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How to Make Your WordPress Site Blazing Fast

At my latest job at one of the top ten largest webhosting companies, it is of little surprise that I’ve been troubleshooting and optimizing WordPress sites. Over 60 million sites are built on WordPress, and many of them suffer from slow pages. In this post I will tell provide you a winning approach that I’ve found. This is an aggressive method in making your websites as fast as possible, so if you’re not ready to get knee deep in the performance for your site, stop reading now.

Time for setup: 2 hours or less
Cost: FREE! You heard it right, blazing fast for free.

Example Site:
GTMetrix Score

    Page load time: 1.07s
    Total page size: 0.96MB
    Total number of requests: 20
    Page Speed Grade: 87% B
    YSlow Grade: 89% B

Pingdom Statistics

    Tested from New York City, New York, USA on May 5 at 08:50:40
    Page size: 1.0MB
    Load time: 667ms
    Requests: 36
    Perf. grade: 89/100
    Your website is faster than 94% of all tested websites

Disclaimer: If you are hosting with a cheap host who is constantly overloaded or has strict limits in place, there’s not much you can do to speed your site up. If your site is on shared webhosting, some of the following tips will not apply to you.

Getting Started
The first items you will need are your WordPress login credentials. Additionally, you should have a root login to your server. If you do not have a VPS or higher, this will not apply to you and you will need to skip some of the steps below. Additionally, you will need a login for your registrar. (Where you bought your domain)

First things first: Install W3 Total Cache for WordPress. This is not difficult and most WordPress users can perform this. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will respond as soon as possible.
The settings you will use are going to vary for this plugin. I will delve into this further along in the article.

Next, one of the coolest bleeding edge services I’ve found to date is CloudFlare. This is a service that, frankly, I can’t believe is free. They utilize an intelligent backend backed by NGINX and multiple other technologies to cache your site across the world. If you have visitors from around the world, odds are they have servers near them. Check out there site and look at their features. There are 3 kinds of cool about this option; 1) it’s free! 2) it shaves, in some cases, seconds from your load time 3) It provides an additional layer of security for your site.
In this example, I’m going to switch over yours truly, First, head over to cloudflare and sign up for your free account. This is relatively painless. At this point you will want to add your site.

Once added, continue:

Depending on your configuration, whether or not you want to server subdomains etc.. through Cloudflare, you will want settings similar to mine, the following being mos important:

Next you will be provided with options. Some sites I use can safely function with bleeding edge optimization, some will not. I’m using the basic optimization on with a low security setting. I will likely setup custom settings once I have tested further. Once this is done, CloudFlare will provide you with nameserver settings. Pull out your registrar information and update your nameservers. Many different domain registrars have different configurations, mine is very different so I will spare you with the screenshots here. Once updated, this will take some time to update. It should be noted that as with any other nameserver changes, you will experience a bit of downtime.

So now, before making further changes to your server (if applicable), we’ll check discuss your settings for W3 Total Cache. I’m not a scatter brain, this is the best method of organization as you’ll see momentarily. At this point, if you are on a shared host, I will discuss recommended settings. Navigate to your settings in the WordPress W3 Total Cache settings. You will want these settings if you are on a shared machine, or are not going to proceed with step 3 of this article:

    Page Cache: Enable
    Page Cache Method: Disk (Enhanced)
    Database Cache: Disabled
    Object Cache: Disabled
    Browser Cache: Enabled

Now for the kicker, W3 Total Cache has built in support for Cloudflare. Yes, that’s why it was chosen as the method of caching. Here you will want to enter the necessary settings. Your username (email address) should be easy enough, as should the domain (hint: make sure it matches your WordPress domain), set your security as you wish and set your API key. This can be found in the account section of your WordPress. Good enough. At this point you’ve completed 2 of 3 steps. Some may be done at this point. Have a cold one, or 10, and nap for the night. You will wake to a blazing fast site in the morning, or evening depending on when you like your cold ones.

This is just one reason your host and your wallet will love you (keep in mind, this is only over a short period):

The final step, install memcached. This, so I’ve found especially on VPS with strict limits, can be very beneficial.
If you’re running cPanel, to save time, I recommend reading the following article: Keep in mind, I didn’t write that article, so if you have any questions on installing Memcached, again, comment and I’ll be glad to help. I’m familiar with the process.
The is a plain server. In order to install memcached, it was as easy as installing the fedora epel repository which correlated with the machine, and performing a “yum install memcached*” Now make an edit to the memcached configuration, /etc/sysconfig/memcached. Make sure that your cache size is approximately 64M. Ensure it starts with ‘/etc/init.d/memcached start’.

You’re not done yet. You need to also install the php memcache extension. The following commands *should* do it on a relatively plain installation:

    pecl install memcache
    echo “” >> /etc/php.ini
    /etc/init.d/httpd restart

Now, Go ahead and adjust your w3 total cache settings.

    Page Cache: Enable
    Page Cache Method: Memcache
    Database Cache: Disabled
    Object Cache: Disabled
    Browser Cache: Enabled

Additional reading regarding speed, specifically on which PHP handler to use, can be found here: Pay Attention to the PHP graphs

I really hope this helps. If you’re on a shared machine and find yourself being disabled due to resource consumption, the first two methods outlined will help dramatically. If you are concerned with the speed of your site, all three can help. If you have a poorly coded theme of bad plugins, these can be detrimental to the speed of your site and the above may not have an effect on the speed.

As said previously, any questions, complaints, comparisons, or site speed comparisons are welcomed in the comments of this page.

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  1. referencement March 30, 2013

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!

  2. Rob April 2, 2013 — Post Author

    I apologize for the inconvenience! Thanks for the kind words. Always glad to help. If you ever have any further questions or would like me to cover a topic, feel free to contact me!

  3. Darla April 28, 2013

    Hi there! I simply want to offer you a huge thumbs up for
    the great info you have right here on this post. I will be returning to your website for more soon.

    Feel free to visit my web page … Darla

  4. Rob April 30, 2013 — Post Author

    Looking good Darla! The site loads pretty quick. Glad you found this post to be informative.

  5. May 3, 2013

    Excellent blog here! Also your web site loads up fast!
    What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host?
    I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours

  6. Rob May 17, 2013 — Post Author

    Heya, you can use either of these:
    HostMantis — Where this is hosted
    HostGator –Good Luck in the past
    and if your require a VPS, I use shardhost. I’ve had pretty good luck with their offerings but am not an affiliate.

    Hope this helps!

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