Cost of the board...this is quantified in more than just money out of pocket...but let me kind of do a stream of consciousness here - so please bear with me.
So the rough estimate is between domain name (minor) and the hosting this board takes in the realm of $85 USD a year to run.
Why is this so high with all the free hosting out there? (put on my tech hat here for you...)
- The fact is that we have a decade worth of archived material (some of our oldest posts are from 2009). This honestly includes the fact that I lost a portion of the archives when I moved providers ~3.5 years ago so there would be even more if I didn't mess that move up (sorry!).
- This quantity of material, in addition to the fact that we will host the embedded images, etc., leads to needing a larger than typical disk allocation on both the database and file system levels.
- Another factor is with all of the above, we tend to require a bit more horsepower to run the forum. Most of your free, or ultra low cost providers, put a very crazy low cap on the amount of CPU and memory that you can use for sites. This site needs 1GB memory and some decent CPU to be able to run efficiently. I tried with less compute resources and we had major, major performance issues running on some of the smaller hosts.
Then there is the maintenance factor. Some of the features we put in, and I'll admit that I have not kept up to date on, are not "out-of-the-box" options for PHPBB. That means that we had to invest extra (wo)man-power to keep things looking and working the way our community liked to see it run. Vector has been a boon to the site helping us keep afloat while Ceri and I dealt with a myriad of health and personal challenges over the years that took us away from being more involved.
I'm not looking to shut down the forums "soon" but it is something that is sort of on the horizon. I don't want to cause a poor experience (as much as we have already stumbled over the past few years with outages, etc.) and loose what I feel was a great legacy here for the gorums. On the other hand, it's something that Ceri and I just don't have the time to invest anymore to make this the experience I think everyone deserves from the gorums.
There's still some time on the proverbial clock, which is why we put the feelers out to see if there is an heir apparent out there to keep "the vision" alive.