Fixing Plugins to Speed Up WordPress

Welcome to my beginner’s tutorial written for WordPress users who are having trouble with slow WordPress blogs or sites. I will uncover a few different tricks you can use to speed up your WordPress pages by optimizing your WordPress plugins. WordPress plugins are often the main reason for slow page load times in WordPress, so we will address the issue in this tutorial and show you how to fix many common plugin issues that cause your WordPress site to run slowly.

Prerequisites

To be able to fully understand the techniques used in this tutorial, you should at least have a basic understanding of WordPress and know what plugins are and understand the basics of the WordPress admin. If you need help in these areas, there are a lot of tutorials here on WPhub.com that will assist you in learning what you need to know to get started with WordPress basics.

Disabling Plug-ins to Speed up WordPress

One of the first things I look for when I am hired to speed up a WordPress website is improperly running plugins. Incompatible or outdated plugins are probably the number one reason for slow page load times in WordPress sites.

Preventative Medicine

In order to prevent having to do extensive testing to see what plugin is having a negative impact on your page load times, you should always thoroughly test any new plugin immediately after installing it. Test and measure your page load time before installing the plugin to get a benchmark speed, then test the pages again after installing and activating each new plugin.

Deactivating plugins that slow Down WordPress

If you don’t know what plug-in maybe slowing your site down, disable one at a time and test your page load speed each time until you find the plugin that is having a negative impact on the time it takes to load your WordPress pages and posts. Here is how to disable a plugin. It is fairly simple. Just follow the below easy steps for each plugin that you are concerned about:

  1. Navigate through several pages of your WordPress site and take note of any slow pages. Any page that seems particularly slow, measure the page load time by going to http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ and entering the URL of the page you are concerned about. The tool will tell you what scripts, images or other files that are slowing your WordPress site down. Look at the report and sometimes you can tell right there what plugin is causing the problem. Record the page load time in a notepad to compare later after you complete the next steps.
  2. Go to the plugins link in the main left navigation menu of your WordPress admin page and click on it. You should get an admin page for your current plug-ins that looks something like this:

    plugin admin

  3. In the above example, there are only two plug-ins and they are the default ones, so there are not a whole lot of problems on this site with plug-ins most likely, but notice how the first Askimet plugin has a deactivate link and the second, Hello Dolly, plugin has an Activate link instead. That is how you can quickly determine which plugins are active and which are not. You can easily deactivate any active plugins by clicking on the Deactivate link as in the image above for the Askimet plugin.
  4. After deactivating a single plugin, go back to http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/ and run another page load time test to see if there is a significant difference. You should also manually visit the page to see as well. Record and compare the page load times before and after deactivating the plugin to determine the difference. If it is significant, see the section below on what you can do to improve the performance of the plugin that is causing the slowdown.
  5. Fixing Plugin Issues

    If you have determined that one or more if you found that WordPress plugins are slowing down your site, then don’t give up on that plugin right away, there are options that may allow you to use the plugin still. Try the following steps to see if your plugin issue can be resolved before giving up:

    1. Check for updates – One of the most common causes of plugins that slow your site down is an out of date plugin. Out of date plugins are often not coded properly to work with the most recent version of WordPress and therefore will cause the site to run slower than it should due to possible errors in the code or markup. Here is how to quickly check for updates for any plugin:
      • If you look at the main admin page for your plug-in you will notice that there is often a notice that there are updates available for any plugins that need it at the top of the page as the following example:

        plugins updates

        Notice where it says Update Available (1) which means that there is an update for one of the plugins on that page.

      • Click on the Update Available link and it will take you to a page that provides you with an update link for each plugin that has an available update like in the following screen shot:

        plugin update 2

        Notice the bottom line in the above image where there are two text links, one for details and one to update now.

      • Click on the Update Now text link to update the plugin promptly.
    2. Check for similar plugins – if you find out that the plugin is causing the site to run slow and that the plugin is no longer maintained or has no current update, look for a similar plug in. You will find that in most cases, there are more than one plugin that provide the same solutions. Search the WordPress codex and Google to find what you need. Then deactivate the current troublesome plugin and install the new one and test the page load times again to see if it solved your problem. Many times it will.
    3. Fix the code – Especially for cases where you have custom plugin created just for you, you may have to actually update the plugin manually or hire the person who wrote it for you to do so. Every time a new major update for WordPress is installed, you should test your custom plugins to be sure they are still running efficiently and fix any issues that may be slowing them down. One thing that can help with this process is checking to be sure the code generated by the plugin validates by using the w3 validator at http://validator.w3.org/, another thing you should do is check for JavaScript errors. That can be done in Firefox by clicking on the Firefox button in the upper left corner of the browser, then going to webmaster tools and clicking on error console. The same thing can be accomplished in Internet Explorer by going to tools and finding the script option in developer tools.

    Summary

    After reading this tutorial, you should have a good idea of how you might be able to speed up your WordPress website by deactivating, updating or repairing one or more plugins that you have active. Don’t concern yourself with inactive plugins too much because they are not likely to have a negative impact on your site. In fact, it is often a good idea to deactivate a plugin, but not uninstall it because you may find out later that it wasn’t the problem and you may wish to reactivate it which is simple if you have not deleted it completely. That is why I didn’t mention deleting the plugins completely in the above text. If you find yourself in the position where a plugin you absolutely need is slowing your site down, you may have to have some custom work done on that plugin to get it to work more efficiently. However, try to find another one that is updated more regularly first because it will likely save you both time and money in the long run. Good luck with speeding up your WordPress site by optimizing your WordPress plugins. You will usually find that it was well worth the effort when your page load times improve.

This article was authored by:

Ian Lincicome is a web developer and freelance writer with over 20 years experience in web development and writing. He specializes in Web Development, Custom WordPress Development, Programming, Online Application Development, Fiction Writing and Technical Writing. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with others on WPHub.com.

Ian Lin has authored 44 posts.Visit Website

Showing 3 Comments

  • When I first started developing on WordPress I was using a plugin for everything. I remember having up to 20 different plugins :D These days I am super obsessive about using only a very few necessary plugins for each project. Plugins can cause serious page speed issues and you have highlighted some effective ways to keep things fast and secure. Great article Ian

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  • You should use least number of plugins. Because every plugin increase load time. I have a question though. Should we use Jetpack plugin?

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  • Your article is more informative Ian Lin.I’d like to see some more examples of how improving slow load time has improved other sites bottom line and i have few more doubts Do you think hosting your entire wordpress site through a cdn is the best way to make your site as fast as possible?

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