Web Forum Platform: Ultimate Guide & Comparison Chart

For those of you who are looking to start a forum, you are aware there are a lot of platforms to choose from. Making the right choice to start with is important because it is difficult to transfer an established forum to a new platform. I have gathered information on the top 8 forum platforms based on my experience. Please keep in mind that there are many other options to choose from but these are just ones I have used and liked.

Comparison Chart On phpBB, MyBB, MyProBB, vBulletin

phpBBMyBBMyProBBvBulletin 
General Information
LicenseGPLCustomCommercialCommercial
CostFreeFree$25 per
year
$195 – $285
ProgramingLanguagePHPPHPPHP 5PHP
Installation
Method
Installation WizardInstallation WizardManualInstallation Wizard
Upgrade MethodUpgrade Wizard or ManualUpgrade WizardUpgrade WizardUpgrade Wizard
Posts
HTMLNot
Supported
YesYesNot
Supported
BBCodeYesYesYesYes
SmilesYesYesYesYes
WYSIWYG
Editor
Not SupportedRequires PluginNot SupportedYes
QuotingNestedNestedNestedNested
AttachmentsMultiple FilesMultiple FilesNoMultiple Files
Syntax
Highlighting
YesYesNoYes
ToolbarYesYesYesYes
Forums
SubforumsUnlimitedUnlimitedNoUnlimited
Redirect
Forums
YesYesYesYes
CategoriesYesYesYesYes
Last PostYesYesYesYes
Data Storage
MySQLYesYesYesYes
OracleYesNoNoNo
PostgresYesYesNoNo
SQLiteYesYesNoNo
Text
Files
NoNoNoNo
Security
BlacklistsYesYesYesYes
ACLsYesYesYesYes
WarningsYesYesYesYes
SuspensionYesYesYesYes
BansYesYesYesYes
IP
Blocking
YesYesYesYes
Audit
Logging
YesYesYesYes
User
Reports
YesYesNoYes
Flood
Control
YesYesYesYes
GroupsMultipleMultipleMultipleMultiple
CAPTCHAYesYesRequires
Plugin
Yes
Moderation
ModeratorsGlobal and forum Level SupportedGlobal and forum Level SupportedGlobal and forum Level SupportedGlobal and forum Level Supported
Move
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Close
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Split
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Shadow
Topics
YesYesYesYes
Sticky
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Important
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Notifications
RSS/ATOMYesYesYesYes
Instant
Messaging
YesUses
Jabber
YesNo
BookmarksYesYesYesYes
E-MailYesYesYesYes
Searching
Full-textYesYesYesYes
AuthorYesYesYesYes
Unread
Topics
Tracked but Not SearchableTracked but Not SearchableTracked but Not SearchableTracked but Not Searchable
Advanced
Search
YesYesNoYes
Community
User
Ranks
YesYesYesYes
AvatarsYesYesNoYes
Rating
System
Available Through PatchYesYesYes
Online
User List
YesYesNoYes
PMsYesYesNoYes
Custom
Profiles
YesYesRequires PluginYes
SignaturesYesYesYesYes
Special Features
CustomizableYesYesYesYes
StatisticsYesYesYesYes
Friendly
URLs
Requires PluginRequires PluginYesYes
CalendarNot SupportedYesNot SupportedYes
PollsYesYesNoYes
Lo_Fi ViewYesYesNoYes

 

Comparison Chart On bbPress, FusionBB, Invision Power, and Vanilla

bbPressFusionBBInvision
Power
Vanilla
General
Information
LicenseGPL2CommercialCommercialGPL
CostFree$149 first year and $39 every year afterStarting at $4.99 monthFree
ProgramingLanguagePHPPHPPHPPHP
Installation
Method
Installation WizardInstallation WizardInstallation WizardInstallation Wizard
Upgrade
Method
Upgrade WizardUpgrade WizardUpgrade WizardManual
Posts
HTMLYesYesYesRequires Plugin
BBCodeRequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
SmilesRequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
WYSIWYG
Editor
Not SupportedNoYesRequires Plugin
QuotingNestedNestedNestedSingle
AttachmentsMultiple FilesMultiple FilesMultiple FilesMultiple Files
Syntax
Highlighting
Requires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
ToolbarRequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
Forums
SubforumsUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedNo
Redirect
Forums
Requires PluginYesYesNo
CategoriesYesYesYesYes
Last PostRequires PluginYesYesYes
Data Storage
MySQLYesYesYesYes
OracleNoNoYesNo
PostgresNoNoNoYes
SQLiteNoNoNoNo
Text
Files
NoNoNoNo
Security
BlacklistsRequires PluginYesYesYes
ACLsNoYesYesYes
WarningsRequires PluginYesYesNo
SuspensionRequires PluginYesYesYes
BansYesYesYesYes
IP
Blocking
Requires PluginYesYesNo
Audit
Logging
Requires PluginNoNoNo
User
Reports
Requires PluginNoNoRequires Plugin
Flood
Control
YesYesYesYes
GroupsOnly OneMultipleMultipleMultiple
CAPTCHARequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
Moderation
ModeratorsOnly GlobalGlobal and forum Level SupportedGlobal and forum Level SupportedOnly Global
Move
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Close
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Split
Threads
Requires PluginYesYesNo
Shadow
Topics
NoYesYesNo
Sticky
Threads
YesYesYesYes
Important
Threads
Requires PluginNoYesNo
Notifications
RSS/ATOMYesYesYesRequires Plugin
Instant
Messaging
Requires PluginYesNoNo
BookmarksYesNoYesYes
E-MailRequires PluginNoYesRequires Plugin
Searching
Full-textYesYesYesYes
AuthorYesYesYesYes
Unread
Topics
NoTracked
but Not Searchable
NoTracked
but Not Searchable
Advanced
Search
Requires PluginYesNoYes
Community
User
Ranks
Requires PluginNoYesNo
AvatarsRequires PluginYesYesYes
Rating
System
Requires PluginNoYesYes
Online
User List
Requires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
PMsRequires PluginYesYesYes
Custom
Profiles
Requires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
SignaturesRequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
Special Features
CustomizableYesYesYesYes
StatisticsYesYesYesRequires Plugin
Friendly
URLs
YesYesNoRequires Plugin
CalendarNot SupportedYesYesRequires Plugin
PollsRequires PluginYesYesRequires Plugin
Lo_Fi ViewRequires PluginYesYesYes

About phpBB

Summary

PhpBB is designed for the average user in mind. This platform can handle a descent amount of traffic and is pretty easy to customize and there are many templates to choose from. I would recommend phpBB for someone who is looking for a free solution that is both functional and customizable.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About MyBB

Summary

MyBB is another platform that is free, functional, and customizable. MyBB has a large support community and is easy to use. I would recommend this platform to someone who is looking for something a little different than phpBB.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About MyProBB

Summary

MyProBB is similar to MyBB but offers a few additional features and support. If you like MyBB and are looking for something a little more this would be a solid option. I would not recommend this for someone who is just looking for a good platform because of the cost and limited abilities.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About vBulletin

Summary

VBulletin is a platform that is designed for large forums. This platform is used by millions of sites and can meet any can be used for pretty much anything. I would highly recommend vBulletin for any size forum in pretty much any situation as long as you are willing/able to purchase it.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About bbPress

Summary

BbPress was brought to us by WordPress and is a great option for someone looking for a fast forum. By default bbPress does not come with much but this increases the load time and performance of the forum. There is also a plug-in for pretty much anything you would want to add, just be careful not to add to many plug-ins because it will affect the performance.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About FusionBB

Summary

FusionBB is a great forum platform and can met the demands of a large community. If you are willing to pay for your forum this would be my recommendation. Yes it is a little pricy but the features and support you get will easy make up for the price.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About InvisionPower

Summary

InvisionPower is another great paid forum platform. InvisionPower also offer several other products and if you are using them this would be a great choice. If you are not using any other products by InvisionPower I would use fusionBB.

Screenshots

Example Forums


About Vanilla

Summary

Vanilla forums is another great free option. If you are looking for something different than the standard phpBB forum platform this is a great option. But if you are just looking for the most functional free forum platform I would still go with phpBB.

Screenshots

Example Forums