Ultimate Member and Download Monitor: How to limit Downloads based on User Role

Are you thinking of setting up a membership site using WordPress? Looking to give your members access to files and need a way to limit downloads based on a user role?

We know, lots of questions, but if the above sounds like something you need, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide will show you how to integrate Download Monitor with Ultimate Member. If you’re using Ultimate Member or thinking of using it, this guide will help!

Not only will you end up with a fully-fledged membership site, but you’ll also protect your files from non-members.

Sound good? Let’s get started.

Why secure your digital downloads for non-members?

Membership sites have an air of exclusivity. You join to become a part of something and access content not meant for non-members.

Unfortunately, unsecured downloads end up on forums, filesharing sites, and more. It’s disheartening for you, the site owner, and members to see content they may have paid for being distributed freely.

You could end up losing members and some credibility. All is not lost. You can use measures to deter them and lock your downloads so only members can access them.

That’s where Download Monitor comes in.

The tools that will be required

We will employ two well-known and highly credible WordPress plugins, Download Monitor and Ultimate Member, to achieve our stated objective.

Download Monitor

Download Monitor is a WordPress plugin that efficiently manages and monitors digital file downloads. At over 100K active installations and known for its ease of use, Download Monitor offers a range of built-in features.

Couple that with numerous extensions and add-ons that can be used to enhance the plugin’s functionality.

In this guide, we will also use an extension of Download Monitor. Namely, Advanced Access Manager; this will help us with limitations on specific users and various user roles.

🛒 To get the Advanced Access Manager extension and learn more about what it can do, follow this link.

Ultimate Member

Ultimate Member is a freemium WordPress plugin that streamlines creating a feature-rich membership website. With 200K+ active installations, it is one of WordPress’s most popular user profile and membership plugins.

In addition to enabling hassle-free registration and user profile creation, Ultimate Member helps regulate access to website content.

Based on user roles or membership levels while concurrently facilitating seamless management and monitoring of user activity on their website.

How to limit access to your downloads based on user role 

Before we can show you how we need to install a couple of plugins. These will help us get up and running quickly!

Setting up Download Monitor (And the extension Advanced Access Manager)

To set up Download Monitor, please follow the below steps.

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  • To add a new plugin through the admin dashboard, navigate to the left-panel menu and scroll over the Plugins tab. From the sub-menu, select Add New to proceed.
  • Type “Download Monitor” in the search field and enter to search for the plugin.
  • Look for the Download Monitor [developed by WPChill] plugin that appears; click the Install Now button next to the Download Monitor plugin. WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you.
  • Once the plugin is installed, click the Activate button to activate it.

You’ll see a new Downloads menu item on successful activation in the WordPress dashboard. Click on it to access the Download Monitor settings.

Download Monitor installation

We also need an Advanced Access Manager extension for this use case. This extension comes under the Complete Plan; you must purchase it before installing and activating it. 

Download Monitor

Grow your audience, track download performance, and convert your traffic into email subscribers with an easy-to-use digital downloads solution for WordPress.

To make the purchase, see the steps listed below:

  • Navigate to the Download Monitor website and click the Pricing button to view a list of available plans. Select the Complete Plan option from the list.
Download Monitor pricing
  • Click the Buy Now button to initiate the checkout process. Carefully follow the instructions on the screen to complete the purchase successfully. You may be prompted to do so if you still need to create an account or log in.
  • After the purchase, you will receive an email containing a license key and Zip files with extensions included in the Complete Plan.

ℹ️ If you’re still not sure how this extension can help you, check out the knowledge base article we dedicated to it, where you can find out in detail how Advanced Access Manager works.

Follow the instructions to install and activate the Advanced Access Manager extension.

Advanced Access Manager activation

Setting up Ultimate Member

To install and activate Ultimate Member, you can use the steps outlined for Download Monitor. Search for “Ultimate Member” in the list of available plugins. Follow the remaining steps to install and activate Ultimate Member successfully.

Ultimate Member installation

Setting up Membership on the WordPress website with Ultimate Member

The next step is to set up a Membership system on the WordPress website with Ultimate Member. We will use the free version for this tutorial. However, Ultimate Member also has pro versions that can provide added functionalities. 

By default, WordPress enables administrators to create user accounts from the backend. Ultimate Member users can enjoy the freedom to create their accounts directly from the front end of your WordPress website.

After successfully setting up the Ultimate Member plugin, you’ll be prompted to create several essential pages. These include Account, Members, and Register.

Ultimate Member default pages

Creating these pages is highly recommended. They are essential components of your membership website.

Ultimate Member settings

After completion, these options will appear automatically in the menu bar on the front end of your website. 

Next, go to Appearance -> Menu, and create a new menu by filling in the required fields.

Ultimate Member menu structure

Creating a menu for members

When creating a menu, you’ll need to consider the structure of your website to ensure that the correct set of options is displayed to each user.

For example, only new or logged-out users should be allowed to access the Register or Login page. And to make it work, we will have to tweak the configurations correctly.

Ultimate Member menu configurations

From the sub-menu of Ultimate Member, you can also make changes to various settings to set preferences as per your liking.

The sub-menu option labeled User Roles provides a string of configurations to edit permissions for each user role. 

For example, if you want to block backend access to any user role, you can open the permissions options and uncheck the can access wp-admin option. 

With a few other permissions, you can choose your selections and click Save Changes for your modifications to take effect.

Ultimate Member Edit Role options

Once the basic setup is done, choose whether to allow or disallow users from public registrations from the website’s front end. To let the users go to WordPress Settings -> General

On the new page, check if Anyone can register and select which user role you want to assign when creating a new account. 

Only one user role can be selected for all the new user accounts created from the front end of the website; hence to change the user role of one or more users later, the admin would be required to make that change from the backend. 

WordPress default settings

Manually review new accounts

Ultimate Member also allows the freedom to manually review new accounts created from the front end of the website; hence when registration is done, it is set to Pending status until an admin approves or disapproves it. 

With Ultimate Member, you can add user role-wise permissions to either grant or deny access to a page, post, or category.

If you want to restrict content based on user roles, you can select/deselect the user roles to limit or grant access under the Content Permissions

However, if you want to step forward and restrict based on user status (Logged In, Logged Out), you can make changes in the Content Restrictions section.

Ultimate Member Content Restrictions

With a 404 error message option enabled, users will get an error when accessing the restricted page or post.

404 error message

Restricting access to User roles with Download Monitor

Although Ultimate Member is a plausible solution to restrict content based on user role. It lacks the functionality to preclude users from downloading any content if it is visible.

Plus, it cannot place additional restriction filters like download amount, date, enhanced metrics, etc.

That’s why Download Monitor can complement it well. Suppose you want to limit access to a specific number of downloads.

Download Monitor can effectively come into play, as it restricts user access according to specified rules.

For instance, in the case of an online course comprising ten downloadable lectures, Download Monitor allows administrators to enforce permission-based access, even if the modules are visible to users.

Using Advanced Access Manager

In the next step, we will delve into the intricacies of limiting access to downloads, based on the user role, with the aid of Download Monitor.

The extension that we installed, Advanced Access Manager, will allow us to define a set of rules to prevent various user roles from accessing specific downloads.

We can also set global rules that apply to downloads across the board. When adding a new download, you can follow the below steps to restrict user roles.

  1. From the admin dashboard of WordPress, navigate to the Downloads tab and choose the option Add new from the subsequent drop-down menu.
  2. As we advance to the next page, we will encounter a few empty fields that must be filled before we hit the Publish button. 
  3. On the same page, you will find a new meta box for Advanced Access Manager settings as you scroll down. We can enforce restrictions on access to specific downloads based on the unique roles of the users attempting to gain access.
  4. New rules can be added by clicking the Add rule button to display new fields to set up download-wise restrictions.

Adding Global rules

Apart from Download-specific rules, Global rules can also be added similarly. The Global Rules tab can be accessed from the sub-menu of Downloads.

Notably, Download-specific rules are prioritized and will always be executed before Global rules.

Suppose a user intends to introduce a new download, with access granted solely to user roles designated as ‘Author’ and ‘Administrators’ while restricting access to all other user roles.

Additionally, there should be a global download limit, capped at 10 for ‘Author’ and 2 for every user assigned to the ‘Administrator’ role. A series of new rules must be incorporated to realize this configuration while creating a new download.

In that case, the following rules will need to be added.

GROUP field will be filled with Role, GROUP VALUE with Author, CAN DOWNLOAD with Yes, RESTRICTION with Global Amount, and RESTRICTION VALUE with 10.

As we do not want the users under this user role to download this specific download for more than ten times. 

The second rule will be added for Administrators; the GROUP field will be filled with RoleGROUP VALUE with Administrator CAN DOWNLOAD with YesRESTRICTION with Amount, and RESTRICTION VALUE with 2.

We do not want to provide a levy of downloading more than two times for each user under the ‘Administrator’ role.

The last rule will bar all the remaining user roles; hence GROUP field will be filled with Role, GROUP VALUE with Anyone, and CAN DOWNLOAD with NO.

Advanced Access Manager – Download Specific Rules

If a global rule dictates that no access should be provided to the user role ‘Author’ for any download, in that case, the user role ‘Author’ would still be able to access this download.

This is due to individual download rules taking precedence over global rules.

Advanced Access Manager – Global Rules


To summarize, you must take the following steps to achieve the desired outcome.

  • Setting up Download Monitor
  • Setting up Ultimate Member
  • Setting up Membership on the WordPress website with Ultimate Member
  • Restricting access to user roles with Download Monitor

All-in-all, when it comes to efficiently managing user permissions and downloads on your WordPress website, the Ultimate Member and Download Monitor can be a formidable duo for several reasons.

Ultimate Member provides a base for creating a streamlined membership system and user role permission settings for content on the WordPress website.

Download Monitor facilitates tracking and analysis of downloads restricting access to downloads. As well as implementing specific/global access rules, thanks to the Advanced Access Manager extension.

Download Monitor

Grow your audience, track download performance, and convert your traffic into email subscribers with an easy-to-use digital downloads solution for WordPress.

Raiber Cristian
Raiber Cristian

Self-taught entrepreneur with a deep passion for learning, understanding human nature, and what drives businesses forward. CEO of WPChill. Our products are being used by over 750,000 users, every day. Connect with me on Twitter.

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