Is your very slow WordPress admin dashboard giving you nightmares? Do you feel like a sloth whenever you try to get anything done in your WordPress site’s admin panel?
A slow WordPress admin dashboard is an absolute killer for your productivity. You’re trying to get important work done, but every time you click to do something, it feels like you’re wading through mud.
Sometimes this will cause your WordPress dashboard to stop from loading entirely. Enough is enough.
Your WordPress admin panel is loading very slowly and it’s time to speed it back up! Here are 9 ways you can fix your slow WordPress dashboard and speed up your WordPress admin panel once and for all.
Free Dashboard Speed eBook
[4 Pages] The 12-Step Checklist to
Achieve Loading Times Under 1 Second
How to Fix a Slow WordPress Admin Dashboard
Before I get into the tips, I want to give you a few suggestions for how to use them. The order in which you try implementing them is important. I’m presenting this list in the rough order they’re likely to actually be affecting your WordPress backend admin panel.
For example, I’ll tell you to both disable object caching as well as try switching themes. However, it’s far more likely that object caching is slowing down your WordPress admin than it is your theme. So only try a new theme (the last item on this list) after you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.
Get it? Ok – let’s dig into how you can fix your slow WordPress admin dashboard.
1. Choose a Better Host or Upgrade Your Hardware
You may want to wait until you’ve exhausted your other options before you go with the nuclear solution. But the fact of the matter is this:
Your slow admin is probably a result of you putting too much stress on your web server. The tips below will help you reduce the stress you’re putting on your server. But that doesn’t change the fact that there may come a time where optimization isn’t enough.
If your site is just getting too resource-heavy, you’ll need to either:
- Pick a host with better performance.
- Upgrade the hardware (e.g. RAM) on your existing host.
If you’re otherwise happy with your hosting situation, you may just want to speak to your provider about upgrading your RAM.
But if you’ve been unhappy with other aspects of your hosting situation, there are many advantage to choosing managed WordPress hosting. We offer our customers a free migration to our fully managed WP Engine servers. With this kind of WordPress-specific hosting solution, you’ll never have to move hosting companies again.
There are also many advantages to choosing Google Cloud Hosting as well. That might be a good fit for a lot of WordPress website!
And if you’re looking for something a little cheaper and want to handle the migration yourself, SiteGround is our partner of choice when it comes to shared hosting. If you decide to go that route, make sure you check out their managed WordPress hosting packages.
2. Disable Database and Object Caching in W3 Total Cache
While W3 Total Cache can be an effective plugin, it’s also an overwhelming plugin. It includes an astonishing number of settings you can configure. And that’s great for advanced users. But for beginners, it can cause mass confusion.
Page cache, browser cache, database cache, object cache, opcode cache…you get the idea. I consider myself fairly adept at WordPress, but it still makes my brain spin! I can’t imagine how beginners feel.
So you know how most beginners react? They see this:
And they assume that more caching must always be a good thing. So they check the box and go along their merry way. Easy, right?
Well, yes…until their WordPress admin starts running like an arthritic turtle. Does that sound like it might be you?
See, the problem with enabling all caching methods in W3 Total Cache is that two of those methods are database caching and object caching.
While those methods can improve your site’s performance in some situations, they’re just as likely to slow your site down. That’s because database and object caching actually put more stress on your server’s memory (in order to take stress off your database).
If you have a dedicated server, that can speed up your site. But if you’re on cheap shared hosting like most people, it will actually slow your site down because you’re more likely to hit a memory bottleneck than a database bottleneck.
So! Step 1: if you’re using a caching plan (especially W3 Total Cache), make sure you disable database and object caching and see if that fixes your problem:
3. Remove High Resource Plugins
Some WordPress plugins do a number on your dashboard’s performance. Common culprits are:
- Some SEO/Analytics plugins
- Broken Link Checker
But they aren’t the only ones. Using P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) can help you suss out other resource hogs. After you install the plugin, you can run it by going to Tools → P3 Plugin Profiler:
Query Monitor is another quality plugin which can help you find bottlenecks in your plugins (as well as some other areas of your site).
And finally, you can also run a manual test by disabling all of your plugins and re-enabling them one by one. If a certain plugin is causing the issue, you might be able to catch it that way.
In the end, if a plugin isn’t essential to the functioning of your site, you should consider removing it. Especially if it’s constantly running.
4. Utilize Proper CloudFlare Page Rules
If you’re not using CloudFlare, you can go ahead and skip this one. But if you are, you definitely need to give this a try.
Most people go through the basic CloudFlare set up process, verify it’s working, and call it a day.
But to maximize your site’s performance, you really should spend a bit more time tweaking its settings. One key switch is setting up page rules to exclude your WordPress admin from CloudFlare. CloudFlare themselves recommend that you make this tweak to avoid breaking your admin area.
To do it, head to Page Rules in your CloudFlare account:
Then create a new rule for “yoursite.com/wp-admin*”. Disable both Performance and Apps.
Remember: these changes will only affect your WordPress admin – you’ll still get the benefits of CloudFlare on your public site.
And that’s all! CloudFlare will now ignore your WordPress admin.
5. Use the Heartbeat Control Plugin
The WordPress Heartbeat API (AKA admin-ajax.php) is great for things like auto-saving, revision control, and managing sessions between multiple WordPress accounts. But it’s not always great for performance.
It adds a number of new PHP calls and can cause high CPU usage. That means a slower WordPress admin.
To lessen the load caused by the Heartbeat API, you can use the free Heartbeat Control plugin.
Install and activate the plugin. Then head to Settings → Heartbeat Control.
I recommend you select Allow only on post edit pages and set the duration to 60 seconds. That way, you’ll still get auto-saving (great for avoiding lost work), but eliminate much of the performance hit by lengthening the duration and disabling the Heartbeat API on other pages in your admin dashboard.
6. Delete WooCommerce Transients
If you’re running WooCommerce, sometimes transients created by WooCommerce can slow down your dashboard. Transients are basically a way of storing remote API calls in your local WordPress database. They certainly have a purpose. But they can also clutter up your database if you’re not careful.
Pippin Williamson’s free Transients Manager plugin lets you manage your transients and delete those which have expired. Give it a shot if you have a large WooCommerce store.
7. Optimize Your WordPress Site’s Database
Ok, I doubt this one will ever completely fix a slow WordPress dashboard all by itself. But optimizing your WordPress database will give you a slight improvement in performance.
By default, WordPress stores unnecessary data like post revisions and trashed comments in your database. Using a plugin like WP-Optimize allows you to clear out all of the junk and streamline your database.
WP-Optimize will also let you delete transients – but I prefer Pippin’s plugin for that because it gives you more control (that’s the one I mentioned in the previous step!).
8. Try Switching Back to the Default Twenty Seventeen Theme
This one is a bit of a last resort. But if nothing else has worked, try switching back to the default Twenty Seventeen. Sometimes themes, especially poorly-coded themes, can wrack up errors and therefore slow your site down. If your theme is buggy, it can affect both your front-end performance as well as the speed of your wp-admin.
If switching back to Twenty Seventeen coincides with a noticeable speed increase for your dashboard, then you’re probably dealing with a bunk theme.
9. Upload Fresh Versions of wp-admin and wp-includes
Here’s another last resort option. If you’re still struggling with a slow dashboard, you can try uploading fresh versions of wp-admin and wp-includes to your server via FTP. Just download the latest version of WordPress and upload only those two folders.
While you shouldn’t break anything uploading just those two folders, it’s definitely a good idea to always make a backup of your site before overwriting anything.
Free Dashboard Speed eBook
[4 Pages] The 12-Step Checklist to
Achieve Loading Times Under 1 Second
Wrapping Things Up
A slow WordPress admin is a quality of life issue. It may still function, but it makes working with WordPress absolutely miserable.
The two most likely causes are:
- Insufficient quality hosting
- Database and object caching
To speed up your WordPress admin panel, you can try to get more money out of your hosting by optimizing your site’s performance with the other tips I gave you, but…you can only put so much lipstick on a pig. If nothing on this list fixed your problem, you may just need to bite the bullet and move to a faster host.