Starting a New Forum Website

TheFoxRocks

New member
Hey guys and gals,

I was hoping this community could help me. I have been reading on here a little to try and figure things out and understand that some things have recently changed with the XenForo platform if I understand correctly. I am nearly new to website design and the only way I can accomplish it is with software that helps you do so. I took some Dreamweaver and it is just not something I wanted to invest a lot of time learning. That brings me to my first question.

If it helps I would love my website to be similar to www.lawnsite.com for reference.

1.) If I reserve my own website with a domain provider can I simply implement the XenForo software/client over my website or do I need to lease my website at XenForo? I have no clue how this works.

2.) I am making this community because I and others see a need for it. However, with time I hope that I will be able to generate ad revenue and I heard that using XenForo has big advantages in this category. Is this true?

3.) I guess my final question is whether or not this is something that one person with limited knowledge will be able to figure out? Like most websites I plan to appoint moderators and such to help out but I guess a lot of the work will come from me using the software.

4.) Also I would like to know about cost, I did a little research and saw the plans seem to start at $60.00 a month. I saw there is also free software available as well. So could I start out with the free software and achieve what I want and if I begin to get more traffic or expand will I be able to easily transition?

You guys do not need to answer every question. It would be great if you knew something about a particular topic and shed some light on it for me. I appreciate any aid in advance.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
You can either do self hosted or use XenForo Cloud. XenForo Cloud is $60/mo and takes care of everything for you. You can also buy a license for $160 and host it yourself using your own server. That would entail installing Linux (most companies do this part), setting up a database, and configuring a webserver. That will likely be the hardest part. You would need to buy a domain and also a server (could be VPS or dedicated). There are plenty of tutorials you can follow, but you'll need to be familiar with how to use a command line interface. You could have someone else do that for you though if you have those resources. "Limited knowledge" is vague, I don't know your technical skill so I can't assess that. Appointing moderators and configuring permissions is not challenging.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Yes, I know a little bit about this lol. This is a question I should know but is it possible to find a tool kit or something compatible with a home webserver to protect against such attacks? So when I start a webserver can you just use a specific flavor of Linux as a webserver?
I host XenForo for myself and the software I use is Ubuntu for my OS, Caddy for my webserver, and MariaDB for the database. You can host a webserver off of your own internet but I'd still recommend buying a server and hosting it there. As someone said above, a webserver is more reliable. You could use a free software and transfer it to XenForo later down the road. XenForo is an upfront cost and a yearly renewal fee. You'd still need a reliable computer on your home network to host it. You can get a VPS pretty cheap and I'd recommend doing so for the added benefit of reliability.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
To be honest, I do not know how many I will get. However, the Facebook group has close to 10,000 now and I know there are others that refuse to use it and stick to websites where they can post their topic. It is 100% a growing community as well.

So to start off I would buy my domain name from a service (such as HostGator etc) and then purchase the $60.00 version of XenForo and begin to put my site together? I realize this is obviously ridiculously oversimplified but this is basically where I start? Once I have my domain reserved how do I implement the XenForo software over it? I am guessing this is a tutorial here somewhere to get started with it?
I am not sure since I don't use XenForo cloud, but it is most likely a CNAME entry that you add for with a record pointing to XenForo. It will then redirect to your site. I personally use Namecheap + Cloudflare to protect my site and they're reasonably priced. Not sure if I'm allowed to name specific companies but that's what I use.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Yeah so what does this mean? Because 50GB isn't a lot at all. If people are posting pictures (I anticipate a whole lot) I am going to hit 50GB in what a single day? So you get 50GB before it starts erasing old content or something?

I do not expect all 10,000 users to come over all at once, but I am hoping with time I will have a lot more than even that. I have no way of knowing for sure though.
I am not sure if you can purge old attachments. It depends on how many they upload and the resolution
 

Telesphoreo

New member
If you're installing on a VPS you install Linux, then the Control Panel (e.g.Virtualmin), then set up PHP, Database, and webserver/host. Then install forum, and then set up SMTP relay (e.g. Postfix/Dovecot/PostSRSd) with the required DNS settings and PTR Record assuming you want to avoid paying for a third-party SMTP relay like MailChannels. Then you'll want to set up daily database backups. OP is better off finding good shared hosting for their forum.
You don't need to install any control panel. It is entirely possible to install XenForo without using it, I personally prefer less bloat. I wouldn't recommend shared hosting because the resources aren't guaranteed to be yours, which is a problem for a large amount of traffic.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Of course you don't need to, if you're happy to make it a target for hacking 😝 and to cause yourself 6x the work. It's also totally possible to write your own custom forum software 100% from scratch and many people have done it (originaltrilogy for example still uses 100% custom software for their forum). It's possible to do all kinds of things DIY, but that doesn't make it the best option in all situations! Webmin & Virtualmin aren't bloated, they use very little resources.
Not installing an admin panel doesn't automatically make you a target for hacking... That's illogical and not backed up with any sort of facts. I'm not saying to write anything from scratch. Installing a database software using the CLI is not coding anything from scratch so I'm not quite sure where you got that from. If you (not you specifically, anyone) doesn't want to do anything DIY, then self hosting is not the option for you.
 

dknife

Well-known member
If you're operating a VPS you need to be able to DIY, but you don't need to and nor is necessarily desirable to do everything when you can let a Control Panel handle part of the workload. Why not write your own perl-based webserver as well, why not ditch OpenSSL and write your own TLS implementation, why stop with the CP?
You're being ridiculous. Going from operating your own VPS and using built-in firewall functions to coding your own webserver and SSL stack is like saying if you ride a bike you might as well just build your own Tesla.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
1. You just buy the software, renewing after the year is over is optional. But when you do renew, you'll get access to the latest updates.
2. That's entirely on you and how you use the website. Ad traffic, link monetization, or using XF as a commerce platform is all possible. But it's not like magic, you have to put in the work to get people there, to use your site and services. If you can't retain people, then you probably won't make much or anything at all.
3. It's a learning experience, I think it's possible if you're open to it. The cost of a XF license IMO is worth the learning experience.
4. $60 a month is the cloud hosted plan. That's probably your best way to go anyway, rather than buying the license for $160+ if you're not sure how to install the XF software with a web host.

Lawnsite, is a Vertical Scope site, they have thousands of XF forums that look like that. I'd suggest either creating your own look, or browsing what's available on the Styles resources: https://xenforo.com/community/resources/categories/styles-2-x.45/

You'll find way better styles available.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
You can either do self hosted or use XenForo Cloud. XenForo Cloud is $60/mo and takes care of everything for you. You can also buy a license for $160 and host it yourself using your own server. That would entail installing Linux (most companies do this part), setting up a database, and configuring a webserver. That will likely be the hardest part. You would need to buy a domain and also a server (could be VPS or dedicated). There are plenty of tutorials you can follow, but you'll need to be familiar with how to use a command line interface. You could have someone else do that for you though if you have those resources. "Limited knowledge" is vague, I don't know your technical skill so I can't assess that. Appointing moderators and configuring permissions is not challenging.

I am on the Information Systems Security side of things so I can figure some things out. I just remember when I was interested in learning about Dreamweaver I was immediately turned off because of how complex it looked up front. I had a computer with some version of Linux (Mint?) on it and just recently got rid of it because the hardware was too old to even run that efficiently.

So if I am hosting the webserver myself, traffic would be based off my internet correct? I have Gig Internet (1,200 mbps) would hosting a online community bog that down quickly? I apologize if I am asking questions that are hard to answer or are asked every day on here lol. I know how frustrating that can be sometimes.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
1. You just buy the software, renewing after the year is over is optional. But when you do renew, you'll get access to the latest updates.
2. That's entirely on you and how you use the website. Ad traffic, link monetization, or using XF as a commerce platform is all possible. But it's not like magic, you have to put in the work to get people there, to use your site and services. If you can't retain people, then you probably won't make much or anything at all.
3. It's a learning experience, I think it's possible if you're open to it. The cost of a XF license IMO is worth the learning experience.
4. $60 a month is the cloud hosted plan. That's probably your best way to go anyway, rather than buying the license for $160+ if you're not sure how to install the XF software with a web host.

Lawnsite, is a Vertical Scope site, they have thousands of XF forums that look like that. I'd suggest either creating your own look, or browsing what's available on the Styles resources: https://xenforo.com/community/resources/categories/styles-2-x.45/

You'll find way better styles available.
Thank you for the detailed reply. It is obvious that I need to begin doing more research.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.

Yes, I know a little bit about this lol. This is a question I should know but is it possible to find a tool kit or something compatible with a home webserver to protect against such attacks? So when I start a webserver can you just use a specific flavor of Linux as a webserver?
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
No, you would purchase hosting from somewhere like Hostgator, Dreamhost, etc.

Hey I have seen you around. I honestly did start reading other forums around here before starting my own account and thread.


Thanks for the response. So you are saying that if I had my own webserver I would still need to purchase a hosting service for it from a domain provider like you mentioned? Sorry I have done some of this stuff before but never hosted my own website.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.

The other thing is reliability. How often is ISP outages or power outages? Either one could take down your website. It's better to properly pay for something cloud hosted that is 100% online all the time.

Constant site disruptions will frustrate users.
 
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TheFoxRocks

New member
The other thing is reliability. How often is ISP outages or power outages? Either one could take down your website. It's better to be properly pay for something cloud hosted that is 100% online all the time.

Constant site disruptions will frustrate users.

Yeah and I am guessing this is something I could transition to in the future if I wanted and maybe even find someone or a service to offer redundancy if my web server went offline. So we live out in the 'boonies" as people like to say and we did have regular power outages and isp problems but it is much better now. We did loose internet for an hour or two recently when one of the hurricanes came through. Thanks for the recommendation!

So can I begin making a forum website for free using whatever software I select or do I need to pay for it upfront before starting my community?

Also as I said I firmly believe there is a need for a community that I am interested in creating but is there a way to get the word out? I am guessing if there is any place to ask about it, it would be here. I have been reading and found that some websites especially forum websites die fast because you never get the community to being posting or do not get enough users so they just post somewhere else.
 

M@rc

Well-known member
So can I begin making a forum website for free using whatever software I select or do I need to pay for it upfront before starting my community?
You have to pay $160 for a license to download the xenForo software.

Then you have to pay for a domain name and web hosting.

You can start off with a free forum software (eg. phpBB, etc) and later import into xenForo after buying a license, but I wouldn't recommend it.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
I host XenForo for myself and the software I use is Ubuntu for my OS, Caddy for my webserver, and MariaDB for the database. You can host a webserver off of your own internet but I'd still recommend buying a server and hosting it there. As someone said above, a webserver is more reliable. You could use a free software and transfer it to XenForo later down the road. XenForo is an upfront cost and a yearly renewal fee. You'd still need a reliable computer on your home network to host it. You can get a VPS pretty cheap and I'd recommend doing so for the added benefit of reliability.

Additionally depending on the ISP, hosting your own website might be a TOS violation under a residential service plan rather than a business plan.

So when you factor the possible cost of a business plan which usually includes pricing for a static IP rather than a Dynamic one, on top of the lack of redundancy and self maintenance required for the hardware, IMO, it's not worth it.
 
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