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SiteGround StartUp plan
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10GB Unlimited
  • Support 5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 5 stars
  • Value 4.5 stars
4.5 stars
1266 user reviews
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$3.95/mo
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A2 Hosting Entry VPS plan
20GB 2TB
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 4.5 stars
  • Value 4.5 stars
4.5 stars
211 user reviews
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$5.00/mo
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HostGator Linux Hatchling plan
  • Support 3 stars
  • Features 3.5 stars
  • Uptime 3.5 stars
  • Value 3 stars
3.5 stars
542 user reviews
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$3.40/mo
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Interserver Cloud Web Hosting plan
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 5 stars
  • Value 5 stars
5 stars
201 user reviews
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$4.50/mo
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LiquidWeb 1 GB VPS plan
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50GB 5,000GB
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 4.5 stars
  • Value 4.5 stars
4.5 stars
57 user reviews
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$50.00/mo
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PacificHost Basic plan
  • Support 3 stars
  • Features 3.5 stars
  • Uptime 3.5 stars
  • Value 3 stars
3.5 stars
10 user reviews
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$4.99/mo
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Beyond Hosting Compute Scalable VPS plan
20GB 500GB
  • Support 0 stars
  • Features 0 stars
  • Uptime 0 stars
  • Value 0 stars
0 stars
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$32.00/mo
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MochaHost screenshot
2.5 stars
56 user reviews
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$2.33/mo
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Host Color CMS Web Hosting plan
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 5 stars
  • Uptime 5 stars
  • Value 5 stars
5 stars
15 user reviews
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$4.99/mo
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Cloudways DO512MB plan
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 5 stars
  • Value 4.5 stars
4.5 stars
33 user reviews
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$7.00/mo
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What is Dolphin Hosting?

Dolphin is a popular social CMS application that lets you build a custom Social Networking site. A custom social networking site allows its creators to build a community around a specific topic, interest, or organization. Dolphin is an Open Source social networking application written in PHP. It is one of the most popular software packages for building custom social networks.

Key Dolphin Features

Social Networking
This is the core of Dolphin. Members can build profiles, connect as friends, message, make updates, follow each other, and form groups.
Integration with other Social Media
Users can cross-post their updates and activity to FaceBook, Twitter, G+, Instagram, and other social networks.
Modules
The Dolphin application is high extensible, with a mature Module ecosytem, providing every imaginable feature.
Internationalization
UI strings are fully internationalized, and a number of language packs are already available. You can also create your translations. Users can select their own language.
Theming and Templates
Fully customizable theme system, with the option to allow users to select their own personal theme.
Mobile Apps
Dolphin has integrated apps for iOS and Android.
Privacy
Fine-grained control over who can see what content.
Media Content
Includes server-side software support for audio and video streaming.
Server Auditing
Dolphin automatically analyses hosting environment and suggests ways to optimize performance.

Other Dolphin Features

  • Subscription Payments
  • XML SiteMaps
  • Search
  • Vector Graphics and Retina Support
  • CSS3
  • RSS Feeds
  • Private Messages
  • Data Backups
  • Content Moderation
  • Mass Emailer
  • Banner Ads

Dolphin Social CMS Modules

Dolphin comes with a number of core modules, and thousands more are available from the Dolphin marketplace. This means that nearly any imaginable feature already exists. And if that isn't enough, you can develop your own.

To provide a sense of the range of possibilities, here is a list of some of the most popular and interesting modules available.

Ads
The ads plugin provide support for classified ad listings, similar to Craigslist. Ads can include photos, pricing, and custom categories.
Articles
The site administrator can post rich-text articles.
Avatars
Allows users to upload, edit, and manage profile images of themselves (“avatars”). Many can be stored at once, and the user can select which one is “active” at any time.
Blogs
Each member of the Dolphin site can have their own blog, with their own set of categories and tags. Blogs include social sharing features and robust commenting.
Chat
This module uses Dolphin's built-in media streaming capabilities to offer live, video chat and concurrent video streaming.
Desktop
The Desktop module uses the Adobe AIR platform to provide out-of-browser notifications and communication.
Events
Users and administrators can create events, manage invites, track attendees, post updates, and upload event photos.
Facebook Connect
Provides single-login support to access a Dolphin-powered community with a Facebook profile. Also matches Facebook friend lists with site members.
Files
File management, uploading, downloading, and publishing of media and documents.
Forums
Full-featured discussion forum and bulletin board system, for promoting topical conversations. Includes categories, moderation, content rating, thread management and rich-text formatting.
Google Search
Complete search of site and user-generated content, powered by Google.
Groups
User and administrators can create and manage groups, publish content for members-only, invite other users to the group, and hold group-only conversations.
Memberships
Provides tools for paid and tiered membership subscriptions.
Messenger
Flash-powered Video IM and text chat.
Page Access Control
Restrict or allow content viewing based on membership level.
Payments
Integrate with several different payment gateways.
Photos
Allows users to upload, browse, and share photos. Users can also create albums and galleries, categorize and tag photos, and set individual privacy levels for each photo or photo set.
Polls
Users and admins can create polls and survey, invite participants, publish replies, and graph results visually.
Profile Customiser
Let users customize the look of their member profiles with backgrounds, font selection, and individualized UI elements.
Profiler
Development and debugging tool that outputs load times and query data to the page.
Quotes
Set up a bank of quotes (or tips, jokes, or reminders) and display them randomly in a defined content area.
Shoutbox
This module is a chat-like message board feature where anyone can contribute a word or two.
Simple Messenger
Provides basic text IM feature, with messages displayed in the user's navigation menu.
SMTP Mailer
Integrate Dolphin with an SMTP mail server for email notifications.
Spy
Spy is a notification engine that integrates with other modules to display activity updates across all of Dolphin's features.
Store
Add ecommerce and shopping cart features to sell downloadable and deliverable products. Users can set up their own shops as well.

Dolphin Hosting

Requirements for running Dolphin are as somewhat extensive (though not uncommon). For full details, you can see the documentation.

However, the easiest way to meet all the requirements is to use a web hosting provider that specifically supports Dolphin (several do). To make things even easier, a number of web hosts include Dolphin as a one-click install from the control panel.

Dolphin Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Dolphin?

    Dolphin is an open-source content management platform for building social networks that currently powers over 300,000 websites.

    In its current stable state, Dolphin Pro includes over 30 modules, 2000 features, 1000s of extensions, mobile apps, and all of the standards you would expect from a social network: video chat, voice recording, forums, groups, messenger, and file sharing — among other features.

    It can also feature classified ads and implement a blogging module.

  • What type of security features are available?

    Dolphin includes a number of security features including a security layer with protection tools, like HTMLPurifier filtering, built-in prevention of CSRF attacks and optional PHPIDS protection. Spam protection is also available through integration with Akismet, Captcha, DNS/URI-DNS blocklists, and country and IP blocking.

  • Do users have control over their privacy?

    Yes, a system-wide privacy setting option for content posting, based on pre-defined groups or custom groups is available. It can be controlled by admin and members.

  • Is support available?

    The developers behind Dolphin clearly state on their website that tech support is not something they specialize in. Instead, you are encouraged to use the documentation and forums for your troubleshooting. Alternatively, you can hire your own developers.

  • What are the alternatives to Dolphin?

    There are a wide variety of open-source social networking platforms that serve as alternatives to Dolphin. Some of the most commonly used platforms for social networking outside of Dolphin include BuddyPress, Oxwall, and Jcow. Elgg is an alternative social networking platform that is commonly used to power corporate intranets.

  • How does Dolphin compare to Elgg as a content management system?

    Dolphin is not the easiest content management system to install and update. Often times, its license also requires attribution.

    By comparison, Elgg is completely open-source and includes many (but not all) of the same features as Dolphin. So while you may spend a little bit more in terms of hosting and features with Dolphin, you may also have more flexibility and custom features when compared to Elgg.

  • How does Dolphin compare to BuddyPress as a social networking platform?

    Dolphin is a complete platform for social networking. By comparison, BuddyPress is a plugin that can be installed on the Wordpress framework to launch a social network. If you are comfortable with web development and want a social network that has a more unique look and feel than most websites built on top of Wordpress, then Dolphin will be a better solution for your social network than BuddyPress.

  • What are the requirements for Dolphin web hosting?

    A server built with Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) is the preferred server configuration for running Dolphin. Instead of Linux, Windows can also be used as the operating system for Dolphin, but an Apache server is the most efficient server option.

  • Are there any additional requirements for hosting Dolphin?

    If you want additional features for your social media network, you might be required to install additional software such as ImageMagick for the ability to process photos or sendmail to send email to your users. If you aren't sure if you have the right configuration to handle all of these features, contact your hosting provider.

  • Do I need a dedicated server to run Dolphin?

    You can run a very basic Dolphin website on a shared hosting plan but if you want to take advantage of the streaming components, you should use a VPS or dedicated server.

  • Can Dolphin be installed by a novice?

    Most hosting companies provide a one-click installation wizard for Dolphin which can be used even by complete beginners. If your hosting company doesn't provide one-click installation, contact their support team to inquire about the installation process.

  • Does Dolphin support languages besides English?

    Dolphin is available in Russian and English. You can also translate every part of your website into any other language using a feature called language keys, which are a kind of placeholder text, allowing a button, page, title, and so on to be shown in different languages based on the user's language settings.

  • Is Dolphin free?

    You can download it for free and use it free of charge under the Creative Commons license. You must leave a link in your site footer that points back to the source.

    If you wish to remove the attribution link, you can purchase a commercial license for a one-time fee. All commercial licenses allow you to use it on a single domain.

  • Does Dolphin have mobile apps?

    Yes, it comes with both iOS and Android apps.

  • Is Dophin actively maintained?

    Yes, the initial release was in 2006 and since then the application has been actively maintained and developed by BoonEx.

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