Troubleshooting a slow WordPress site

If your site was recently loading faster, then a recent change may have affected the load speed. If this is the case, you can undo the change and see if that helps the site load faster. If you aren't sure what caused the slowdown, you can disable the various features of your site and add them back until the problem occurs again. If you need assistance with this, one of our experts may be able to do it for you for a fee.

The following are some of the most common features that can increase latency.

Plugins

Each plugin that you add to a WordPress site can increase the latency of the site. You can activate and deactivate the the plugins on your site to see if it improves the load time. For more information on activating and deactivating WordPress plugins, see Activating and deactivating plugins in WordPress.

Theme

The coding of a WordPress theme can also contribute to site latency, particularly when using a third-party theme. To see if your theme is slowing your site down, try changing your theme. For more information on changing the theme, see Change a theme in WordPress.

.htaccess

The .htaccess file does not normally impact the speed of a website, but if something has been misconfigured then it can happen. Try disabling it by renaming it to something like 1.htaccess, .htaccess.bak, .htaccess_disabled. For assistance with FTP, see What is FTP?.

If this fixes the problem, you will need to edit your .htaccess file to correct the error. Otherwise, if you leave the original .htaccess file disabled, then you will need to reset the Permalinks on your wordPress site. For information on this please see instructions here: Fixing Permalink Issues with WordPress.

Website content

The content of your website can also affect the performance of your website. If the objects on a page are poorly optimized, then more data will be sent than what is required. For example, large images can take a long time to load over slower connections, and external sources may not be properly optimized.

Network latency

Sometimes network issues can also increase the load times of a website. To test this, you need to try accessing the site from a different network.

To check for network latency, you can use a tool called traceroute. This traces the path from the computer to the server you are accessing. For assistance running traceroute on Windows, see Traceroutes on Windows. For assistance running traceroute on Mac OS X, see Performing a Traceroute in Mac OS X.

When reviewing traceroute, look at the time it takes each hop to complete. This number should be fairly consistent. Any extreme variations can indicate a network problem. Contact your Internet Service Provider for assistance reviewing the traceroute if needed.

More info

Server performance

The next thing to check is the type of server. If the customer is on a Legacy Linux server, a Linux 4GH server, or a cPanel hosting account, you can review the current server performance. With a high load on the hosting server, this can affect how quickly the server can process requests and send that information to the customer.

NOTE: For information on reviewing server performance on a 4GH Linux hosting plan please review: C3 Hosting Support : Shared - 4GH - Performance Tab.

For information on reviewing server performance on a 2GH Linux hosting plan please review: C3 Hosting Support : Shared - 2GH - Load Test on Linux.

For information on reviewing server performance on a cPanel hosting plan please review: Shared - cPanel - Server Load.

Database performance

While checking the hosting server, you should also review the database server performance. On the database server we are looking for both high load, and the number of queries being processed on the server. While the load may not be high, a large amount of queries can delay the processing of the website requests to the database.

NOTE: For information on reviewing MySQL database performance on a 2GH/4GH hosting plan please review: C3 Hosting Support : Shared - cPanel - Server Load.

External resources

This may seem like a long list of things to troubleshoot, website performance is something that is very difficult to specifically troubleshoot due to the complex nature of all the aspects involved. In order to assist you in troubleshooting these issues, make sure you have added the following resources to your list of tools:

Firefox plugins

  • Lori (Life of Request Information) - This plugin will show you the time to first byte, time to completion, page size, and number of requests. It works great in most cases, however be aware that some sites load from multiple locations in order to boost performance and not all content will end up in this calculation. Otherwise, this is a great tool to get an idea of how long it is taking for a site to come up and determine a starting point for accessing the customers site.
  • WorldIP - This plugin will show you the country the website is located in, the IP Address you connect to to see the website, and also the hosting company. This information is important as it will make sure that you are connected to the correct location and that the website is hosted in our network. While we can provide advice to a customer that is not using our hosting, we can do more if they are hosted with us.

Websites

  • websiteoptimization.com - In the middle of the page under Web Site Tools, click on Web Page Analyzer. This website will give you a full analysis of any web page given, such as, evaluate the website for best practices for image size, external links, scripts, etc. It will also make recommendations on what to change. Once a problem is identified, it will be much easier to correct.
  • pingdom.com - While not as extensive as Website Optimization, Pingdom will show what the load time is for different parts of a website, as they are being loaded. As Pingdom will only run for up to 60 seconds, it will not evaluate the entire site; but it will give you some starting points on what to optimize.

Note: You can find some other useful external tools here.


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