Building a forum takes a good deal of time, especially if you plan to have a large number of members. Most forum masters do want to have a good deal of people join them, this goes without saying. Depending on what software you are using to build your forum, it can be quite complicated and a very long process. There are going to be a lot of modifications needed so that the forum operates the way you want it to. In addition, you will have images and other files contained within your forum. Once your forum is up and running then your members will be adding posts and new info each day. To answer the question as to whether or not shared hosting is sufficient for forums, we must first look at some variables.
The forum application you are using has nothing to do with your hosting account and just how safe it is for you. One of the main problems of using shared hosting with a forum is that another user on the same host can gain access to your config file, thereby enabling that person to connect directly to your database. If your data base falls into the wrong hands then your entire forum can be defaced rather quickly. This is one reason many forum masters have stopped using shared hosting for their forums. You do not want to build up a forum for months or even years only to have it totally destroyed and lost in a matter of minutes, so this is definitely something to consider.
Think About Forum Stability
There is nothing more frustrating than going to your favorite forum and finding it is down due to server issues. This tends to happen a lot more frequently with shared hosting because there are so many people using the same servers. This is not to say there are not some really good shared hosting plans out there, but if you want to be sure your forum is always live and that your users are happy then dedicated hosting is probably your best choice. If you do not care about downtime or ads then you could, in theory, even use free hosting. However, is that in your best interest? More than likely we could agree that the answer there would be, no.
What About Your Members Area?
Do you want to have a place on your forum for members to upload images and/or videos; you are going to want a lot of disk space and bandwidth on your hosting account. Shared hosting accounts can claim to give unlimited space, but in reality, too many users, uploading too many things at one time can slow things down considerably. Also, the more modifications you have done to your basic forum interface, the slower your forum can be in loading. Lag is another thing former goers hate. To avoid that possibility, start with an inexpensive dedicated hosting account. Eventually, large forums wind up needing their own servers in most cases. In the beginning you will not need to get that deep into your pocket.
The truth of the matter is that shared hosting is sufficient for a forum. But, the real question is as to whether or not it is ideal. People with forums who have used different hosting options will probably tell you that shared hosting was not the best choice. If budget is a problem then feel free to give shared hosting a try. Just watch for some of the things we have covered here. If you are unhappy or see a problem, you can always change to a different hosting plan later on down the road.
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