Most unlimited shared hosts crap out after 20-40 connections. Realistically speaking, about 75% are bots/visitors, so if you have active members, you're limited to 10 people at a time. And forget about chat boxes, chat bars, etc. Forums don't mix well with shared hosting, even if the host is generous -- and I've been there, too. It ran like @ss, to be blunt. Forums are much, much better on a VPS or dedi box, because you can install caches and optimize the PHP and MySQL.
If you value your site, don't do it.
Having a quality host is important, too. And I'd never run a forum with less than 1GB of VPS RAM.
In my experience with dreamhost I would advise against starting a vbulletin forum with them, we often see downtime and huge mysql speed issues. There are plenty of unlimited hosts that would work for you, probably up to 40-50 concurrent users depending on their SQL connections limits. As long as its just vanilla VB and doesn't have stuff like live chatrooms, etc. After that i'd then start looking for a VPS or dedicated solution.
█ Jay Weissman
█ LeopardHost.com | Modern and affordable hosting solutions
█ Powered by LiteSpeed and CloudLinux | Cpanel/WHM | Sitebuilder
█ Free .COM or .NET for life! | Expert Support | 7 Years in Business
i want to start a vbulletin forum on dreamhost's $10 plan and is wondering if anyones had experience with them on such a plan? How many users concurrently before it would crap out? thanks
I don't know about DreamHost specifically, but I'll agree with the general consensus here that most forums hit resource limits fairly quickly on shared hosting. But, the more the host loads on the servers, the sooner you hit those limits.
The general rule of thumb is 40 to 50 concurrent users being the point where you want to consider moving up to a VPS or dedicated server. But starting out ... you can easily use a quality shared host while you build your community. That can be at $8 to $10 a month with a quality host.
I have seen forums with from 800 to 1,500 users hit the 40 - 50 concurrent users. A small community might take a long time to hit that level. It depends on where the members are located; if they are all in the same time zone, you hit peak periods.
You just have to be aware that there will come a time when you have to move up to a fully managed VPS at $35 to $50 a month and plan accordingly (there are cheaper "self-managed" VPS, but they require you take the time to learn to manage them or hire it done).
We are only allowed to recommend hosts we have actually used, so I'll throw in my recommendation for MDDHosting.com. You could start out with their lowest priced shared hosting plan, and consider their upgrade path later (they have semi-dedicated, VPS and dedicated servers). Moving "in-house" with a full-managed provider is easier than switching hosts, in most cases. Also, check out kpmedia's link in his signature; he recommends hosts for specific types of hosting that he has actually used.
As to a VPS, there are "fully managed" and "un-managed" (really, "self managed" ... I saw that on someone's signature and decided it really makes more sense). A 1GB RAM self-maanged VPS from a discount host would run $10 to $15 a month. Add a control panel like cPanel adds $10 to $15. Add a backup service, that many fully managed VPS hosts provide, and you pay an additional $10 a month. You are now at the price level of a fully managed VPS, and you don't have server monitoring, exploit scanning, etc. And you'll spend about 40 hours setting up your self-managed VPS, and about 10 hours per week managing the server after that.
There are some other options, like a host that will set up and manage a VPS for a single site at less cost. You don't get root access to the server, and no control panel (unless you pay extra), but this option can work for a single site. Cost is between the two options above.