Why is my WordPress site so slow?
There are many reasons as to why your WordPress site is slow and I’m going to talk about some of them.
Choose a Good Web Host
The most common reason is your hosting service and I’m not just talking about a slow server. Now a slow server is a great possibility, but maybe it is more along the lines of an overloaded or overused server. The most common form of website hosting is Shared Hosting. Shared hosting is where the server is set up to host dozens or hundreds of websites, and all of the websites share the resources of the server. Shared Hosting hosts like Bluehost or GoDaddy, often cram as many websites as possible on a single server in order to make more money. Let’s break this down a little here, GoDaddy’s lowest costing hosting package is $6.99 a month and with that, they will give you 30Gb of storage space. A low-end Dell PowerEdge rack-mounted server will cost about $2,000 and comes with 4 2Tb SATA hard drives, let’s say that they are using some type of RAID and not JBOD. With RAID5 they would be able to provide around 5.5T. Based on those calculations, they could put 165 users on the server (including the OS). But in reality, they are putting 500-600 or more websites on the server. They are hoping that you are not going to use the 30Gb (which is just a sales gimmick.) This also means they will see an ROI within a few months on this server.
The Neighbors in your Neighborhood
No, I’m not talking to Ms. Johnson who lives next door. I’m talking about the other websites that share your server. If you have 500 or more websites on a server you are going to experience periods of slowness. Each website is grabbing its resources so it can serve its webpages. Of course, a larger (more costly) server will offset that, but then they will need to cram more users on it to offset the higher cost.
Selecting a smaller web host may be a smarter option as they are often less likely to cram so many users on a single server. There are some free tools that will help you determine how many domains are on a single server.
While you are researching hosts, take a look at the type of websites that they allow on their servers. Adult-related content, some sports-related content, and some types of political content will possibly cause higher traffic, and the more traffic a website receives the slower the server will be.
Another thing to look for, and you will likely need to inquire about this one, is see what their mass email policies are. Companies that allow a client to send mass emails are likely to be slower as well as the IP is likely to get blacklisted often. What I mean is assuming you are looking at
In fact, you should probably read our blog post on how to select a good web host.
Since this post is about WordPress, I’m going to focus on things you can fix within WordPress or within your shared hosting space.
Out-Dated WordPress Core
I’m shocked as to how many people do not update with WordPress core software components. It is a simple click of a button, yet so many websites are multiple versions out-of-date and an out-of-date copy of WordPress is vulnerable to attacks and slower. If you don’t know how to update your copy of WordPress, we have a short little guide just for that.
WordPress is Misconfigured
There are several things that can be improperly set up that will cause your WordPress installation to operate slowly. One can be file permissions and another is the .htaccess file.
There are thousands of websites that have articles on proper WordPress permissions, so I’m not going to touch on that here. But I do want to talk about the .htaccess file. This hidden file tells the Apache server how to act on certain things. The problem is that if the .htaccess files get too large, it can cause your WordPress site to operate slowly. Everything in the .htaccess has to be read and interpreted before the webpage is drawn. So if you have a large .htaccess file, then your WordPress site will be slower. You can learn about the .htaccess file here.
Not all plugins for WordPress are good, there are some that are malware and some that are vulnerable to attack, and some that just don’t work. Keeping your plugins up-to-date is extremely important. Just note that from time to time an updated plugin may cause issues for your website.
On the subject of Plugins, a good caching plugin can really speed up your website performance. I prefer W3 Total Cache as it allows for more granular control over the settings. I have also worked with WP Rocket, but it is pricey. While you are looking at caching plugins, you should also be looking at a CDN (Content Delivery Network), like Cloudflare. A CDN does a little VooDoo magic and takes a copy of your website and hosts static elements (things that don’t change or don’t change often) and caches those on servers around the world. So when a visitor comes to your site, the CDN sends them those elements while your website does the rest. This speeds things up, by sending multiple streams of data to your web browser as well as the CDN tries to send you data that is closer or faster to you. Cloudflare has a free option as well.
A Lightweight Theme
Many theme developers tend to make their theme very bloated, thus making it slower. So look for a fast theme.
Fat or large images can kill performance in a heartbeat. With today’s modern digital cameras, a single photo can be 10-15 Mb or more in size. If you uploaded this to your website and used HTML to control the dimensions, it would take forever for your website to load, as it would have to load that entire image (10-15Mb) in order to display the site properly. There are really good plugins for this as well as desktop apps that you can use. There are also some online services like shortpixel.com that do the same thing.
PHP Is outdated
If your web host is using older versions of software like PHP or Apache then your website runs slower. PHP 8.1 is the clear winner here, proving 47.10% faster than PHP 8.0. And PHP 8.0 is 30% faster than PHP 7.4 In fact PHP 7 is around 30% faster than PHP 5.6. So for performance reasons alone, it makes sense to upgrade to PHP 8.1 today.
Upgrades like this might be something you can fix from within your control panel or you might have to submit a ticket to have them upgraded. But beware, some web hosts will flat-out refuse to upgrade. But at SWS, it isn’t a problem. In fact, if we manage and host your WordPress website, we have already upgraded it to PHP8.1. (Source: https://kinsta.com/blog/php-benchmarks/)
As you can see, there are many things that can slow your WordPress site down.
This is just another good reason why you should use a professional to design and host your website.
This is why we highly recommend Simply Web Services, to not only design but host your website.