We often get asked our recommendations for web hosts that support Paid Memberships Pro. More often than that we see issues that crop up with running Paid Memberships Pro on certain hosts and setups. We may expand this article in the future to make more specific recommendations, but in the meantime, here are the rules to follow.


General Rules for Hosting a WordPress Site Running PMPro

  1. With few exceptions, avoid “shared hosting”.
  2. Expect to pay $29-$99 per month at the low end.
  3. Avoid “Windows” hosting/servers. Choose “Linux” options. (We don’t test on Windows servers as much.)
  4. Make sure you have a plan which provides a dedicated IP and SSL certificate.
  5. If you are on a shared host now, you may be able to upgrade to a VPS level plan easily/cheaply.
  6. If your host aggressively caches, make sure you can turn it off or ignore certain URLs on your site.
  7. Make sure your get adequate performance on your site even with caching turned off.

Why do I need to upgrade my hosting?

Running a membership site requires more processing power and memory than running a traditional website. PMPro has to check if the current user has access to each page before it loads. This takes some time. Making calls to the gateway APIs takes some time. Checking if a discount code is valid takes some time. Generating a sales report takes some time.

Additionally, many of the lower level shared hosting plans (and even the better shared hosting plans) rely on aggressive caching to get you the performance you need at the price you are paying. For various reason (some covered here) you can’t cache a membership site like you can a normal site. We’re working with hosting providers and really smart people to get PMPro to perform well, selectively cache, and run at scale as economically as possible. As far as I know, we’re doing more than any other membership plugin out there; I hope to have some big improvements in this department in the future. But in the meantime, and really even if we can “solve” some of the caching problems, you will need a slightly beefier hosting plan to run Paid Memberships Pro.


Which Plans Should I Avoid?

  • We’ve seen issues with HostGator’s shared hosting plans recently, specifically when using PayPal Standard. Upgrading to HostGator’s lower tiered VPS plans has fixed the problems and was a painless upgrade for our customers. (Some people in the comments have had issues with Host Gator’s VPS, including having to manage a server themselves.)
  • While it is possible to activate the Paid Memberships Pro plugin on a Business Plan at WordPress.com, we do not recommend running PMPro or any of our Add Ons on a WordPress.com account. This post explains more about the issues with hosting on WordPress.com.

Which Plans Are Recommended

  • We currently recommend SiteGround hosting. Even their shared hosting plans (we like the GoGeek plan) offer strong performance with caching disabled. We are close with the people running things there and are very impressed with their comittment to work with us to get Paid Memberships Pro running well on their service. More information on SiteGround here.
  • We recommend WP-Engine’s Professional Plan ($99/mo) or higher. Be sure to disable caching on your site, but after that you will get great performance and solid hosting.

Again, as we get information about hosts that work particularly well or not well, we will upgrade the lists above.


This entry was posted by Jason Coleman in About PMPro, FAQ and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Last updated: September 16, 2013. Titled Our Recommendations for Web Hosting to Support PMPro

Comments (60)

Author’s gravatar

WPEngine’s $29/month is not enough because it doesn’t have SSL right? And possibly the ability to disable caching is also in the $99/month version? I see the HostGator VPS is $20/mo for level one and $50/month for the fully managed level three.

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Correct. You can’t disable caching with the WP-Engine $29/mo plan. And I don’t think they offer SSL there either. I think level 2 VPS is the sweetspot for HostGator’s VPS.

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A Level 3 VPS at HostGator requires that you handle almost 100% of the server maintenance. My server went down regularly and I had constant problems until I switched BACK to a shared server, where everything has been fine. The worst part was that I had to migrate 23 websites myself with zero assistance from HostGator.

Author’s gravatar

I thought that Hostgator’s VPS was an upgrade that would improve my site’s security and performance, but it was most definitely NOT. It’s not any improvement at all over shared hosting *unless* it is carefully managed by a person who knows a whole lot about maintaining a web server. If it *isn’t* managed daily by such a person, it’s much less secure and will have poorer performance — because nobody is managing it! Whereas the servers for shared hosting accounts *are* managed, by the company.

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Patty, thanks for the input. I’m hoping that we can aggregate all feedback here and come up with a nice list of hosts and common concerns, etc.

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Jason, you might want to change the recommendations in these blog posts, that switching from shared hosting to a VPS is a good alternative solution. It sounds convenient and simple, but is really a very bad idea unless the owner is an experienced server administrator.

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Web Synthesis by the Copyblogger team is top notch. You pay for quality.

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Are you using PMPro on a site there? We helped a client get setup there and I don’t remember running into any issues.

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I’m not using PMPro there. I just know the Synthesis quality and customer service is second to none.

I used to run a pretty large site there, until I sold it, and absolutely loved the service, speed and ease. I’m actually buying another package with them in about an hour.

Author’s gravatar

Hi, I’m just a little confused. I am on a HostGator shared account using PMPro. Can you please explain the issues that people are having with the two. I’m a little concerned that I may be experiencing issues that I haven’t noticed. Or what to look for?

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Author’s gravatar

We’ve noticed slow load times on non-cached pages and issues with the PayPal IPN getting through. You should be testing everything anyway, but in particular make sure that your pages load fast when logged in, check applying a discount code if you use them, and check that your PayPal IPN handler (or Authorize.net silent post URL or Stripe/Braintree webhook) is functioning. It’s kind of hard to test those. The easiest way is to create a recurring subscription and make sure that an order/invoice is created in PMPro when the recurring payment goes through.

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Author’s gravatar

Okay, I have noticed that it is slower for logged in users, but I just thought it WordPress for Logged In users, not PMPPro itself. I use PayPal Express. The discount code works fine. I will have to test the IPN handler. Thank you!

Author’s gravatar

In most setups, caching is disabled for logged in users. So that is why it would be slower when logged in. The reason this is important with PMPro is that a WP site with PMPro is more focused on logged in users in addition to having to run some code to support the membership functionality.

Author’s gravatar

Hey Jason, I’m currently on WPEngine’s $29/plan and running PMPro. Although my memberships are free right now, i’m thinking of having a paid tier and also purchasing the plugin for $97. Before I pull the trigger, can you share more information about what to watch out for and what I must do once I move to the $99/plan at WPE?
Thanks, Chris

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The only note for WP-Engine is that you need to disable caching on the site through their admin, which is only available on the $99+ plans there.

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Wanted to follow up after I talked to WPE Support. You can stay on the $29/month plan and run membership plugins.. what they do is they’ll actually set it up so that logged in users bypass cache (or have certain pages bypass cache)

Author’s gravatar

I’m interested to hear if this means that that’s a good hosting plan for PMP. ?

Thanks in advance,
Patty

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Me too, because if so, I will make the switch immediately to WP Engine.

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We are running a PMPro setup with 12k+ members and we recently moved to Pagely’s $64/mo setup. We have some custom plugins in addition to PMPro and a few custom PMPro plugins. Our site CRAWLED for a month before we realized that pagely had by-default installed an SEO plugin that was doing major damage to the speed. I’m guessing that it was the combo of PMPro and Pagely that led to the crawl, but after disabling that plugin we are flying again and I have (mostly) good things to say about hosting with pagely

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You really don’t need to be experienced in server management to get VPS hosting. There are two companies that do an excellent job of fully supported server management for around $50 a month. WiredTree and KnownHost. I have used the former for several years and they are top notch. My requests for server support are answered in minutes. Technical questions with full explanations not one line replies. Also, I believe there is a bit of a myth about security and performance for dedicated WordPress hosts.

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Author’s gravatar

> You really don’t need to be experienced in server management to get VPS hosting.

Depending on the host. With HostGator’s $49/month VPS account, you’re expected to know and do a lot more than I was accustomed to with shared hosting. My sites had lots of problems due to things I didn’t know about managing a server.

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I just had a long conversation with WP-Engine.com customer support, I have the Professional $99 plan, and they said they do NOT support turning off caching for the site. I am having horrible trouble there. Perhaps they have changed their policies.

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What about GoDaddy? Any issues there?

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We like GoDaddy for their domain names, but have had trouble with their hosting in the past. It can be slow and often has non-standard setups that can get in the way.

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I’m afraid I’m stuck with a GoDaddy VPS for this installation. I’m having a problem. It seems the site runs extremely slow when updating a member’s info, both on the front and back-end. Is this something that can be resolved easily?

Author’s gravatar

I don’t know. If you have specific suggestions in the code for improving performance, we can look into it, but there isn’t much I can do without info on where potential issues might be.

Author’s gravatar

Thanks for the Reply Jason. Actually, the speed isn’t as bad as I thought. At least not with the plugin itself. The queries run relatively fast. The problem ended up being with the Constant Contact extension. It increases member sign-up and profile updates by hundreds of seconds in some cases.

That said, I’m not sure what can be done about this as it’s not related to onsite queries. When monitoring query speeds there are a couple communication delays where no queries are even running locally for dozens of seconds when the CC extension is activated.

I might look into that a bit more and see if I can help at all, but for now my project is moving forward without the CC integration.

BTW, here’s a WP Post where I outlined all of this: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/extremely-slow-when-registering-or-updating

Thanks for the Plugin Jason! I love its extensibility!

Author’s gravatar

Thanks for the follow up here. That CC API might just be running slow or there might be something we can do to speed things up.

Author’s gravatar

I planned to use LiquidWeb VPS because their service is A+. Has anyone experienced anything that I should be aware of? WiredTree VPS is my alternative choice, but having never used their service, I’m uncertain how much control we get over caching, etc.

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Author’s gravatar

You get serious about PCI and hosting use Firehost
most of the managed WordPress hosting companies will work with you so that you can obviously use PCI. Get fly wheel is a new one and gives you a VPS starts at $15 a month $10 more a month for an SSL CERT fully managed.
Pressable Offers SSL at $10 a month to their base plan of $25 they have phenomenal security and speed.
PressLabs Is not inexpensive, but you get everything you ever wanted and more they’ll take care of you.
Pagely is very security oriented they can help you with these things.

WP engine can do this that’s not an issue
web synthesis will make exceptions for certain cases on their base, but you must choose the midrange if you want a sure thing.

I run most of my stuff on FireHost and have accounts with every company I just mentioned.

If you’re looking for SSL and managed WordPress at a low price my advice is GetFlyWheel & Pressable each will allow you to add an SSL CERT and take care of you with not having to purchase a mid-range price tier package.

if your life and business depend on you making money on the Internet FireHost is the company you should be dealing with.

Hope this helps,
Tom

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Author’s gravatar

Tom – thank you for this thorough explanation. We’ve used Firehost as well and while it is pricey – it is your best option for PCI compliance, particularly for merchant accounts that place strong requirements on your online business.

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Re WP Engine hosting – am I right in thinking that there’s only a problem if you have pages with mixed open and members only content? So if all my pages and posts are all either public or members only, that should be ok?

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Even if all content were member content, I think you would have an issue. There would still need to be a public facing version of the page with “you must register” or a PHP redirect away from the member content for non-members. Those things would get mixed up in the WP Engine cache.

If you used a JavaScript redirect of some kind (can post one via our member forums if you need it) or serve all pages over HTTPS with a rule to not cache HTTPS pages in WP Engine (a work around we’ve used for others) then it would work. The problem then would be that all of WP Engine’s quotes on visits per level/etc are assuming that they are serving static cached content instead of dynamically generated pages and your performance won’t be what they expect.

I think there are solutions to service member content from a cache, but we’re not actively developing these with anyone. I’d be interested in doing that if WP Engine or a paying customer worked with us on it. Most of our customers just choose different hosting and/or upgrade to higher plans to get around performance issues.

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Author’s gravatar

Hello, I use WooCommerce for paying gateway so I don’t need the paid system of PMPro… Can I desactivate payment throught PMPro ? It asks for an SSL certificate.. maybe it makes slowlier website ? Thanks for your answer

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Author’s gravatar

If you are never using the Paid Memberships Pro checkout process you do not need to enter any payment settings on the “Memberships” > “Payment Settings” page, including SSL. If you need SSL for your WooCommerce checkout that should be enabled through their admin settings.

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Yes of course, but my question was if this none configuration could make slower the plugin, which is really slow down the back office… Around 10 seconds to load at each page !!!! 🙁

Author’s gravatar

Hi there, is this list still up to date? I was also looking at Pagely and their $69 a month plan but Siteground seems much cheaper. What would you recommend for say 20,000 members in the first year? Also, is there any info on best practice backups for membership sites?
Thanks!

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Author’s gravatar

For 20k members, you should get at least the entry level cloud hosting on SiteGround ($54/mo right now). Better would be the business plus or higher.

I don’t have personal experience with Page.ly, but I hear good things about them and have met the owners… nice people. I just reached out to them to see if they have recs RE their plans.

For some comparison, our site here has about 35k members (90% free download members) and about 100k visitors a month. We host on a 1and1 dedicated server with 4 processors and 16BG of ram. The site runs well. Depending on what kind of content (images, video, forums) you have on your site and usage patterns, you would need different amounts of “horsepower”.

Hope this helps.

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Author’s gravatar

Thanks very much Jason. In the meantime a friend of mine who runs a well known online booking platform recommended Web Synthesis (which is Copyblogger). Maybe you could also reach out to them as an option – they aren’t shared hosting but VPS only and seem reasonable. Thank you also for sharing your stats, that is very helpful!

Cheers

Author’s gravatar

We’ve had good experience with Web Synthesis although control panel access is limited on some accounts.

FYI, here is what I heard back from Page.ly: https://twitter.com/Pagely/status/590949283999813632

I asked if they had customers using PMPro.

“can’t think of any off the top of my head. Sessions + traffic = high cpu burn. So you want a higher spec’d plan”

Author’s gravatar

Talking about performance got me to install R3 Plugin Profiler on a new site and PMPro is by far the heaviest consumer of resources of all the plugins (an I have 35 active). Does PMPro have any performance benchmarks that they would like to share with their community? I would hate to start looking for alternative hosting SP’s if my performance is in fact within, or close to, benchmark…

The bottom-line statistic from the numbers below is that it takes an average of 4.3 seconds for the pages on my site to load, which is not good at all (by my standards). If I know what the PMPro benchmark is in this regard, I will know if I should look for another membership plugin or host, or both…

Here are the numbers for my site;

Runtime by Plugin

Wp Simple Firewall – 8% (0.1378 seconds)
All In One Seo Pack – 4% (0.0713 seconds)
Bloom – 5% (0.0815 seconds)
Paid Memberships Pro – 56% (0.9246 seconds)
Social Networks Auto Poster 7% (0.1193 seconds)
Theme My Login 3% (0.0516 seconds)
Other 15% (0.2535 seconds)

Advanced Metrics

Total Load Time: 4.3727seconds avg.
Site Load Time: 2.8243seconds avg.
Profile Overhead: 1.5484seconds avg.
Plugin Load Time: 1.6399seconds avg.
Theme Load Time: 0.5861seconds avg.
Core Load Time: 0.5661seconds avg.
Margin of Error: 0.0322seconds avg. (4.3727 observed, 4.3405 expected)
Visits: 13
Number of PHP ticks: 25,424 calls avg.
Memory Usage: 83.62 MB avg.
MySQL Queries: 159 queries avg.

Thank you for any comment regarding my experience – I would love to see other stats shared, and a benchmark could begin to be seen after about 10 postings or so.

Gerhard

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Author’s gravatar

I’ll try to do some profiling and get some numbers to share. Thanks for sharing yours. A couple of notes that I may have already said in the comments, but anyway…

1. It makes sense for PMPro to be the most resource intensive plugin you have installed. It’s generally doing more than other plugins installed.

2. We generally try to make PMPro “as resource intensive as WooCommerce is”. So we use WC and other ecommerce plugins as an informal benchmark against.

3. The P3 plugin profiler seems to account a lot of resources to PMPro that doesn’t necessarily translate into longer load times on your site’s font end. When we profile, we focus on the checkout page/etc. Admin performance is important too, but secondary. I spent some time a while back and couldn’t figure out why the PMPro P3 numbers were so high. It seemed like a few admin pages had like 15s load times accounted to PMPro and these skewed the average numbers for PMPro. I meant to look into it more at some point… maybe there is something we need to fix up, or we can at least fix the profiler to get better results. We recommend focusing on profilers that give you load #s for the front end.

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Author’s gravatar

how is godaddy as a host ?

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I’ve had bad experiences in the past, but I’ve heard they have improved over the past couple years. Definitely get something above “shared” hosting if you are doing ecommerce.

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Author’s gravatar

Hi,
I am using your plugin in my website, but my site is being opened so slow. When i called hosting they told me that main reason is paid membership pro. So what can i do and how can i fix this problem ?

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Author’s gravatar

Make sure you have > sharead hosting. Check out our caching doc on the site here. Hire a WordPress developer that specializes in performance.

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Author’s gravatar

Hello, I’ve got the PMPro installed on a shared plan with Bluehost. So I’m hearing that I should upgrade, as I’m having some loading speed issues (only certain pages load slow though, while some others load very fast, and I of course can’t figure out why). A few questions for you, sir (I’m obviously a neophyte so forgive my ignorance—I have researched this on my own—which is how I ended up here):

1) Is Bluehost a capable company for hosting PMPro?

2) When you say the cache should be turned off, are you referring only to the server the site’s hosted on, or are there cache settings on the WP template itself too?

3) Related to my second question, I have the following plugins installed on my theme that also has PMPro. Are any of these harmful to the performance of PMPro?

A) Autoptimize (Optimizes your website, concatenating the CSS and JavaScript code, and compressing it).

B) All In One SEO Pack (Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. Features like XML Sitemaps, SEO for custom post types, SEO for blogs or business sites, SEO for ecommerce sites, and much more. Almost 30 million downloads since 2007).

C) Comet Cache (Comet Cache is an advanced WordPress caching plugin inspired by simplicity).

P.s. I’ll take advice from anyone… Thank you!

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Author’s gravatar

1. Bluehost’s non-shared/VPS/dedicated plans should be fine, although I don’t have recent experience with them personally.

2. The “page cache” should be disabled. Typically this is in the settings of the caching plugin you are using in the WP dashboard. If your server also has a Varnish cache/etc, you’ll need rules there as well.

3a. Yes. The JS optimization will interfere with our JS code on the checkout page. You should turn that off. We’ve known of this for a while and hope to release an update to soon to make PMPro compatible with JS optimization, as that would speed things up a little bit.

3b. No issues that I’m aware of with AIO SEO

3c. I’m not familiar with Comet Cache specifically, but you should be able to apply the rules from our caching doc: https://www.paidmembershipspro.com/documentation/using-caching-plugins-paid-memberships-pro/

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Author’s gravatar

I recently moved our site to a vps based on the recommendations of this article and slow loading times. Since then it’s been much faster. We use a few other plug ins and a total of 5 images across the site. we also have low membership right now since we just officially launched this week, and only started allowing indexing of the site today – I know that traffic is not an issue. But here’s a situation I’m wondering about – and if you might have some advice on.

We recently got database errors, so I went in and changed the php memory_limit (which was low – at 32m) to 128m. Then a day or two later, started getting mySQL errors. I contacted our host and they responded with we needed to upgrade from 1 GB RAM to 2 GB RAM on our vps. Our membership is only at 23 even though we expect it to grow. We are straight pmpro without woocommerce or a forum plugin like bbpress. We are on a dedicated IP with SSL on a Linux server. I’m wondering if upgrading to 2GB RAM is the best solution, and if really that’s what we need right now. It seemed like in their presentation of their offerings that the 1GB should’ve been a great solution.

I’m asking here because I respect all that you’ve done here and how you go beyond just your plugin to help your users find the best solutions. So is moving to a 2GB RAM option the best solution right now? Or is there something else I’m missing?

Thanks!

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Author’s gravatar

Hi, Mary. Sorry for the issues you’ve been running into. It’s hard for me to give specific hardware/hosting recommendations without seeing the exact site and hosting setup but upgrading to 2GB could be a good solution if the DB Is running out of memory and your host suggested it. I can think of cases where 2GB would be much better than 1GB.

Some other options might be to see if you can free up other memory by e.g. disabling mail and email spam filtering on the server or something like that. You might not be using the server mail or be able to move that to a dedicated mail server.

Something to look into before or after updating the RAM would be the MySQL max_connections variable:

https://www.electrictoolbox.com/update-max-connections-mysql/

If you are bumping into that, then it helps to increase it (the server might need more memory) since a page load that requires 2×100 mysql connections would load about twice as slowly as one that requires 1×200 connections. However, if the site is loading fast enough, lowering the max_connections might lower the memory requirements at the cost of a bit of speed that is okay. It’s a balancing act.

Actually here is a script I’ve used on server to tune MySQL: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/major/MySQLTuner-perl/master/mysqltuner.pl

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Author’s gravatar

Hi – I have heard good things about Lightningbase as a host and thinking about switching to them. Have you any experiences with them? What type of plan/memory capacity should I aim for a site that will hopefully get gro to over circa 200k users? Thanks for your help.

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Author’s gravatar

I don’t have any personal experience with Lightning Base, but I took a look at their pricing page just now. Their Large plan is $99/mo and is expected to handle 250k pageviews per month. The pricing page mentions that highly cached pages can serve more than 250k and totally uncached pages would serve less. A typical membership site is setup to cache pages for non-members and serve uncached pages to members. You can get clever with things (with a good/pricey developer) to also cache content for members, but in our experience we usually end up paying for faster hosting before resorting to that.

200k members is a lot. If those members are renewing their membership evenly distributed throughout the year and not accessing the site a lot, then you might be able to get away with the $99/mo Lightning Base plan. If a large % of those members are logging into the site every month, then you need to expect to pay more for hosting.

For one point of reference, the Paid Memberships Pro site has about 70k free members and 3.5k paying members. About 10k members will log into the site in any given month. Google Analytics says we have about 25k “users” and 200k “pageviews” per month. Perhaps half of our traffic is cached for logged out users.

We pay $160/mo for an unmanaged server from Digital Ocean with 32GB of RAM, 8 vCPUs, and a 640 GB SSD HD.

With 200k member, the Lightning Base Large hosting might be able to support your site. It will probably be suboptimal. I would make sure they could upgrade you to a higher priced custom plan before signing up or find a host that has higher tiers.

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