Free internet forum softwares vs paid forum softwares

The free forum platforms like phpbb, mybb, smf aren’t as reliable as Xenforo, Vbulletin among others.

Free forum softwares and the many theme issues

I have downloaded SMF, MyBB and phpBB. For sure, the default themes don’t look appealing. So, I have decided to look for themes. First of all, I have discovered that many themes were not compatible with my version of SMF and myBB. Then, I have discovered that many themes were incomplete. I have witnessed issues with phpBB, myBB and SMF themes such as links that didn’t work, text fields that opened partially, toolbars of edit page that didn’t show.

I have bought a theme called flatOne for myBB and I discovered that the login link and the search link didn’t work. However, it was a premium theme and I paid $30 for it. Then, I have discovered it was very difficult to modify a theme in myBB. I wanted to buy a theme to use it on several websites. I have bought several premium themes for myBB and none of theme suited my needs.

VIenna myBB paid theme: Broken link behind avatar, missing toolbar, text field is half of the screen.

On the other hand, the themes of Vbulletin and Xenforo look professional and they are reliable out of the box. Nothing is broken.

On one forum, I have discovered that theme authors didn’t use to maintain their themes. I have found a thread of someone complaining that a  theme footer was broken since several years!

At the end, the amount of money that I have to spend in buying premium themes for free internet

Free themes from free forum softwares aren’t responsive

I have found that the default themes of myBB and SMF were not responsive. Then, I have discovered that many free themes that were advertised as being “responsive” were barely responsive as they looked messy when I visited the forum from a mobile phone. Items were not aligned. Titles were not at the right location. By the way, if you test a forum, don’t use a mobile phone simulation, use a smartphone to see how it looks like.

By the way, if you test a forum, don’t use a mobile phone simulation, use a smartphone to see how it looks like.

On the other hand, all the paid internet forum softwares are perfectly displayed on mobile phones and tablets.

Free Internet forum softwares and SEO:

On the developers’ forums from SMF, myBB and phpBB no one is interested in implementing friendly URLs into their internet forum software. So, they want to keep URLs looking like:  /viewforum.php?f=2&sid=6793ae5b47125325d08772c73d628200 which is a URL from phpBB 3.21

If you want a friendly URL for your free internet forum you have to download a plugin.

On the other hand, friendly URLs are default features of Xenforo, Vbulletin, and other paid internet forums.


If you can afford it, It is advised to buy a serious forum platform like Xenforo, Vbulletin because you will save time building up your forum and its template. Also, you will get a reliable solution and you will not need to install any plugins.

If you opt for free internet forum platforms, I would suggest sticking to the default theme and develop your own theme if your community gets bigger.