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What Is bbPress?

bbPress is a plugin created by the makers of WordPress to add forum capability to your WordPress site. The first version of bbPress went live in 2004. It is now at version 2.5.6 and continues to grow together with its vast and dedicated community. bbPress is best known for speed, simplicity, and security. In the words of its creators, bbPress is 'lean, mean, and ready to take on any job you throw at it.'

Why Choose bbPress Hosting?

Forums are places where website users socialize, exchange information, and share their opinions. They add to your site's attraction and are an essential component of keeping visitors engaged. Forums can also give you invaluable insight into what your customers think of your site, your product, or your service.

Because bbPress is a WordPress plugin, it has much to recommend it. It is simple to install and integrate with your site. It is light and fast. It is customizable and extensible using the extensive WordPress theme and plugin system. It has the full support of a vast and loyal community behind it. It is Open Source and standards-based, which means it's here to stay. And best of all, it's free.

Core bbPress Features

Simple setup

  • One-click install
  • Set up your first forum and add a topic in a few steps
  • Simple interface; easy to moderate
  • One central account
  • Unified admin area

Fully integrated

  • Installation via the WordPress plugins directory
  • Compatible with any standard WordPress theme
  • Support for multiple user roles keeps blog and forum separate
  • Customizable pretty URLs (permalinks) like in WordPress
  • Integration with BuddyPress enables community profiles and group forum functionality
  • Administration and moderation through the WordPress Admin interface

Customizable and extensible

  • Customizable templates
  • Built-in theme support
  • bbPress-specific plugins add features like user communities, messaging, sharing, ratings, and votes

Other

  • Spam protection with Akismet
  • RSS feeds

How Do I Install bbPress?

To use the bbPress plugin, you need a hosting plan that supports WordPress. You also need to use WordPress as your website platform.

Once you have installed WordPress, you can install bbPress through the WordPress Plugins panel. Although you can install bbPress manually using an FTP client, we recommend you use the Plugins panel. This method has the added benefit of letting you know if bbPress is incompatible with a theme or other installed plugins.

bbPress has frequent updates, and you should always have the latest stable version installed. The WordPress Admin panel notifies you whenever an update is available.

Pros

  • Simple and fast
  • Easy to install, integrate, and set up
  • Customizable and extensible
  • Built-in spam protection
  • Extensive help and support community
  • Free and Open Source

Cons

  • Works only with WordPress
  • Supports only MySQL for data storage
  • Plugins needed for more than the basic features
  • Best used as-is; template customization and theming can be a bit tricky

Points to Consider

How Much Does bbPress Cost?

Like WordPress, bbPress itself is free and should not affect your hosting package if it is a standard one. But like any site, WordPress consumes bandwidth and, as it grows, the demand for that bandwidth will grow also. Although plugins tend to be light (and bbPress is especially so), the more plugins you have, the more bandwidth you will need.

Your shared hosting plan should accommodate your growing site without incurring overage fees. But if your site outgrows the shared hosting model, your host may ask you to upgrade.

What Are Some Alternatives to bbPress?

The main reason for using bbPress is its speed, simplicity and easy integration with WordPress. Because it's a plugin, you can be up and running in no time.

But speed and simplicity mean bbPress is not as full featured as other forum software. If you want those extra features, you will have to get them as add-ons by installing plugins.

Easy integration with your site is a benefit, but if you want to keep your blog and forum separate, bbPress may not be for you. More important is that, to use bbPress, you must use WordPress as your website platform. If you want to use a website builder or a content management system (CMS), you need to look at other options. Many website builders offer some community component while most CMSs like Joomla! and Drupal include a forum module. But if you want a full-featured bulletin board and forum system, your best bet might be to go with an application like phpBB or Phorum.

bbPress Server Requirements

bbPress requires PHP version 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL version 5.0 or greater. Any web server that supports PHP and MySQL will do. But for robustness and a full feature set, WordPress recommends Apache or Nginx.

The Verdict

If you want to start a forum, and already have a WordPress site or are planning on creating one, bbPress is the way to go. That it's a WordPress plugin means you'll be up and running in no time. It also means little overhead, which is especially important if you run a plugin-heavy site. And when you add BuddyPress to the mix, the choice becomes even more evident.

If you're using a website builder or a CMS other than Wordpress, bbPress is not an option. Finally, if you're looking for a full-fledged bulletin board and forum system, your best choice is a web application like phpBB or Phorum.

bbPress Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there any particular bbPress hosting recommendations?

    Yes. To increase security, WordPress recommends that you run bbPress with your username account. By default, the server uses a shared account, which is much less secure. Most hosting companies let you do this by using suPHP, but you should ask potential hosting providers if they offer it or something similar.

  • Are there any limitations to bbPress hosting?

    Yes. To use the bbPress plugin, you need a hosting plan that supports WordPress. You also need to use WordPress as your website platform. In other words, you cannot use bbPress without WordPress. You should also be aware that bbPress supports only MySQL for data storage.

  • What's the difference between bbPress and BuddyPress?

    Both bbPress and BuddyPress are WordPress plugins created by WordPress. Both are Open Source and free. And both integrate with your site to extend its capabilities beyond blogging. The difference is that BuddyPress has a whole set of features that can turn your site into a complete social network. Among these are member profiles, user groups, friend connections, activity streams, and internal messaging. The good news is that bbPress and BuddyPress are not an either/or proposition. The two play nice with your site and with each other so you can offer your users the best of both worlds.

  • Can I use friendly permalinks in bbPress like I can in WordPress?

    Yes. bbPress uses friendly permalinks in exactly the same way as WordPress does. If you're already using friendly permalinks on your site, keep doing what you're doing. If you're not able to use permalinks, make sure your hosting provider has enabled the Apache mod_rewrite module.

  • Where can I find out more about the bbPress plugin?

    For the best help, go to the source. bbPress.org is the go-to place for documentation, support, themes, plugins, and bbPress itself.

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