Too Many Plugins Slow Down Your WordPress Blog

I know you’re crazy about using plugins for your WordPress blogs. I am, too!

Plugins can enhance your blogs in so many ways. Do you want to encourage readers to sign up for your RSS feed? Is cutting down or eliminating comment spam important to you? How about optimizing your blog pings, streamlining your SEO efforts, automating backups, or even creating an archives page?

WordPress Plugins can be found for these and many other tasks. Check out the WordPress Plugin Directory where you can search over 1,500 plugins. Download as many as you want and try them out. No doubt you will find some real keepers.

The only caution here is that some plugins may not be updated to work with your WP version. Check the authors’ website to pick up the important details about the plugins you like. The best and most stable plugins are usually updated fairly quickly after WP is updated.

The downside to loading up your blogs with plugins is that too much of a good thing is…well, too much! Too many requests to your server to create your pages and your visitors are outta there. Why? It just takes too long. Also, all those plugins need to be kept up-to-date, so that means more time spent on blog maintenance.

Check to see if your theme and all the plugins you use are taking up too much server time by adding one line to the footer.php file of your theme:

<!-- <?php echo get_num_queries(); ?> queries -->

Essentially, we’re calling on the server to tell us how many times the server was accessed to create your page. The only way you will see the result of get_num_queries() is to go to your blog and View > Page Source. Look for a comment line in the footer, something like

<!-- 12 queries -->

If you see more than 20 or so queries, your server is being worked too hard and your pages will load slowly. Deactivate plugins, one at a time, and refresh your blog page. You’ll see the number of server requests, or queries, drop.

Delete plugins that are too costly in terms of the number of queries they demand and you’ll find a happy medium between too many requests that slow down your server and too few requests that make for a dull blogging experience.

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35 Responses to Too Many Plugins Slow Down Your WordPress Blog

  1. Viraj says:

    A little Its a very good post. I use a lot of plugins for my site so will help me prune out the useless ones.

  2. connor says:

    Wow! I had 43 queries, but my page is still loading fast. It is my own home server, so is that ok? It is not like I am bogging down a shared hosting plan and they are gonna kick/ban me. I am hosting it on IIS6/Windows Server 2003 and it loads fast still with 43 queries…so do I need to remove plug-ins or not?

    Thanks

  3. LizzyFin says:

    Hey Connor!
    How are you checking whether your site is loading fast? If it’s via your own machine, are the pages cached already? Try viewing your site from an anonymous site or library computer that likely hasn’t seen it before to get the true picture. If you want to be kind to any dial-up users, then you’ll want to delete a few of those plugins so the pages load faster.
    Good luck!

  4. Samuel says:

    Hi Lizzyfin,
    Without any plugins the number of queries on my site is 48. Is this the problem with the theme? With plugins it is 76. What should I do now. I don’t want to change the theme, because somewhere I read that changing the themes frequently will affect SEO.

  5. LizzyFin says:

    Hey Samuel,

    I see that your WP blog is using WP-Super-Cache to get around the potentially long page-loading time with having so many queries. Never mind though, your page loaded in 1.2 seconds so I doubt that will turn away many people. Good on ya!

    I think it’s ok to change your theme once in a while. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep your pages fresh, and you’ll want to tweak things every so often. But I would steer clear of changing the entire layout very often. If you do that you might slip in a post letting your readers know to look forward to your new “look” before you actually start using a radically different theme.

    Thanks for your comments,
    Lizzyfin

  6. DON says:

    That seems to be the main problem with plugins, they slow up your page load. They are so helpful with design and seo though.
    One of the problems is, you never know what plugins will cause more time in the page loading. I had a lot of them-too many to mention- before I knew they compromised site loading. I sacrificed a few, and installed a cache plugin hopefully to help out on speed of loading . You can Check Out The Site and let me know your loading experience. We as Webmasters, do want the best user experience possible.

    Thanks for the post

  7. James says:

    Hi,

    I’m using WP 2.9.2 — and I get 17 queries with the default theme, and between 25-35 queries just with many of the free themes out there. No plugins installed.

    Seems like just 1 or 2 plugins, and it already would start to slow things down.

    How do the big, super dynamic sites with tons of dynamic script run so smooth — just really fast, powerful servers?

  8. LizzyFin says:

    Don – a cache plugin is a great way to speed up loading of your pages – especially if you have more than a little traffic. Thanks for mentioning it!

  9. LizzyFin says:

    Hi James,
    As the WordPress blogging software has matured it has gotten more complicated with more capabilities that are standard in the basic version of WP. You used to need a set of plugins to perform some tasks that are now part of WP itself, so it makes sense that the basic, no-plugin version would produce a number of queries on its own.

    The big and dynamic sites out there will rely on dedicated servers and multiple fast servers to dish out pages as fast as they are requested. No doubt some will use static homepages to help reduce the load on the servers.

    As DON mentioned there are cache plugins that can help with speeding up page loading. One might look at WP-Cache for instance.
    Happy blogging!

  10. Mark Szymanski says:

    Thanks, your site was the first that showed up on google. I will be sure to weed out plugins I don’t need.

  11. axe says:

    Hi Mark,
    It’s really good practice to make sure your site loads up fast enough to keep your visitors interested. Reducing the number of plugins will definitely help with WordPress sites.

    If it takes more than 15-20 seconds to finish creating a page, your visitors probably left a long time ago, and your server host may have something to say about resource consumption, if you’re on a shared server.

  12. jenni says:

    mine shows 235 at the footer. hahah..lol…thanku . i iwll reduce many

  13. Mike says:

    Thanks for the information, very useful!

  14. Jon says:

    I have 137 and cannot see any plugins I can deactivate. Each is important for a different reason. I did deactivate some actually, but they were not being used, i.e. the admin management ones.

  15. axe says:

    Hi Jon,
    I’m curious about the 137 queries. How many plugins are you using and is your WordPress up-to-date with version 3.0.1? Do let us know. Thanks!

  16. Chris says:

    I can fill in for Jon, I’m running 3.1 with 35 plugins and showing 140 queries for the post pages. I love every one of my plugins and couldn’t bear to let one go :)

  17. Chris says:

    I checked all of my plugins. Here’s the number of queries each makes:

    Site total (on post page): 144

    Business Directory: 1
    Efficient Related Links: 0
    External Links: 1
    Front Page Excluded Categories
    SEO Ultimate: 58
    VaultPress: 0
    Smart404: 0
    WPTouch Pro: 0
    Fluency Admin: 0
    Subscribe to Comments: 3
    WP Issuu: 0
    WP re-Captcha: 0
    Featured Content Gallery: 0
    Table of Contents Creator: 0
    Google Analytics for WordPress: 0
    KNR Login Branding: 0
    Newsletter: 0
    Picbox: 0
    PushPress: 0
    Search Light: 0

    Conclusion: I’m not doing away with the SEO Ultimate plugin — it’s the best one for WP 3.1 Interestingly, after disabling the SEO plugin, the queries go down to 86 for post pages but stays at 142 for the home page. I’m upgrading to a dedicated server. That’s all I can do. WordPress is resource-intensive.

  18. axe says:

    Chris,
    Once you get your blog set up and running smoothly it’s kinda hard to change things, isn’t it? Plugins can really make all the difference, but I wonder why you’re running 35 of them. Care to post a link to your site so we can see too?

  19. axe says:

    Chris,
    I see some plugins on that list that I’ll have to check out! Have you compared All-in-One SEO against SEO Ultimate plugin? Just curious if you have any pointers in why you like that one so much.

    The ultimate test of whether you have too many plugins is the speed that your site downloads for the user. If you’re not too concerned about reaching folks still stuck with dial-up access to the Internet, then all this is probably moot. Still want to have a site download quickly though.

    Have you tried a caching plugin?

  20. Chris says:

    I’m using W3 Total Cache and it works great. Moving to a dedicated server today. Also working on a Content Delivery Network. Our site’s front page takes on average 2 or 3 seconds to load — the post pages are much faster. I think that’s alright but we will continue working to speed things up to keep Google happy.

  21. Carla says:

    LizzyFin,

    Thanks so much for the valuable information on WP-Cache. I couldn’t install the super because it could not locate a folder which in fact existed, but was able to install WP-Cache. My home page now shows up in no time!

  22. axe says:

    That’s great, Carla! You’re welcome!

    Don’t you just love it when something works out like that?
    Good luck.

  23. Watch Tv Episodes Online says:

    My site has 33 queries but its average time loads is 1 second is that too slow?

  24. axe says:

    @ngcity – I have one second to wait for a site to open, don’t you? I don’t think someone will surf away that quickly. The latest “standard” wait time that is bantered about is 4 seconds. It used to be 8 seconds. Even if your site had a lot more queries and it still opens in just a couple secs, your traffic should be ok and not wandering off too quickly.

  25. Stuart says:

    Thanks for the useful post and replies.

    I have 35 queries on my home page and 70+ on level 2 and 3 pages.

    I tried deactivating plugins one by one which made no difference to the number of queries – so based on some of these comments I imagine it could be the theme which was professionally designed for me?

    I’d appreciate some advice if anyone can help please?

    Thank you

  26. axe says:

    Hey Stuart,
    Even though the number of queries seems high, I’m wondering if you’ve noticed a long page load time? About how long for the 2nd and 3rd level pages to fully load?
    Let us know!

  27. Stuart says:

    Thanks for your reply.

    I used http://www.websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze/ to test (I’m not sure of the best tool to use to test?)

    Level 1 (homepage) 35 queries gave the following results:

    Connection Rate / Download Time
    56K / 28.52 seconds
    ISDN 128K / 9.43 seconds
    T1 1.44Mbps / 1.73 seconds

    Level 2 page – 61 queries gave the following results:

    Connection Rate Download Time
    56K / 35.37 seconds
    ISDN 128K / 12.36 seconds
    T1 1.44Mbps / 3.08 seconds

    So I can see that the queries definitely increase the page load time. Given that the majority of my target audience will be on broadband (T1) I think homepage load time is reasonable but obviously level 2 pages are long at >3 seconds.

    Given that most of my plugins are utilised would you recommend one of the wp cache plugins to increase speed?

    P.S. websiteoptimization.com advises that the speed is due to the size of my script and css files.

    Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can offer.

  28. Atironta says:

    Hi,

    I have 3 plugins (e-commerce, classified, contact forms) on my local test PC. I get 67 queries for an empty page. I see that all JavaScript files from different plugins are included in every page even if they are not related to those plugins. Some files like thickbox.js are included several times for different versions. I wonder if there is a way to clean and properly organize this mess? I would appreciate you advice.

    Thank you.

  29. axe says:

    Hey Atironta,
    Even though there are 67 queries I wonder how fast or slow your page loads in your browser? That is the main thing. What version of WP are you running?

  30. Atironta says:

    When I open a home page first time, it takes several seconds even there is nothing there. Consuquent calls take much less. I guess a browser caches JavaScript files. I also suspected the theme I used (Suffusion). It is flexible, but seems heavy. I found an article at http://wpmu.org/built-for-speed-11-free-and-fast-loading-wordpress-themes/, so I switched to the default theme and noticed that it works much faster now. The number of queries is down, 20-30 less. I used WordPress 3.1.3 and updated to 3.2.1. Subjectively, it also improved performance.
    Still my concern is that the home page loads more than 10 JavaScript files, which makes it slow sometimes, depending on the network speed. It can give bad impression.

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  32. otobong says:

    This is really helpful. Do you know am having the same problem. I just activate plugins anyhow and my account was suspended. Now I have learn a lesson not to activate unused plugins and useless plugins too. Thanks alot

  33. axe says:

    Hey Otobong,
    With your hosting account being shut down the only solution is to contact the hosting company. They should be able to shed light on any particular plugin or script that was using too many resources. Call or email them for some help. Let us know what you find out about resource-intensive plugins, ok?

    You’re right about not activating plugins that are unused. They’d be using valuable resources for no good reason. Once you get your blog set up and functioning the way you like, then you can delete the plugins you’re no longer using.
    Good luck!

  34. Alex says:

    I use a custom walker for my site (which I use as a CMS) and for each page and children I get meta data and show stats like # of comments, date of last comment, etc… So this boosts my queries up to ~500 on some pages that show all the pages. Any advice on how to shorten that?

  35. axe says:

    Hey Alex,
    Are these large pages very slow to load and can you tell from the visitors log are people clicking away from these pages? If you have visitors that benefit or use these large pages, chances are good that they have faster connections to the net and won’t be bogged down and click away in frustration. The question about what to do to limit the work required by so many queries is a little less straightforward.

    My advice would be to re-think these pages. What is the purpose? Are they producing information that could be saved in a DB so the same multiple queries wouldn’t have to be re-run? A cron job could be run to collect data in off-peak times and that data saved to a DB. Are all those queries really needed? Just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. If it’s been a little while since the pages were created, it would make sense to re-evaluate the purpose and decide whether the means are meeting the end. Without seeing some code it’s impossible to make concrete suggestions on how else to limit the number of queries.

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