14 Ways To Fix A Slow WordPress Admin Panel (Dashboard)

Slow WordPress Admin Panel

Have a slow WordPress admin panel?

The easiest way to fix a slow WordPress dashboard is by removing high CPU plugins, disabling the Heartbeat API, cleaning your database, and identifying resource-hungry tasks using Query Monitor. Hosting, cache plugins, and CDNs are also key to speeding up your WordPress admin.

This guide should help speed up your admin panel while also improving scores in PageSpeed Insights 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.

 

1. Avoid High CPU Plugins

Plugins are notorious for slowing down the WordPress admin.

The best way to find your slowest plugins is by using Query Monitor, New Relic, or compare my list of 70+ slow plugins with your own. GTmetrix Waterfall also shows you which plugins create the longest requests. Delete your slowest 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 include 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 70+ slow plugins

Query Monitor lets you find slow plugins (delete it when you’re done).

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

WP Hive shows a plugin’s impact on memory usage and PSI when searching the repository.

WP Hive

Lightweight Plugin Alternatives

  • SEO – Rank Math or SEOPress (less bloated than Yoast with more features).
  • Backups – UpdraftPlus.
  • Sliders – Soliloquy or MetaSlider.
  • SSL – you shouldn’t need a plugin for this.
  • Redirects – use .htaccess without plugins.
  • Gallery – Gutenberg Gallery or Meow Gallery.
  • Analytics – Google Analytics and Google Search Console (no plugins).
  • Social Sharing – Grow By Mediavine (fastest social sharing plugin in WP Rocket’s test).
  • Comments – native comments or wpDiscuz with optimized settings with JavaScript delay.
  • Theme + Page Builder – Oxygen Builder, GeneratePress, Astra + Gutenberg, Genesis Framework (StudioPress themes), or Elementor Hello Theme if you insist on Elementor.

 

2. Upgrade To PHP 8.0

Use the latest PHP version offered by your host.

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.

Cloudways, SiteGround (GoGeek), and other hosts have already released PHP 8.0.

PHP 8.0

*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 A Slow TTFB

Check your TTFB in GTmetrix or KeyCDN’s Performance Test. It should ideally be under 200ms, but anything over 500ms is definitely slow. TTFB is a key indicator of hosting speed.

OMM TTFB

 

4. Move Away From Poor Hosting

Most hosting recommendations are honestly garbage, but it obviously affects the admin.

Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback from knowledgeable people who’ve been around the block. I won’t tell you to switch hosts if you don’t need to, so run your website through Lighthouse and check for slow server response times (TTFB) over 600ms.

If your TTTFB is slow, many people in Facebook groups (including myself) use Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically their DigitalOcean or Vultr High Frequency plan. Sure, it’s $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed, TTFB, and core web vitals – not being cheap.

Take a look at conversations, migration results, and polls posted in some of these Facebook groups. Or look at Backlinko’s PageSpeed Test where he found SiteGround has a slow TTFB. You already know GoDaddy and EIG brands (Bluehost and HostGator) are obviously not good. Hosting affects TTFB, LCP, and other web vitals which will be a ranking factor as of May, 2021.

Here are 22 people who moved to Cloudways and posted their results (click image to enlarge):

Cloudways Numbers
Another Happy Cloudways Customer

Recent Facebook polls taken on “the best hosting” (click image to enlarge):

Moving from SiteGround
eCommerce Hosting Poll

I use Cloudways DigitalOcean who is #1 in most recent Facebook polls.

Cloudways Shoutout

Not saying hosting is everything, but it helps.

2021 PSI Report

This is a simple Pingdom test to measure TTFB + load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I installed the same Astra Starter Site on 16 hosting accounts (using separate domains) while measuring Pingdom load times for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals, as well as TTFB in various tools. No caching or CDN (with same plugins) are being used since I’m strictly comparing the server. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most accounts since it got expensive. Even when browsing through those 2 sites or running your own tests, you’ll see the difference.

WordPress-Hosting-2020-Pingdom-Test

I use Cloudways because:

  • My TTFB is consistently under 200ms.
  • Free migration service made it easy to try them.
  • They continuously update their speed technology.
  • Multiple caching levels (Redis, memcached, Varnish).
  • Support is great as reflected in their Trustpilot reviews.
  • Free SSL, staging, bot protection, cron job management.
  • Monthly pricing with no long-term contracts or high renewals.
  • They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions.
  • Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
  • Their community manager answered my questions when signing up.
  • Launching a server yourself and using their migrator plugin is also easy.
  • Ain’t nobody got time for shared hosting when trying to pass web vitals.

 

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I seriously appreciate it. I try to support my recommendations with real, unbiased evidence. I also make donations ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would help. It’s easy to request a free migration and promo code OMM25 gets you 25% off the first 2 months.

 

5. Disable Heartbeat In The Dashboard

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 Admin Bloat

Most 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

Remove WooCommerce Bloat – use the Disable WooCommerce Bloat plugin to remove WooCommerce widgets, marketplace suggestions, analytics tab notification bar, and other WooCommerce bloat. Also lets you disable WooCommerce scripts, styles, and cart fragments.

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 reduces JavaScript and CSS.

Remove Unused Elementor CSS JavaScript

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

 

7. Remove Database Junk

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 speed up the admin by offloading resources which lightens the load on your server.

  • Cloudflare – fine for smaller sites but can actually increase TTFB as reported in Facebook Groups. If you’re already using it, I suggest using their APO, add a cache everything page rule (or use WP Cloudflare Super Page Cache), and be very careful if using Rocket Loader.
  • BunnyCDN – consistently performant CDN highly recommended in Facebook threads (including this one). If you’re not getting great results with Cloudflare or RocketCDN, I suggest BunnyCDN. Instructions are easy: sign up, select your CDN areas, create a pull zone, and copy/paste your CDN URL into WP Rocket or just use the BunnyCDN plugin.
  • RocketCDN – uses StackPath’s data centers but if you’re going to pay for a CDN, use Bunny. Like Cloudflare, StackPath can actually increase TTFB depending on the website.

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.

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.

https://*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

If you’re using LiteSpeed, use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin.

Otherwise, WP Rocket is the gold standard (see 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 to run your website).

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.

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 doesn’t have, then install extra plugins if it doesn’t support them.

  • Database cleanup – WP-Optimize
  • CSS/JS optimization – Autoptimize
  • Delay JavaScript execution – Flying Scripts
  • Host Google Analytics locally – Flying Analytics
  • CDN URL integration – BunnyCDN / CDN Enabler
  • Heartbeat control – Heartbeat Control / manual code
  • Lazy load images/videos – Optimole / WP YouTube Lyte
  • Preload links / instant page – Perfmatters or Flying Pages
  • Host Facebook Pixel locally – no plugin does this that I know
  • Prefetch/preload – Pre* Party Resource Hints / manual code
  • Font-display:swap – Swap Google Fonts Display / manual code

Get 10% off WP Rocket by signing up for their email list on their coupons page. Then check my recommended WP Rocket settings for optimal GTmetrix scores/load times.

WP Rocket settings (click on image to enlarge):

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

 

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

Redis is similar to object cache (only faster) and can speed up your slow WordPress admin. If your hosting company has an option to activate Redis in your account, I would definitely do it.

Install Redis Cloudways

 

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

And finally, if you haven’t seen my WordPress speed video, it’s worth 44 minutes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

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

The most common remedies for a slow WordPress admin are to remove high CPU plugins, use a better cache plugin, configure it with optimal settings, and upgrade to cloud hosting. If using W3 Total Cache, try disabling object cache.

Will changing hosts fix a slow admin?

High server response times can definitely slow down the admin panel. Changing hosts can speed it up especially if you switch from shared hosting to cloud.

Will a CDN speed up the admin panel?

CDNs offloads resources which lighten the load on your origin server, therefore speeding up both your website and admin panel. Cloudflare and BunnyCDN are both good choices.

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, Blackhole for Bad Bots, or Cloudflare firewall rules to block spam 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. Use 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's configured optimally has a large impact. Make sure you use a top-rated cache plugin and take advantage of the features.

How do I fix a slow WooCommerce admin?

Use the Disable WooCommerce Bloat plugin to disable WooCommerce notices, meta box, marketplace suggestions, and other bloat WooCommerce adds to your dashboard.

How do I fix a slow admin when using Cloudflare?

Try creating a page rule to bypass cache inside the admin, set the Cloudflare security level to high, and disable apps and performance features inside your WordPress dashboard.

Why is the WordPress admin slow on GoDaddy?

GoDaddy overcrowds their servers and has CPU limits. The lack of server resources may result in a slower admin and website.

How do I reduce admin-ajax.php server load?

Disable WordPress Heartbeat, block spam bots from hitting your server, and protect your admin area.

See Also: My Ultimate WordPress Speed Optimization Guide

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

Still have a slow admin? Send me your setup (and GTmetrix report URL) and I’ll share my advice.

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

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