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Author Topic: forum hosting  (Read 7496 times)

sevenlayermuddle

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forum hosting
« on: May 20, 2012, 06:36:53 PM »

I'd now like to tap the collective wisdom of you lot to advise... how do I begin when it comes to puting a forum on my website?  I suspect it's a huge topic and way beyond the scope of any one discussion thread, but I don't know where to begin.

As background, we are in the unusual situation whereby the website is hosted on favourable terms by a commercial hosting company, who we happen to have a good realtionship with as better half was past-employee.  We could ask them to help/host a forum, but their generousiity is appreciated and I don't want to be seen as taking the mile when given the inch.  :)

What I need to understand are... are there alternatives for forum hosting, whereby I could leave he website whete it is, and have forums hosted elsewhere?  If so, any recommendations? 

I don't even know if that's a meaningful question, this is all new ground for me. :-[
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 06:47:02 PM by sevenlayermuddle »
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kitz

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2012, 07:32:49 PM »

I dont know how deep you want to go into things, but the 1st and most important fact to host a forum you need a webhost that offers php and and sql (not all do).
 
The forum software needs its own database (again this could be a problem as some basic packages offer one SQL database so you could run into difficulties if theres something else that needs a database.

Off the top of my head I think this site uses about 10/12.
eg one for the forum, one for the wiki, one for the adslchecker, one for ISP details etc etc. one if you want a blog.  TBH you can use prefixes but I find it easier to keep things separate.

One other thing to consider is that on many sites the forum may use more bandwidth and have more traffic (not applicable with kitz - but most do).

I believe there are a few companies that will provide free hosting for forums, but these normally contain lots of ads that you have no control over, or run slow..  but if you are starting up then I suppose its something you could consider. 

I believe freeforums.org is one of the most popular/best but Ive never used them so cant comment 1st hand.  afaik the only real downside with them is the url name ie mysite.freeforums.org which can look unprofessional if you are using it for business use...  but it should be fine for a hobbist type site.

There shouldnt be any problems running the forum from a different host than the main site..  the only drawback there is the url addressing for subdomains.  (again some hosting packages may restrict subdomains or limit the number of subdomains).  It just looks 'nicer' if both main site and forum runs on the same server and uses a subdomain ie forum.kitz.co.uk.    You may be able to get around this though by using folders and forwarders - Im not sure as its not something Ive ever tried... (other than having kitz.co.uk/form and forum.kitz.co.uk pointing to the same place).
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 07:42:14 PM by kitz »
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BritBrat

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 08:19:51 PM »

Or if you just want to test a forum out host it on a network box on your own LAN.
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2012, 09:11:33 PM »

Thanks for the replies.  If I'm still feeling this inspired, I may look into it in detail later in the week, though I clearly have a lot of learning to do. 

I'll take a look at 'freeforums', but I do want it to look professional and for partly commercial use (connected with my iPhone apps  ;)  so I'd want it to have the appearance of being just a subdomain from our main website.  If that's too hard, I can just always just approach our web existing website hosts, I'm sure they'd be happy to help, I'm just trying not to have to ask.

BritBrat's testing suggestion makes me realise that hosting it myself is an option too, and I have a decently powered  linux server on the LAN that (for various other duties) now runs 24/7.  It could do the job.  But for security reasons I've so far categorically refused to open a single firewall port on the router to incoming traffic, and I won't be breaking with that tradition without very good reason...
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Blackeagle

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2012, 09:34:41 PM »


<snip>  But for security reasons I've so far categorically refused to open a single firewall port on the router to incoming traffic, and I won't be breaking with that tradition without very good reason...

But if everyone thought that way, there would be no World Wide Web surely ??
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2012, 10:48:21 PM »


<snip>  But for security reasons I've so far categorically refused to open a single firewall port on the router to incoming traffic, and I won't be breaking with that tradition without very good reason...

But if everyone thought that way, there would be no World Wide Web surely ??

The 'web' refers to connectivity, not promiscuity  :)
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kitz

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2012, 11:44:48 PM »

>>> connected with my iPhone apps

That changes things a little.. In that case I personally would stay away from freeforums.  They use proprietary software, which means limited scope for the future (you knew there had to be a catch somewhere ;) ).   

I'd stick with a well known forum software package such as SMF, phpBB or vBulletin that allow independent backups and portability.

You DO have to think about the future...  during the early startup life of this site I went through various hosts as it grew, Ive only remained with my present hosts so long because they are flexible and allow bespoke arrangements. But you need software where you are going to be able to backup and port either to a new host or even port between software packages (Ive done that a few times too).  You dont want the prospect of all the data being lost if you wish to move or update your forum software.


Whilst I run a web server from my PC - its more of a 'plaything' and used for things like testing...  and despite having 2.5Mbps upstream, its not something I consider for much more than personal use. You need the box to be on 24/7 and your connection to be up 24/7 - not to mention how it will impact your bandwidth.  Everytime someone connects to your forum, it will be using your bandwidth.. and conversely if you are doing something that is using up your bandwidth (such as downloading large files) then the forums will run very slow (yes I know its possible to use tools such as netlimiter to prioritise) but IMO, I dont think this is the best action for 7LM. -  It may be fine for a little while, but its only putting off the inevitable.

IMHO you have 2 options

1) Get your own hosting that allows an SQL database (there are some cheap packages around that will provide you with one SQL database).

2) I dont know what your current hosts provide you with..  but Im assuming you just have FTP access for http and no Control Panel access.  They will simply need to provide you with an SQL database (for a forum) and create an SQL user (for the database username).  This wont be a big deal for them if they are commercial hosts and will only take them 2 mins to sort out :)

In either instance you then need to choose which forum software you wish to use (such as SMF/phpBB etc).  Once that has been uploaded you will then need the following info from your hosts get the forum software up and running:-

Database Name:-
Database Username:-
Database Password:-
 

« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 12:19:50 AM by kitz »
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BritBrat

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2012, 07:08:21 AM »

Who do you use Kitz?
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sevenlayermuddle

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2012, 09:34:32 AM »

2) I dont know what your current hosts provide you with..  but Im assuming you just have FTP access for http and no Control Panel access.  They will simply need to provide you with an SQL database (for a forum) and create an SQL user (for the database username).  This wont be a big deal for them if they are commercial hosts and will only take them 2 mins to sort out :)

That is beginning to sound like the best option and indeed I only have FTP-like access.   But thanks to kitz's advice I at least feel confident that I'll be able to have a meaningful conversation with the hosting company when I get a chance.  They're a small company and oddly enough we met some of the staff recently at a social do', I wish I'd thought of raising it then. 

I'm not sure bandwidth is likely to be a problem, I'm expecting downloads for that first app to be in two figures, or three at best.  I just get a kick out of making it all look 'professional'.    If bandwidth does become a problem it might suggest my app's gone viral in which case after the sports cars (yes, plural), the luxury yacht, and the world tour, I may still have enough left over to pay for more bandwidth.    :D
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kitz

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2012, 10:21:19 AM »

Who do you use Kitz?

I use vidahost.  I'm very happy with them and theyve seen me through several upgrades ie, Business, Advanced, and now a bespoke package.
Prior to that I used the likes of 123reg/easily and even ISP hosting (plusnet cgi many years ago until I started consuming too much bandwidth!) 
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kitz

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2012, 10:30:53 AM »


That is beginning to sound like the best option and indeed I only have FTP-like access.   But thanks to kitz's advice I at least feel confident that I'll be able to have a meaningful conversation with the hosting company when I get a chance.  They're a small company and oddly enough we met some of the staff recently at a social do', I wish I'd thought of raising it then. 


yvw.
I think my only concern at the beginning was if they could arrange an SQL user account for you... but if they are commercial hosts this shouldnt be such a big deal.  That sort of company are used to being flexible. 
If it was the likes of 123 theyd probably make a song and dance over it..  one of the reasons I moved away because I couldnt do half the stuff I wanted to on their package:(

<<< it might suggest my app's gone viral

In which case we can all say - we knew 7LM before he was famous...  and the drinks are on you  :drink:
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BritBrat

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Re: forum hosting
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2012, 12:31:50 PM »

Who do you use Kitz?

I use vidahost.  I'm very happy with them and theyve seen me through several upgrades ie, Business, Advanced, and now a bespoke package.
Prior to that I used the likes of 123reg/easily and even ISP hosting (plusnet cgi many years ago until I started consuming too much bandwidth!)

Looks good and when they had an 0800 phone number and not a 084 that really impressed me.
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