This is a point-to-point discussion on speeding up WordPress through the server end. We only discuss the core basics here. Speeding up WordPress is a combination of multiple factors. Even if your WordPress is well optimized for speed, if the below basic steps are not followed, you will still struggle with page loading speeds. We will only discuss how ‘WordPress Performance’ depends on external factors without talking about WordPress.
Here is everything you need to know before digging WordPress codes and customizing them for improving performance and speed. Let us first satisfy the below conditions as they are the root causes for the degraded performance of WordPress. You can sort out all these problems without logging in to the WordPress dashboard.
Below are the 5 steps to improve WordPress Performance at the server level/ domain level.
Right Server Type
There are 3 server types Apache, NGINX, and Litespeed which are used for WordPress websites. Hosting that your purchase for your website uses either Apache only or, the other two with a combination of Apache. We are here just to know which works better. Apache-only servers don’t go well with WordPress. The TTFB is always slow no matter where the server location is.
Purchase Hosting with a server combination of either ‘Litespeed+Apache‘ or ‘NGINX+Apache‘ or some customized servers to run WordPress is the first thing you should be doing. More on that in a separate article.
As you already know how important server type is, similarly Hosting Brands, where you purchase hosting, is also important. Every hosting has a server location. It is always better to choose the ones near to you.
It is obvious that servers near to your viewers will load faster since the data transfer is also fast. As an example, if your viewers are in India, the hosting location of Singapore will be better than the USA.
Some hostings promote that they provide cloud hosting for dirt cheap with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Cloud hosting isn’t cheap. Always purchase quality hosting for speed, performance, and uptime.
As the name indicates CDN is a Content Delivery Network. CDN companies have their server locations all over the world, more than 10 times the ‘hosting server locations’ (at least). If you add your site to CDN, your website copies are stored all over the world over their networks.
When users access your site, the CDN will deliver content to that user from a nearby location. This increases the loading time for your website for that user. So, using a CDN is always better.
CDNs are expensive. They charge based on a Bandwidth basis. You can also use Cloudflare’s free CDN service to make Google Lighthouse happy. You can find improvement in page loading speed. If your site generates income, you can invest in a Dedicated CDN network.
Remember that when using CDN, only the static content is served and not the whole site, which is obvious. Static content includes all media, CSS, font files, etc. Any other files will be loaded to any user from any part of the world from the main hosting server only, and not from CDN.
Hence CDN will make delivering Static Contents much faster than loading from the actual hosting location. However, sites that use dynamic functions of WordPress, like E-Commerce websites, AJAX.php, etc, are more dependant on the Performance of Actual servers and not CDNs. However, when purchasing hosting for E-Commerce sites, always go for Cloud/ VPS.
If you run a WordPress Blog, which has viewers all across the world, CDN will work the best for you since most of your content is static. In the case of Blogs, your viewers just read. They don’t log in to your WordPress.
WordPress websites running along with Apache servers are only allowed to have ‘.htaccess’ files. If you use NGINX for WordPress, the rule-writing procedure is different.
Before you understand how .htaccess is responsible for slower page loads, first let’s understand how .htaccess works. In simple terms, when a request comes to your website, it has to pass through .htaccess. If there is a rule written to block any specific request, that request will be rejected.
Now if you write ‘too many lines‘ of rules in the .htaccess file, the time required for the request to pass through .htaccess will be longer.
When you have added multiple .htaccess files in every subfolder, if the request comes for a file in a subfolder, then the request has to pass through the main .htaccess first and then the subfolder’s .htaccess which even increases the load time.
In an attempt to Secure WordPress through .htaccess, you may be Impacting its Loading Speed. If possible add rules in ‘functions.php’ file of your theme. Of course! don’t just copy-paste. Avoid having multiple .htaccess files. Only add rules to ‘.htaccess’ if it is very necessary and only if there isn’t any functions.php alternative.
Block Brute-Force Attempts
While any Brute-Force attempts are carried out, the process will consume your Hosting CPU. When intruders are constantly trying to breach through Plugins, Themes, xmlrpc.php, login.php, etc, since your CPU gets utilized more, you may not have enough resources left to serve the website to real viewers.
If you are running a blog site on a shared hosting plan, make sure you have blocked all the access for wp-login.php and xmlrpx.php at the domain level itself. Blocking these files on the WordPress level will consume more CPU when any attacks are carried out. When CPU resources are empty, your site will have degraded performance. If you don’t use Rest API, just disable it completely.
We have a separate article on Blocking Access to wp-login.php at the domain level through Cloudflare.
All these above steps were the core basics of WordPress Performance and Speed at the server level.
In-house Optimizing WordPress comes next. We also have a separate article on Optimizing WordPress for Performance and Speed. We will talk about real WordPress optimization there.