I didn't see a poll for this, so: What is your preferred non-premium forum software?

What no-cost forum software do you prefer to run if XenForo isn't an option.

  • phpBB

    Votes: 7 33.3%
  • MyBB

    Votes: 13 61.9%
  • SMF

    Votes: 1 4.8%
  • FluxBB

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • PunBB

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Well-known member
I own a couple of xenforo licenses at this point, but when I start up a new site I don't always have the option to pursue a premium solution for forum software.

Generally, my approach is that I let the site built up for a bit, and once I see it getting busy I do a quick conversion over to my forum software of choice (which is obviously xenforo). I was curious about the opinion folks here have on what free forum software they would prefer to run on their site when/if they can't purchase a xenforo license right away. I tried to think of all the options I have heard of and added them as voting options. I'm sure I overlooked some, so if you pick 'other' then let us know what you use, please.


Well-known member
I used MyBB and remember liking it a lot. It's got a good mix of features and it's overall packaged very well.


Well-known member
MyBB is probably the best of the free software but all of them are pretty terrible when compared to paid software like IPB and Xenforo.

I think a large percentage of them will probably fade away in the near future. For example, phpbb haven't had a major upgrade for the past 2-3 years is it? Most of the established forums have changed to piad software for better security and more features. I can't see any forum taking off if it was created today with free software, maybe it's a good start off point but I don't think members would build up without a great deal of promotion.

Vanilla forum software is also quite nice and modern as well but I don't like the way the have topics discussions implemented.


Well-known member
I've only ever used phpbb and that was only for about 3 months.

Since then it's been vb > ipb and when I eventually get it setup xf is next.

Digital Doctor

Well-known member
When SMF came out I used it for a few years and like it.
A bit bland but it was functional.
Our Database got corrupted and my friend didn't back it up :(.

Nowadays, I'd probably say MyBB with phpBB3 second.


Well-known member
Having used vB for several years on a "big board" and now owning a couple of XF licenses, I have to say I'm pretty much disappointed by all of the freeware boards out there, and badly spoiled by XF. :D

I used phpBB2 from 2002 onward; due to spamming and layout issues, my version was moderately modified. It bothered me that it took them way too long to come out with what became phpBB3. All those years, waiting for a competent upgrade...and then what came out was pretty much outdated, a couple of years behind where vB was at the time. And now phpBB3 has been out awhile also. I don't follow it because I don't use it. Other than slow development, phpBB3's admin side is a trainwreck on many fronts. That, and their support forum is the worst of any I've ever visited.

SMF was nice. But it has been on the 2.0 version for three or four years now. They've released minor bug fixes (maybe one per year?), but development seems essentially dead. Having been burned by waiting out phpBB2, I can see the writing on the wall, and have migrated everything away from SMF. It had a few nice features, and a dash of AJAX here and there, that made it more user friendly. I actually miss it, and wish they had continued development.

bbPress and Vanilla are way too stripped of essential features to be of use to me.

MyBB--the less said about it, the better. I installed it on one site. The default theme is OK (not great, not good...just OK), but just about all the third party themes are amateurish-looking hacks. Even the default theme is based on the vB school of design: a trainwreck with links and controls scattered all over the place. Plugins are a mess also--good luck finding one that works. It's a shame since the core of MyBB is solid and development at least seems to be active, but the ancillary stuff is sorely lacking. For the one site I'm using it on, I'm half inclined to take the default theme and modify it to where I'd like it to be. But that still leaves the dysfunctional plugins...

One bothersome MyBB issue: I was never able to make the reCAPTCHA plugins work, or any other anti-spam plugin, and I had to clear out over 1,100 spam registrations that amassed over a one-month span. This is a forum on a site that is relatively inactive, and has only had a handful of posts in the last year. I smell phpBB2 all over again, and I don't like it.

I really can't vote on a favorite, since I honestly don't care for the ones I've tried...and am afraid to try others.


Well-known member
The one I've worked with the most would have to be SMF, before I purchased my first vbulletin license in 2006. Even before I switched, SMF development seemed very stagnant.

I still have my vbulletin licenses. The latest 3x series I can download is 3.8.6 PL1. I'm not really sure how secure the older versions have remained as 4x is pushed as the supported product line, so I looked around and myBB seemed to be a good match. To the user, it seems very close to how vbulletin feels, which is nice since so many people are used to how things work. I will say that the myBB admin panel is much better than vbulletin.

The only thing that concerns me about not using my old vbulletin licenses is the lack of a converter for when I will move the site to xenforo.