disk space of the web host. Some forum software allow users to reference attachments externally, E.G. the album and online storage of the user.

The notification triggered from the new posts and replies is an efficient way to keep users on the forum actively. Think about that, when you come across a forum from search engines and reply or subscribe a post, it's easy for you to forget the forum address later. But if the forum can send you the notification via email when other people answer your concerns, it's high possible that you will come back the forum and become a real forum user there.

SEO-friendly URL
Most of search engines prefer clean URLs contain only the path of the topic without query string parameters. It also reduces the opportunity for external websites to miss the required query string parameter when they give you a backlink.

Top Web Hosts for Forum

In these years, we have reviewed more than 100 web hosts and read thousands of customer reviews of these hosting companies. As a result, we found that following recommendations are 3 of the best hosting providers for the 3 forum software, providing affordable, user-friendly, reliable and fast hosting service. Learn the details in the following table.