Things to look for when looking for a new host:
This guide is generally geared for vBulletin users, however, I believe that most of these features should be required by any host if your want to be running any sort of Forum solution Don’t forget to watch for my note about hosts coming soon, which will give more detail about watching for cheap and scam hosts.
For hosting any type of php/mysql orientated site you should always make sure that the host you are considering has the latest stable version of php 4/5 (right now most hosts are not supporting php5, however, I suspect that this will change within the coming months), and it would also be very good if the host is also using MySQL 4.0.16+ and NOT MySQL 4.1.x as 4.1.x is still in alpha at this time.
So we have the basics down, current versions of php and mysql, but is php configured with the right options for you? vBulletin at the bare minimum needs XML to be able to install. After that your host should have the following to run all the fun extra options in vBulletin: cURL, GD, php that is NOT compiled to run in safe mode. cURL is needed to have subscriptions from Paypal and NoChex and WorldPay. GD is used to generate images on the fly, so if you want your attachments to have thumbnails your going to need GD. If you intend on having a lot of attachments and would like to store your CSS code in files instead of inline you need php to not be running in safe mode. If php is running in safe mode, vBulletin will not be able to write these files to their correct directories.
Some other things to take into consideration are the time that the host has been around, their support response times, and generally their attitude with their customers. Do some of their prices seem too good to be true? Are they promising you unlimited storage and bandwidth? Or maybe even a free vBulletin license? Chances are this host will not work out; they are offering things that they do not truly have. They want your money and they do not care how they get it. You should attempt to avoid hosts with the following in their name as well Yahoo, Lycos, Lunar, Pages, Rocket, or Power.
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