If you just starting out and not sure if your idea for a forum will succeed, there are a number of free options.
Here is a list of most of them:
The advantage of free forums is that they are free! You can afford to fail! It is also a great way to learn the basics of forum management.
The disadvantage of free forums is that if you are successful:
- you may exceed your allowable bandwidth and disk storage space
- there are limited options for the customization of your forum
- you may or may not have the ability to use your own domain name, if you want to add that later
- and want to monetize your forum, you are limited in what you can do (usually you can not do anything)
- and if you want to move your database of messages and threads to a new host for a paid forum software and paid hosting to further expand, then you are restricted in your ability to do this.