Forum & Message Board Hosting Services

A guide to web sites where you can run forums or message boards without installing software

Maintained by David R. Woolley
Updated Jan 3, 2014

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Jan 2011

Best-Fit Recommendations

David R. Woolley can give you custom-tailored advice about choosing message board software or services that are best suited to your organization's particular needs.
Contact him here.


Industrial Strength Hosting

These services offer robust, highly customizable platforms that can, if necessary, scale to support very large online communities or enterprise collaboration.
Hosted, on-demand enterprise level social media platform. Blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, videos, forums and more for internal use, customer use, or connecting employees, partners and prospects with one another.
Hosts web community sites with their own CommunityForums, Auto-Clubs, and ChatWeaver software (also available for licensing). With Auto-Clubs, you can give your users the ability to create their own "clubs" with message boards, calendars, and other features similar to Yahoo! Clubs.
ChatSpace / Akiva
Hosts web community sites using WebBoard and their own chat, instant messaging, and email software.
Clearspace Community
See Jive SBS
Community Server (formerly ASP.NET Forums)
Suite of applications for community building including blogs, forums, file/photo sharing and user management. Several hosted editions to chose from depending on size, and specialized needs of the organization. Also available as licensed product.
Hosts high-end corporate sites, and offers a relatively low-cost "Enthusiast's" message board hosting service for a monthly fee. The user interface is available in several languages.
Groupee (formerly Infopop / OpenTopic)
Hosts community sites using their own "Eve" software. Features discussions, chat rooms, private messaging, polls, and photo albums, plus web page hosting, POP email, and web development tools. Tiered pricing suitable for small groups up through enterprises.
Group Jazz
Hosts forums using Caucus software.
Jive Social Business Software (SBS), (formerly Clearspace Community)
Enterprise-class community software, meant for building customer social networks as well as collaborative workspaces. Organizes discussions, blogs, and wikis by topic, making it easier for members to follow subjects of interest. Also available as a licensed software.
Lithium Business Community Platform, by Lithium Technologies
Builds and hosts enterprise customer communities using their own software.
Offers message boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, and eCRM for live customer support, all with a multilingual interface.
Mzinga (formerly Prospero Technologies)
Provides social media consulting, technology, and community moderation services to high end clients.
Builds and hosts enterprise customer communities using their own software.
Hosts enterprise web community sites using their own proprietary software, featuring instant messaging, chat, and message boards.
Viewpoints Network
Offers the Viewpoints Technology Platform, a hosted service that helps retailers and brands create online communities. Features product ratings and reviews, discussion boards, blogs, ideas and voting, Q&A, and social sharing.
Web Crossing
Offers highly customizable hosted message boards and chat rooms using their own software, with packages of services targeting both small organizations and large enterprises.
Fully featured hosted service with private/shared message boards, permission levels, messaging, etc. Support provided 24/7, no downloads. Multiple pricing plans for personal, business and enterprise levels; free personal plans available with banner ads.

Inexpensive or Free Message Board Hosting

These services target small organizations that have their own Web sites elsewhere, but do not have the ability to install and run CGI programs at their sites. The software offered at these sites tends to be fairly simple, but most permit customization so you can make your message board appear to be part of your own Web site.
QuickTopic free message boards
ActiveBoard, by Sparklit
Free message boards with ads, or monthly fee without. Also offers polls and surveys, ad management, and other tools.
Free message boards, chat rooms, and polling.
Free message boards. Also available as licensed software.
Free message boards using phpBB software.
Free message boards with banner ads, or monthly fee for service without ads.
BoardServer, by
Monthly fee.
Board Zero
Free message boards using phpBB.
Free message boards and many other tools, including mailing lists, guestbooks, polls, chat rooms, classified ads, instant messaging, and more.
Free message boards. Appears to require Asian fonts.
Fixed monthly fee; no ads, no traffic or bandwidth charges. Offers threaded, nonthreaded, and "semithreaded" message boards, and multiple forums within your main board. Offers full participation by email as well as through the web. Also includes an optional group calendar.
Has stopped offering message boards, but plans to do so again.
CommunityZero, by Ramius Corp.
Annual fee. Offers online communities featuring message boards and other collaborative tools. Formerly known as Vicinities.
Free message boards with banner ads, or monthly fee for service without ads.
DiscussionApp II, by Server Corp.
Free message boards with banner ads, or annual fee for service without ads.
DiscussionOnTheWeb, by JADA Productions
Fee-based. Also available as a product.
Echelon Forums
Free, ad-supported message boards.
Free; ad-supported message boards.
Apparently still in business but not accepting new signups as of May 2009. Free forums with ads; small fee for message boards without ads.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board software.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board and phpBB2 software.
Free message boards with ads; or fee without ads.
Free, ad-supported message boards using Invision Power Board.
Message board hosting using phpBB. Free with ads, or monthly fee without.
Message boards using phpBB. Free with advertising, or fee with no ads.
Free Boards, by Armia Systems
Free message boards using Invision Power Board; no ads.
Free CGI Web Forum
Free message boards with banner ads, or monthly fee for service without ads.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board or phpBB.
Free phpBB forums featuring unlimited bandwidth, no ads, customization options, 24/7 support.
Free message boards using phpBB.
Free Forum World
Free message boards using phpBB.
Free, ad-supported message boards using Invision Power Board.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board or phpBB.
FreeInvisionBoard (aka RxMB)
Free message boards using Invision Power Board.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board or phpBB. No ads.
Free, ad-supported message boards using phpBB.
Free, ad-supported message boards.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board software.
Free, ready-to-use discussion boards, RSS feeds of active topics, unlimited categories and subscriptions.
Free, ad-supported message boards using phpBB.
Simple message board, chat rooms, and whiteboards, all based on Java. Free for limited usage, fee for larger numbers of users.
HWForums, by HighWired Internet Innovations (formerly DBasics Software)
Monthly fee. Message boards are based on WWWBoard.
Free message boards with banner ads, or monthly fee for service without ads.
Monthly fee. Also offers chat, classified ads, shopping carts, and other tools.
Free forum hosting and message boards. Unlimited storage, categories, members.No pop-ups. Registration required.
Free Forum, Wiki, Blog and Pligg hosting. No size limits, no post or topic number limits, no banners or pop-up windows, instant activation. Partnered with phpBB
Free message boards using Invision Power Board. Ad supported.
Invision Power Boards
Monthly fee. Also available as a free software product.
One of the largest free forum hosts, offering ad-supported forums using phpBB.
Free forums using phpBB
Free forums with an updated Web 2.0 look, and a feature set informed by popular social networking sites. Offers simple photo and video posting, WYSIWYG editor, unread message tracking, email notifications, RSS feeds, spam filtering, and a choice of themes, including a classic look similar to phpBB.
Monthly fee.
Fixed monthly fee; no ads, no traffic or bandwidth charges. Offers threaded, nonthreaded, and "semithreaded" message boards, and multiple forums within your main board. Offers full participation by email as well as through the web. Also includes an optional group calendar.
Free phpBB hosting. No banners or popups. Multilingual. Valid email address, email activation required.
Extremely simple message board that you can embed within a frame in any web page. There are no administrative access controls, so it is only appropriate for public forums. (It does require registration with a valid email address.) Free service with no ads.
Secure web forum designed with many business-oriented features, ie:anti-spammer, anti-SQL injection code, anti-HTML injection code, post moderation stops for language control, scalable. Very low licensing fee for business users. Free for personal use. Free trial.
Allows embedding a forum into your own web site simply by copying and pasting a line of javascript code into your HTML page. Also offers embeddable blogs, photo galleries, and other features.
Network54 (formerly Netbabbler)
Free, ad-supported message boards, blogs, chat rooms, and other community tools.
Nexus Free Forums / Free Message Boards
Free message boards.
Online Institute LLC
Forum hosting using SMF. Many features such as multiple boards, built-in search, polling, setting preferences, unread topic tracking.
PHP and MySQL. One-time setup fee, low monthly fee.
Monthly fee. Hosts message boards using WebBoard.
Free message boards using SMF.
Free forum hosting.
Offers message boards using Invision Power Board or phpBB. Free with ads, or small fee for message board without ads.
Offers inexpensive forum hosting using their own software with some unique features. Your domain or Free download available as well, with an install program doing most of the set-up.
Precision Forums
Paid forum hosting based on vBulletin. Offers several levels of service, including your own domain name.
Free, ad-supported message boards.
Free message boards. This is probably the easiest and quickest place to set up a single-topic message board. The Pro version (with a small annual fee) adds some nice features.
Ready Bulletin Board
Monthly fee. Hosts message boards using phpBB. Offers a selection of templates you can use to change the look of your board, or modify the templates to suit yourself.
Free message boards.
Snitz Forums 2000
Free message boards with "powered by" statement on your page.
Sudden Launch
Free message boards with banner ads, or monthly fee for service without ads.
Message boards using phpBB. Free with ads, fee-based premium service without ads.
Free, ad-supported message boards.
Annual fee. Message board hosting using Invision Power Board or phpBB.
Free message boards with their banner ads, or monthly fee without ads. You can create an entire Web site here for free, and use their message boards, guestbooks, and other tools.
Free message boards with no ads using phpBB.
Website Toolbox
Inexpensive web tools, including message boards, guestbook, polls, statistics loggers, and others. No banner or popup ads.
Monthly fee. Offers a variety of community tools including message boards, chat rooms, email discussion lists, newsletters, polls, and classifieds, in a package or a la carte basis.
Wimba Voice Forums
Free, ad-supported message boards. Both voice and text messages can be posted.
World Crossing
Free, ad-supported. Offers public and private message boards and chat rooms. This service is offered by the makers of the popular Web Crossing forum software.
Free, ad-supported message boards using Invision Power Board.
Free forum host; customizable, small URL, versatile permission and ban management, supports multiple languages.
Free, ad-supported service featuring YaBB message boards.
German language message board service, offering four different software platforms.
Website Toolbox - Webmaster Tools

Social Networking

These services allow you to create your own social networking site, similar to MySpace or Facebook.
Crowd Factory
Features discussion groups, ratings, friends, galleries, blogs, tagging, etc.
After creating an account at Ning, you can build your own social network there by copying modules from existing social networks there, or develop your own modules by writing PHP code. Free service, based on advertising.
WebCrossing Neighbors
Neighbors is a shell built around the Web Crossing software. It provides a ready-made social networking platform that you can customize to suit your own needs through an extensive control panel. Commercial service, with fees depending on number of users.

Web Site Hosting Services with Message Board Facilities

Many web site hosting services offer various CGI software utilities as a convenience for their customers, sometimes including message board facilities. If you host your web site with these services, these boards can be seamlessly integrated into your site.
This is only a sample of such services.
Forum and blog oriented web hosting, offering phpBB message boards and Wordpress blogs. Free web site hosting includes both. Additional capacity available with monthly fees.
Includes free use of phpBB, Wordpress blogs, polls and survey software, Tikiwiki, Moodle, mailing lists, and live chat software.
Includes free use of phpBB, Community Server, nGallery, and other software.
Includes bulletin boards, mailing lists, blogs, polling & survey software, among other tools. Also offers unlimited domains on a single hosting account.
Includes an integrated bulletin board and extensive pre-installed library of scripts.
iPage Web Hosting
Green, environment-friendly web hosting: data centers powered by wind energy. Hosting plans include forums powered by phpBB, SMF, or Gbook, as well as blogs, content management, multimedia, e-commerce, and other features.
Lunarpages Web Hosting
Web hosting plans include phpBB, SMF, phpWiki, WordPress, Serendipity, and b2Evolution blogs, Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, and many other features.
Offers free use of Invision Power Board or phpBB.
Netfirms Web Hosting
Web sites come with phpBB message board software pre-installed.
Free message boards using Invision Power Board or phpBB.
Omnis Network
Web hosting with a huge feature set. Available installers include forums (phpBB, PunBB, Simple Machines, Phorum, and Web Wiz), blogs (WordPress, B2evolution, Nucleus, Bblog, Serendipity), several content management systems, galleries, shopping carts, and more.
Offers message boards using phpBB, Phorum, and SMF, chat rooms based on phpMyChat, plus Wordpress blogs, wikis, php-Projekt, and other tools for collaboration and e-commerce.
Inexpensive web hosting with a wide selection of forum/message board tools available: vBulletin, SMF, Ikonboard, phpBB, and Invision Power Board, along with tutorials for phpBB and vBulletin. Blog, wiki, and content management tools are also included.
Yahoo! Web Hosting
Web hosting featuring phpBB message boards, guestbooks, PHP-Nuke content management, web page design tools, and other features.
Offers forums using phpBB, SMF, or XMB Forum. Also offers blogs using WordPress and b2evolution, as well as phpWiki, DokuWiki, phpMyChat, and a variety of other tools.

Netfirms Web Hosting

Membership Services

These are large community sites that charge monthly fees to individual members. You can set up public or private message boards at these sites, but each of your participants will have to pay the membership fees (or you'll have to pay it for them.)
My eGroups
Similar to the club sites listed in the next section, but charges an annual fee per member.
A large, very well-known, pioneering online community.

Club Sites

These services target groups that do not have the resources to build their own web site at a traditional web hosting service, such as families, clubs, alumni groups, and other informal groups. These services are typically free, supported by advertising. In addition to message boards, some of these sites provide a range of additional tools like chat, group calendars, document publishing, etc., making it easy to center all of your group's online activities at their site. The drawbacks are that your members are required to register as members of the host site, customization options are limited, and if your group does have its own web site elsewhere, it's difficult to make your message board appear to be part of your own site.
AOL Groups
Must be a paying subscriber to America Online to create a group, but anyone can join one.
AT&T WorldNet Community Port
Must be a paying subscriber to AT&T WorldNet's Internet service in order to build a community. (But your community participants need not subscribe to WorldNet.)
Delphi Forums
Small monthly fee.
Post and share photos publicly or with a private group. Also offers group forums, personal and group blogs, and other features.
Google Groups (formerly
Includes a well-developed chat facility.
Yahoo! Groups (formerly eGroups and Yahoo! Clubs)
Not a true forum host, because discussions are conducted by e-mail. But the discussions are archived on the Web, and additional features make Yahoo! Groups similar to other club sites.

Email List Services

These services host email mailing lists, a method of holding discussions or sending newsletters to subscribers via e-mail. Many offer web-browsable archives of messages. This is only a sampling of the many mailing list hosting services that are available. More extensive indexes of such services are available at and Everything E-Mail. - Email Marketing Service
ActiveCampaign Email Marketing
Email marketing software, available as a hosted service or as licensed software, based on PHP and MySQL. Includes an API that can be used to manage lists and subscribers.
Hosts mailing lists using the Mailman software. Monthly fee; substantial discount for nonprofits.
Constant Contact
Very reputable email marketing and newsletter service, used by many nonprofits and small businesses.
Designed to serve nonprofit organizations working in international development.
See Yahoo! Groups.
Free mailing lists without advertising.
iContact (formerly IntelliContact)
iContact is designed for newsletters and email marketing. Also features blogs, surveys, RSS feeds, and email autoresponders. NOT spam, however -- they scrupulously enforce opt-in policies and thereby avoid being blacklisted, as other email marketing services often are.
Free, and might even earn you money. ListPower shares advertising revenue with list owners.
NPOGroups, by Electric Embers
Inexpensive mailing list hosting for nonprofit organizations.
Public and private email mailing lists with a web interface for posting and reading messages and files. Free for public groups (with no ads). Fees for private groups are tiered based on the number of group members.
StormPost (formerly Skylist)
Email marketing with a focus on audience measurement and demographics.
Topica Email Publisher is high-end service designed for delivering newsletters and customer mailings. Topica Exchange is a free, ad-supported service for smaller-scale email discussions and newsletters.
Yahoo! Groups (formerly eGroups)
Free, ad-supported. Not simply a mailing list service, Yahoo! Groups offers a bundle of features that make it more closely resemble the Club sites.

Unique & Hard-to-Classify Services

Human Sciences
Fee-based service oriented toward serving local government and community groups in Australia. Uses Discus forum software.
The Mail Archive
Free service that will maintain a public archive of your mailing list.
Supernews (formerly RemarQ)
Offers Usenet outsourcing services to ISPs and individual Usenet access to consumers.
Twin Cities Free-Net
Service targeted primarily at Minnesota-based organizations.
Web Online Surveys
Design web surveys and send to your audience by email.

Defunct Message Board Hosting Services

These are services that once offered message board hosting services, but have either terminated such services or have disappeared entirely.
AGSG Bulletin Board
Anexa, by Paralogic
Assembly, by Nerd World Media
Be Seen, by Looksmart
Casual Forums
CGI4All Diskussion Board
CGI For Me
ClueIn, by Inclusion
Complete Forum
Coolboard, by TUCB Technologies
Dream Tools
Enclave Community Suite, by Digi-Net Techologies
Excite Communities
Extreme Online
EZCGI Converse
FocusPoint, by UKWeb
Forum Explorer, by Creative Digital Resources
ForumUniverse (formerly SMD-Forum)
Freeforums, by Inspiring Technologies Ltd.
Frogtech Forum Hosting
FXT Corp.
GroupVine (formerly E-Meet), by GroupServe
Hi-Fun Forums
Home Page Tools @
HotBoards (Formerly Paradise Online Message Forum)
Hot Community
iland Internet Solutions Corporation
Formerly hosted message boards using WebBoard.
Internet Business Boards (formerly Better Business Boards)
Focuses on reporting and analyzing usage trends and user behavior.
Infinite Board
InScribe Message Boards, by CriticalPath
InsideTheWeb, by ITW Newcorp
Joint Planning, by Bridgeline Technologies
Kudosnet Web Forum
Lycos Clubs Internet Services
Message Foundry
Minerva Network Systems formerly offered Allaire Forums.
MSN Communities (Microsoft Network)
MyAssociation Connect
ONEList - merged into Yahoo! Groups
Phuser, by Bluefire Systems
Phuser was a unique substitute for group email. Instead of sending an email and each person replying to it, you could create a Phuse and everyone added their replies directly into the Phuse. The other people heard about your Phuse by email and just clicked the link to add their reply, without needing to register themselves.
PowWow, by Tribal Voice
Quorum is now E-ThePeople -- an interesting site, but they no longer offer their software for other organizations.
Sizzly(no longer offering web hosting)
Snap Clubs
Site Forums
Swell Media Design
Swingout Forums
Operated a series of specialty club sites, including SuperFamily and SuperFriends.
Verve MeetingPlace has been renamed to VerveShare
Virtualscape formerly offered Allaire Forums.
Village 2000 Project
Allowed posting voice messages.
Voxtok communities (formerly CommunityWare)
Webforums, by Waveshift (formerly MediaFax)
WebShaker Message Boards
WWWThreads, by Show Me the 'Net
123 Chat

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