Creating a private forum without paying for hosting

Can I create a private forum on the public Discourse, without having to pay for hosting, similarly to how i can create a private group on Facebook?

If yes, how?

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Nope! As Thomas shared, the software is free for you to install on a server you own.

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The software is free! Computer time, unfortunately, isn’t free… :wink:

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Ahhh, but there does seem to be available options to freely host:

Multiple online cloud vendors will give free credits worth about $2-300 USD.

These are all the cloud vendors with free options for resources:

Google Cloud compute offers a free credits,
Microsoft Azure compute offers free credits,
Amazon Web services offers free credits,
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offers free credits.

Oracle Cloud also offers two free compute instances with 1 cpu, 1GB RAM, and 40 GB of space which is plenty of space to get started.

https://docs.oracle.com/en-us/iaas/Content/FreeTier/freetier_topic-Always_Free_Resources.htm

CloudFlare offers free DNS tiers,

And plenty of email providers out there like Mailgun offer free email services for a term:

It’s Free to Signup! Get 5,000 free emails on us for 3 months! Why do we need a credit card for a free account? It helps us prevent spammers from signing up, which means better deliverability for you and everyone else. You won’t be charged unless you go beyond 5,000 emails each month. This is a secure 256-bit SSL encrypted form.

https://signup.mailgun.com/new/signup

Setting up your own self hosted instance takes some work, but with the easy docker image for
Discourse the path to your own community is absolutely relatively cheaper than its ever been.

If you are okay paying for a certain monthly fee for set resources, companies like Contabo offer a reasonable monthly price for a decent sized instance:

Virtual Private Servers (VPS)

from$6.99/ month

4 vCores, 8 GB RAM & 200 GB SSD for just€4.99

  • Full Virtualization
  • 100% Fast SSD Storage
  • Quick Provisioning
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