14 Ways To Fix A Slow WordPress Admin Panel (Dashboard) With Bloat Removal, PHP 7.4, Page Rules, And Avoiding 65 Slow Plugins

Have a slow WordPress admin panel?

A slow WordPress dashboard can be fixed by cleaning junk from your database, admin panel, and disabling the WordPress Heartbeat API. Configuring a solid cache plugin with a CDN can help, but it’s also likely you’re running resource-intensive plugins and tasks on shared hosting.

This guide should speed up your admin panel while also making your website load faster in GTmetrix by lightening the load on your server. And if your WordPress dashboard is still slow after this tutorial, drop me a comment with your GTmetrix report and I can have a quick look.

Slow WordPress Admin Panel

 

1. Avoid Slow Loading Plugins

Plugins are notorious for slowing down the WordPress admin.

The best way to find your slowest plugins are by using Query Monitor, New Relic, or compare my list of 65+ slow plugins with your own. GTmetrix Waterfall also shows you which plugins create the longest requests. Delete your slow plugins or replace them with lightweight plugins. Thank you to Ivica from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group for contributing to the list.

*Most slow plugins are page builders, ultimate addons, social sharing, statistic, portfolio, slider, backup, chat, calendar, contact form, related post, or those running ongoing scans/processes. WooCommerce sites can be especially resource-hungry.

  1. Anything using Google AdSense
  2. Backup Buddy
  3. Beaver Builder
  4. Broken Link Checker
  5. Contact Form 7
  6. Disqus Comment System
  7. Divi Builder
  8. Elementor
  9. Jetpack
  10. Query Monitor
  11. Ultimate Addons For Elementor + Beaver Builder
  12. WooCommerce
  13. Wordfence
  14. WPML
  15. View full list of 65+ slow plugins

You can use Query Monitor to find your slowest plugins (but delete it when you’re done).

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

Or New Relic:

Slow WordPress Plugins All

Or GTmetrix Waterfall:

Slow WordPress Plugin

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

Upgrading PHP versions can easily make your site 2-3x faster.

According to WordPress stats, most users run outdated PHP versions since your hosting company won’t upgrade PHP versions automatically. The Display PHP Version plugin tells you which PHP version you’re currently running, otherwise you can find it in your hosting account.

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

Upgrade to the latest PHP version in your hosting account:

PHP-7.4

*Check your website for errors (if you see them, revert back to an earlier PHP version, or analyze your plugins to see which ones are not compatible and causing the errors).

 

3. Check For Slow TTFBs

Check your TTFB in the GTmetrix Timings tab. This should ideally be under 200ms, but anything over 500ms is definitely considered slow. TTFB is a key indicator of hosting speed.

Time To First Byte

 

4. Move Away From Poor Hosting

Hosting recommendations are usually garbage.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback. Most members (myself too) swear by Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically DigitalOcean / Vultr High Frequency.

Yes, it’s a little more expensive at $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed here – not being cheap. With Cloudways, you have a choice of using DigitalOcean, Vultr High Frequency, Google Cloud, AWS, or Linode. These are worlds faster than shared hosting and can handle resource-intensive tasks much better (Elementor, Beaver, Divi, WooCommerce, AdSense, etc).

Cloudways makes it easy to test them out and see the difference in your load times: they do free migrations, monthly pricing, a Migrator plugin, and a promo code to save money: OMM25

Here’s what happened when I moved:

SiteGround vs Cloudways

GTmetrix tests are always different, but even posts with a huge page 2.70MB page size and 96 requests can often load in under 2s. I’ll also take a 148ms time to first byte any day of the week. That post has 70+ images, 480 comments (showing Gravatars), Font Awesome, and Elementor.

OMM-TTFB

The evidence is there:

Cloudways Response TimesCloudways-Migration-Result
Cloudways Google PageSpeed
WP Engine To Cloudways
DigitalOcean Pingdom Report
Hosting-Recommendation
Moving-From-WPX
SiteGround-Alternatives
Preferred-Web-Hosting
UntitledWPEngine-To-Cloudways
Godaddy DigitalOcean Migration
Cloudways Pingdom Load Times
Cloudways Pingdom Report
Elementor-Hosting
Web-Hosting-France
SiteGround-Alternative
VPS-Cloud-Hosting

 
This was a simple Pingdom test to measure load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I signed up for popular hosting companies then installed the same Astra Starter Site on each of them while measuring load times in Pingdom for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is hosted on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most of them because it was getting expensive. Even when browsing through their pages or running your own tests, you can see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

Hosting Companies You Should Avoid

  • SiteGround – they have gone completely downhill in recent years.
  • Bluehost – slow servers, owned by EIG, bad support, rated poorly in FB Groups.
  • HostGator – also owned by EIG with slow servers, bad support, CPU limit issues.
  • GoDaddy – top malware hosting network worldwide, rated poorly in FB groups.
  • Hostinger – they write fake reviews and vote for themselves in Facebook polls.
  • WP Engine – also not what it used to be, expensive and not even fast anymore.
  • *A2 Hosting – if you can’t afford Cloudways, A2 is still fast and uses LiteSpeed.

I use Cloudways because:

  • Even posts with a 2.70MB page size can load in under 2s
  • DigitalOcean and Vultr HF are miles faster than shared hosting.
  • It’s $10-$13/month (no yearly contracts or high renewal prices).
  • Varnish, Redis, and memcached are all built-in for higher performance.
  • You get to pick from DigitalOcean, Vultr HF, Linode, AWS, Google Cloud.
  • 4.8/5 star TrustPilot rating and highly recommended in Facebook Groups.
  • They have 25+ data centers between all their cloud hosting providers.
  • No CPU issues like on SiteGround, Bluehost, and other shared hosting.
  • SSL, staging, and backups are all very easy in the Cloudways dashboard.
  • Support used to be average, but is now really good as reflected on TrustPilot.
  • They offer a free migration but their Migrator plugin will also do the trick.
  • Adding a server, migrating your site, and the dashboard is actually very easy.
  • Mustasaam (their community manager) gave me peace of mind when moving.
  • Only complaint is they need to add LiteSpeed servers to their list of providers.

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I would seriously appreciate it. I don’t recommend bad hosting like many other affiliates. I also donate quite a bit to charity ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would really help. I try to base my reviews not only from my experience, but real evidence from the overwhelming feedback in many Facebook Groups. Either way, switching from shared hosting to faster cloud hosting should definitely fix your slow dashboard.

Just do your research and look at this Facebook thread.

 

5. Disable WordPress Heartbeat

The WordPress Heartbeat API can slow down your WordPress dashboard since it consumes resources by notifying you when other users are editing a post, real-time plugin notifications, etc. You have a few options: copy and paste this code into your functions.php file, use the Heartbeat Control plugin, Perfmatters, or WP Rocket also has an option to disable Heartbeat.

add_action( 'init', 'stop_heartbeat', 1 );
function stop_heartbeat() {
wp_deregister_script('heartbeat');
}

 

6. Remove Bloat From Your Dashboard

90% of WordPress bloat can be removed using the Perfmatters plugin by Kinsta.

Perfmatters lets you disable pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat, XML-RPC, jQuery migrate, limit post revisions, increase the autosave interval, and includes plenty of other features that can fix a slow WordPress admin panel. It can also help optimize WooCommerce sites, host Google Analytics locally, prefetch/preconnect external scripts, and even has a script manager for selectively disabling plugins. It basically takes care of speed optimizations WP Rocket doesn’t.

perfmatters-features

Delete Unused Plugins + Themes – all unused plugins and themes should be deleted if you’re not using them (don’t forget to check WP-Optimize for database tables they may leave behind).

Delete-Unused-WordPress-Themes

Use Script Managers To Selectively Disable Plugins/Scripts – Perfmatters includes a script manager for disabling plugins/scripts on specific pages/posts (you can also do this with the Asset CleanUp plugin). For example, contact forms can usually only be loaded on the contact page. Social sharing buttons can only be loaded on the blog. Schema plugins can often be disabled on pages not using schema, and so on. View which plugins and scripts are being loaded on your pages/posts, then disable the ones you don’t need. This can greatly improve load times.

perfmatters-script-manager

Pro Tip For Yoast – install the Hide SEO Bloat plugin. This blocks all Yoast’s advertisements.

 

7. Remove Junk From Your Database

A bloated database can slow down your WordPress dashboard which you can use WP Rocket or WP-Optimize to clean.

This deletes your spam folder, trash folder, transients, and the potentially thousands of post revisions stored in your database. You usually don’t need these, so delete them and schedule a cleanup to run every week (or at least every month) which can be scheduled in either plugin.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

Delete Tables Left Behind By Old Plugins – when you delete a plugin, it can leave behind old tables containing pre-configured settings and other information. That’s why you see it’s tables are still in your database, but the plugin is “not installed.” If you deleted a plugin and don’t plan on using it again, go through the “not installed” tables and delete them. You will need to use WP-Optimize or Advanced DB Cleaner since WP Rocket doesn’t support going through tables.

WP-Optimize-Tables

 

8. Offload Resources To CDNs

CDNs help speed up the WordPress admin by offloading resources, which lightens the load on your server. I recommend either Cloudflare or RocketCDN (if using WP Rocket). Cloudflare can be set up by changing nameservers, RocketCDN can be bought from your WP Rocket settings.

Once set up, check your analytics in your CDN’s dashboard and make sure it’s working. Offloading 58GB of bandwidth last month? Yeah, that will definitely improve your server.

Some hosts have an option to activate Cloudflare in the cPanel, otherwise you’ll need to add your website and change nameservers in your domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy or Namecheap).

Cloudflare-Bandwidth-Savings

 

9. Add Cloudflare Page Rules

Free Cloudflare accounts come with 3 free page rules.

Here are 3 page rules I recommend setting up for WordPress sites.

Page Rule 1: Cache Everything And Force HTTPS – ensures your site is cached aggressively.

http://*yourwebsite.com/*

Always-Use-HTTPS-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Secure The WordPress Admin And Bypass Cache – sets the security level of the WordPress admin to high and bypasses Cloudflare’s cache inside the admin, since you don’t want your CDN (or apps + performance features like Rocket Loader) running inside the admin.

yourwebsite.com/wp-admin*

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Decrease Bandwidth Of WP Uploads – since the content in your WP Uploads folder does not change frequently, you can increase the Edge Cache TTL to a month. This can potentially save on your bandwidth since the WP Uploads folder cache won’t refresh as often.

yourwebsite.com/wp-content/uploads*

WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

You should also enable hotlink protection in Cloudflare’s scrape shield settings which prevents people from pasting your images on their website when the image is still hosted by you, which means you’re consuming the bandwidth. Enabling Cloudflare’s hotlink protection prevents this.

 

10. Clean WooCommerce Junk

If you’re running WooCommerce, transients and customer sessions can cause bloat and slow down the WordPress admin. You can clear them under WooCommerce Status Settings → Tools.

Clear-WooCommerce-Junk

 

11. Increase Memory Limit To 256MB

WooCommerce sites, Elementor, WPML, and other systems require a 256MB memory limit, but you should really increase this either way since most hosts will set the default as 128MB.

Step 1: Edit your wp-config.php file.

Step 2: Add the code before the line that says, “Happy Blogging”.

define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '256M');

Your host may have an option to increase memory limits (below is for Cloudways).

Memory-Limit

 

12. Configure A Solid Cache Plugin

I recommend WP Rocket and that you check my WP Rocket settings.

It’s usually the #1 cache plugin in polls primarily because it comes with more features than any other cache plugin (resulting in faster load times and less plugins needed on your site). If you’re not using WP Rocket, I recommend WP Fastest Cache, however try using WP Rocket if you can.

Correctly configuring a solid cache plugin has a huge impact on your GTmetrix scores, load times, and speed of your admin panel. If your WordPress admin is slow, recheck your settings.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them all built-in, reducing the number of plugins on your site. If you’re like me, you only want to use 1 plugin, otherwise you will need to research which features your cache plugin comes with, then install these plugins if it doesn’t support them.

WP-Rocket-Features

Most people have a cache plugin installed, but the settings aren’t configured optimally. Review my guides to make sure your cache plugin is configured for optimal load times.

 

13. Disable “Object Cache” In W3 Total Cache

If you’re using W3 Total Cache, go to the General Settings and disable object cache. See my W3 Total Cache settings to make sure everything is configured properly since Cloudflare and StackPath may also be the culprit – plus most people don’t have the ‘performance tabs’ setup correctly. That tutorial has been used by over a million people with like… a million comments. However, W3 Total Cache is buggy and the plugin developer doesn’t go a great job updating it.

W3 Total Cache Object Cache

 

14. Block Spam Bots From Hitting Your Server

You would never know it unless you looked, but spam bots can constantly hit your server and consume resources. It’s a waste of bandwidth and can slow down your WordPress dashboard. In this step, we’ll find bad bots in Wordfence’s live traffic report and make sure they’re blocked.

Step 1: Install Wordfence.

Step 2: View your live traffic report (under Wordfence’s Tools settings) which shows you all bots hitting your site in real-time. Googlebot is obviously OK, but when I did this, I saw compute.amazonaws.com making a ridiculous amount of requests every couple seconds. I Googled it and sure enough, this was a bot known for sucking up bandwidth. View your report for a minute or two and see if bots with sketchy names are constantly hitting your site. If you have doubts, Google their hostnames and see if other people are having issues with that bot.

Live-Traffic-Report-Wordfence

Step 3: Block the bots. There are 3 options: Wordfence blocking (however, the plugin itself consumes resources), Cloudflare firewall rules (comes with 5 free rules which means you can block 5 bots), or the Blackhole For Bad Bots. I have a tutorial for blocking bad bots using all 3 methods. It depends on how many you want to block; if it’s only a few, I’d use Firewall Rules.

Login to your Cloudflare Dashboard and go to Firewall → Firewall Rules → Create A Firewall Rule. Copy the bad bot’s hostnames (from Wordfence) and add it here in the “Value” field. Since you can create 5 rules, you would repeat this step for your 5 worst bad bots from Wordfence.

  • Field = Hostname
  • Operator = Contains
  • Value = hostname of the bad bot you found in Wordfence

Cloudflare Firewall Rule To Block Bad Bots

Step 4: Go to your Blocking log and enjoy watching those spam bots get blocked.

Cloudflare-Firewall-Events

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚀 What are the most common remedies for a slow WordPress admin?

The most common remedies for a slow WordPress admin are using a better cache plugin, configuring it with optimal settings, upgrading to faster hosting, and avoiding high CPU plugins. If using W3 Total Cache, try disabling the object cache option.

🚀 Will changing hosts fix a slow admin panel?

If your server response time is high in Google PageSpeed Insights, this can put stress on your server and slow down the admin panel. Changing hosts can fix a slow admin especially if you're using a low quality host like GoDaddy, Bluehost, or an EIG brand.

🚀 Will a CDN speed up the admin panel?

Using a CDN offloads resources and puts less stress on your server, therefore speeding up both your website and admin panel. Cloudflare is a great free CDN, and using multiple CDNs can help even more since more data centers means more offloading.

🚀 Do spammy bots slow down the admin?

Yes, spammy bots that constantly hit your site are a waste of server resources. You can use Wordfence to find all bots hitting your site in real-time, then use Wordfence, Block Bad Queries, Blackhole for Bad Bots, or Cloudflare firewall rules to block spammy bots.

🚀 Which plugins slow down the admin panel?

Most slow WordPress plugins include social sharing, statistic (analytics), sliders, portfolios, page builders, calendars, chat, contact forms, related post, sitemap, Wordfence, WPML, WooCommerce, and any plugin that runs ongoing scans or processes. Always make sure you're using lightweight plugins that are maintained and coded well.

🚀 Do cache plugins affect the speed of the admin panel?

Yes. Which cache plugin you're using and whether it is configured optimally has a huge impact on your website's overall performance. Make sure you're using a top-rated cache plugin and that you're taking advantage of all it's features.

See Also: How I Got 100% Scores In GTmetrix

Did it work? Let me know in the comments :)

Still have a slow WordPress admin? Send me your GTmetrix report and I’ll have a quick look.

Cheers,
Tom

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