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Dealing with a slow WordPress admin dashboard?

It’s never fun to feel like you’re wading through mud when you’re trying to manage your WordPress site, which is why we’re going to help get out of the mud and into a faster-loading WordPress admin dashboard.

To accomplish that, we’ll quickly run through some of the reasons why you might have a slow WordPress admin dashboard. Then, we’ll go through eight tips to help you fix the problem(s) and get your WordPress admin loading quickly again.

What’s Causing Your Slow WordPress Admin Dashboard?

We can’t tell you exactly what’s causing a slow WordPress admin for your specific site, but here are some of the most common issues that we’ll cover:

  • Overloaded or under-powered hosting
  • Resource-heavy plugins
  • Old PHP version
  • WordPress Heartbeat API
  • Cluttered database
  • Low WordPress memory limit
  • Too much content loading
  • Unnecessary dashboard widgets

Now, here’s how to fix things!

How to Fix a Slow WordPress Admin Dashboard: 8 Tips

Let’s go through the fixes…

1. Consider Upgrading Your Hosting

This probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but one of the most common issues is simply lackluster hosting.

Sometimes, your host just plain doesn’t cut it, and other times you might have a quality host, but you’ve outgrown the plan that you’re on.

Either way, if your hosting can’t keep up, it’s going to lead to a slow WordPress admin dashboard (and probably a slow front-end, too).

So – you can try all of the other fixes on this list first. But sometimes the only fix is to crack open your wallet and upgrade hosts.

Some of our recommended hosts and partners are:

2. Use Query Monitor To Sniff Out Slow Plugins

When you first installed WordPress and it was empty, your dashboard probably loaded lightning fast. But as you installed more plugins, it started to slow down, right?

Now, let’s dispel with a myth – “more plugins” does not automatically mean a slower site or WordPress admin…

But “more resource heavy plugins” does.

So how can you find resource heavy plugins?

With an awesome free plugin called Query Monitor.

Once you install and activate Query Monitor, you can click the new option in your WordPress toolbar to open the interface. Then, go to the Queries by Component tab and look for any slow plugins:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin query monitor

If you find a slow plugin, consider disabling and deleting it (if possible) or finding a better-performing alternative (if you absolutely need that functionality).

3. Use the Latest Version of PHP

WordPress is built with PHP, but the exact version of PHP that your site is using depends on which version of PHP is installed on your server.

Beyond being more secure, newer versions of PHP offer big performance improvements over the older versions, which is why the WordPress core team is trying to push WordPress users to update to the most recent PHP versions.

For example, in Kinsta’s PHP benchmarks, you can see that PHP 7.3 can handle more than triple the number of requests per second that PHP 5.6 can handle:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin php usage

But despite that, most WordPress users are running PHP 5.6 (or older)…and you might be one of them!

You’ll update your site’s PHP version through your host. For example, here’s what it looks like at Kinsta:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin upgrade php - kinsta dashboard

If your host doesn’t let you make this change through your hosting dashboard, you might need to reach out to your host’s support staff for help. And if your host doesn’t support PHP 7+, that’s another big reason to consider switching hosts.

4. Use Heartbeat Control

The WordPress Heartbeat API helps provide real-time communication between your web browser and your server while you’re signed into your WordPress admin.

It helps with things like auto-saves in the WordPress editor, but it can also slow down your WordPress admin because it’s sending an AJAX request every 15 seconds while you’re working in the editor (or every 60 seconds in the rest of the dashboard).

If you’re using WP Rocket, you can reduce the frequency of these requests (or disable them altogether) from the Heartbeat tab in the WP Rocket dashboard:

how to fix slow wordpress admin heartbeat plugin

Or, we also have a standalone Heartbeat Control plugin that you can use to control the Heartbeat API.

Once you install and activate the plugin, go to Settings → Heartbeat Control Settings to reduce or disable the Heartbeat API for different areas of your dashboard:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin heartbeat settings

Start by reducing the frequency, and if that doesn’t work, you can consider disabling it altogether.

5. Clean Out Your Database (Especially WooCommerce Stores)

Over time, your WordPress database will pick up lots of “bloat” in the form of post revisions, transients, etc. This is especially common with WooCommerce stores, where you’ll have lots of expired transients in your database.

You can safely delete much of this bloat without negatively affecting your site.

To do so, you can use the Database tab in WP Rocket:

how to fix slow wordpress admin database tab on wp rocket

WP Rocket also lets you set up an automatic schedule to clean your database every X days/weeks.

Or, if you’re not using WP Rocket, you can use the WP-Optimize plugin.

6. Increase The WordPress Memory Limit

Sometimes, your WordPress admin dashboard is hitting a bottleneck because of your WordPress site’s PHP memory limit.

If that’s the case, simply increasing your site’s memory limit can sometimes fix the issue.

If your host lets you increase the PHP memory limit by yourself, you can do so by adding this line to the top of your wp-config.php file:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);

If your host does not let you increase PHP manually, reach out to your host’s support and ask if they’ll do it for you.

7. Limit How Much Content You Display In the WordPress Admin

Via the Screen Options settings, WordPress lets you control how many posts, pages, or custom post types to display at a time (including things like WooCommerce products, orders, etc.):

how to fix a slow wordpress admin heartbeat pagination

By default, the value is 20, which is totally fine. However, you may have increased this number to avoid pagination.

If so, consider dialing it back to limit how much content WordPress needs to load for each page. Yes, you might need to use the “next page” option more often, but it will speed up your dashboard by requiring WordPress to load less content each time.

8. Disable Unnecessary Dashboard Widgets

By default, your WordPress dashboard comes with lots of widgets that you probably never use or look at.

For example, on the main dashboard page, you have the news and events widgets (when’s the last time you looked at that widget?). However, even if you’re not reading them, these widgets are still making external calls to load that information, which slows down your dashboard.

To disable unnecessary widgets, you can use the free Widget Disable plugin.

Once you’ve installed and activated it, go to Appearance → Disable Widgets and get rid of all the widgets that you don’t use:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin free widget disable settings

If other plugins have added widgets – like WooCommerce – you’ll be able to disable those widgets as well:

how to fix a slow wordpress admin free widget disable plugin

Fix Your Slow WordPress Admin Dashboard For Good

While WP Rocket can help you speed up the front-end of your site, fixing a slow WordPress admin dashboard requires a unique approach.

Some of these tips – like choosing quality hosting and using the latest version of PHP – will pay dividends for both your WordPress dashboard and front-end site, while others – like disabling dashboard widgets and limiting how much backend content you load – are 100% focused on your WordPress dashboard.

Finally, if you’re specifically dealing with a slow WooCommerce dashboard, we have an entire post on how to speed up your WooCommerce dashboard that offers some WooCommerce-specific tips.

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Comments (9)

Nice article. Just wondering, by having another plugin Query Monitor, will that slow down the site?

@The Berkat I agree, I just use the Query Monitor for testing then remove it. It can be a resource hog.

I know the article mentions switching web hosts. I cannot stress the importance of a quality host. There are numerous ones out there and even a small website should have a decent host.

As soon as I loaded the Heartbeat control stand-alone plugin, my site said it's not compatible with WP Rocket and gave me several warnings about headers. Please let me know what i'm doing wrong. I've got to speed up my back-end. It's so SLOW and I've already trimmed back all my plugins that I don't need.

I appreciate the help!

I think speed and file sizes will be the death of wordpress. This page: DOMContentLoaded: 23.38 s , Load: 28.38 s
Recommended DOMContentLoaded time should be less than 3 seconds.
There is simply to much bloat overall. All plugin and extension developers will have to move away from Jquery, Bootstrap Css etc for this problem to go away.

Thanks for the post. I was with my Wordpress too much slow in my VPS even with latest PHP (7.4) and almost all memory available in Ngninx. With your first usefull tip for me, about Query Monitor, I found the reason. Bad DNS config. Changed resolvers to OpenDNS solve the trouble.

I constantly see upgrading hosts as the main answer. Most dedicated server plans are well over $100 monthly. That's just not affordable for the small time blogger. There has to be a more affordable option.

sometime it is just your quota on host server!

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