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

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. Disable “object cache” in W3 Total Cache

If you’re using W3 Total Cache, disable object cache in the General settings. See my W3 Total Cache settings to make sure everything is configured properly since Cloudflare or other CDNs may also be the culprit – plus most people don’t have the “performance tabs” setup correctly. That tutorial has been used by over 1 million people with 600+ comments. However, W3 Total Cache is complicated to setup and I recommend using WP Rocket or LiteSpeed Cache instead.

W3 Total Cache Object Cache

 

2. Remove 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 Slow Plugins
Query Monitor lets you find slow plugins (delete it when you’re done)
WP Hive
WP Hive shows a plugin’s impact on memory usage + PSI when searching the WP repository

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 + delayed JavaScript.
  • Theme + Page Builder – Oxygen Builder, GeneratePress, Astra + Gutenberg, Genesis Framework (StudioPress themes), or Elementor Hello Theme if you insist on Elementor.

 

3. 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');
}

 

4. Remove admin bloat

Removing unwanted bloat can also help speed it up your WordPress admin. Most admin bloat can be disabled with the Perfmatters, Widget Disable, and Disable WooCommerce Bloat plugin.

Perfmatters – does bloat removal and asset unloading (disabling unused CSS/JS on specific pages and posts). For bloat removal, it can disable pingbacks, trackbacks, heartbeat, XML-RPC, jQuery migrate, limit post revisions, increase the autosave interval, and many other settings that can fix a slow WordPress admin. It can 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

Widget Disable – disable unused widgets in your dashboard with a simple interface.

Widget Disable

Disable WooCommerce Bloat – removes WooCommerce admin junk including widgets, marketplace suggestions, the analytics tab notification bar, Jetpack promotions, and more. It also lets you disable WooCommerce scripts/styles on non-eCommerce pages + cart fragments.

Disable WooCommerce Bloat

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

Hide SEO Bloat – if you’re using Yoast, this plugin removes all Yoast’s advertisements.

 

5. 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

WooCommerce – if you’re running WooCommerce, transients and customer sessions can cause bloat and slow down the admin. Clear them in WooCommerce Status Settings → Tools.

Clear-WooCommerce-Junk

 

6. Protect the wp-login page

The wp-admin and wp-login pages are one of the most common targets for bots. By moving (and protecting) these pages, you will not only improve security but you’ll also stop spammy bots from consuming server resources when they attempt to login to your site which can lower CPU.

How To Protect The Admin

  • Use Wordfence to view bots hitting your login page
  • Move your WordPress login page to block spam bots
  • Enable bot protection using Cloudflare (or Cloudways)
  • Use a Cloudflare page rule to protect the wp-admin area

Step 1: Install Wordfence.

Step 2: View your live traffic report (in Wordfence > Tools) and you might see a lot of bots hitting your wp-login page. You may also see other spam bots like compute.amazonaws.com. Googlebot is obviously OK, but view your report for a minute or two and see if sketchy bots are constantly hitting your site. You can Google their hostnames and see if others report it as spam.

WordPress login bot spam

Step 3: Move your wp-admin and wp-login page using Perfmatters or WPS Hide Login. I moved mine to onlinemediamasters.com/omm (bots aren’t usually smart enough to see you moved it).

Move WordPress login URL

Step 4: Enable bot protection (can be done in Cloudflare or some hosts like Cloudways).

Cloudflare Bot Fight Mode

Step 5: Create a page rule in Cloudflare to protect your admin area. As you’ll below, I set a high security level, bypassed cache in the admin, and disable apps + performance features (i.e. Rocket Loader) from running in the admin. If you moved the login page, use that, not wp-admin.

WordPress-Admin-Page-Rule

There are also plugins like Blackhole For Bad Bots that can help you block them as well.

 

7. Switch to faster cloud hosting

If you have a slow TTFB, join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group (WP Speed Matters is good too) to get unbiased feedback since most hosting recommendations are honestly garbage.

I use Cloudways is who is #1 in most recent Facebook polls and my TTFB is consistently <200ms. I’m currently on their Vultr High Frequency plan, but DigitalOcean is good too. It’s $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about fast cloud hosting, not cheap hosting with slow TTFBs.

Instead of reading biased reviews, I encourage you to do your own research. Join Facebook Groups and look at polls, migration results, and conversations on “the best hosting” (shown below). Check out Backlinko’s PageSpeed Test where he found SiteGround had a slow TTFB. You already know GoDaddy and EIG brands (Bluehost + HostGator) are not good choices. WP Engine went downhill, Hostinger writes fake reviews, and NameCheap is mainly for domains.

Recent Facebook polls show many people are moving away from low quality hosts to Cloudways, LiteSpeed, Kinsta, GridPane, and A2 Hosting (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

Moving from SiteGround
eCommerce Hosting Poll

People who moved to Cloudways and posted their results (click thumbnails to enlarge):

Cloudways Numbers
Cloudways-BuddyBoss
Cloudways Shoutout
Giving them a shout out in the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group
GTmetrix Report - OMM
I use Vultr High Frequency and you can click through my site to see how fast it loads
Digital Ocean Recommendation
DigitalOcean is also good and recommended in the WordPress optimization guide

Hosting and admin

WordPress admin speed on Cloudways

Why I use Cloudways:

  • My TTFB is consistently <200ms
  • The WordPress admin loads instantly
  • Easier to pass web vitals on cloud hosting
  • Monthly pricing and free 3-day trials are nice
  • Server-level caching (Redis makes a big difference)
  • They do a free migration and have a migrator plugin
  • Support is fast/helpful as reflected in Trustpilot reviews
  • Choice of 5 cloud hosts: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode
  • They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions
  • Only major con is no email hosting, but there’s an option for Rackspace

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways with my affiliate link, thank you! Most affiliates recommend things only for commissions but I take mine seriously and support them with evidence. I also donate to GoFundMe campaigns and everything helps. They do free migrations but if you have questions about launching a server or anything else, you can reach out to me by leaving a comment. Cheers to a faster TTFB.

Cloudways Coupon Code
Sign up for Cloudways with promo code OMM25 to get 25% off 2 months

 

8. Upgrade PHP version

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 Settings Packages
Keep your speed technology updated in your hosting account

 

9. Increase memory limit

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

 

10. Use server-level caching

Server-level caching is faster than file-based caching done by most cache plugins.

Some hosts (especially cloud hosts) let you use server-level caching. For this example, in Cloudways I have memcached, Redis, and NGINX caching enabled while Varnish is disabled. SiteGround, Kinsta, WP Engine, and other hosts have similar options for server-level caching.

Cloudways Manage Services

 

11. Limit post revisions and autosaves

Limiting post revisions (automatic post backups taken when you hit the publish button) and increasing the autosave interval can lower CPU and speed up the admin. Open your wp-config.php file and add the code below. There are also plugins that do this such as Perfmatters.

define('WP_POST_REVISIONS', 5);
define('AUTOSAVE_INTERVAL', 300); // seconds

 

12. Offload resources to a CDN

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

 

13. Disable plugin data sharing

If a plugin even asks you to share data to help improve their plugin, I personally don’t. Sorry plugin developers, but this consumes (a very, very small amount) of resources to send the data.

Disable plugin data sharing

 

14. Disable unused plugin modules

Module-based plugins let you disable specific features. Just like reducing plugins, you want to reduce modules and disable those you don’t need. Check your database (in WP-Optimize) to see if some modules are more heavy than others. For example, Rank Math’s analytics module was the 3rd largest file in my database, so I disabled it and use Google Search Console instead.

Rank Math Modules

 

15. Disable WordPress embeds

If you have high quality images on your site (i.e photography), people might try to copy/paste images from your website to theirs. This can slow down your WordPress admin because it consumes bandwidth. You can prevent people from doing this by enabling hotlink protection in Cloudflare’s Scrape Shield settings or Disable WordPress Embeds in WP Rocket Media settings.

Cloudflare Hotlink Protection

 

16. Monitor CPU usage and TTFB

Slow admins are often caused by high CPU usage or slow TTFBs.

Login to your hosting account to check CPU usage. As I’ve mentioned throughout in this guide, high CPU usage can cause a slow admin. Shared hosting and SiteGround have strict CPU limits.

CPU Usage

And if your TTFB is slow (over 600ms), it’s probably your hosting.

Reduce Server Response Time

 

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 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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