Finding high quality BuddyPress web hosting can be quite a challenge. I’ve seen many amazing BuddyPress communities fail simply because of unreliable and slow hosting. Personally I find it unbelievable that people are dedicating so much time and effort in building their communities on BuddyPress and WordPress, and then “forget” to invest in a decent hosting setup.
Your BuddyPress community needs to be fast and accessible at all times, if you ever want it to be successful! BuddyPress is social networking done on WordPress, and social networking is an entirely different beast than a blog. Keep this in mind when picking your host.
On this page I will tell you what I’ve learned about BuddyPress hosting while developing large-scale BuddyPress/WordPress/Multisite projects. I’m sure that when you’re done reading this page, you’ll know enough to find the perfect webhost for your BuddyPress project!
BuddyPress Hosting: Which options do I have?
So what are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding the best hosting for your BuddyPress project? Different projects have different needs, different budgets and thus there is no hosting provider that is perfect for every project. Later in this article I’ll give you my personal suggestion based on budget and project requirements, but first let’s look at your available options.
Option 1: Hosting your BuddyPress site on a shared Server
Technically you can host your BuddyPress site even on a shared server. A typical shared server setup gives you a small amount of server resources which you share with other customers of the hosting company. For small WordPress sites -with a proper caching plugin installed- this works. Find some cheap host, pay $5 a month, and get going. For BuddyPress this will not work.
In my 3 years of full-time BuddyPress development and theme design, I have never seen a shared host that hosted a BuddyPress community properly.
Why? Because BuddyPress is simply more resource heavy and requires a better server setup. This is not because BuddyPress has been poorly written, it’s just way more advanced then a regular WordPress site. People post status updates, change their profile picture and create new forum topics. Heavily caching this content is not an option, and your shared server will slow down to a crawl. Guaranteed.
Shared Hosting pros and cons
- Really really really cheap
- Extremely poor performance
- No server optimisation options
- Relatively unsafe
Option 2: VPS (Virtual Private Server)
A VPS is a step above a shared server and if you know what you’re doing you can turn your Virtual Private Server into something that can host small to medium-sized BuddyPress communities. I’ve run a lot of smaller WordPress and BuddyPress client sites on a VPS with some decent results, but it took me many weeks to learn the ins and outs of configuring my VPS.
You need to be ready to learn about Apache configs, PHP.ini settings and basic server management. Also a cheap VPS with a limited amount of memory will not give you any good results. I recommend a minimum RAM memory of 1GB to get started.
VPS pros and cons
- Full control of your server
- Quite scalable
- Needs a lot setup and configuration
- Same performance issues as on a shared server if not properly set up
- Relatively unsafe “out of the box”
- Once your community grows a cheap VPS can quickly become expensive due to upgrades
Option 3: A Dedicated Server
If you want to go into full geek mode, you can get your own dedicated server purely meant for hosting your BuddyPress site. If you choose a dedicated server you need to set up everything yourself. This means taking care of security, installing the operating system (Linux/Windows/CentOS) and diving into advanced server configurations like caching, apache configs and setting up back-ups. If you can do all of this, or have enough budget to let someone do this for you, a dedicated server can get the job done.
Personally I’ve never been a fan of using dedicated servers because of the high costs involved and the high maintenance it requires. I’d rather spent my time building my community than doing server management.
Dedicated server pros and cons
- Good performance when set up right
- Full control over your server
- Quite scalable
- Needs a lot setup and configuration
- Relatively unsafe “out of the box”
- Not that scalable
Option 4: Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress Hosting has been all the rage for the last two years in the WordPress developers community, and for good reason. These hosting companies do one thing, and one thing only; Optimised hosting for WordPress sites.
What this means is that they optimise their entire hosting infrastructure for WordPress sites and take care of security, updates, backups, scalability and caching. It’s every bit as awesome as it sounds, but will it work just as well for BuddyPress communities? In most cases it does, but some hosts are more suited to BuddyPress then others. In the end it’s all about the amount of control that the hosts gives you in terms of caching.
Managed WordPress Hosting pros and cons
- Great performance due to WordPress focused server infrastructure
- Really secure
- Support team that knows about WordPress
- Relatively cheap
- Extra features like backups, staging and managed upgrades
- Might be too expensive for small BuddyPress communities
- Hardcore WordPress developers might feel limited
My Recommendations for BuddyPress Hosting: WPEngine and
Why just these two hosts? Because they’re both offering a managed hosting service that does everything a proper BuddyPress host should do. They’ve taken the time to optimize their servers for BuddyPress, offer great customer support and I believe they both provide tremendous value for their money. Depending on your budget you should go with either one of these web hosts.
Able to spent $29 per month and up? Go with WPEngine!
If you’re able to spent $29 a month on hosting and don’t need Multisite WPEngine is your best choice! Before I moved my client sites and our PressCrew community to WPEngine, I had struggled with different server setups. I thought the money I would save with using a VPS server, would be worth doing my own server management, security, backups and caching. I was wrong.
Like I said in the beginning of this article, your BuddyPress community needs to be fast and available at all times to be successful. You are building a social network, and it’s crucial that your users have a pleasant browsing experience when visiting your site.
Besides site speed, there are a few very specific reasons why I recommend WPEngine above anything else:
- Works great with BuddyPress: We’ve been running BuddyPress/BBPress 2 and a bunch of BuddyPress Plugins on WPEngine without issues. You can easily control the caching method WPEngine uses to serve your pages, which means great performance (check out our PressCrew Community to see for yourself) and things like status updates and forum posts showing up instantly even with caching enabled.
- Security: WP Engine guarantees their security. No other managed host has this guarantee.
- Automatic Backups: The worst thing that could happen to your community is the loss of data. WPEngine automatically backs up your data every day, so you’re assured your community is safe.
- Staging Area: As a site administrator you’re constantly improving your community by adding new plugins or tweaking your theme. With WPEngine you can create a special “staging area” with one-click. This allows you to work on a copy of your live site, and experiment freely without having to mess around on your live site.
Depending on your requirements there are two WPEngine plans that fit the bill.
A BuddyPress Community on a single install (without Multisite): Choose the Personal Plan
For $29 a month you get everything you need to run your community on a single WordPress install. This is more than enough to run a small to medium sizes BuddyPress community with up to 25.000 visitors a month. It gets you all the WPEngine perks I mentioned above.
A BuddyPress Community with Multisite: Choose the Professional Plan
If you’re planning to run a large BuddyPress community on a WordPress Multisite installation, the professional plan is the way to go. It can handle huge amounts of traffic and all the sites in your Multisite network also benefit from the performance of WPEngine. For $99 a month you can handle up to 100.000 visitors a month and be sure that your network is safe, speedy and online at all times! Especially those who build their business through a Multisite Blogging “Farm” with a BuddyPress community hub, will love this plan. It’s what we use on our PressCrew site and for several high traffic client sites.
On a budget? Go with SiteGround
Until SiteGround started offering it’s BuddyPress optimized hosting plan I was very hesitant to recommended anything besides WPEngine for your BuddyPress site. But SiteGround has proven to me and my clients that they’re plans are perfect for those on a budget. They still offer a wide range of features that are very impressive for the monthly costs.
- Optimized MySQL for faster handling of requestsThey not only keep the latest MySQL version on their servers, but additionally tweak their MySQL server, so that it handles requests faster.
- CDN & Caching:Quickly serve your visitors images and assets and drastically speed up loading times.
- Wildcard Multisite Supported (MU):If you wish to have Multisite installed, their servers support the wildcard multisite setup.
- 24/7 Phone/Chat/Ticket support:They have a good support staff on board to help you with any issues you might encounter
Depending on your requirements there are a couple of different extras you can add to your monthly plan. Plans start at as low as $3,95 Per Month. Personally I would recommend the GoGeek Plan.
Need help picking a plan? Get in touch!
If you would like to get a quick advice about which plan you should choose for your project, feel free to contact me through the form below. Let me know the scope of your project and your intended usage, and I’ll gladly help you make the right choice.
Please keep in mind that I only recommend which WPEngine or SiteGround plan you should choose, because they are the only hosting solutions that I can guarantee the quality of.