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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

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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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. A quality hosting provider is incredibly important from both a usability and an SEO perspective. I recently moved my site from one of the larger, better known hosts because the load times were unbearable (one week I saw more than half of my traffic from Twitter drop off before making it to the site.)
    Since moving, the crawl rate stats in Google are showing a massive increase, and I’m ranking for all sorts of keywords I’ve optimized to but never ranked for.
    I’m looking forward to trying some of the things mentioned here to see what further gains I can make!

  2. Yes I also use few plugins which help to upload my page faster.

    These are the main reason because of which I simply love wordpress and I am not the only one :)

  3. Unfortunately I can not use those plug in for my blogger blog. Thank you for all those plug in. I will build one new blog on wordpress.

  4. Excellent list. I know you only briefly mentioned WP Super Cache, but I use that one and it’s great.

  5. Awesome post!! I am just learning wp so I am putting this in my tool box!

  6. I look forward to reading through this in more detail as my blog seems to be slowing up recently, thanks for the info.

  7. Great List and Thank you so so so so much for this.

  8. Thanks for sharing this awesome plug ins for wordpress and definitely I will try it..

    Thanks
    Alam

  9. Thanks for this, Sid. No doubt, user experience is extremely important. Funny, I was just checking my site load time yesterday and wondering about ways to optimize my blog.

    I have installed W3 total cache and hope it improves site loading times..

    Mal Keenan

  10. Thanks for all the useful plug-ins. One thing to keep in mind. I noticed that my site would not display if I had the free CDN plug-in enabled. Our sites REQUIRES PHP >= 5 in order for this plug-in to work. If anyone opens their blog up and gets a white screen, it’s because of the free CDN plug-in.

  11. Fantastic Post, I was just thinking about how I can make my blog faster to load. I’ll have to get these plugins installed today. I’m sure this will make a difference.

    thanks,

    Will

  12. Great article Sid. I’ve tried the plug-ins and saw a noticeable difference!

    WP Minify didn’t work for me but maybe it can’t be used together with GZIP Output?

    I also wonder GZIP Output improves performance when compression is already enabled in WP Cache?

    Pat
    PatB Wedding Photography

  13. I don’t have 250,000 visitors either, but I put W3 Total Cache on one site that was running pretty slowly and had a high bounce rate. It’s loading much faster today and I’m hoping the bounce rate goes down, too. Thanks for the suggestions!

  14. WP Super Cache looks like something I need to try. Thanks for the list, no doubt my site could use a little bit of a speed burst.

  15. Wow what a great response!

    First off, thanks for everyone for your suggestions, especially regarding DB Cache and wp.smush.it. I have tried using those two plugins specifically and had some issues with them, so I left them out of this article – but I have no doubt that they are useful to other users (YMMV right?)

    Second, it’s true that some webhosts will not support some of these plugins. These have all worked for me. Great point though by a commenter above – install and test one at a time in case something breaks =)

    It looks like there is some interest in SEO platinum/other SEO plugins – I use a few on my site, but Thesis (search problogger for the link) handles most (80%) of my SEO for me.

    Thanks again Darren for giving me the opportunity to speak to your audience and share what I’ve learned =)

  16. This is a really useful post because I have some of these issues now. It also makes me ask if anyone knows of plug-in that stops others from scraping images from your site and chewing up bandwidth? So many of my images now are being stolen from some of my blogs I could almost stop providing them. There must be something out there…

  17. Hi, and thanks for featuring my Free CDN plugin!

    I would also like to mention Hyper Cache which I personally use, and it works fairly well.

  18. I have TypePad. What to you suggest?

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  19. WP Cache works wonders. Make sure to clear it and rebuild after you fiddle around with the site.

    I’m thinking I need to move to a faster host.

    I’d like to write and shop around some guest posts. For low traffic blogs (you know who you are!) I’m not worried. If one you high profile bloggers sent a bunch of traffic my way as a result of a guest post, I’d be worried the shared host would choose just that time to bog down.

  20. Thanks for the sharing.

  21. Thanks for the info Darren!

    I’ll be definitely adding a couple of these to my WP installs.

  22. Thanks for the tips. I’ll try the Super Cache plug-in and WP Minify. :)

  23. Great article here! Very clear and informative; well written and I can see you put a lot of time and effort into it. Good job!

  24. Someday I hope to have a post go viral. I did not know that wordpress was that slow. So Standard HTML sites are a lot faster?

    Thanks

  25. It just goes to show you how innovative and creative people can be. Thanks a bunch for sharing such useful post with excellent tips with us. Nice points really like this post. You hit a lot of thinks right on.

  26. BTW which plugin are you using? I have recently established my blog and in search of good plugin that would make my life a bit easier while maintaining. Thanks for the share. I love it when many things are explained at one place. Saves my googling time. He he.

  27. Sid, Thanks for sharing the plug-in’s. My blog could use some upgrades in this department.

  28. That is really great….Now i will do with my blog. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

  29. Thanks for the tip on the YSLOW Firefox extension. I had never heard of it before or the Google plugin for firebug for that matter!

  30. I’ve wrote a couple of articles to speed up WordPress at my blog (but in portuguese), and I’ve done lots of testing on the cache plug-ins and on the long run WP Super Cache may do more harm then good if your website doesn’t have too many visitors.

    Hyper Cache can achieve the same type of cache and gzip compression but it uses much less resources on the server.

    Some of you may be on shared server hostings and won’t have access to this data, but the cpu and memory usage with Hyper Cache went down considerably, with WP Super Cache was the same with it activated or not.

    It will be as fast as Hyper Cache but will use more resources.

  31. Wow great discussion!

    I looked at Hyper Cache as well. From what I understand, WP Super Cache is more aggressive which is why I like it for traffic spikes. I think Hyper Cache is an excellent suggestion however, and definitely one worth looking into. From my experience I have used WP Cache and WP Super Cache fairly extensively, and WP Super Cache is extremely effective for my site

    Regarding Typepad, I don’t any suggestions unfortunately – my experience is primarily with WordPress

  32. Thanks for the post Sid. This is something I need to do on my sites and am going to to it right now. One of my blogs takes a bit of a while to load and I hope this does the trick or at least helps.

  33. My blog is now… Greased Lightning! Thanks!

  34. @ Work at Home

    I really surprised to see why you are not using your own domain to over come from these kind of problem.

    You have good readers base and I think you should take the step now. Because you never know when blogger can banned your account.

  35. I just thought it was my computer that was slow sometimes at loading WordPress blogs and websites. Thanks for the tips.

  36. Minifying CSS/JS and GZIPing your output are definitely 2 great things to be doing. Not sure about the caching though. It sounds great but I’m worried it would just break my blog! Is it trustworthy?

  37. Thanks for the post. installed all :)

  38. I’ve heard a couple of these plugins but will give them all a shot to see how much it speeds up my blog. Thank for the info!

  39. Thanks for the post! I today’s fast paced society we are all looking for ways to speed everything up.

  40. So I’m curious what plugins you actually use on your site? You don’t use all of them do you?

    Why not just use wp super cache for gzipping & caching it does both, although it’s much more effective if you can turn it on thru htaccess or php.ini?

    Also another one that used to be a pain… Is PHP Speedy WP. It now plays pretty well with wp super cache.

    http://aciddrop.com/2009/02/02/php-speedy-wp-052-bug-fix/

    Speeds up the display of your blog by combining your JS and CSS files, adding far future expires headers and GZIPing & some php caching

  41. Ok, thanks for share, i will try it out within one of my blogs…

  42. Oh Darren thank you so much for sharing this information.. This post is really helps me a lot in my WordPress Blog Blazing, i really appreciate this post.. Now my WordPress Blog Blazing is running smoothly and speedily..

  43. Hi Craig,

    You’re right – this list is not all compatible with each other (for example, W3 Total Cache versus WP Super Cache). These are the plugins I’ve used over time on my blog.

    I was using WP Super Cache until this weekend when I saw Hyper Cache mentioned in the comments, and also because I had an interesting discussion offline about W3 Total Cache. I’m experimenting with both of this week, but typically I use WP Super Cache and WP Minify.

    Some people are not comfortable with *any* kind of caching, however in those situations I still feel that using gzip for example would be useful, hence the recommendation =). You are correct in that you could use .htaccess and php.ini, however I like to do as much configuration as I can through plugin UI screens – I am a software engineer and capable of editing the files directly, but I set up lots of blogs for friends. Using plugins is easier for most people.

    Thanks for your recommendation for PHP Speedy WP – I remember using it and having some issue, I think specifically with JS files that used document.write. I may be wrong, and perhaps that has been fixed (it seems like it would be a very difficult problem to fix though, as that’s really an issue with my rogue JS file as opposed to the plugin). Since many plugins include JS document.write, I opted not to use it. WP Minify has a similar issue, but has an easy way to exclude rogue files in the UI.

    Thanks for the excellent question and discussion. I don’t always get everything right, and if I’m wrong here please let me know – this is just my experience with the plugins, and I’m sharing it hoping to improve people’s websites, and the experience for their readers. I will perhaps give PHP Speedy WP another whirl down the road.

  44. Thank you for the plugins. I installed 2 more plugins from the link you have given and indeed it has a very good effect in loading the pages on my blog. Thank you very much!

  45. No problem, glad i could help further the discussion…

    I’d love to see some hard data on how much speed improves, database call are reduced, & how long it takes the php to render on the server.

    Here’s some code if anyone wants to play around. It tell s you how many database calls you are doing & how long it takes the php to load on your server (not how long it actually takes the page to render for your users):

    queries in seconds.

    Kinda fun for techies…

    I’ve been playing around a lil bit.on my server. Some slow down my perceived load time (when I see something on my screen the first time by a second), Some spike my CPU severely, yikes…

  46. Hi Guy’s,
    I have not tried WP Super Cache, but not tried yet.

  47. Oh dear. I installed free CDN and all my post titles were replaced by the homepage title, and didn’t noticed it until now. :-(

    Lessons learned: Be sure to check if your blog is working correctly after installing plugins!

  48. I like it. For me SuperCache turned out to be one of the best plugins ever!

  49. You forgot WP Smush IT.

    With most premium themes started their life from a photoshop canvas, we’re starting to see huge themes.

    I bought one that websiteoptimization.com said is around 600 KB (without any content at all).

    I ran smush it on all my images folder. The result ?

    80 Kb. A whooping 520 kB saved !

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