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Free vs Paid Forum Software



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Free vs Paid Forum Software

Surprisingly, some have chosen to ditch the premium in favor of the free - and because of the quality, not the price.   Note, some examples that are popular now might involve phpBB and MyBB, two popular brands.  Anyway, always another factor, as sort of mentioned above, is simply the price, and some might choose free because they are frustrated with upgrade pricing.    What are some other reasons for choosing free over paid forum software?

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SiamSEO

There's nothing wrong in using free software as long as you understand that it means that you have to either have the complete know-how yourself, or be ready to fork out some money for hired help if (or when, really) something goes wrong, whereas with a paid solution you have dedicated help available in most cases round the clock.

There is no right or wrong answer though, really depends on your needs, skill level and own dedication.




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overcast

Let me be honest and tell you that I have worked on the paid forum software with clients. And they have better experience and got things done quickly. Free is good too when you have no money. But the better way to fix forum stuff is with the paid software. Otherwise there is always free but it does not give you that much returns. So there you have to experience as well.




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gavinci13

There's a saying if you want more you have to invest more. Paid forum is the way to go, it gives you better result with less effort. If you have a lot of time and less budget you can start with free services but once you progress sooner or later you will let your money work for you instead of using your own time.




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DarthHazard

To be fair, both free and paid software doesn't require that much effort really since they are all pretty easy to install, setup and manage. They are both great but which one you choose will obviously depend on your budget and your needs. Your idea is great of course, it's pretty easy to convert to a paid software so it may be great to start off with a free one first.




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overcast

Yes that is true. paid features are definitely worth it. And if you want some professional forum then definitely the paid features are worth going for. I have found out that free forum has lot of limitations. And often not worth the effort.




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DarthHazard

Do you mind sharing what some of these limitations are? Personally, I don't believe there are that many (for MyBB anyway) in terms of free forum software especially when you consider it to some of the paid forum software out there at the moment




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overcast

Private section and accepting the payment and also logging the memebers area with the CMS. That seems to be the area where the IPB and VB forums are thriving. And they get paid customers just for that feature.




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DarthHazard

If you mean private sections that only certain members can access, then both phpBB and MyBB can do that. What do you mean by accepting the payment exactly? In terms of logging into a members area, both phpBB and MyBB can do that as well so those aren't exactly great benefits of using paid forum software for that.




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overcast

No membership areas are the one that CMS has access to and the Forums are meant for the CMS integration with such areas. So think of them like you opening CMS for video lecture and below that video lecture you have forum threads and the discussion based on that video lecture topic. Such integration is not possible with the free forum.




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kgord

Well there is an old saying you get what you pay for. Old sayings didn't get to be old sayings without having some truth to them, so I think in terms of forum software it is best to have a paid version. It will just be easier in the long run for all.




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aeon

Right, but this one will apply based on the experience. some of the beginner will surely start in a free. maybe if they notice that it's not really applicable that free software and they can't get what they want, that's the reason for them now to get the paid version.




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kgord

Well, that makes sense. Most places offer a free or nearly free trial of something prior to purchase. That is one of the reasons people will start with new services to begin with. The chance to start on a trial basis is appealing.




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aeon

And I think it's another form of advertisement from that paid version, they will offer the free but you can't do the thing that you want to do, and now they will offer the paid version, with full access and not limited compare to the free, and some extra services also including in paid version.




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kgord

Well that works for all I guess!!




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aeon

Yeah, even in a simple free taste foods. Once you like the product based on their free trial, it's really hard to get out and all you have to do is to get that paid version.




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Kakashi2020

I have to agree with kgord, overcast and gavinci13. What is the difference between free and paid? Ans: There's always a big difference.
Why should they offer it free?
What's in it for them?
Ans: If you get a free one eventually you would want an upgrade and they will charge you more than you'll expect.

If you get a paid one then you'll be saving more money because you can use it longer before you opt for another upgrade.

It's business you know. Everybody needs to earn some profit. Better to shell out now than later.




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kgord

It is great to start off with free software but when you can upgrade you most likely should do it. It is just one of the choices that might be worth investing in. I think many people should upgrade when they get the chance.




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DarthHazard

In terms of free software, it's obviously free which makes it a great option especially for those that don't want to spend any money. MyBB is a great free software that can do most things that the paid forum software can do so it is definitely a good option. In terms of paid software, XenForo would be the best option and is great if you have the money to buy it. It looks great and can give your forum a much more professional look and feel




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Judas2018

The only free forum software I have used in the past was MYBB which I eventually got a bit tired of. Just didn't have the mods I wanted...And a long time ago, I used IPB free. Which was a free version of Invision Power Board. It followed the framework and design of IPB almost to the letter. Unfortunately, that site went under in 2010 in a mysterious FBI related situation. Apparently, terrrorists had been using their forum software to send messages with one another back and forth. The FBI had warned IPB free about this but apparently nothing was done. So they eventually decided to file an injunction against IPB free which resulted in the site being shut down, and their servers being seized.




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vinaya

I don't have experience of running a forum, however, once I tried to launch a forum. I tested with various free forum scripts like MyBB, PhBB and SMF. These are good forum scripts. I don't know anything about premium forum scrips because I have never tried these paid CMS. I believe open source scripts are as good as paid scripts.




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itommy

MyBB, PhBB and SMF are free forum scripts so it is a good way to start for people who are new to forum managements.

For me, I always choose paid forum software because it has a lot of good features and more secure.




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vinaya

Do you mean to say open source scripts are not as secured as paid forum scripts? I do not have any experience with paid forum scripts or any content management system. I use wordpress on my blogs and ecommerce sites and have tried MyBB, PhBB and SMF on forums, however, my forums were never launched publically. Because of my limited knowledge in using forum, I could not customize my forums. Therefore, I dropped the idea of launching a forum.




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itommy

Obviously paid forum are supported better than free forum scripts thus security problem also will be supported better.




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vinaya

Thanks for sharing your experience. When I am ready to launch my forum, I will compare open source scripts with paid scripts and use the one that benefits me. While choosing paid scripts, I will have to consider a number of options, for example, pricing and subscription type. I will always choose one-time payment even if it is high compared to monthly/yearly subscription even if the fees are low.




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itommy

You are welcome, to be honest if you have a budget you should try a paid forum script which is more better than free ones.
As I knew then there are 3 big paid forum scripts are Xenforo, IPB and vBulletin, there are many comparisons on this post https://www.webmastersun.com/threads/9626-xenforo-vs-ipb-vs-vbulletin
I can not say which one is the best because each one has its advantages and the decision is yours and you can choose based on your reviews or which you see that it is more familiar with you to manage and easy to grow with it then you should go with one.

If you have any questions about forum scripts that you can not enough information then don't hesitate to share me, I am ready to help you out.

Hope it helps!




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edencaga

I think both free and paid forums are good but of course some of writers would choose the paid forums especially those writers who wanted their website look presentable and professional, in that sense they will attract more viewers because of how the website looks good. Sometimes readers and viewers are not only looking for the content but also how it is present to the viewers and readers if the website or forum looks good or not. It catches more attention because writers can upgrade their website. They can also put paid advertisement which will also help writers earn. I prefer paid forums but of course it all depends on you if you have money to pay for it and if none, then you don't have any choice but choose the free one.




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overcast

True. Lot of webmasters have no budget. And they just start the website and then unable to monetize. And that means they have to find out means to monetize and recover the money for the paid software. So it depends, some can make money off the free forum software too. So at the end it depends on how people spend the resources.




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edencaga

Yes your right. Especially for those who just started their own website for their product or services, they have no choice but to choose the free one. Others will promote their website through social media like Facebook, twitter or Instagram. Sometimes they would hire some artist to be their illustrator to the book they made (If their product they promote are books) and of course the illustrator will also promote the book and the website. Yeah it really depends.




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overcast

Yes. But free is not always good though. Some of the time free may often means you have to get things going on your own. And that does not always works out good. I have had my share of the issues with the free stuff. But I'd say if I have any specific amount of money I'd go for the paid software.




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Barida

The attention you get when you are paying for your forum themes is something that those that offer for free won't let you know. This is not to say that the free versions are worse of it all, but we really need to understand that paid forum themes will have better upgrades once in a while which is something we don't have with free ones.

So, to me, if the money is there, going for the paid forum themes is simply the best option that I am going to take for it makes one stand out.




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Judas2018

It's best to start with paid forum software at the very beginning though, when starting a website. I've seen people start out with free software. Then when their community membership explodes, switch over to paid software. The problem arises when your members have become accustomed to the free software logistically. So the idea of having to get a feel for and maneuver through a whole new interface might be a turn off.

Thus your membership could take somewhat of a temporary hit, if not permanent. Then there's the issue with the switch-over itself. It doesn't always go smoothly. Glitches, mistakes and other variables can happen. Which makes the webmaster look incompetent or inexperienced. Best to start off with paid software, and even then... make sure the paid software you choose is a long term choice. Not a flavor of the month.




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Martinsx1

You are absolutely right with what you just mentioned about glitches that occurs in switching over from a free forum software to a paid one. I have witnessed this happen to several sites that I have participated in. Sometimes, it wipes out almost all data on the site or knocking out all your members and some members wouldn't come back to the forum again.




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Judas2018

The data-death scenario is the worst. When transferring a site or upgrading, one should always have a backup in case things go sideways. Sometimes, they don't create a backup - and when the switch-over begins and something gets corrupted or hung up, you lose everything. Posts, threads, member info, etc. After that, if you can recover it's a miracle.




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Rumu

Exactly the point everyone should understand. Let's say am buying a paid forum software and contracted a business site for it, asides the purchase, other services will .st definitely come along with my order. Services like installation and maintenance. I doubt a free software will come along with any such extra services as the paid version. That's the simple difference between paid and free software versions.




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centurion

Paid software/script/theme always have some thing special. But most of the forum website of this world has been started by phpbb way. If you have a ready made script than you can start.

Thanks
Centurion




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Martinsx1

In as much as free forum softwares appears good and can help you run your forum to a considerable extent, it's still a lot more better to bank on paid forum softwares because it would always offer the best service to you when compared with what you would get from making use of free forum software. I'm aware that cost/price is the main reason why some forum owners drift to free forum software, there is no harm in it at all but once you are looking at getting the best, it's paramount to go with paid forum software.




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aeon

I think much better to start in free. and then analyze your software if it's working properly according to your expectation, and then if not, go to paid forum, we all know that paid has much more better offer than to free. and much more presentable to visitors.




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Martinsx1

I totally agree with you here, it's best to start with a free forum software and analyze how good it is for your site. The coding, theme, and spam control would be very much tested to see how it works for you, and if it comes short then it's right to go for a paid forum software. I'm not sure if you have heard about Bootstrap? How good is it in setting up a website?




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aeon

Based on what I heard from other site, it's good, it's easy to use even just basic knowledge about html and css, and compatible to all browser, and mobile or tablet also, but honestly, I have no personal experience about this, I'm also curious about this bootstrap.




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Rumu

The only reason i can phantom why certain people prefer free softwares over a paid version is because of the price just as stated above. Asides that, I can't really see any reason why a person will opt for a free version which definitely won't serve a better peri encephalitis than a paid version which comes which in almost all cases comes with professional assistance. If I were to make a choice on both, I'll definitely go with the better version which happens to be the paid version.




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treecko142

At the start, you can opt for trying the free versions just to check it, but if you're in it for the long run, you almost always have to get the paid software because of the advantages that you get and the more options that it gives you.




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flyinwashi682

It depends on the quality and functions, free products can be better often.




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aeon

Yeah, but you can't upgrade, and the offer actually is limited, You don't have the full access to the free version, and at the end they will always remind you to upgrade for the better access. But it's really good to start in a free version specially for beginners.




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Judas2018

Very true. Free software always has its limitations. Even the best of free software somewhere along the line, will be absent of options and extras that can be very useful to you in the long run.




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keen2write

I use mybb it is a free service software and I have never had any problems with the software. With free forum themes and plugins.




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Steve5

I like free software. Most of what I use is free. It shows that you don't have to put a big price on something to know that it works well. What most successful developers do is provide additional features exclusive to premium subscriptions or upgraded versions. This helps keep the product open for new users while promoting a means to support the creators.




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Corzhens

Correct me if I’m wrong because I have the experience of using the SMF – Simple Machines Forum – when my husband installed that forum software for their office website. It was pretty good because I was giving support as a member of the forum. But in fairness to paid software I’m sure there is a big difference in the design of the themes and also the added features.




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