Optimize WordPress

My webhost recently moved all my sites to a ‘stabilization’ server because my sites were using far to much CPU time and Memory. After reviewing the logs it looked like some bot from India decided to repeatedly scrape one of my sites in it’s entirety without any delays between requests. So the support team over there either requires me to correct the problem or upgrade to a dedicated server plan at ridiculous costs.

Since I didn’t really think that there was a problem I emailed back about the single IP address that was causing all the issues and took steps to prevent requests from that IP address from accessing the site. The support team replied saying that my usage was still high and that I still needed to correct the problem. A little frustrated, I did some research on how to improve my site’s load time and hopefully reduce CPU and memory usage.

Most of my sites use wordpress so I found a large number of articles geared specifically to optimizing wordpress blogs. Before I tried anything I backed up my entire public_html directory and did a dump of all my mySQL databases (took almost 20 minutes for the dump).

Dealing with Plugins
The first thing I did was upgrade all my plugins. Most wordpress plugins allow you to upgrade automatically so all you really have to do is click a button and all the work is done for you. I also deactivated and deleted a surprising number of plugins that I haven’t really had any use for recently. Apparently a lot of free plugins can cause large amounts of unneccesary load on your server due to the authors not really knowing or caring how well their software performs.

Dealing with spam bots
I have been using the Akismet plugin for awhile and it has been reporting large amounts of spam comments and pingbacks. It’s not really something that most people worry about because the spam is automatically deleted after a period of time. It does however increase server load, especially if it’s in the thousands of messages a day. I found this little mod_rewrite snippet to deny any blatent spammers that don’t have a proper referer :


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} POST
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} .wp-comments-post\.php*
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.*codytaylor.org.* [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ ^http://lemonparty.org//$ [R=301,L]

Cache and Compress
Since most of my pages rarely change it’s silly to generate every page for every request dynamically. After some reading I decided to use WP Super Cache to help optimize my WordPress sites. Of course just enabling Super Cache in the WP Super Cache plugin didn’t really improve load times for the end user but it should reduce server load immensely. What did improve load times drastically was the Super Cache Compression. This was a little more involved to get going but if you’re comfortable with copying and pasting code into a .htaccess file then it shouldn’t be difficult as long as your host supports mod_mime, mod_rewrite, and mod_deflate.

After going through all that, my sites now average at about half the load time they used to. Hopefully my web host feels that I’ve done enough to get off the ‘stabilization’ server so I don’t have to transfer all my stuff to another company.

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3 Responses to “Optimize WordPress”

  • Ron Says:

    Great post! thanks for the great information.

  • Jamie Says:

    Found your post after researching the subject. My blog is currently on a “Stabiliser Server”! You commented on one of the posts I found, so I thought I’d pop over.

    Glad I did, I’ve installed Super Cache but didn’t sort out the compression. I’m off to do that now.

    How did you get on with your host?

  • Cody Taylor Says:

    Even after I optimized my sites and was using very little cpu they refused to put me back on a proper server. I canceled and am now happily with dreamhost.

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