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LearnDash hosting is one of the most common topics I’ve seen pop up from new users just getting started with the plugin. Choosing a great LearnDash host from the beginning will save you headaches down the road, and allow you to scale & grow your learning platform.
This article will walk you through the basics of hosting, explain how LearnDash hosting is different, help you make sense of all the terminology when you’re shopping for a plan, and of course, give you our list of recommended hosts for LearnDash.
My qualifications: I’ve been fully immersed in the LearnDash community for the past 5 years, built 3 free & 2 premium plugins exclusively for LearnDash, have helped numerous companies get their LearnDash sites up-and-running, and have been listening to literally thousands of user questions & feedback in the LearnDash Facebook group. I run my own LearnDash-powered site over at ldx.training.
- How is LearnDash Hosting Different?
- Hosting Specs to Consider
- 🏆 Best LearnDash Hosting
- BuddyBoss Hosting
- Hosts to Avoid
- LearnDash Performance/Load Testing
What is Hosting?
Hosting is required for all LearnDash sites, and for all websites… period. A host is a company that you pay to gain access to a web server. This web server is where you store all the code & information that make your website function. The hosting company you choose will also provide support when you have certain issues with your site.
How is LearnDash Hosting Different?
When you decide to use LearnDash to power your website, one of the first things you should invest in is good hosting. All websites require hosting, but when you use LearnDash, your demands are a little higher than a typical WordPress blog or marketing site.
WordPress caching plugins are a common way to improve the performance of your site.
However, an LMS tracks a student’s progress throughout a course, and displays different information to each user, on each and every page load. This means that most of the content cannot be cached. Requiring a fresh version of the content on every single page load increases the amount of resources that your host needs to have.
With this added responsibility of the host, it’s extremely important that you choose high-quality, performance-driven hosting for your LearnDash site.
We still recommend you use a performance/caching plugin on your site. Many other aspects can still be cached, and greatly improved by a performance plugin. We highly recommend WP Rocket 🚀
Concurrent (or Simultaneous) Users
Another thing that makes LearnDash hosting different from general WordPress hosting is concurrent users. This refers to how many users are on your site at the same time.
This isn’t as big of a deal when your server is able to cache content, and display the same thing to many users. But an LMS is personalized, and as we discussed above, many things cannot be cached.
Concurrent users is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a LearnDash host.
Many hosts tailor their plans based on number of visitors per month. But 10,000 visitors per month spread out evenly across 30 days is very different from 8,000 users hitting your site at the same time.
Situations that could encourage heavy concurrent usage of your platform include:
- Quite simply, just a really popular training platform
- Using community-driven features to encourage communication amongst students
- Course forums
- Time-restricted learning environments, where content is available to all users for the same period of time
- Drip-fed content where you notify students by email that new material is available (causing them all to access it simultaneously)
See our load testing section below on how to mimic concurrent users to make sure your hosting can handle the load.
RAM plays an important role in supporting concurrent users. There are several other factors to consider, but as a general rule, every 1GB of RAM can handle about 10 concurrent users. The first GB of RAM will be used for general server processes, so 2GB of RAM can support around 10 concurrent users, 3GB 20 concurrent users… 16GB 150 concurrent users, etc.
Using video-based training?
We recommend using a dedicated video hosting provider, separate from your web host. There is no web host that delivers video content as well as video hosting providers. Therefore, this is not a primary factor to consider when choosing a LearnDash host.
Read our video hosting recommendations →
LearnDash Hosting Specs to Consider
The following section contains a list of features you should be looking for when shopping for a LearnDash host. The importance of each feature will vary depending on your specific situation, but this list gives you a comprehensive overview of specs to consider.
Number of visits (or bandwidth) allowed per month
Most hosts place a cap on the number of visits your site can receive in a month. Based on how popular your courses are, you’ll want to make sure you stay within the limit. Each host handles overages differently.
To get an idea how many visits you’ll need, use analytics software to look at historical trends. If you’re just getting started, consider one of the smallest plans (but keep the rest of the specs in mind).
Most hosts offer multiple server locations. This refers to the physical data center where your server is located.
If you have a global audience, it’s not super important. But if your site is geared to a specific region of the world, choose a server location as close to that region as possible.
This refers to the ability to increase server resources and easily switch plans as you grow. Generally speaking, companies that utilize cloud hosting infrastructure handle this best.
The ability to remain with the same host, on the same platform, as you continue to grow your audience, will allow you to focus on creating value for your students. Make sure your host can grow with you.
Latest PHP version
PHP is the coding language that powers WordPress & LearnDash. As with any software, it is constantly being updated & improved. The latest version is always the most secure, and oftentimes it comes with performance improvements as well.
Make sure your LearnDash host allows you to use the latest PHP version.
As of March 2023, you should be using PHP 8.0 or higher. PHP 8.1 and 8.2 are both stable and should be offered by your host, however, some WordPress themes & plugins might not be fully compatible. Check PHP 8+ on a staging site and confirm with plugin developers before updating.
Currently, I’m running either PHP 8.0 or 8.1 on all of my sites.
PHP workers essentially determine how many simultaneous uncached requests your site can handle at any given time. They work hand in hand with CPU (mentioned below) to process server requests & deliver content back to your site visitors. They are also called upon every time your site needs to make a database query.
For dynamic sites like an LMS running LearnDash, or a community site with a discussion forum, 4 PHP workers is a good starting point. Exactly how many you need will depend on your choice of theme, plugins, optimization of PHP code & concurrent traffic.
Memory (RAM) & processing power (CPU)
Memory & processing power are two components of a server that improve its ability to process information, and do so quickly. The more resource-intensive plugins you’re using (think plugins that add big features), the more RAM & CPU cores you’ll want.
As your visitors increase, you’ll want more power as well, especially if those visitors are hitting your site around the same time.
Some managed WordPress hosts don’t display RAM & CPU in their plans, but you can likely find out if you ask their sales team. Alternatively, the more advanced hosting options focus their plans around this.
Object caching is the process of storing database queries in memory (RAM) so that PHP code doesn’t have to be executed to query the database for a query that has already been run. This helps reduce the number of PHP workers you need, and deliver content to your visitors faster.
Redis & Memcached are the two most popular forms of object caching, with Redis being the most commonly used. Talk with your host to see if they offer object caching, if there’s an extra fee involved, and if it would be helpful in your specific scenario.
Kinsta & Cloudways both offer Redis object caching. Pressidium may as well but it wasn’t specifically listed in their features.
CDN (content delivery network)
A CDN is recommended if you have a global audience, or even if your audience is spread out across the U.S. Essentially, it makes copies of your files on multiple servers, and then provides them to your users from the location closest to them. This means they can be delivered faster, which is always a good thing.
You can set up a third-party CDN regardless of which web host you choose, but these are more challenging to set up & configure. Several of our recommended LearnDash hosts have one built right into their hosting plan, which is especially helpful for beginners & non-technical site managers.
- Kinsta uses a built-in Cloudflare CDN integration
- Cloudways used to have their own CDN, but they switched to a Cloudflare CDN in 2022
Security is always important, but especially when your site is managing user data related to courses, payments, etc. Some general web hosts don’t optimize their servers for WordPress.
We highly recommend using a hosting company that specifically focuses on WordPress. They will provide additional security measures to protect against WordPress-specific hack attempts.
Quick & easy-to-use staging environment
A staging environment allows you to test things in a safe place, before making them available to users of your live site. This is especially important if you want to customize your theme, try out a new Elementor template, install plugins or implement custom code.
Whoever you choose for hosting your LearnDash site should definitely include a staging or testing area, and it should be easy to set up. Look for one-click buttons to copy your site from live to staging.
Routine, automated backups
Maintaining routine backups is critical for any LMS, especially one like LearnDash. LearnDash sites often use many plugins to power their LMS, and WordPress itself is constantly releasing updates to its software. Things are constantly being updated on your site, and it’s crucial for you to be able to revert back to a previous point in time.
The best LearnDash host will back your site up automatically, at least once a day, and allow you to back it up on-demand, which is great for before & after you make specific changes.
Available, reliable, knowledgeable support
Inevitably, something will go wrong on your site. Hosting with a company that has your back, and is available 24/7, will help you get back up and running quickly.
WordPress-specific hosts are better at troubleshooting WordPress issues. Hosts like Kinsta have actual developers & server admins you can talk to. An even better option is to go with a team like CourseLauncher who not only manage your server for you, but also have an intricate knowledge of LearnDash and the many plugins you’re likely using.
User permissions are great to have if you’re working with someone else on building out your LearnDash site. If you work on a team, or plan to hire a developer or freelancer to help you out, you want hosting that allows you to easily add users to your account, and just give them the specific access they need, and nothing more.
These are different from Google Analytics that provides stats on your users. Here we’re talking about stats regarding your server’s performance. Most user-level analytics software doesn’t collect this information.
- Number & type of error response codes
- PHP & MySQL response times
- CDN usage
- AJAX usage
- Cache hits & misses
A host who provides this level of detail is one who truly cares about performance. And it allows you to run more accurate performance audits on your LearnDash site.
There are a lot of tools to monitor your site’s uptime & downtime, and alert you when there’s a problem. It’s a little less common for hosts to provide this type of service, but some do. Others partner with third-party monitoring services to make it easy for you to access this data.
While definitely not a deal-breaker, this would be a really “nice to have.”
So… How Do You Choose?
It’s impossible for us to give you the exact specs you’ll need because every LMS is different. It depends on many different variables, such as:
- other plugins you’re running
- what ecommerce platform you’re using
- how much LearnDash content you have (lessons + topics)
- whether you’re hosting your own videos
- how much media you’re using (images, PDFs, other embeds)
- whether or not you’re using quizzes
- how many questions you have per quiz
- your use of a CDN
- … and so on
Here are a few general guidelines to help you choose an appropriate hosting plan for your LearnDash site. Don’t take the numbers literally; they are there to provide a general estimate.
- No or very few existing users… start with one of the smaller plans
- Only one course with less than 50 lessons/topics… start small
- If you use multiple quizzes per course, or have quizzes with 30+ questions… consider a middle tier plan
- Confident you’ll have 50+ concurrent users… you’ll probably want a middle or middle-upper tier plan (16GB+ RAM, 8+ cores, 6-8 PHP workers)
- Over 100 concurrent users… consider an enterprise-level plan (32GB+ RAM, 12-16+ cores, 10+ PHP workers)
Most, if not all, of our recommended LearnDash hosts below have great pre-sales support. They’d be happy to help you decide. This is also a great way to test their knowledge & friendliness 😉.
🏆 Best LearnDash Hosting
The following companies are our top picks for LearnDash hosting. These were carefully chosen based on over 10 years of first-hand experience hosting 100s of sites on many different platforms, as well as our intricate knowledge of how LearnDash & WordPress are built.
Using our links to purchase hosting helps support our site & allows us to provide free, helpful LearnDash content. The money we make on referrals does not impact our recommendations. Our decisions are 100% objective based on quality, experience & user feedback.
Managed LearnDash Hosting
The following LearnDash hosts are for beginners & intermediate users, and anyone who doesn’t want to be a server administrator (or doesn’t have the skill set). These recommendations are for non-technical folks, but they can still power enterprise-level LearnDash sites with many concurrent users.
CourseLauncher is a bit unique in its offering. Not only do they host your website and manage your server, but they…
- exclusively focus on LearnDash sites
- have been building LearnDash sites for clients for almost 10 years
- provide a ton of plugin licenses that would otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars
- provide LearnDash development if you need something custom built
They really can be your one stop shop for all things LearnDash.
CourseLauncher offers the following hosting plans:
- LiftOff: $99/mo. or $1,089/yr. – 2 vCPU, 8 GB RAM, 80 GB storage
- Booster: $299/mo. or $3,289/yr. – 4 vCPU, 16 GB RAM, 80 GB storage
- Orbit: $499/mo. or $5,489/yr. – 4 vCPU, 16 GB RAM, 80 GB storage
- Overdrive (custom plan) – Custom specs. All plugins included.
For all plans, CourseLauncher uses GridPane as their management panel (software), and typically either Vultr or AWS for their server (hardware).
Aside from the knowledge and experience that Ellen and her team at CourseLauncher have with LearnDash, this is one of the main reasons why I put them in the top spot. Many LearnDash users will pay somewhere between $500-$1,000/yr. for all the plugins they need to build exactly the site they want. CourseLauncher provides 75+% of those plugins for you, so you don’t have to buy your own license. This is a huge cost savings.
If you’re just starting out on your LearnDash journey, they will even provide the LearnDash plugin free of charge, so long as you remain on one of their hosting or care plans. That’s another $199/yr. in savings.
The LiftOff plan includes:
- ProPanel ($49/yr.)
- Elementor Pro ($59/yr.)
- WooCommerce Subscriptions ($199/yr.)
- Design Upgrade Pro ($29/yr.)
- Uncanny Toolkit Pro ($199/yr.)
- WP Media Folder ($49/yr.)
- FluentSMTP (email deliverability)
- Fluent Forms Pro ($59/yr.)
- Presto Player (for videos) ($99/yr.)
- RankMath Pro (for SEO) ($59/yr.)
That’s $801/yr. 🤯 And these are some of the best plugins in their respective categories. I use many of them on most of my sites, with or without LearnDash.
You can also add on any of the following plugins, or upgrade to a higher plan to gain access to them. I didn’t do the math on this bunch but it’s easily over $1,000 of additional value. So for those of you building more complex sites that will need these plugins, it’s by far the best deal you’ll find.
- Gravity Forms
- S3 Media Maestro
- Uncanny Automator & Pro
- The Events Calendar Pro
Tin Canny LearnDash Reporting
Uncanny Continuing Education Credits
Uncanny LearnDash Groups
AffiliateWP + Pro Addons
Sign Up for CourseLauncher Today →
Cloudways is a little different from other LearnDash hosts. They provide a user interface for managing one of 5 different cloud-based hosting providers. You’ll find their custom dashboard to be a little more technical. More set up will be involved, but that also means more flexibility.
You can think of Cloudways as a step in-between more traditional managed hosting like Kinsta & Pressidium, but not nearly as technical as needing a server admin, like for our technical options below.
Cloudways allows you to choose between the following 5 providers:
- Digital Ocean
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Google Compute Engine (GCE)
Pricing & Plans
Each provider has many tiers that allow you to scale from as low as $10/mo. (on Digital Ocean) to as high as $3,500/mo. (on AWS). Each tier offers increasing amounts of:
- Processing power (cores)
We can’t speak to the performance differences of each provider, but how high they scale, and their cost, vary greatly, so pay close attention to that as you’re planning for the future.
The Cloudways dashboard is where you’ll set up staging sites, backups, switch PHP versions, etc. Cloudways is essentially taking the server management off your hands, but allowing you to scale up to enterprise-level cloud hosting on some of the most popular & powerful hosting platforms out there.
It’s an interesting model, and one that slightly more advanced users (and control freaks 😜) might find very attractive.
If you’re able to handle a little extra setup, and you’re looking to save money, you might want to consider using RunCloud alongside AWS or Google Cloud. You’ll have similar server specs to what Cloudways offers but for a fraction of the cost.
- Recommended Plan: Business 1, $100/mo. or $1,000/yr.
- Strapped for Cash: Starter, $30/mo. or $300/yr. (be prepared to upgrade once you start growing)
Kinsta has been our #1 WordPress host for 5+ years. It used to also be our #1 LearnDash host, but that has recently changed. They still provide an exceptional solution and service, but as you grow and scale, they aren’t very affordable. And when you’re running more complex LearnDash sites with BuddyBoss, Uncanny plugins, etc. and/or have thousands of users, some have reported issues.
We use Kinsta on this site, as well as our sister sites, ldx.training and ldx.community, which both run LearnDash. However, it’s important to note, both of these sites are quite small compared to what some of you are doing with your elearning sites.
Kinsta does provide…
- an incredibly fast WordPress admin area, which makes creating & managing courses a breeze
- top-notch WordPress security
- super-fast page load speeds that make you think only part of the page is loading (see focus mode pages on ldx.training)
- knowledgeable & friendly support via chat (24/7/365)
- the best analytics in the game (built on their custom dashboard)
- super simple staging sites
- plans to power everything from beginner to enterprise-level learning platforms (although enterprise-level get pricey)
Kinsta will also migrate your site for free if you’re currently hosting elsewhere.
Get 2 months free with an annual plan →
Kinsta even has a resource explaining LMS WordPress hosting. Still not sure which plan to choose? Just start a chat & their sales team will help you choose.
- Just getting started: Personal, $49.90/mo. or $504/yr.
- For small-medium sites: Start w/ Professional, $149.90/mo. or $1,500/yr. (upgrade from here, as needed)
For LearnDash sites, Pressidium recommends their $790/mo. enterprise-level plan. For smaller learning platforms, I don’t think you’ll need this plan, and it’s way over budget for many small businesses. But definitely consider it if you need a robust, powerful hosting solution, and have the budget to back it up.
Pressidium offers most of the same things Kinsta does:
- automatic backups
- staging sites
- 24/7/365 support
- free migrations
We haven’t interacted with their support team, but the others we’ve spoken to have provided overwhelmingly positive reviews. The LearnDash experts over at Uncanny Owl have also given Pressidium credit for going out of their way to help them optimize some of their larger LearnDash sites.
Pressidium provides the same server specs for all plans leading up to their enterprise solution, and it’s easy to upgrade, so you might as well start small until you know the type of traffic you’ll be getting. The only real difference is number of visits allowed per month.
LearnDash Cloud is LearnDash’s own hosting plan. Launched in July 2022, you can gain access to the LearnDash plugin and host your site for $29/mo. or $299/yr. LearnDash manages the server for you, and claims to optimize it for both WordPress and LearnDash.
The big question that remains is how powerful the server is. There is absolutely no mention of server specs, RAM, bandwidth, storage space, PHP workers, databases, etc. We have no idea what type of server LearnDash is using for your site, except for that it’s probably a Liquid Web server, since LearnDash is owned by Liquid Web.
All of the features listed on the LearnDash Cloud page are things that come with the LearnDash plugin by default. So there’s no extra benefit that their Cloud platform is providing; you’d be able to do all of those things on your own self-hosted LearnDash site. It does, however, include ProPanel, which is now a separate $49/yr. add-on. ProPanel is LearnDash’s reporting plugin.
One other exception to that is templates. LearnDash is owned by Liquid Web, who also happens to own a popular theme called Kadence. You might get some added templates that come with LearnDash blocks/shortcodes pre-populated, but it’s not 100% clear what “templates” LearnDash is referring to.
We haven’t signed up for a LearnDash Cloud yet to test it in full, but based on the lack of details, I can’t recommend it at this time. Until LearnDash gives us more server specs, I would not host my site there.
Server + Server Management
This is a slightly different option than all the rest on this page. Instead of one company to manage your hosting, this option uses two companies—you rent the server from one company and rent a server management platform from another.
Dollar for dollar, it provides the best performance for the least amount of money. However, it does require a bit more set up, and you’ll have a relationship with 2 different companies to manage your hosting.
We’ll discuss the most popular combination for LearnDash sites below.
RunCloud (management platform)
RunCloud is a server management platform. For a small monthly fee, they provide an interface for which you can make changes to a server. You can manage backups, staging sites, change PHP versions, etc. And you can host as many different servers/sites as you want.
Once you choose a hosting company (see our recommendation below), you provide RunCloud with a access to that server (via an API key), and then manage everything in RunCloud. You won’t need to do anything with the actual server itself, other than maintain your credit card details for autopay.
I would recommend RunCloud’s Pro plan at $15/mo. ($12.50/mo. if paid annually).
In addition to our recommended server below, RunCloud also works with tons of other cloud hosting providers.
Vultr – High Frequency Compute (server)
Vultr is the actual hosting company that provides the server. They have a variety of server types & plans to choose from. I would recommend:
- High Frequency Compute
- 64 bit Ubuntu OS
- 2 CPU, 2 GB memory, 3 TB bandwidth (starting at $18/mo.)
Get $100 free to start →
Just use this link and a $100 credit will be applied to your account.
So for $30.50/mo., you can have an incredibly powerful, near infinitely scalable server at Vultr, that is relatively easy to manage with a control panel provided by RunCloud.
If you’re concerned about being able to set this up properly, RunCloud has great documentation on how to set up a Vultr server, as well as a one-click WordPress installation. After that, it’s just like managing any other WordPress site from your admin area.
⚡️ Need more power? If you need a ton of power, I’ve heard some users have had good luck using AWS with RunCloud. I believe AWS’ servers can scale much higher than Vultr’s, and offer more processing power and RAM at their high end.
Advanced/Technical LearnDash Hosting
These hosts might have a slight edge in performance over the managed hosts, but mainly because they are typically a bit more flexible (if you know how to manage a server).
I only recommend these hosts if you have a technical background, or are hiring a developer or someone to manage your server.
Pantheon considers itself more of a WebOps solution than just a hosting platform. They offer both WordPress & Drupal hosting, and focus on developers and the enterprise.
Pantheon offers several collaboration features that might appeal to agencies, in addition to integrated version control, something developers will appreciate. And they’ve consistently received high marks for performance from several reputable hosting review sites over the past few years.
We haven’t tried them ourselves yet, but we’re confident that they belong on this list.
Amazon’s AWS is a popular choice among developers and those who want full control over their server. Amazon’s cloud hosting is incredibly scalable, and in true Amazon fashion, pretty darn affordable. But you have to know what you’re doing in order to set it up.
AWS offers a ton of different products.
- You’ll most likely want to look at their EC2 product (Elastic Compute Cloud)
- View EC2 pricing or use their custom pricing calculator
Pricing is based on usage but you can also purchase resources in advance.
Google Cloud Platform
The Google Cloud Platform is very similar to Amazon’s AWS product. They both offer near infinite scalability & affordable pricing, but again, you’ll need to know how to manage a server.
- For LearnDash sites with many concurrent users, a compute-optimized (C2) instance is likely your best option.
- See pricing →
Digital Ocean Droplets
Digital Ocean droplets have received great reviews for hosting dynamic websites, which would include an LMS like LearnDash. We don’t have any experience with them, but they are worth checking out.
- For lower-traffic LearnDash sites, start with a Basic droplet
- For higher-traffic LearnDash sites, consider a General Purpose droplet
How to choose a Digital Ocean plan →
We recommend choosing one of the providers above for hosting LearnDash, but if you really want to shop around, we will include 2 honorable mentions.
We don’t think you’ll get the same level of performance & support from these companies, but that just means our top tier recommendations are that much better. These are still fine options for people with more limited budgets or smaller LearnDash sites.
We’ll try to include a bit more about Nexcess/LiquidWeb hosting soon, but for now, you can check out one of our following recommended plans:
- Managed WordPress Hosting: $19/mo. to $999/mo., depending on the amount of bandwidth you need. Save 2 months by paying for a year. These plans are optimized for WordPress and will be less flexible than the next option.
- Cloud Servers: Starting at $265/mo. based on the specs you need. You’ll enjoy more flexibility & freedom, but also likely need more technical knowledge to configure these properly. For advanced users.
SiteGround is another host that has a few offerings worth looking at… if you didn’t choose one of our top recommendations. There are two plans to consider with SiteGround:
- Cloud Hosting: SiteGround offers several pre-packaged cloud hosting plans that would work well for LearnDash. And if you need more power, they scale all the way up to 33 CPU cores & 130GB of RAM.
- WordPress Hosting: This will only work for very small LearnDash sites with limited traffic. We only recommend the GoGeek plan; nothing below that. It comes with a $14.99/mo. introductory rate but renews at $39.99/mo.
If you choose the GoGeek WordPress plan, SiteGround will automatically activate a plugin called SG Optimizer. We wrote an article on how to configure it to work best with LearnDash, but if you can afford an extra $30/yr., we highly recommend using WP Rocket instead.
Are you using the BuddyBoss Platform or BuddyBoss Theme with LearnDash?
You might need a more powerful hosting plan because of the added community features of BuddyBoss—your users uploading more content, interacting on forums, etc. The extra features that BuddyBoss provides require more server resources. The above recommendations still apply, but you might need a slightly higher plan to accommodate a BuddyBoss-powered site vs. a standard LearnDash site.
Explore BuddyBoss for LearnDash →
🚫 Hosts to Avoid
You typically won’t find a list of hosts not to use but we feel this is important to communicate. We’ve seen too many sites go down, disappoint users and lose sales. Choosing insufficient hosting can cause real headaches down the road, and cost your small business a lot of money to clean up the mess & migrate to a quality LearnDash host.
We highly recommend you do not use any of the following hosts for your LearnDash site. They either offer inferior performance/security, consistently poor customer support, or both.
- 1&1 / IONOS
From the Experts
Here are some comments from other experts in the LMS space regarding LearnDash hosting. I know & trust these folks and have received permission to include their statements.
Gabriel Gallagher of Team Tangible
Gabriel has performed some load testing on LearnDash sites, specifically around the performance of quizzes (which are typically the most resource-intensive part of a LearnDash site).
He has found that a single, high-frequency CPU core can handle ~15 concurrent quiz takers.
It’s not always easy to find out exactly how many cores your hosting plan has, especially with some managed WordPress hosts. Gabriel suggests considering a service like SpinupWP, RunCloud or GridPane, which allow you to see the exact hosting specs you’re getting. He believes you can get a similar plan on these platforms for ~$50, where they could cost over $500 on some managed WordPress hosts.
Editor’s note: If you have many students taking quizzes at the same time, consider one of Gabriel’s options above, or a Vultr High Frequency server on Cloudways. Some of these options might be a little more technical and require more knowledge to set up and/or manage.
LearnDash Performance/Load Testing
When testing LearnDash hosting, you can’t rely on typical performance/speed tests. You need to do load testing. Load testing simulates multiple students interacting on your site at the same time. This will help you see how many concurrent users your site can handle with the current hosting plan you’re on.
We’ve provided a few load testing tools below.
While not really related to hosting your LearnDash site, many LearnDash users also need email for their business. Web hosts are optimized to host websites, not email. We recommend not using any free or included email plans that a web host might provide.
You’ll be much better off using a dedicated email solution. We highly recommend Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). We have a select number of discount codes we can provide you. If you’re interested, please email us.
- Starts at $6 / user / month
Facebook Group Threads
We plan to organize these threads & provide more context soon, but for now, we wanted to list a handful of links to discussions about LearnDash hosting in the Facebook group. If you want more detailed information about real user’s experiences, check out these threads.
- Poll in FB group
Which host are you using for your LearnDash site? What plan are you on?
We’d love to hear stories from real users, both good & bad. If you are open to sharing your experience (visits, students, # of courses, page load speeds, hosting company, specific plan, support interactions, etc.)… please leave a comment below. The entire LearnDash community will benefit 🙂.
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This is a great explanation Dave. I host on a five site plan on WpEngine for about $1500/year and wanted to give them a mention as I’ve had a great success with them and they seem to fit most if not all of the criteria you shared. Their customer service is immediate and often goes above and beyond what is necessary. Staging environments are a breeze, CDN is sharp and security is incredible. They have a plug-in I can use to manage from my WP dashboard but logging in directly is simple enough as well.
Hey Emily — Thanks for chiming in to share your hosting experience. I love your site, by the way 👍. I’m a big fan of plants for all kinds of reasons 😀.
Did you sign up for WP Engine a while back? They don’t seem to offer a 5-site plan at all right now, and their 10-site plan is $1,150/yr.
I have used them in the past. I was a customer for about 3 years back in the early-mid 2010s, and I was constantly disappointed with their service & support. I could only get the most basic level of support, and their reps were telling me things that were just flat out wrong. Their performance & security was always fine, but nothing exceptional.
I know they’ve gone through a lot of changes since then, including moving to the Google Cloud Platform, which should have helped tremendously with performance. While I have no experience with their support team recently, they were so bad years ago that I just can’t find it within myself to recommend them.
But I’m glad they’re working well for you 🙂.
I was a WP Engine customer for a few years and life was good. Then they merged with GoDaddy and things ran into the ground. Customer support was horrible and my account rep would not respond to anything when I tried to contact him. Yet he had automated sales messages that kept pestering me to upgrade to another plan.
I left them for wpx.net. Half the price, faster service and more resources.
Hi William — Thanks for sharing your experience.
However, I need to clarify, WP Engine & GoDaddy never merged. They operate as two separate companies that each do things quite differently.
In 2018, Silver Lake Partners (a private equity firm) invested $250 million in WP Engine, making them majority owners.
Silver Lake Partners also invested in GoDaddy in 2011, along with 2 other firms, but did not buy a majority stake in GoDaddy.
While the same private equity firm has invested in both companies, there was never a merger, and the two companies operate completely separate from one another. That’s not to say WP Engine didn’t change the way they operate after Silver Lake made the investment. That is for sure a possibility.
Hi Dave, your content always is amazing. I host on Brazilian host WPxpress.com…its a vps host. Looks like good enough till now.
Thanks for your kind words, Maurício 🙂.
I appreciate you taking the time to comment on your setup. It could help others who are looking for an adequate LearnDash host in Brazil 👍.
This is great information. I’m looking for a new host as my current one fails me in many ways. I’m small thou. I just acquired LearnDash last year when scrambling to save my fitness business during the pandemic and get my programs online. I only have a few programs up but I have a large number designed from the past 20 years of my work. I am striving to get them all online. I don’t use quizzes but I do use lots of videos. Right now I embed my unlisted YouTube videos into my site (which I don’t like but that’s another topic). I also use LearnDash notifications for program engagement, progression, feedback, etc. I have over 200 users but the majority of them are inactive but I am looking to bring more engaging features to get them on my site more and have my eye on BuddyBoss. I have a big vision, limited time, and even more limited knowledge. I’m not sure what is best for me. I currently do everything myself (one-woman show) and read a lot of articles and watch Youtube videos to try and learn but there is so much info, I’m often unsure of what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Tammy 🙂. I’ll address multiple parts of your comment one at a time.
In terms of hosting, the most hands-off solution is going to be Kinsta. They’ll migrate your site for free, and you will have to do almost no management. It is a little more expensive than Cloudways to start out though, but Cloudways will require a little more set up time on your part (which I know you don’t want to do). If $30/mo. is just too much for you right now, I’d recommend Cloudways. Go with the lowest Vultr High Frequency plan (VULTR1GB) for $13/mo.
On a similar note, some strategy advice… before you upgrade your hosting, come up with a solid revenue plan. Before you start spending more per month on hosting, have a plan for how you’re going to cover the cost. Trust your 20+ years of experience in the field, and charge accordingly. Come up with some tangible ways to re-engage your existing 200 users. If you’re not already using sample lessons & videos to sell users on your training, I’d recommend you do that. Give some away for free on YouTube and let that serve as marketing for your course material, where you can go more in-depth.
And you probably already do this (bc I found you on TrainingPeaks), but try to sell some 1-on-1 coaching to help subsidize the building of your online platform. Leverage your connections, especially locally.
In terms of video hosting, Spotlightr is an excellent, low cost option. You’ll give users a better experience vs using YouTube videos, and you’ll pay less than what Vimeo charges.
Big vision + limited time + limited knowledge: This is a tough equation to make work. If you don’t want to invest more time, and don’t want to become more a WordPress/LearnDash wizard (which is totally understandable), that leaves us with the vision. Keep the big vision, but execute small. Put the vision in your back pocket for now and just start launching & doing. For what you’re offering, now is a great time to sell to your prospective audience. Don’t worry about executing on your big/perfect vision right now. You’ll get there eventually. Set a realistic goal for February (# of sales, re-engage X existing users, X in revenue, etc.) and poor all of the limited time you have over the next 3.5 weeks to achieve it.
Boom! Awesome job 🙌. Now do the same for March.
In terms of BuddyBoss, I wouldn’t recommend it for you right now. I only know a small part of your story/setup/experience, but from what you’ve shared, I think BuddyBoss will only give you more headaches at this point. There’s a huge learning curve for BuddyBoss (on top of the one already in place for WordPress & LearnDash). It’s a great product, and in terms of social learning, there’s nothing else on the market like it, but it’s overkill for you now.
Other ideas: It looks like you have quite a few different products that you’re selling. I see the Eat Well membership you have, but maybe consider some type of all access, all inclusive membership where they get a simple workout/movement program, a nutrition plan, and weekly accountability/check-ins. I was going to try and come up with more but it’s late here and I’m sleepy 😴.
You’re doing a lot of things right. Keep blogging. Keep creating content. Charge what you’re worth. Leverage your connections. It’s hard work but you’ve come a long way already so I’m confident you can get over the hump and turn this into a successful platform 👊.
Hi Dave, thank you! seriously Thank you!
I’m having such a hard time implementing Learndash for a Nonprofit k12 school in Peru. The classes will start soon and I’m very nervous if this is going to work.
The school has around 300 students and 150 courses (not uploading media directly but sharing links)
Do you think that the Go geek plan of siteground will be able to handle this?
What will you consider a “smaller learndash site?
Thanks again because these children need all the help they can get.
Hi again, Dave. I wanted to come back and reply to your long and detailed comment on my original post. I have already started implementing the changes you suggest and the biggest one was combining everything into one membership. WOW, what a game-changer. I am working on the rest of your suggestions. I also will be checking out your consultation services. I need to hire some help.
Btw, I couldn’t find a ‘reply’ link to your specific reply to my original post so I just created a new reply message.
I only allow replies one-level deep so you could have clicked on the reply link on your initial comment and it would’ve been added to our thread. No worries though 🙂.
Glad some of my advice was helpful. And I’m here if you want to chat:
Hi Dave, thank you for the very informative post. I’m actually using HostGator and trying to switch because I recently purchased LearnDash.
I’m not a first-hand user of the hosts you listed, but I see a lot of people recommending Cloudways Vultr High Frequency for their cost and performance. I also see some people recommending NameHero.
Do you have any advice on these 2 options in general and especially in terms of how well each performs with the same number of concurrent users and of scalability (cost increase as the number of users increases)? NameHero’s plans come with email accounts, and if I choose NameHero, I think I’ll use their email account (maybe not a good idea?) Also, I’m thinking of using Bunny CDN and 2checkout for a payment gateway.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated..!
You’re definitely making a smart decision to move away from HostGator 👍.
I have never heard of NameHero until now. I just looked them up. Based on what I’ve seen in the hosting space over the past 11 years of doing web design, and what I’ve seen in the LearnDash community, I would highly recommend Cloudways over NameHero. And many people are saying great things about the Vultr High Frequency plan, so I would recommend that as well.
In terms of scalability, both Cloudways & NameHero are both pretty easy to scale (I think). Cloudways I can say is for sure. It takes about 3 clicks from your admin panel to upgrade to a higher plan when you need more resources. No downtime.
In terms of concurrent users, I think the Vultr HF will perform better. That’s exactly what it was designed for. But both NameHero & Cloudways will depend on the specific type of plan you have. The more concurrent users, the more server resources you’ll need, which means the higher the plan (and the more it will cost).
Cloudways might be slightly more technical to set up, but it’s nothing crazy. You don’t need to be a developer or anything like that. There’s just more options and settings, so it can take a bit more reading documentation and chatting with support, but if you were able to set up a website on HostGator, you should be fine.
I would not recommend using any email that is offered by a hosting provider. These are notoriously bad, receive a ton of spam, don’t have good deliverability, etc. The type of server that is good at hosting websites is not the same server that is good at sending emails. Also, good email requires a great user interface to manage the emails. Hosting companies are also usually pretty bad at UI/UX. It’s hard to do that many things really well.
I highly recommend using either Google Workspace or Microsoft Office 365 for email. They’re not free, but are well worth the money, in my opinion.
You should check out Convesio too – their scaling capability works very well and automatically. I moved off Cloudways cuz it couldn’t handle concurrency unless I upgraded to a super pricey plan.
Thanks Rafa. I’ll look into them.
I wanted to go back to what William was saying in 2021 about poor customer service at WPEngine. My experience has been the opposite of his–I’ve gotten excellent service from them. I like using their easy dev/stage/production environments and automated backups.
Thanks for your feedback, Jeff. As with many products/services, experiences vary and all are important to take into consideration.
I would say their 3 tiers of environments is somewhat unique in the WordPress hosting space. I could see how some more advanced users and developers would find that valuable. However, I doubt it provides much value to the everyday business owner. They can get away with a more simple, two-tiered environment.
And while WP Engine’s backups are good, most other hosts offer this same service, so I don’t see it as much of a differentiator.