LearnDash Cloud or LearnDash Plugin? Which is Right for You?

Wondering about LearnDash Cloud or LearnDash plugin, which one is better for you? LearnDash has a variety of options for creators who are looking to launch their online courses. Whether you’re starting out, or already have an existing site, there’s a number of things to consider.

LearnDash Cloud and LearnDash plugin both include the core LMS component. However, each of these options is created for specific types of users. If you’re unsure which one is better suited for your purpose, then keep reading this article. In this post, we’re going to explore the differences between them. We’ll also look at what features are included in both products.

Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll be able to decide which one is best suited for your online courses. So, let’s start!

What is LearnDash?

So you’re thinking of launching your online courses but you don’t know how? A little bit of Googling may lead you to the LearnDash site. LearnDash is one of the most popular WordPress LMS plugins. Using WordPress with LearnDash, you can quickly launch your online education website. LearnDash helps you create eLearning courses for your site without any coding.

After installing a theme and designing your website, all you have to do is create your courses. LearnDash gives you a course builder, using this builder you can create lessons, topics, quizzes, assignments, etc. You can upload videos and you can also create an entire course from your YouTube playlist!

Some of the core features of LearnDash are:

  • Drag and drop course builder
  • Course creation wizard
  • Learning path
  • Badges and certificates
  • Profile dashboard
  • Automated notification
  • Advances quizzes
  • AI quiz builder
  • Variable course purchase options (one-time payment, subscriptions, memberships, etc.)
  • Course bundle and much more

Suffice it to say, you get everything you need to create and publish your online courses. You can design certificates for your courses. By the end of the course, students will be awarded this certificate. (See our tutorial on how to create LearnDash certificates.)

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What is LearnDash Cloud?

LearnDash Cloud is another offering from LearnDash that gives a hosted LearnDash site for the users. In this plan, you don’t have to worry about hosting. You’ll be given a hosted WordPress site where LearnDash will already be installed. You’ll also have Kadence theme installed along with its starter sites. You can simply browse through all the templates and import one that you like. Then you can easily customize those to bring your LMS site to life.

After that, you can start creating your courses! It’s the fastest way to launch your online course website. You’ll also receive the premium plugins from LearnDash. You don’t have to worry about server maintenance as this is a hosted site. You can simply focus on your online courses.

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LearnDash Cloud vs LearnDash plugin

Now that you know what LearnDash is and what is LearnDash Cloud, it’s time to talk about the features and differences. While both options give you the core LearnDash plugin, there are still some things to consider. If you look at the LearnDash pricing page, you’ll notice that the LearnDash cloud is a bit more expensive than the core plugin. And there’s a good reason for that.

The usual LearnDash plan is less pricy and it gives you the core plugin. So why opt for the LearnDash Cloud? Just for hosting benefits? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. So let’s discuss in detail about LearnDash Cloud and LearnDash plugin plans.

What you get with LearnDash

You will get the core plugin with the regular LearnDash plugin plan. Which is the main engine of your eLearning site. This gives you access to all the features that LearnDash has to offer. From course creation to monetization, you’ll have everything at your disposal to manage your LearnDash site. 

Therefore, regarding features, you can relax as you’ll get everything you paid for. If you want to get some other LearnDash premium addons, you have to purchase them separately.

LearnDash offers an annual subscription model. There are 3 options that you can choose. The 1 site plan is available at $199/year, the 10 sites option is available at $399/year, and the Unlimited package is available at $799/year.

What you get with LearnDash Cloud

With LearnDash Cloud, you get the base plugin, hosting, theme, and some of the LearnDash premium add-ons + plugins. The only thing you have to worry about is launching your course. So you’ll get all the features that come with LearnDash plus more. What’s this more we’re talking about? Let’s explain.

ProPanel: ProPanel provides you with advanced analytics to track your students’ progress. It allows you to monitor course enrollments and assignments, track students’ progress, etc. 

propanel dashboard

Solid Security Pro: To protect your website from cyber threats, it’s a good idea to invest in a security plugin. A good thing about LearnDash Cloud is that it comes with Solid Security Pro. Formerly iThemes Security, Solid Security Pro is a powerful security plugin that helps protect your WordPress website. 

Object Cache Pro: LearnDash Cloud provides you with optimized performance. It uses Object Cache Pro to store data in a faster and more efficient manner. This makes your website fast and gives your learners the best experience.

If you want to purchase LearnDash Cloud, you can choose either annual or monthly plan. Then you can choose one of the 3 options. Let’s break it down. First, for the annual plan, the options are as follows:

  • Starter: $299/year ($25/month)
  • Growth: $499/year ($41/month)
  • Pro: $999/year ($83/month)

For the monthly subscription, the options are as follows:

  • Starter: $29/month
  • Growth: $49/month
  • Pro: $99/month

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So which one is best for you?

If you look at it, clearly LearnDash Cloud gives you a lot more than the usual LearnDash plan. You get the basic LearnDash plugin, hosting, and premium add-ons. As for the price plans, LearnDash Cloud offers monthly or annual options. While the LearnDash plugin only has annual plans.

So if you’re confused about which plan you should pick, let’s solve your confusion by answering 2 major questions.

Question 1: Do you have an existing WordPress site?

Answer: If you already have an existing WordPress site, hosting, then the LearnDash plugin is best for you. Since you already have hosting, you don’t need to purchase LearnDash Cloud, which is more expensive than the basic plan. And if you choose the monthly plan, over time it will get expensive.

So it’s more sensible to get the LearnDash plugin which you can use with your current WordPress setup. If you already have your plugins, themes installed, you can simply get LearnDash and get started!

So in this case, the LearnDash plugin is the right choice for you.

But, if your answer is no, that means you don’t have a WordPress site, and you’re not quite sure how to get started, then LearnDash Cloud can be the best option for you.

Because, LearnDash Cloud comes with hosting and some of the important premium plugins that you need. Here you don’t have to spend much time maintaining your LMS site. You’ll also have access to the Kadence theme and the several starter sites it comes with.

So if this is the case, then LearnDash Cloud is the right choice for you.

Question 2: Do you need the premium add-ons?

Answer: As we mentioned before, LearnDash Cloud comes with some of the premium add-ons. If you need advanced student reporting, ProPanel is there for you. For security and performance, you get Solid Security Pro and Object Cache Pro. If you require these plugins, then getting LearnDash Cloud is a good option.

With the normal LearnDash plugin, you have to purchase ProPanel separately. Also, you won’t get the security and performance plugins.

With the above two questions, its easier to decide which option is best for you. But there’s still one more possibility if you count the above two questions.

What if you have hosting and need premium plugins?

If you have hosting, but you still need the premium plugins and add-ons, then LearnDash has some solutions. LearnDash has introduced 2 bundles that you can consider getting.

Ultimate Course Creator: In this bundle, you get the following:

This bundle has 3 price options:

  • 1 site: $299/year
  • 10 sites: $599/year
  • Unlimited: $1399/year

Student Success: This is another bundle. In this bundle, you get the following:

  • LearnDash LMS
  • Notes
  • Gradebook

This bundle also has 3 price options:

  • 1 site: $249/year
  • 10 sites: $499/year
  • Unlimited: $1099/year
learndash bundles

So you can get either of the bundles as these include some of the premium add-ons or plugins.

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Conclusion

The difference between LearnDash and LearnDash Cloud isn’t just hosting. As you’ve seen in this article, there are various points to think about. LearnDash Cloud comes with its own set of premium plugins. While the LearnDash plugin includes the LMS plugin itself. On its own it’s sufficient to create and maintain your online courses. However various users have different requirements. Thinking about them, LearnDash included the LearnDash Cloud option as well.

In this post, we’ve tried to point out the differences of LearnDash Cloud vs LearnDash plugin. We also tried to help you decide which option is better for you by asking two simple questions. Hopefully, this will help you make up your mind.

Either way, deciding to build your eLearning site with LearnDash is an excellent idea. Various universities and well-known brands choose LearnDash as their LMS solution. So you already made a smart choice, and we know you’ll make the right choice again.


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a small commission if you purchase something by following them. However, we recommend services/products that we believe good to serve your purpose.

Staff Author

Staff Author

A team of WordPress enthusiasts led by Arafat Bin Sultan, a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in tech blogging, content marketing, and video creation.

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