4 Reasons Why Your Wordpress Admin Panel Is Slow & How To Fix It

The backend admin panel in Wordpress can still run extremely slowly even though the frontend of the site loads lightning fast – we’re regularly asked questions about Wordpress backend speed issues.

We see this problem regularly over at WPSpeedFix.com, our Wordpress Speed Optimization service. Below you’ll find the key reasons why the backend is slow and and some simple troubleshooting steps to help you fix it.

Fixing Slow Wordpress Backend

Frontend vs Backend – the key differences

One of the key components of getting the frontend to load quickly is using Page Caching. Essentially with Page Caching in place, all the database work and PHP processing is done in advance so when a visitor hits the front of the website there’s a pre-built HTML file sitting on the web server ready to go.

Even on poor quality hosting, the frontend of the site can still load really quicky with good page caching and a content delivery network in place. Albeit poor quality hosting may be very unreliable and have a lot of short intermittent downtime!

The Backend Admin Panel Doesn’t Use Caching

Unlike the frontend, the backend is not cached. That means every time you load a page in the backend the hosting or server needs to execute PHP commands, work with the database and then generate the page for you. If you have slow or poor quality hosting (eg Godaddy, Hostgator, Bluehost or any host owned by EIG) or the server is under very heavy load then these pages may take several seconds to load.

Broadly speaking, if you’re on a host that is charging you $2-5/month the CPU and raw server horsepower available is likely going to be limited, therefore the backend will run slow. There’s really no way around this, to a large degree you get what you pay for with hosting.

Sidenote, here’s the fastest Wordpress hosts on the web right now: /fastest-wordpress-hosting/

Troubleshooting a Slow Wordpress Admin Console

If you’re on good quality hosting there’s a handful of other reasons why the backend may be slow. Generally when we’re troubleshooting Wordpress speed problems for our customers at WPSpeedFix.com we use the plugin “Query Monitor” (https://wordpress.org/plugins/query-monitor/) which allows us to look under the bonnet and see what’s happening with each page load.

Turning on Wordpress Debugging and reviewing the debug logs is another way to uncover problems. Detailed information on turning on Wordpress Debugging and debug logs can be found at https://codex.wordpress.org/Debugging_in_WordPress

Apart from slow hosting there’s a handful of other reasons we see that cause this problem:

1. Broken Javascript or PHP

Quite often old plugins will be using out of date PHP code or making calls to URLs that no longer exist. Sometimes this is a case of simply updating the plugin.

Other times it could be a situation where the hosting is running PHP 7.0 or higher but a plugin or the theme doesn’t fully support it and is throwing errors in the backend.

These errors will usually show up in Query Monitor but if not they’ll definitely show up in the debug logs.

For plugins we find with these issues our first step is generally to update to the latest version and if still problematic, log a support ticket with the developer.

2. Plugins dialing out to other servers

If you have plugins with paid licenses or subscriptions quite often they dial out to the home server regularly to check the license status. Quite often these plugins are dialling out on every single page load or very regularly.

Essentially this “dial home” is sending a request to the license server, getting data back and processing it. Its somewhat akin to loading an entire (slow) webpage in the background. *Usually* this dial out function will appear in Query Monitor and is often fixed by upgrading to the latest version of the theme or plugin.

Often plugins that load news or other updates on the Dashboard page in the admin panel will also make similar calls out to their home server or RSS feeds and cause a similar slow down. The effect of this is usually only felt when you first log into Wordpress. If you’re getting a delay of 30-60 seconds after logging in this is likely what’s happening. Removing widgets from the Dashboard page can often fix this.

3. Massive Database or Expired Transients

As the backend of the site doesn’t use caching, every operation or page load of the backend talks to the database. If the database size has gotten out of control or you have a large number of expired transients, these database lookups can take a long time.

Generally long or slow database queries will show up in the Query Monitor plugin but not always.

An easy way to reduce the size of your database and delete expired transients is to use the plugin WP Optimize (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-optimize/). With this plugin you can perform an “optimize” of your database which effectively reorganizes the database structure making it smaller and improving the speed of queries.

You can also delete expired transients with this plugin.

**You MUST absolutely have a backup before doing this because this can be a risky operation. Our Wordpress backup plugin of choice is Blogvault.


Further Troubleshooting

If you’re looking for further help check out these resources:

Fixing Slow Woocommerce

Wordpress Speed Optimization

Fastest Wordpress Hosting

Need more help? Head over to WPSpeedFix.com and submit a site review request and one of the team will come back to you and discuss in more detail.

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