How To Fix iPage’s Slow WordPress Hosting (Using PHP 7+ Cloudflare, Cache Plugins, And Speed Optimization Plugins)

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WordPress site running slow on iPage?

iPage wasn’t even on the charts in this WordPress hosting Facebook poll (and nowhere in last year’s poll either) which was taken by the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group with 8,000 members. iPage is owned by EIG who is known for acquiring hosting companies and cutting costs by downgrading hardware which hurts their customer’s load times + uptimes. They also use PHP 5 when PHP 7 makes your website load much faster and has been out for years.

I will show you how to improve load times regardless of your host, but you may want to switch to someone like SiteGround who was rated #1 since their speed technology is much faster with PHP 7, faster NGINX servers, plus they will migrate you for free. I use their GoGeek (comes with 4x more server resources which is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide) and I have .2s load times in Pingdom and .5s in GTmetrix.

Are your iPage servers slow?

Comment if you have questions – let me know what GTmetrix items you need help with!

 

1. Test Your Site In GTmetrix

Run your site through GTmetrix and look at the Page Speed + YSlow tab. Expand each item and see if you need to optimize (or delete) certain plugins that show up multiple times in your report, optimize images, or use a cache plugin to fix the cache/minify items. You can also use the Waterfall tab to see which plugins/individual elements take the longest to load. This tutorial should help you fix most of these – so benchmark your current GTmetrix report!

Slow-WordPress-Site-GTmetrix

This video should help (timestamps are in the video description):

 

2. Check If Your iPage Server Is Slow

Run your site through PageSpeed Insights to see if you need to reduce server response time

Reduce Server Response Time

Use bytecheck.com to check time to first byte which also measures server response time…

TTFB-Check

You can also check your time to first byte (TTFB) in GTmetrix’s Waterfall tab…

GTmetrix-Time-To-First-Byte

Now check your bandwidth usage in iPage’s cPanel. This doesn’t particularly mean your server is slow, but that your server is stressed by the amount of resources your website is consuming (eg. using too many resource-hungry plugins, very large images, not caching your website, etc).

iPage-Bandwidth-Usage

Slow server or time to first byte? I’m not going to tell you to upgrade hosting if you don’t need to, but if these aren’t close to the 320ms Google recommends it means your iPage server is slow. Unfortunately the only WordPress hosting iPage offers is cheap shared hosting (not semi-dedicated or cloud hosting) which means as long as you’re on iPage, servers may be slow.

 

3. Check Which PHP Version You’re Running

PHP 7.3 is the latest version of PHP and makes your site load faster…

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

Check your PHP version in the server information section of iPage’s cPanel. You’ll likely see 5.5 since iPage doesn’t support PHP 7 as they don’t keep up-to-date with the latest technologies.

iPage-Server-Information

 

4. Configure A Cache Plugin

iPage offers built-in caching in the Web Cache Control Tool of their cPanel. However this only takes care of caching items in your GTmetrix report while WordPress plugins like WP Rocket can fix a TON of other items. Turn iPage’s cache off and use a WordPress cache plugin instead.

iPage-Web-Cache-Control

WP Rocket was rated the #1 cache plugin in many Facebook Polls and is what I use on my WordPress site. It’s $49/year but is worth it if you’re serious about your speed optimization. Otherwise WP Fastest Cache and W3 Total Cache are decent, and I wrote tutorials for both.

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

Here’s a snapshot of some of the WP Rocket settings. Be sure to use that tutorial to configure everything since WP Rocket helps with many items in GTmetrix: caching, minify, combining files, database cleanup, video optimization (lazyloading), Cloudflare, preloading, and more.

WP-Rocket-Cache-Settings

 

5. Clean Your Database

This removes unnecessary bloat from your site (post revisions, spam, transients, tables left by WordPress plugins you deleted, etc). WP Rocket has an option to do this in the “database” tab.

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

You can also use the WP-Optimize plugin…

WP-Optimize Clean Database

 

6. Setup Cloudflare

Most cache plugins have options to setup Cloudflare which is a free CDN (content delivery network) that mirrors your website files on multiple servers around the world. This reduces the geographical distance it takes for your content to travel to your visitor which is a factor in the WordPress optimization guide. The first step is to sign up for a free Cloudflare account.

If using WP Rocket, go to your Cloudflare profile and copy/paste your account email + global API key into WP Rocket’s Cloudflare settings. Some WordPress hosts (like SiteGround) have an option to activate it in the cPanel. Other cache plugins have similar options as WP Rocket.

WP-Rocket-Cloudflare-Add-On

 

7. Configure WP Disable

WP Disable turns off unnecessary features that cause your WordPress site to be slow on iPage (and it has other speed features). Install the plugin then go through the settings and turn off everything you don’t use. I provided screenshots for reference of what I use on my site…

WP-Disable-Requests

WP-Disable-Tags-Settings

WP-Disable-Admin

/WP-Disable-SEO.

WP-Disable-Others

Host Google Analytics Locally – if you see the “leverage browser caching” item in your GTmetrix report, WP Disable can fix this. Paste your Google Analytics UA code into WP Disable then delete any GA tracking codes on your site (including Google Analytics plugins).

WP-Disable-Google-Analytics-Local

Retest your site in GTmetrix and this should fix “leverage browser caching”…

Leverage-Brower-Caching-Google-Analytics

 

8. Resize Large Images

There are 3 ways to optimize images in GTmetrix – serve scaled images (resizing large images), optimize images (lossless compression), and specify image dimensions (adding a width/height in the image’s HTML). GTmetrix only tests unoptimized images for a single page, so start by optimizing images that appear on multiple pages (logo, sidebar/footer images, etc). Then run your most important pages/posts through GTmetrix and optimize images on those.

image-optimization

Serve Scaled Imagesresize large images to be smaller. GTmetrix tells you the correct dimensions. Just click the image in GTmetrix, resize it to the new dimensions, and replace it.

Serve Scaled Images

 

9. Losslessly Compress Images

Imagify and Kraken are the best plugins for this (they’re free until you reach a monthly compression limit). Other image compression plugins can either break your site or don’t work well – trust me I have tried the majority of them. I personally use Imagify which is easy…

  1. Sign up for Imagify
  2. Install the Imagify Plugin
  3. You will be prompted with the instructions below
  4. Enter your API key from your Imagify account
  5. Set your compression level (normal, aggressive, ultra)
  6. Imagif’em all (photo below) with bulk optimizes all images on your site
  7. Once you’ve reached your limit, pay $4.99 or wait next month to reset your limit

imagify

Now you can bulk optimize all the images on your site…

imagify-wordpress-image-optimization

 

10. Specify Image Dimensions

This means you need to specify a width and height in the image’s HTML or CSS. This usually happens with images that appear in your widgets, HTML, or CSS sections of your website since this visual editor takes care of this automatically. GTmetrix will again provide you with the correct dimensions, then you need to locate that image and specify the width and height…

Specify Image Dimensions

 

11. Delete Unused Plugins

If you have WordPress plugins you don’t use, you need to delete those…

Delete-WordPress-Plugins

Some plugins are slower than others. You can learn your heaviest plugins by using the GTmetrix Waterfall tab to locate specific plugins that appear multiple times in your report.

Slow WordPress Plugin

 

12. Use Lightweight Plugins

Sliders – Soliloquy and Meta Slider are both good, lightweight slider plugins. I have used Soliloquy and quite a few client websites and it’s super easy to use, looks nice, and has minimal impact on load times. I would stay away from Revolution Slider and Layer Slider because even though they’re robust with tons of options, they’ll probably slow down your site significantly.

Gallery – Envira Gallery  and FooGallery are good. Avoid NextGEN Gallery and Essential Grid which are slow. Envira has a lite (free) version but it doesn’t come with features like albums, tags, social media integration, gallery templates, deeplinking, pagination, and ecommerce.

Social Sharing – Sassy Social Share and DVK Social Sharing are both good with high ratings.

 

13. Avoid Google Maps + Advertisements

Google Maps and AdSense are notorious for slowing down websites. I would avoid these at all costs since they will ruin your GTmetrix report (affiliate marketing is usually more profitable than AdSense anyway). If using Google Maps, try to just include 1 map on your contact page.

GTmetrix-Advertisements

 

14. Avoid Hosting Multiple Websites On 1 iPage Account

You only have limited server resources on your iPage hosting account. The more websites you host under 1 account, the more resources they consume – and the more stress it puts on your server. This is especially true for medium-high traffic websites or those that use heavy plugins.

 

15. Install An AMP Plugin (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

AMP is a Google project that makes your mobile pages load faster while giving you that nice AMP stamp in Google’s mobile search results. An AMP plugin will change the design of your mobile site, but it will also significantly improve your mobile load times. Do it if you can…

Instructions

amp-pages

 

16. Switch To SiteGround (#1 Host In 18 Facebook Polls)

I use SiteGround’s WordPress hosting who was the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls, and I have 100% GTmetrix scores with 200ms response times. They’re also recommended by WordPress.

Click through my pages to see how fast they load, or see people who already migrated and posted their new load times on Twitter (shown below). This is because their speed technology uses NGINX servers, SSDs, Cloudflare, PHP 7.3, and SG Optimizer plugin. I’m on their semi-dedicated plan which comes with 4x more server resources (the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide) and they also do free migrations. Hosting reviews are infamous for being biased. Take a look at the polls and load time improvements, then you can decide for yourself.

2019 Hosting Poll
View Poll

People usually migrate because their speed technology can improve server response times by multiple seconds. Here are a few people who migrated to SiteGround and posted their results.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

My GTmetrix report on their GoGeek:

2019-GTmetrix-Report

OMM-On-SiteGround

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround-Plans

Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.

You can see this on the features page

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Chart

I use SiteGround because:

  1. My GTmetrixPingdom reports speak for themselves
  2. My pages load instantly (click through them if you want)
  3. Fast speed technology (PHP 7.3, NGINX, SG Optimizer, Cloudflare)
  4. Recommended by Yoast, WordPress, Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
  5. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
  6. WordPress support is unbeatable even without GoGeek’s priority support
  7. GrowBig comes with staging, more storage, and more server resources (scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” and hover over the server tab)
  8. GoGeek comes with even more server resources, storage, priority support
  9. Free migrations, migrator plugin, and a 30-day money back guarantee
  10. Plenty of praise on Reddit, Facebook conversations, Twitter, TrustPilot
  11. Tons of praise on Facebook: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7#8, #9, #10#11
  12. Many people already migrated and posted results on Twitter: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no cost to you. Each year I donate $3,000 to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, 2017 was to Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I genuinely appreciate it. Either way, I would avoid iPage – join some Facebook groups and look at real conversations, polls, tweets, and people who migrated from iPage to SiteGround. I refuse to recommend iPage or anything owned by EIG. Do your research, see who Yoast uses, and the results of people who migrated.

I’ll just leave these here…

wordpress-hosting-question

Another-Happy-SiteGround-Client

SiteGround-Load-Time-Improvement

Fast-SiteGround-Page-Load-Times

 

Conclusion: Optimize Your Site, But iPage’s Hosting Isn’t Great

Stay clear of anything owned by EIG (iPage, Bluehost, HostGator, etc). They’re not a good company and put profits over people. I still hope you were able to improve your GTmetrix scores/load time. Let me know if you have any questions – I’m here to help if you need it.

Cheers!
Tom

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