WordPress Server Optimization

March 23, 2016

The speed at which your website loads does not only affect user experience, it also has a categorical impact on how it ranks on search engines. Google has long stated that slow-performing websites are bound to be penalized in search rankings, in spite of having the kind of unique content that had traditionally pushed websites ahead of its competitors in search engines results.

Google Page speed

If you’re really serious about the performance of your website you need to start by hosting it on servers specifically configured for the complexities of WordPress, and prepared for all eventualities that may arise. At RackNine we’re well versed on all the technicalities involved in optimizing, speeding up, and securing a WordPress website.

Directly from your cPanel you will be able to install a customized version of WordPress or any other of the most popular PHP/MySQL Content Management Systems using Installatron. The software is extremely simple to use and provides different options for automatic updates and scheduled backups specifically configured for WordPress and its unique hosting demands.

Depending on your hosting setup we can offer different WordPress configurations. If your website is hosted on a server along with many others (Shared Hosting), RackNine will be managing the web server for all the accounts sharing the same server resources. In this case Caching and Offloading are the areas most relevant to speed and performance, and we’ll be tuning up their generic settings.

However if you are on a Virtual Hosting or Dedicated Server hosting plan you’ll have complete control over server settings. In addition to the management of areas like Caching and Offloading, tweaking the server configuration for your specific WordPress requirements could make an important difference in terms of performance.

Network

Generally speaking in both hosting scenarios hardware performance will have a huge impact on your site performance. The number of processors and their speed, the amount of available memory and disk space, as well as the disk storage medium, all add up to better benchmark results. Higher performance comes at a higher price because of the hardware costs involved.

Using Solid State Drives (SSDs) for storage to take advantage of improved read/write speed over traditional storage media would seem like an ideal solution. However, after running extensive tests at RackNine we have decided against it, at least for the time being, due to some undesirable side-effects. Instead we have opted for dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) as the primary storage location for long-lived data.

This DRAM-based approach enhances several-fold the performance of WordPress installations -and other PHP/MySQL Content Management Systems. This is a tried and tested solution specially on large-scale Web applications, that are keeping most or all of their data in DRAM. For example, most Web search engines including Google, serve results entirely from DRAM. Facebook also keeps most of its dynamic data in DRAM, and even IBM’s Watson Artificial Intelligence (AI) system makes extensive use of DRAM to store its data.

We also make sure the data stored on DRAM is as reliable as if it had been stored on traditional disks. Specifically, we had to ensure that no information was lost in the event of a server crash or power outage. RackNine keeps backup copies of data on disk and flash memory using a scheme analogous to the way that traditional disk-based storage systems keep backup copies. Every time our servers receive a request to store information, they add the data to their master copy in DRAM, which takes the form of an in-memory log. All newly recorded information is then stored in at least three different locations, initially in battery-backed DRAM and then on traditional magnetic media.

W3 Total Cache

Other area of interest is Caching, which also greatly depends on how the server is configured. Among the WordPress plugins that can help you configure and manage caching we recommend W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Both plugins can implement HTTP (gzip) Compression of XHTML, JavaScript, CSS, and other text files at the server, to improve transfer speed and bandwidth utilization.

All WordPress installations are hosted on our own optimized servers which are powered by APC/OPcache, Turbo Cache and Memcached. Loads of RAM and our efficient architecture ensure improved performance, sustaining high levels of traffic while consuming less resources.

Choosing a host with the right hardware for the job will certainly make a big difference in the speed at which your website loads, but you should also consider other enhancements, such as using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), a system of distributed servers that deliver web pages and other web resources to visitors based on their geographical location.

It would be fair to say that the adjustments proposed above, and others such as optimizing the MySQL databases, require that you have a rather high level of expertise to get them configured properly. If you need assistance please do not hesitate to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.