Best forum software

Hey everyone,

Today I decided to do another blog post but this time a little different from previous posts, this time I’ll be reviewing free forum software that are totally free to download, are easy to install and use and that also come with some pretty cool modifications to help improve the forum.

Firstly I want to point out that the list and views expressed are my own opinions, I accept that other people may not share my opinions or my views however I have used most of the available forum software on the internet for the last 10+ years so I’m just giving my insight into which I believe are the best.

1. MyBB:

MyBB is an easy to use forum, once you’ve downloaded the .zip file you have two folders one named “Upload” and this is what you need to upload to you’re hosting to get it installed.

The plugin system is by far the best I have seen so far as well, all you are required to do is download the plugins from the Mods section of the MyBB website and extract them the same as you did with the forum software then upload them to the “Plugin” folder with FTP (again, the same as we do with the forum software). Once that is done you just login to the admin control panel on the forum, navigate to the plugin list and activate them….That’s all (unless otherwise stated).

Themes for MyBB are also easy to find however some don’t really do the software any justice at all, there are some designers that sell premium themes at a price so this is probably you’re best option.

Rating: 8/10


PhpBB is my second personal favorite forum software however this one requires a lot more knowledge of php coding so isn’t recommended for anyone without php coding understanding or experience, I have seen websites online that claim to be able to offer support for a price however I wouldn’t really advise using such services myself.

The software itself once installed is quite possibly the best I’ve ever used as the core is a lot more stable than others however I’ve listed as number two due to the difficulties some may face, if PhpBB was redesigned to allow easier theme and mod installation it would certainly take the top spot.

Mods available for PhpBB are of a high standard and really do improve the user experience with a wide range on offer from spam control, theme changer for multiple themes, shout boxes, chat rooms and so much more however as already stated these require coding experience and should not be tackled by anyone without this knowledge as it can break the forum.

As with MyBB there are many free themes available, again some don’t really do justice and lots of designers do offer some high quality themes for a fee so this would probably benefit you’re forum better.

Rating: 8/10

3. PunBB

PunBB is a rather simple looking forum but has a nice layout as standard, pretty much all the forums available have the same grid style layout however the column widths are very spacious so text is easy to read even if sections have longer descriptions.

I haven’t really researched themes or mods for PunBB however I am sure there are some available and have seen on google searches people offering custom themes so maybe a little more research could show up more results, the ones I have seen so far do look rather impressive and is definitely the route to take if you’re thinking of using PunBB.

Rating: 6/10

4. Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums is a very simple forum software that looks fairly sleek and stylish and can even be integrated into static html website layouts as I have seen this done a lot in the past, however the layout of Vanilla doesn’t really make it something I would ever use myself for a project.

It appears themes are somewhat limited but if I am honest I haven’t really researched it to great depths as I have with others as I gave it a test a while ago and stopped using it.

Rating: 4/10

5. Simple Machines Forum

SMF is another free forum software which appears to be fairly popular for online communities and I have used it once or twice in the past before I found MyBB as well as having admin knowledge but the lack of quality with the software, mods and themes really lets the side down in my opinion, which is why it comes in last in my top 5.

Rating: 2/10

Thanks for reading if you made it this far, as I said before I know some people won’t share my opinions and will probably accuse me of being to harsh with some of the ratings however I feel being honest can help developers of any software however in my experience some developers don’t listen to comments and this is a bad idea for the software they are providing.