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5 Plugins To Make Your WordPress Blog Blazing Fast

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of October 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This is a guest post by Sid Savara, whose main passion is personal development and personal productivity. Follow Sid on twitter @sidsavara for motivation, inspiration and just chatting


If a tree falls in a forest, I don’t know if anyone hears it – but when your blog crashes or takes forever to load, I guarantee you nobody is reading.

When you work hard on your content, but aren’t able to capitalize on the attention because your blog takes too long to load you are throwing away hours of hard work and thousands of visitors. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve had multiple performance issues over the past year where SidSavara.com was unable to handle some of the traffic spikes that came my way – and believe me, it is soul-crushing to see your site doing well on social media sites, and knowing that many of those readers will leave before your article loads. It’s not every day you get 250,000 visitors to your blog.

Optimizing WordPress is a thankless, but necessary job. When your site is running quickly people don’t notice – but if your blog is down or slow, visitors will complain or worse (and much more frequently) just leave. In fact, if the very first page a visitor sees takes even a second too long to load, they are likely to leave instantly without reading anything – on to the next shiny thing that has caught their interest, and on to someone’s blog that is optimized.

I recently decided to dedicate some time to deal with this. After trying out many plugins, crashing my website a few times due to plugin incompatibilities and reviewing my results here are my recommendations – and it’s easier than you think.

5 Plugins To Make Your WordPress Blog Blazing Fast

  • WP Super Cache by Donncha O Caoimh– A very fast caching plugin for WordPress. This is what has been saving me from traffic spikes. In a normal WordPress install, every time a visitor comes to your site WordPress builds the webpage for them from scratch by pulling information out of the database and processing a variety of things in the software. The bottom line is, this is time consuming – and usually after you’ve published a blog post, it doesn’t change very much except when people comment. When a page is loaded, WP Super Cache caches a static (one time generated) copy of that webpage, and then every time a new visitor comes, it preferentially gives them the cached version of the page. This is much faster, and has totally saved me when a rush of people come from one of my posts going viral.
  • GZIP Output by Austin Matzko– This plugin automatically compresses CSS, Javascript and HTML output, allowing it to travel faster from your blog to a visitor’s browser. According to Best Practices On Yahoo! Developer Network: “Gzipping generally reduces the response size by about 70%. Approximately 90% of today’s Internet traffic travels through browsers that claim to support gzip.” This is a simple change that will not affect what your readers see at all – except that it will load in their browser faster.
  • WP Minify by Thaya Kareeson– This plugin uses the Minify engine to combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time. Like the previous plugin, it also automatically shrinks the size of your files without you having to do anything.
  • W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes– If I was starting a brand new blog today, this is what I would use on day one – and then go with a more complicated set up (like I have currently) after it grows. This plugin is amazing. It includes minify capabilities, caching (but less aggressive than WP Super Cache) and GZip compression.
  • Free CDN by Phoenixheart– If you have static files (images, javascript, css) taking a long time to load and slowing your site down, you may benefit by installing Free CDN – especially if you have large images. Briefly, a CDN is a content delivery network. Static files are cached on the CDN and pulled from their servers instead of your own – which means that your server has to do less work, and potentially can serve more people at once, faster.
  • Bonus: Upgrade WordPress! This isn’t a plugin, but every time a new version of WordPress there’s a good chance they’ve optimized the software so it runs faster than before. Be sure to test your blog after you upgrade to make sure everything still runs smoothly.

Firefox Plugins To Test WordPress Performance

You can check for yourself how fast your WordPress blog is and instantly get recommendations on what you can do to improve it with some free software. I use Firefox with the Firebug and YSlow plugins installed. The YSlow user guide is excellent and will give you all the tools you need to see where your site is slow, and what can be done to improve it. Darren has also previously written about 5 Methods to Enhancing Page Load with some best practices for ensuring your blog loads quickly for visitors.

This is a guest post by Sid Savara, whose main passion is personal development and personal productivity. For new email subscribers, he is offering a free copy of his new ebook The Little Book of Big Motivational Quotes.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Want to mention that “DB Cache” works nicely as well.

  2. Very useful post but I guessed you missed one that is wp.smush.it . This is from Yahoo service. That compresses the images and thus make your page load faster. I hope you will consider adding this plugin in the list..

  3. thanks for these, we are now deploying 4 new sites on WP, so this is very timely

  4. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t using blogger…

    I glaze over a little bit with most of the WordPress articles I read, but am trying to get a handle on it. I help someone with their blog WP 2.9 Beta and am beginning to understand what I am missing!

  5. Ok, thanks for share, i will try it out withn one of my blogs,.

  6. My blog doesn’t have so many visitors (250,000) but it is good to know for these plugins. Honestly, all these plugins are new to me except WP Super Cache. The reason why I like such a type of article is that there is a very high number of plugins for WordPress and is hard to decide which one to use. Getting concise information about them makes you easier to decide which one to integrate in to WordPress.

  7. I think using many plugin also slow down wordpress blog load time. I have not tried WP Super Cache, but not tried yet. I think I am going to use it now.

  8. Nice post. I’ve had problems with GZipping because I’m on a shared server. I’ve since been given advice from my host, but do you have any advice dealing with server settings for those on shared servers?

  9. Another firebug plugin that is great for testing performance is “page speed”, I find it more powerful than YSlow and provides great hints and suggestions that are easily analyzed and red

    It was developed by Google about 6 months ago, and in google code:

  10. I use WP Super Cache at my site and I can vouch for the fact that it is a very aggressive caching program and it absolutely works wonders. I love it. It has improved the load time of my site by a lot.

  11. Thanks. Great advice. I haven’t even thought of this. My sight isn’t exactly getting thousands of visitors a day yet but if it does, these will be good to have.

  12. I’ve got to try out wp-super cache. I’ve heard great reviews, but haven’t got round to using it yet. Thanks for the tips.

  13. I recently began using WP Super Cache on Creative Perch, and I have noticed a huge difference and highly recommend it! I now load it on all of my WP blog projects.

  14. I’ve been tweaking and optimizing my blog lately using the Firebug and YSlow to analyze my pages. It’s been a load of fun and I’ve learned a lot.

    I’ve tweaked the theme a bit to reduce the number of requests and added some clever .htaccess rules too, but the modular structure of WordPress with plugins and themes makes it hard to do some tasks (like combining and compressing CSS and javascript), but luckily there are these plugins that do the job.

    WP Super Cache has become kind of a standard, but it’s great to see that new and improved optimizing plugins are being developed (and the best of old ones are still kicking too). So I gotta take a look at WP Minify and test out that Free CDN.

    And here’s some advice from experiences: when putting new plugins into use — do it one at the time and make sure you configure the plugin correctly. For example, I had my WP Super Cache misconfigured for a long time as I installed it together with many other plugins and didn’t pay enough attention configuring it the right way.

  15. The Web Optimzer pretty much does all that apart from the CDN.

  16. Speed is definitely a very important factor for web surfers these days.

    Thanks for the nice information. I didn’t know that WordPress resumes loading all those elements every time a visitor navigates to another page!

  17. I was reading another post somewhere else saying that plugins slow down blogs and I am working on my speed. Currently I load at about 13 seconds, clearly way too long. Thanks for the tips. :)

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post.

    After reading other, less clear, blog posts about speeding up WordPress performance, I have installed and activated a couple of these plugins. However, I only saw minimal improvements via YSlow.

    Your post explains the purpose of these plugins in a much clearer manner. And I really appreciate the suggestions for compressing CSS and JS, because I get nailed for that big time by YSlow.

  19. Tried to install W3 Total Cache on two of my sites. Both attempts resulted in failed installs. :(

  20. So did Darren write this or Sid? On top it says written by Darren, but in the post it says it was a guest post by Sid.

  21. I’ve got to try out the WP super cache,thanks for this very useful post

  22. This is something I haven’t yet thought of, considering I have a long way to get to 250,00 visitors in one day! But I definitely can appreciate the advice for the future.

  23. Wow, didn’t know that plug-ins were so vital to WordPress performance. Very enlightening. Any input on SEO Platinum plug-in?

  24. Really useful article especially for firefox plugin. I just know there are firefox plugin to check our blog speed load. Thanks.

  25. Thanks for the list! I’ve been using WP Super Cache for a while now, and I’ll try out some of the other ones.

  26. Thanks for the suggestions. I recently noticed my blog was slowing down and was thinking of ways to speed it up. WP Super Cache sounds promising.

  27. There are really very helpful tools. I personally hate waiting for pages to load. That is why I try to keep my blog as simple as possible so that pages can load fast. Thanks for introducing the tools. I’ll go ahead and apply it on my blog right away.

    I think even if we applied all the tools above, there is nothing much we can do if some of our visitors are still using the 56k dial up modem.

  28. My site doesn’t have 250,000 visitors yet but it will be ready because of this post. I’m wondering if there is a magic number that will slow down my site.

  29. Awesome..Really very informative list :)

  30. Oooh! More fun toys to play with!

    Thanks for pointing them out. I’m curious to see the results — hopefully it’s not too bad…my blog isn’t that old!

  31. Thanks for telling us such a nice plugins, also by making use of some plugin we increase the database size unnecessarily big. We should avoid these plugins, so that WordPress can work fast.

  32. I don’t have “traffic spikes” yet, but when I do Super Cache will be ready to go. Awesome tip!

  33. WP Super Cache is the #1 way to speed up your WordPress blog, no questions asked.

    I would argue that upgrading WordPress does not necessarily = faster. In fact, WordPress has slowed down some since version 2.5 with all the new features.

    With that being said, you should never run an outdated version of WP unless you want to be exposed to security vulnerabilities.

  34. Wow. I already had Super Cache installed but just installed GZIP Output and now my website flies. Thanks

  35. Yahoo…..

    Thanks for such great info.

    Getting my blog to load fast has been my top priority.

    I went to the extent of changing my web hosting company!

  36. I have used WP Super Cache for a long time, very good plugin.

  37. 250000 visits per day is mind blowing.
    I hardly get 50 unique visits a days. Mine is just a month old blog site.

    Please feel free to review my blog site. I want some suggestions for improvement.


  38. Thanks Brother, I think I Should be use this plugin for my WP blog

  39. This is a really nice compilation. I have been facing problem of slow response since quite some time, and believe that size of my CSS files is to be blamed for that. I will try out these plugins.

  40. Here is a quick update to my previous comment. I just now installed Gzip, and the website has become blazing fast! Its absolutely amazing what this plugin has done. One of the most useful posts I have come across. Thanks.

  41. I’d say the best way to get a ‘Blazing Fast’ blog is to get a decent web host. Maybe you could write some host ranking post too?

  42. Thanks for the tips, I don’t think anyone’s site could actually be fast enough! After reading this post I think I will be running a few tests and tweaking a plenty… Thanks again

  43. Note that a lot of hosts don’t support mod_gzip. This is required for gzip compression (provided by Gzip Output). Cache plugins are pretty hard “not to support” though and I certainly have never heard of a host that wouldn’t encourage their use. So long as it’s within reason.

  44. I love the WP Super Cache the most, the other suggested plugins will be tested soon. Thanks

  45. Thanks for the tips to speed up WP blog and also for the ebook offered by the author!

  46. Hi. Just so you know, you can test the loading speed of a page by using the pindom full page test tool: http://tools.pingdom.com ;-)

  47. My blog is faster now and It thanks you!!! So do I! your rock dude..

  48. Sorry!!! I ment to say YOU ROCK not your rock.. thanks!

    My blog is faster now and It thanks you!!! So do I! YOU rock dude..

  49. Nice, just what the doctor ordered! This is just what my site needs, thank you!

  50. I will definitely try out WP-Minify. I use Super Cache, and I need to find a better practice dealing with Javascript. I once read it is best to combine the scripts, I THINK, in one folder. Any idea or clarity on this practice?

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