Is your blog’s performance beginning to dip?
Does it takes ages to do the simplest of tasks?
Chances are, your blog needs a health check.
With a growing blog, comes the responsibility to meet its needs and demands.
Blogging platforms are great, however, they also tend to use up a lot of resources as they grow – it’s just their nature.
So therefore, to keep the ship steady, regular maintenance is essential.
On this blog, I’ve had a few blackout moments, when everything grinds to a halt, nothing seems to work, and in most cases, I’ve had my hosting company to thank, for placing me on a dodgy server (145) hmmm.
It’s still an on-going process in my quest for better performance.
Why is My Blog Running Slow?
There could be many reasons for this :
- Traffic Levels.
- Growth/size of your blog.
- The size of your images.
- Badly written codes.
- Too many components.
What is Slowing Down my Blog?
Well, the answer to this is relative. It really depends on your setup.
That said, there are tools that can help you identify some problem areas.
Pingdom is free service that provides information of how long your web page takes to load, and also breaks down what actions are being performed and the time taken.
This detailed stats would give you some indication of areas that may need attention.
How Do I Increase My Loading Speed?
There are several approaches you can take to solve this problem, they range from optimizing your blog, to drastic ones, such as changing web host.
I would recommend doing some general house-keeping FIRST before considering switching hosts. You don’t want to end up with the same issues even after switching hosts.
Below are some possible solutions that may improve things.
I will assume at this stage that you are using WordPress, although some of these tips can be applied to other CMS platforms.
These recommendations have been tried and tested on this blog [Wordpress Build 2.9.1]
Although, there’s still room for improvement, there has been a noticeable improvement in loading speed. Trust me, it was extremely slow before.
At this stage, your first action is to back-up your database.
You may already have a scheduled job in place, but if possible, carry out a manual back-up.
 Remove unused plugins
You’ve probably stumbled across a fancy plugin in the past that you no longer use – get rid of it.
It is of no use having themit sitting on your server. The aim here is to get your server as lightweight as possible.
Procedure: Under Manage Plugins > De-activate > Delete.
 Optimize Your Images
If you regularly use images within your blog post, ensure they’re optimized.
You can use programs such as Photoshop or Fireworks to optimize your images for the web.
Procedure: In your favourite graphics application, export images using ‘Save for the web‘ option.
 Remove unused Images From Your Server.
It quite easy to accumulate images in wordpress without realising, some of which you don’t use.
Especially duplicates or images of different sizes residing on your server.
Procedure: Using an FTP client, browse to images folder, normally titled uploads in wordpress. Next remove unused or duplicate images. Test to make sure you haven’t broken anything.
 Upgrade your Blogging platform.
Always be on a look for the latest version of your blogging software. In most cases, a release build would address bug/security issues, performance related fixes and so on.
 Update Plugins.
The same goes for plugins, update them when you can. But note, any previous changes made to a plugin may be lost during an update.
 WP Super Cache
If you haven’t done so already, I recommend you install WP Super Cache.
This is quite a popular wordpress plugin to have – because it works.
Here’s what it does:
Instead of loading heavy PHP scripts each time a user visits your page, WP Super Cache generates and presents most of your users with static HTML files as oppose dynamic content.
In a nutshell, It minimizes server load and presents heavy stuff only on-demand.
Get Plugin: WP Super Cache
 Remove Post Revisions
As you edit and create new posts, WordPress keeps a revision of your work. Which is a good thing.
But on a flip-side, these revisions can easily accumulate and be a burden on your database.
Some webmasters have actually decided to get rid of this functionality altogether, by hard-coding their ‘config’ file in wordpress.
Alternatively, you can grab a cool wordpress plugin called ‘Delete Revision’.
The plugin allows you review your revisions before deleting.
In my case, I removed 1361 revisions – that’s a lot.
Get Plugin: Delete Revision
 Database Optimization
To increase your page’s loading time, It’s always good practice to regularly optimize your database.
It’s a straight forward back-end process located within the PHP Admin section of your hosting control panel.
If you’re not comfortable doing this, there is a simply lightweight plugin that does the job. It actually states how much overheads you have accumulated and how much you can bring it down by.
Get Plugin: Optimize DB
 DB Cache Reloaded
This re-worked plugin does a neat job of caching database queries for a given page.
Get Plugin: DB Cache Reloaded
 WP CSS
WP CSS zips and strips away whitespace from your CSS files.
Get Plugin: WP CSS
 Refactor Your Code
Try to minimize the number PHP requests in your code. Where possible replace them with HTML.
Your Headers and footer files are usually good places to start.
 Upgrade Your Hosting Service
After you have exhausted all options and you’re still experiencing loading issues, it might be worth upgrading or changing your web hosting service.
There are three main types of web hosting solution – Shared Hosting, Virtual Private Server Hosting and Dedicated Hosting.
If you’ve recently started a blog, chances are your blog is residing on a shared hosting solution.
Shared hosting is basically sharing your hosting area with a bunch of other blogs and websites.
This is a popular option for most people as they are very cost effective to maintain.
On a shared hosting you are not guaranteed system resource, so if another blog within your hosting area gets a sudden influx of traffic, it may affect your blog.
Typical Monthly Cost: £3.50
A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a hosting environment that combines the benefits of both shared hosting and dedicated hosting.
It does this by creating a virtual server that runs inside a hardware server via a partition.
Each VPS partition runs its own operating system in a secure and private environment and cannot
be accessed or interrupted by its neighbouring blogs or websites.
On a VPS environment, you are sharing limited number of users and are guaranteed some system resource.
In comparison to shared hosting, they’re a bit more expensive to run, but you’re getting so much in terms guaranteed memory and disk space.
In fact, very soon, I am looking to move this blog to a VPS environment.
Typical Monthly Cost: £30
Dedicated Server Hosting
Dedicated hosting is simply renting your own machine which you can configure to meet your needs.
Maintaining a dedicated server can be very expensive.
Typical Monthly Cost: £200
Better Performance Check-list
Here’s a quick checklist to help improve your blog’s performance.
- Delete unused plug-ins
- Reduce the size of your images
- Simplify your php and css code.
- Update your plugins
- When available, upgrade your blogging platform
- Upgrade your hosting package
Have I missed anything else?