There are few things more frustrating than dealing with a slow WordPress admin dashboard. You're trying to perform important actions - like publishing posts - and you have to wait around for what seems like an eternity just to get anything done in your dashboard.
It's frustrating, but you can stop it! In this post, I'll share some solutions for how to fix a slow WordPress admin dashboard.
While one of the most likely solutions is simple - get better hosting - I'll also share some more technical tips that you can try before you get out your credit card to move to a new host.
1. Get Faster Hosting (Sorry, But It's True)
I know this suggestion isn't fun. But the fact of the matter is that your hosting is going to have a big impact on how quickly your WordPress admin dashboard loads, especially as your site grows.
I've worked with a lot of clients (AKA a lot of different WordPress dashboards) and I notice a major difference in speed between clients on cheaper hosting and those on performance-oriented WordPress hosting.
If you're on a budget, I recommend SiteGround (it's where WPLift is hosted, and where I host my personal sites). Read my SiteGround review for more information.
If you can afford to spend a little bit more, Kinsta is another great option that consistently has the fastest load times for WordPress dashboards in my experience. Read my Kinsta review for more information.
For even more options, check out our entire post on managed WordPress hosting.
2. Disable Object Cache in W3 Total Cache
One of the great things about the W3 Total Cache plugin is how many settings it has.
One of the bad things about the W3 Total Cache plugin is how many settings it has.
See, when you stared at all of those caching options, you might have been tempted to turn them all on. When it comes to caching, more must be better, right?
Ehhh, not always.
Sometimes, especially on cheaper shared hosting, these additional caching options can actually slow your site down.
When dealing with a slow WordPress admin dashboard, the culprit is often Object Caching.
To fix the issue, go into your W3 Total Cache settings and make sure that Object Cache is disabled:
And for a fuller approach, you might just want to read my entire guide on how to configure W3 Total Cache.
3. Set Up Proper WordPress Page Rules In Cloudflare
If you're using Cloudflare on your WordPress site, that could be another potential culprit for a slow WordPress admin dashboard.
See, Cloudflare is great when it's speeding up your frontend site. But you really don't want Cloudflare's caching running for your WordPress dashboard.
That's why most people, including the official Cloudflare support docs, recommend excluding your WordPress dashboard from Cloudflare using something called Page Rules.
You can see an explanation for this in the video below (the relevant part is at 3:31):
To set up your Page Rule, go to the Page Rules tab in Cloudflare and create a page rule for yourdomain.com/wp-admin* using the rules in the video above:
The most important one for performance is to make sure you bypass the cache for your WordPress dashboard.
4. Find And Remove Slow Plugins
Some plugins, like Broken Link Checker, are notorious for causing a slow WordPress admin dashboard when left to continuously run.
To find plugins that might be slowing down your dashboard, you can go with one of two approaches:
- Trial and error. Try deactivating all of your plugins and see if that speeds up your dashboard. If it does, reactivate the plugins one by one until you find the culprit.
- Test. Use plugins like P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) and Query Monitor to find specific plugins that are resource hogs and either remove them or swap them out for a different plugin.
For plugins like Broken Link Checker, a good approach is to leave them disabled until you want to actually check for links, rather than leaving them activated all of the time.
5. Try Switching Back To The Default Twenty Seventeen Theme
Themes are for the front-end of your site...so why might they be the cause of a slow WordPress admin dashboard?
The main answer is the flexible functions.php file.
Some theme developers use this file to add additional functionality that's akin to a plugin. And some of that functionality could potentially be slowing down your WordPress dashboard.
To see if your theme is the issue, try switching back to the default Twenty Seventeen theme.
If your WordPress admin speeds up after making the switch, you know that there's probably something in your theme's functions file that's slowing down your dashboard.
If that's the case, reach out to a developer for help or consider using a different theme.
6. Use A Third-Party Tool To Fix A Slow WooCommerce Dashboard
If you're running WooCommerce, you probably are well aware that your WooCommerce dashboard can be prone to slow down as you add more products.
Depending on how many products you have, that can make it an absolute pain to create reports and run queries.
Rather than bash your head against the wall, check out Metorik. It's a WooCommerce analytics app created by a former Automattic engineer.
In addition to just plain offering a better interface, it can also significantly speed everything up because Metorik isn't tied to the same database structures as your WordPress dashboard.
Because of this difference, reports that take 30 seconds to load in your WordPress dashboard might only take a fraction of a second to load in Metorik:
7. Configure Heartbeat Control To Disable Or Decrease Frequency
The WordPress Heartbeat API allows your browser to communicate with your web server while you're logged in to your WordPress dashboard.
This lets WordPress do cool things like automatically save drafts, show when a post is being edited by another user, and more.
But the downside of these cool features is that they can also slow your WordPress dashboard down.
Rather than disable them completely, you can use a plugin called Heartbeat Control to change the frequency of these communications.
To do that, install and activate the free Heartbeat Control plugin. Then, go to Settings → Heartbeat Control Settings.
You can either:
- Completely disable the Heartbeat API
- Change the frequency to still use it, but make it run less frequently.
As a good starting point, I recommend choosing Modify Heartbeat and setting the frequency to 60+ seconds:
This way, you'll still get the benefits of the Heartbeat API, it just won't use as many resources because it will run less frequently.
If you're still experiencing issues after making the switch, you can try completely disabling the Heartbeat API.
8. Upload Fresh Versions Of wp-admin And wp-includes Folders
If all else fails, as a last-ditch effort you can try upload fresh copies of the wp-admin and wp-includes folders to your site.
Download a fresh copy of the latest version of WordPress from WordPress.org (or, your current version of WordPress if you haven't updated for some reason).
- Extract the ZIP folder
- Upload just the wp-includes and wp-admin folders via FTP
- When prompted, choose the option to overwrite files
Wave Goodbye To Your Slow WordPress Admin Dashboard
At this point, I hope that one of these solutions has been able to help you speed up your WordPress dashboard. If not, leave a comment and let's try to figure things out together!