I have set up many membership sites using the BuddyBoss theme. After all, I think it could be the perfect membership site theme. Of course, that’s an opinion. 😉
The full Buddyboss package has the full community platform as well as the theme. Much of the time, these site are running an LMS such as Learndash. Some of the sites I’ve set up even run their CRM in-house using FluentCRM and using WP Fusion to control member permissions. And processing orders through something like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads.
Obviously, this kind of setup needs good, solid web hosting. The question is…
What KIND of web hosting?
Let me try to answer you in plain English.
Table of Contents
- BuddyBoss Versus Other Themes
- Running BuddyBoss On Typical Shared Web Hosting?
- Why A Virtual Private Server (Or VPS) Is Recommended For BuddyBoss
- The Recommended Cloudways Server And Tweaks For BuddyBoss
- What About Using Cloud Hosting?
- Not Just For BuddyBoss
BuddyBoss Versus Other Themes
A BuddyBoss site with the community features turned on places a higher demand on the web server than a typical blog theme or course-centric membership site. The BuddyBoss server requirements are therefore a little higher.
See, every member who is logged in needs to see different things. And that includes pulling community activity from the database such as news feed updates, group updates, forum activity, private messages, etc. Essentially, the more functions of the BuddyBoss platform that you turn on, the higher the demand. And the more users using the platform at the same time, the higher the requirements.
A BuddyBoss site cannot using typical web caching. Since every member needs to see different content, it cannot be cached in the traditional way.
With that in mind…
Running BuddyBoss On Typical Shared Web Hosting?
I’ve seen some blogs out there saying that you can run BuddyBoss nicely on shared hosting accounts from the likes of Siteground, WPEngine, Bluehost, etc. To be blunt, much of the time their recommendations are not based on experience, but instead their affiliate commissions.
Will it work as Buddyboss hosting? Well…. yes, most likely. However, you may quickly run into issues.
The performance promises of some of those shared hosting companies depends very much on strong caching. And since a BuddyBoss site is more of a dynamic web application than a traditional blog, you just can’t run caching like that. So, you need to run those hosting accounts much more “raw” without some of the speed optimizations turned on. And resources will be much more limited.
To be clear, I would never in a million years recommend you try to host your BuddyBoss site on something like Bluehost, Godaddy, or any of the usual cheap web hosts. Even if you are able to get the thing running on these hosts, it won’t take much traffic to bring the site to it’s knees.
Siteground is a popular shared web host and they are indeed a good company. Depending on the number of users you expect to use your site at the same time, it is quite possible your site will run fine on Siteground. I would recommend the GrowBig account or higher. Siteground’s hosting runs on Google Cloud and that goes give it an advantage over some other hosts.
Some other Wordpress hosts also run atop Google Cloud, such as WPEngine and Kinsta. For this reason, your BuddyBoss site could run pretty well on these platforms depending on the number of users you expect online at the same time. Kinsta uses the top-tier network of Google Cloud across all their offerings whereas Siteground does not, so for that reason I would be more comfortable recommending Kinsta for a Buddyboss community membership site.
However, none of these are the best option. Here’s what is…
Why A Virtual Private Server (Or VPS) Is Recommended For BuddyBoss
One of the potential problems with most shared web hosts is that they don’t provide very much flexibility and control over your setup. They set up their hosting offer a certain way and you just use it. You cannot necessarily change anything.
With a virtual private server, you have more flexibility because the resources dedicated to your site are dedicated to your site only. Not only that, if you need to tweak certain things and do things a little bit differently, you’re generally not going to be blocked from doing so.
I personally recommend using Cloudways VPS offers for your Buddyboss hosting. Cloudways offers a user-friendly control panel for managing a VPS server… which is a FAR better experience than most VPS hosting which is much geekier and do-it-yourself.
The Recommended Cloudways Server And Tweaks For BuddyBoss
When you go to sign up with Cloudways, it can be confusing because you don’t know which server provider to use and what specs to select. Here’s my recommendations, based on a lot of experience…
Recommended Server Choice
I would recommend using either Digital Ocean Premium or Vultr High-Frequency servers. Personally, I use and recommend Vultr HF.
Both DO Premium and Vultr HF servers are set up with faster disk access, faster memory and faster CPUs that are a better fit for the amount of database queries and processing that can happen on a Buddyboss membership site.
At a bare minimum, I would recommend the second tier plans for these servers (currently running $26/mo as of this writing with either provider). This will give you 2GB of available server memory as well as access to the Object Cache PRO setup.
With that minimum setup, your BuddyBoss site will function well most of the time for a reasonable amount of users. However, depending on how many other plugins you are running, you may find it necessary to upgrade to the next server level.
The $50/mo level doubles the available memory as well as adds another processor core and that can make a real difference in your site’s performance. This is the server level I am currently using and it works great.
The great thing about Cloudways VPS is that if the need arises to throw even more power at your site, you can always upgrade the server quickly and effortlessly.
- DO Premium or VultrHF server.
- At least 2GB of server memory, but expect to upgrade soon.
Use Object Cache Pro
You will definitely want to use an object cache on your Buddyboss site. This is quite different than a page cache that saves copies of your pages. You will not be able to use page caching for any logged-in users due to the nature of a dynamic Buddyboss site.
Object caching will cache the data from database queries. Then, when that data is requested again, it can pull it from the cache very quickly rather than have to re-perform the task of querying it from the database again. Since BuddyBoss sites make a lot of database queries, the object cache can increase performance substantially.
Any Cloudways server greater than the base level comes with Object Cache Pro automatically. This is an enterprise-level object cache that would cost you $95/month (and a lot of nerdy setup) if you were to use it by yourself. You get it free with Cloudways servers over 2GB of RAM. And it is there automatically…. no work required. It just works. All you need to do is make sure it is turned on on your server.
Use Cloudflare Enterprise
As a Cloudways customer, you’re also able to tap into Cloudflare Enterprise for a CDN on steroids. This is an enterprise-level offering that would usually be financially out of reach for most site owners, but is available as an add-on for Cloudways sites.
When you enable this add-on for your BuddyBoss site, you are essentially putting the full power of Cloudflare in front of your Cloudways server. You do this by routing your domain’s DNS through Cloudflare, but then your server sits there as the data source. Cloudflare then provides a full worldwide content delivery network (or CDN) that will deliver your site’s assets as fast as possible to your visitors closest to where they are geographically located. This will also have the effect of reducing load on your server, allowing it to run faster overall.
Cloudflare Enterprise also provides security such as DDos mitigation and firewall. Also cool is the “on the fly” web image optimization and compression that will speed up loading time for all screen types.
All of these features will work great with fully dynamic BuddyBoss membership site. And it is very much worth the additional $4.99/mo it takes to enable this add-on.
Cloudflare Enterprise would normally be so expensive they don’t even tell you upfront how much it will cost. I’ve heard it can cost a few grand per month, depending on traffic. Clearly, adding this power to your own site via Cloudways is much, MUCH cheaper.
Other Server Tweaks And Settings
A few other things you can tweak or verify on your Cloudways server to help BuddyBoss hosting:
- Be sure you’re using PHP version 8 and not a lesser version. PHP8 is much faster.
- Use MariaDB 10.4 for your database. It is faster.
- Use a higher memory limit than default. This is the amount of memory allowed for each PHP call. I believe default is 128MB. I recommend at least 256MB. I personally use 512MB and I’ve heard some people set it as high as 1024. Obviously, the more memory allowed, the more server memory you may need on the server based on the amount of traffic you get.
- Again, as I said above, make sure you have Object Cache turned on. In the server settings, it is called Redis.
- Change your PHP-FPM memory limit. Default is 32MB, but you can set it much higher.
- Using Page Cache such as Breeze (included with Cloudways) or WP Rocket. It is important, however, to be sure the cache is only for non-members. The moment a user is logged into your site, what they see needs to be unique to them. You cannot cache logged-in users.
Using the Cloudways control panel, altering these settings is easy.
For server-specific settings, go to the Settings & Packages section.
In this area, you can change server options such as the PHP version, database version, and the memory limit. You can also ensure Redis cache is turned on. When it is and you go to install Wordpress on your server, you will see the Object Cache Pro plugin enabled automatically as a drop-in and a dashboard widget on your admin dashboard.
Some other tweaks will be found on the application settings specific to your site.
Could you use my personal help in tweaking your site’s performance or migrating you to better hosting? With just one service credit on your account, you can send me a tech service request and I’ll get in there and just do it for you. Click to learn more about it.
What About Using Cloud Hosting?
The folks at BuddyBoss actually recommend cloud hosting such as that provides by Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud. The basis of those recommendations are for sites where you’re also using the Buddyboss App. They’re also giving you ideal requirements for sits which are likely much busier than your’s.
Their lowest hardware recommendation is for “up to 500 concurrent users or less”. And they proceed to recommend 16GB of memory and 8+ CPU cores. That kind of power costs a lot more money.
The thing is, there’s a BIG difference between a site getting 10-20 logged-in users simultaneously and 500 users. Even if your site has thousands of members, it doesn’t mean they are all logged in and active at the same exact time. And it is the concurrent user count which matters most. So, why BuddyBoss is equating the average BuddyBoss installation with a site doing 500 concurrent users makes little sense.
There is no way you need that kind of power for the typical BuddyBoss membership site. For MOST BuddyBoss sites, the recommended VPS options above will be completely fine.
Now, you CAN work with AWS or Google Cloud through Cloudways. And doing it via Cloudways will indeed make working with that hosting FAR simpler than normal.
It will cost you more to use cloud hosting. And it probably isn’t necessary. The main advantage is that you can more easily scale up the server without any friction if you want. And the cloud infrastructure often can adapt to traffic spikes on the fly faster than a VPS.
However, as I said, most membership site owners should save their money and go with a solid VPS via Cloudways.
Not Just For BuddyBoss
To be clear, the server considerations discussed here are not just unique to BuddyBoss. They’re really geared toward a highly dynamic membership site.
The nature of a membership site is that it must be dynamic. You cannot simply cache the whole thing. Every user needs to see different stuff depending on who they are, what they bought, what their member level is, etc.
So, any membership site will benefit from these server setups.
The addition of community functionality such as what comes with BuddyBoss makes it even more important.
Any of this just over your head? No problem. I do this kind of stuff every day. With just one service credit on your account, you can send me a tech service request and I’ll get in there and just do it for you. Click to learn more about it.