Slow WordPress dashboard?

A slow WordPress admin panel is usually caused by one of these high CPU plugins. You can also use the Query Monitor plugin and GTmetrix Waterfall to see your slowest loading plugins.

It could also be your server – run your site through PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report (Google recommends under 200ms). If your server is slow, look at these people who moved to SiteGround or Cloudways and how it impacted their load times. These were the top 2 rated hosts in 20+ Facebook polls. I was personally using SiteGround’s semi-dedicated GoGeek plan but eventually upgraded to Cloudways DigitalOcean and here’s what happened (TLDR; ditch your shared hosting and go with semi-dedicated or cloud hosting).

This tutorial shows you how to speed up both your website and WordPress admin panel. It should also improve load times/grades in GTmetrix/Pingdom. My WordPress speed guide has additional tips and 400 comments like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93.”

Speed Up Your WordPress Dashboard

  1. Avoid High CPU Plugins
  2. Disable “Object Cache” In W3 Total Cache
  3. Upgrade To PHP 7.4
  4. Check Server Response Times
  5. Avoid EIG Hosting
  6. Switch To SiteGround
  7. Optimize Cache Plugin Settings
  8. Schedule Database Cleanups
  9. Offload Resources To Cloudflare
  10. Offload Resources To StackPath
  11. Add Cloudflare Page Rules
  12. Configure Cloudflare’s Speed Settings
  13. Configure WP Disable
  14. Block Bad Bots (With Wordfence)
  15. Disable Unused Plugin Settings
  16. Delete Unused Plugins/Themes
  17. Identify The Source (Using AWstats)
  18. Frequently Asked Questions

Summary
Avoid slow plugins, use Query Monitor to find slow plugins, upgrade to PHP 7.4, use PageSpeed Insights to see if you need to reduce server response time, avoid GoDaddy + EIG since they’re infamous for slow servers, consider SiteGround (shared hosting) or Cloudways (faster cloud hosting), use WP Rocket (#1 cache plugin in 6 polls), disable “object cache” if you’re using W3 Total Cache, use Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters to selectively disable plugins, clean database with WP Rocket or WP-Optimize, use Cloudflare + StackPath’s CDN (more data centers = faster website), setup Cloudflare Page Rules, + speed settings, and use Wordfence to find spam bots that hit your site.

 

1. Avoid High CPU Plugins

Thank you Ivica from the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group for contributing to this list (and ps. that’s an amazingly helpful group if you need tips on WordPress speed). The most common slow plugins are social sharing, backup, statistic, chat, sliders, page builders, and plugins that run ongoing scans/processes – or appear multiple times in your GTmetrix report.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link checker (use Dr. Link Check)
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Essential Grid
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Use Query Monitor to find your slowest plugins:

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

Or use GTmetrix Waterfall:

Slow WordPress Plugin

Alternative Lightweight Plugins

 

2. 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 150,000 people with like… a million comments.

However W3 Total Cache has bugs and the plugin developer doesn’t go a great job updating it – so do yourself a favor and switch to WP Rocket if you have $49 (they’re almost always rated the #1 cache plugin in Facebook polls) or WP Fastest Cache which is free and usually rated #2.

W3 Total Cache Object Cache

 

3. Upgrade To PHP 7.4

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

WordPress PHP Benchmarks

But most WordPress users run outdated PHP versions:

WordPress-PHP-Version-Stats

Even though most hosts support it:

Supported-PHP-Versions

Your hosting company will not automatically upgrade you to the latest version of PHP since your theme/plugins may not be compatible (and they don’t want to break your site). This means you need to upgrade PHP versions yourself or ask your host for help. It also means if you’ve been on the same host for many years and have never done it, you’re probably still on PHP 5.6.

Step 1: Install the Display PHP Version plugin to check your current version.

Display-PHP

Step 2: Run the PHP Compatibility Checker to make sure your theme/plugins are compatible.

PHP-Compatibility-Checker

Step 3: Upgrade to PHP 7.4 by looking for a “PHP Version Manager” in your hosting account.

PHP-Version-Manager

PHP-Upgrade

*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).

 

4. Check Server Response Times

Server Response Time – run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights to see if reduce server response time is in your report. Google recommends a response time of under 200ms.

Reduce Server Response Time

TTFBtime to first byte measures the responsiveness of your web server (hosting). Run your site through bytecheck.com and it should ideally be <500ms, however <200ms is even better.

Time-To-First-Byte

You can also check TTFB in the GTmetrix Timings tab…

GTmetrix-TTFB

 

5. Avoid EIG Hosting

The same company (EIG) owns Bluehost, HostGator, iPage, Site5, Unified Layer, and over 60 different hosting companies. They are known for cutting costs by packing too many people on the same server (stressing it out) and have horrible reviews because of it. Many websites hosted by EIG have high response times, and I would avoid using these companies at all costs.

List-Of-EIG-Brands

EIG-Facebook-Post

 

6. Switch To SiteGround

Hosting is the #1 factor of site speed and affects both your website and admin panel.

SiteGround is used by Yoast, myself, and recommended by WordPress. They are #1 in nearly every Facebook poll and give most people significant load time improvements especially if they were using mediocre hosts: GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, Dreamhost, EIG.

Yoast-on-Twitter-We-just-switched-to-Siteground

I use their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan which comes with 4x more server resources than shared hosting. Click through my pages to see how fast they load, check out my GTmetrix report, or see people who migrated and posted new load times. They also do free migrations.

DigitalOcean on Cloudways and Kinsta are also good and start at $10/month and $30/month. Cloudways is more for developers who don’t need cPanel, email hosting, or the support you get with SiteGround. Kinsta is basically what WP Engine used to be (pricey, but awesome). My entire blog is basically dedicated to helping people make their website load faster. I refuse to recommend $2/month hosting since it’s most people’s biggest regret when running a website.

People usually migrate because their speed technology can cut load times in half:

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

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

Happy customers:

Godaddy To SiteGround Migration

EIG-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Migration

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround WordPress Hosting

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 their features page:

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

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 with my affiliate link I will donate a good chunk at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k 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. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they are a stellar WordPress host and your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Facebook groups + Twitter and you’ll find most people say the same.

 

7. Optimize Cache Plugin Settings

WP Rocket is $49 but was rated the #1 cache plugin in multiple Facebook polls (using my aff link is appreciated). It comes with many speed features most cache plugins don’t (see below) which makes your site load even faster. It’s always updated with new features and is one of the easiest cache plugins to configure (see my tutorial) with extensive documentation. Support is great, unlike most cache plugins, and it doesn’t have bugs which is what most complaints about W3TC are about. Caching is a key factor in the WordPress optimization guide and it’s worth having a fast, reliable, easy cache plugin that will speed up both your website and admin panel.

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 plugins comes with, then install these plugins if it doesn’t support them.

WP-Rocket-Features

WP-Rocket-Heartbeat-Control

WP-Rocket-Media-Settings

Most people have a cache plugin installed, but the settings aren’t configured optimally. Review my tutorials to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

 

8. Schedule Database Cleanups

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

If using WP Rocket, do this in the database settings:

WP-Rocket-Database-Settings

If not using WP Rocket, use the WP-Optimize plugin:

WP-Optimize-Database-Cleanup

 

9. Offload Resources To Cloudflare

Cloudflare and StackPath are CDNs which host your website files on multiple data centers around the world (I use both since more data centers = faster content delivery). This delivers content from the closest data center to your visitor while offloading resources (reducing bandwidth consumption). This is a recommendation in the WordPress optimization guide.

Cloudflare helps offload bandwidth consumption:

Cloudflare-Bandwidth

Simply sign up for a free account, add your website, and change nameservers:

Cloudflare Nameservers

I have a full tutorial on how to configure Cloudflare’s settings but will include parts in this tutorial that are related to reducing bandwidth and making your WordPress admin load faster.

 

10. Offload Resources To StackPath

StackPath is another CDN which offloads even more bandwidth to their 31 data centers. They are heavily located in the United States which is where most of my visitors are from, so it makes sense for me. They are $10/month with a free 30-day trial if you want to try them out.

StackPath-CDN-Analytics

StackPath Data Centers

StackPath vs. Cloudflare – Cloudflare is free and has 200+ data centers. It helps with both speed/security but they don’t provide support for the free plan. StackPath has 31 data centers and is $10/month with a free 30 day trial. One of the most valuable things about StackPath is their support team who helped configure it… they got my GTmetrix YSlow score to 100%.

Step 1: Sign up for StackPath’s free 30-day trial.

Step 2: In the dashboard, click the CDN tab, then create a StackPath CDN Site:

StackPath-CDN-Tab

CDN-URL-StackPath

Step 3: Copy StackPath’s CDN URL and paste it into your cache plugin (or use CDN Enabler):

WP-Rocket-CDN-Settings

Step 4: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click Purge Everything

StackPath-Purge-Cache

Step 5: Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow.

CDN GTmetrix YSlow

 

11. Add Cloudflare Page Rules

Cloudflare says

“We recommend that you create a Page Rule to exclude the admin section of your website from Cloudflare’s performance features. Features such as Rocket Loader and Auto Minification may inadvertently break backend functions in your admin section.”

Go to your page rules settings

CloudFlare-Page-Rules-Settings

Page Rule 1: Optimizing And Protecting WP Admin – you usually don’t want your cache your admin section, performance features should be disabled (like Cloudflare recommends), and set the security level to high. The asterisk makes the rule apply to all URLs containing wp-admin.

WP-Admin-Page-Rule

Page Rule 2: Prevent Cloudflare From Frequently Refreshing The Cache On Stale Pages – since items in your WordPress uploads file do not change frequently, you don’t have to cache them as much, which saves bandwidth since Cloudflare won’t have to go back to your server to pull a fresh copy of the cache as much. Learn what sections of your website aren’t updated frequently, then create page rules that increase the Browser Cache TTL and Edge Cache TTL.

Cloudflare-WP-Uploads-Page-Rule

Page Rule 3: Aggressively Cache Everything – aggressively caches your website.

Cache-Everything-Cloudflare-Page-Rule

 

12. Configure Cloudflare’s Speed Settings

Go to your Cloudflare speed settings. Minifying files, optimizing images, brotli (similar to gzip compression), and SG Railgun + Rocket Loader should make your website and admin panel load faster, as they also put less stress on your server. If minify + gzip compression are enabled in your cache plugin, you should disable them in Cloudflare (avoid duplicate functionality).

Cloudflare-Speed-Tab

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 even though the image is on their site, you are consuming the bandwidth.

 

13. Configure WP Disable

WP Disable and Clearfy let you disable settings in WordPress that consume CPU and slow down your site. It also has options for heartbeat control (if you remember the heartbeat control plugin you can now delete it and just use this)… as well as a few other options that can speed up your admin panel/website. Go through the settings and select the ones you want.

Tips On WP Disable

WP-Disable-Requests

WP-Disable-Tags-Settings

WP-Disable-Admin

WP-Disable-SEO.

WP-Disable-Others

 

14. Block Bad Bots (With Wordfence)

Within minutes of configuring Wordfence’s blocking and rate limiting, I was able to block over 1,000 spammy bot requests within the first 5 minutes of configuring it (and I’m super happy about it). I will show you how to check what bots are hitting your site, and how to block them.

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: Go to Wordfence’s Blocking settings and add the spam bots you wish to block. Asterisks serve as wildcards, so if I block *amazonaws.com* it means any hostnames containing amazonaws.com (whether it has characters before or after it) would be blocked. I have saved thousands of requests/bandwidth just by blocking these two spammy hostnames:

Wordfence-Blocking-Rule

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

Wordfence-Firewall-Blocking

Step 5: Configure Wordfence’s rating limiting. This limits/blocks crawlers (and humans) from making excessive requests, blocks fake Google crawlers, and improves security on 404 pages. The settings below are the same ones recommended by Wordfence on their rate limiting page.

Wordfence-Rate-Limiting

Tweak the Wordfence settings to limit bandwidth consumed by this plugin:

The Block Bad Queries plugin also protects your site against known bad bots. It’s a “one click and done” plugin with a perfect 5 star review – an easy way to reduce CPU from spammy bots.

Block-Bad-Queries

 

15. Disable Unused Plugin Settings

Go through each of your plugins and decide which settings you can turn off (this will lower CPU). For example, in Yoast under Settings > General > Features I disabled the following…

Yoast-Feature-Settings

Disable plugin settings that:

Examples:

 

16. Delete Unused Plugins/Themes

Unused themes store preconfigured settings in your WordPress database (similar to plugins). First go to your plugins menu and deactivate/delete ALL plugins you’re not currently using…

Delete-WordPress-Plugins

Now go to Appearance > Themes and delete all themes you’re not using…

Delete-Unused-WordPress-Themes

 

17. Identify The Source (Using AWstats)

AWStats is built-in to most cPanels (SiteGround, Bluehost, Godaddy) in the “statistics” section. You can also use the WP Server Stats plugin but AWStats is detailed and definitely preferred.

AWStats helps you find:

Monthly-Bandwidth

Spammy bots…

Robots-Spiders-Bandwidth

Images usually consume lots of bandwidth…

File-Type-Bandwidth

There are over 20 ways to optimize images (which aside from plugins, are one of the heaviest elements on many websites). That tutorial shows you how to fix all the GTmetrix items below.

Image-Optimizations-In-GTmetrix

 

18. 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 GTmetirx

Watch My Video – it’s a 42 minute video, but I cover pretty much everything (timestamps in video description) and you should learn a ton of great information on WordPress site speed:

Did it work? Let me know in the comments.

Still slow? Send me your GTmetrix report – glad to take a look :-)

Cheers,
Tom