Top 10 Best Online Forum Software 2016 (Free and Paid)

Best Forum Software – Learn what is the best discussion forum software? See the list of top 10 best online forum software 2016 (free and paid), Best online forum platforms available on the Internet

Most of you know that high-quality and relevant content, attractive design, and easy navigability are three most important ingredients of any successful and best online discussion forums. But people feel very confused and not certain about what they should choose when it comes to matters of selecting a best online forum platform in order to create an online discussion community or online discussion forum.

We all know that forum software are a necessity when venturing out in the wide vast world of internet and keeping in mind the importance of online forum software today we have gathered some best free forum software and paid forum software for you.

online forum software

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Whether you are on the lookout for free forum software or if you are planning to start your very own online forum, in either of the cases you are going to benefit a lot from this post. In this software guide, we are going to share a complete list of top 10 best online forum software 2016 (free and paid).

Top 10 Best Forum Software 2016

This guide contains some best open source forum software and paid membership forum software as well. All these online forum software are very easy to use and all you need to do is choose the one that suits your needs the best and there you go! You can start your very own discussion boards just like that.

So, without doing any delay let’s check out the below explained top 10 best online forum software of 2016. I hope you will find them useful for you:

(1) phpBB (Free)

If you are looking for the #1 free open source bulletin board software then phpBB is the perfect forum software choice for you. phpBB is one of the best online forum software which comes with a bulletin board format. Using this best forum software, you can stay on top of everything that is happening across your website as well as communicate with a group of people at the same time.


phpBB – a free flat-forum bulletin board software solution

The database of phpBB comes with a variety of user- created styles and notifications which you can use for customizing your board. The most interesting thing with phpBB is that it allows you to make changes to the code without first having to obtain permission from the phpBB Group, it’s all because the phpBB is released under the GNU General Public License. 

(2) vBulletin (Paid)

Undoubtedly, vBulletin is the most renowned and the world’s leading community software developed by vBulletin Solutions, Inc. and released in 2000. vBulletin is a premium online forum software which is the choice of several top- notch websites.

There are several built- in applications that come with this discussion forum software, such as events management, groups, photo albums, blogs, polls, calendars and so on. vBulletin is available in 3 different versions: Mobile Suite, Forum Suite as well as Publishing Suite.


vBulletin – The World’s Leading Community Software

Some of the most important features of vBulletin forum software are: Unlimited Hierarchy of Forums, Thread and forum subscription, Supports BB Code in posts, Supports HTML in post, Preview post option, Member Profile Pages, Private Messaging, Custom Avatars, Unlimited Moderators and SuperModerators, forum style chooser, Task Scheduler, Moderation queues for user registration and posting, Powerful Templating System, Full CSS layout and design, fast and suitable for robust development, and much more things.

(3) Simple Machines Forum (Free)

Simple Machines Forum (SMF) is a professional, simple to use discussion forum software package with the help of which you can create and set up your very own online community within just a few minutes! Its engine is custom- made and it provides you with complete control over the layout of the message board and also lets everyone on your forum to communicate with each other.

simple machines forum

Simple Machines Forum – Free and open source community software

This forum software is written in PHP and its database is created using MySQL. All features expected from a bulletin board are a part of SMF. In easy words, Simple Machines Forum is elegant elegant, effective and powerful free online forum software which is well known for following attractive features of SMF:

  • Advanced permission and user management.
  • Supports multiple languages at once.
  • Tracking of new and old unread topics, not just from your last visit.
  • Better SEO (Search Engine Optimization for search engines.
  • Package manager that automatically installs or uninstalls mods.
  • Major actions are time and IP locked, preventing ‘hammering’.
  • Put a board into maintenance mode, allowing only admins to login.
  • Create child boards under other boards.
  • Allow certain member groups to access a board, including guests only.
  • Configure permissions for each membergroup on the board level.
  • Disable member registration completely.
  • Require email authentication by sending an authentication link.
  • Both cookie and session based authentication.
  • Tracking of topics, messages, new members, and hits per day.
  • Ability to create announcement boards.
  • Ability to choose sendmail or SMTP.
  • Ban members based on their username, email address, IP address or hostname
  • Support for WAP, WAP2 and I-mode protocols.
  • Members can choose which smiley set they wish to use (or none.)
  • “Insert Quote” feature on posting screen to quickly quote previous replies.

(4) bbPress (Free)

If your website is powered by, then bbPress is undoubtedly the best online forum software for you. bbPress is specifically designed by focusing on ease of integration, ease of use, web standards, and speed. Creating online community forums has never been such easy.


WordPress buddypress bbPress community support forums

bbPress puts emphasis on the ease of use as well as integration, also keeping in mind all the web standards and speed of navigation. Some of the eye catching features of bbPress forum software are:

  • Simple Setup: Simple Setup Easy to setup. Easy to moderate. Fast, and clean.
  • Fully Integrated: One central account. One unified admin area. One click install.
  • Single Installation: Simple step-by-step installation walks you through your options.
  • Multisite Forums: Divide your site into sections. Allow your users to create content.
  • Fast and light: Code are lean so that you get the best experience possible.
  • Simple interface: Always keep things simple and make things intuitive.
  • Highly extensible: bbPress can’t toast your bagels, but a plugin for it sure could!
  • Spam protection: Full Akismet support built in offering you an amazing weapon against spam.
  • Customizable templates: Not everybody likes the same pair of pants, so we allow you to dress up your forums however you like.

(5) ZetaBoards (Free)

Do you want to create a free forum with no limit on posts or members? If yes, you must try out ZetaBoards Free Forum Hosting software. ZetaBoards is also one of the top 10 best forum software 2016 which offers free forum hosting which is crucial for the growth of any website on the internet. It doesn’t limit the forum communities by members, posts or bandwidth.


Free Forum Hosting – ZetaBoards | Create a free forum with no limit on posts or members.

ZetaBoards free forum software is quite user friendly and extraordinarly easy to use. Joinable groups, full customization, support for custom domains, custom profile fields and pinned topics are some of the noticeable features of Zetaboards. If you are are really interested in getting an amzing online forum software that allows maximum level of customizations then download ZetaBoards right now and start using it.

(6) IP. Board (Paid)

For creating an engaging and effortful discussion forum on the web, IP.Board is yet another best forum software that you can use for your website. There are comprehensive tools which are a part of this premium forum software. It will certainly encourage the visitors in coming back to your website. Users can also promote and share the content present on your website using IP.Board.

ip. board

IPS Community Suite – a flexible, integrated set of apps for building great communities on the web.

Even, Evernote are using the IPS Community Suite to supercharge their C2C support and product discussion forums, helping users to efficiently get effective support for Evernote products.

(7) PunBB (Free)

PunBB is yet another best free forum software which is powered by lightweight PHP and released under the GNU General Public License. This online discussion forum software is created with the goal of being lighter, faster, and less graphically intensive. There are very few basic features in PunBB as compared to others in this list. However, it is also comparatively faster and provides smaller outputs which are XHTML complaint pages and are also semantically accurate.


PunBB – a fast and lightweight PHP-powered discussion board.

Important note: Since, PunBB is written in PHP and so it requires the PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. Addition to this, PunBB forum software also requires a database for storing forum data and for that purpose PunBB perfectly supports MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite.

(8) Vanilla Forums (Paid)

When it comes the matter of premium forum software or online forum platforms, Vanilla Forums holds a top position. Vanilla community forum software is one of the top 10 best forum software 2016 and it offers hosted and open source community forum software that offers power to the usual discussion forums. You can create customized communities for better user participation, accurate content and also for allowing the members to drive moderations on your website.

vanilla forums

Vanilla forum software – Powers discussions on hundreds of thousands of sites.

The most noticeable and beneficial thing with Vanilla Forums is the process of migration to Vanilla community forum. You can easily migrate from any platform (vBulletin, Invision Power (IPB), Simple Press, bbPress, SMF, Lithium, Jive, phpBB, GetSatisfaction, Pluck, Zendesk, and Home-grown legacy software) without any interruptions.

(9) XenForo (Paid)

XenForo is also a well popular and one of the best forum software 2016 which is commercial in nature. This commercial internet forum software package is written in the PHP programming language using the Zend Framework and is a creation of former vBulltein lead team of developers.


XenForo – Compelling Community Forum Software

This is a very popular paid forum software with a variety of SEO features, powerful addons, social engagement features and recent activity streaming.

(10) Woltlab Burning Board (Paid)

WoltLab Burning Boards is another best forum software which is fast and reliable in nature. Basically, Woltlab Burning Board is a PHP based forum software, developed since may 2001 by an German company, WoltLab GmbH. Installing and running Woltlab Burning Board software requires a server or webspace with PHP support and a MySQL database (System Requirements: PHP 5.3.2+, MySQL 5.1.17+).

woltlab burning board

WoltLab Burning Board – Forum Software Made for Success

Woltlab Burning Board comes with 3 premium versions: Burning Board, Burning Board Lite and Community Framework, all of which are helpful in expanding your online user base. Some of the most interesting features in Woltlab Burning Board forum software are:

  • Quick Notifications
  • Visual Customization
  • Recent Activities ditection
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Facebook Integration
  • State-of-the-art Technology
  • Multilingualism
  • Extensible with Plugins
  • First-class Security
  • Against Spam
  • Import From Other Systems


We hope you got a useful list of internet forum software “Top 10 Best Online Forum Software 2016 (Free and Paid)“. Creating online discussion forums is really a very easy task with these popular online forum software’s. We hope that you were able to build a super awesome online discussion community / forums by using these best free forum creation programs.

Pick one of these free and open source forum software solutions to set up your own online discussion community right now and enjoy!

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Top 10 Best Online Forum Software 2016 (Free and Paid)
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