Speed Up WordPress Admin: Improve Loading Time of the Backend

A few days ago we published a couple of WordPress productivity tricks that can help you save your time while using WordPress dashboard.

Today, we’ll talk about another WordPress trick that will help you save your precious time by reducing the loading time of the WordPress admin dashboard and make it load faster.

Recommended reading: How to get a fast WordPress website [21 actions]

Normally, as webmasters, at CollectiveRay, we are very conscious about the loading time of the frontend of their website but they tend to ignore the loading time of their backend. In fact, loading time of the Wordpress admin backend is as important as the frontend; since you’re spending most of your time on the backend, it can affect your overall work productivity.

Here are a few ways you can reduce the loading time of your make wp-admin faster.

Troubleshooting the WordPress Admin / Backend Slowness problem

If your WordPress dashboard is loading extremely slowly, you’ll have to find actual reasons behind it and thus resolve the issue. There are a number of things that could cause a problem with slow loading of WordPress admin.

Some of these problems include:

  1. Slow, cheap, overloaded or under-powered hosting
  2. (Several) Resource-hungry plugins
  3. Older PHP versions
  4. Limited memory available to WordPress
  5. Cluttered WordPress database that hasn't been cleaned or maintained
  6. Too many WordPress backend dashboard widgets
  7. Heartbeat API
  8. Too much content trying to load
  9. Remove the WordPress Toolbar

Follow the troubleshooting guide below to find what causes the high load time.

How to Fix Slow WordPress Dashboard


Note: Make sure you take a backup of the site so in case if something goes wrong, you can easily revert.

1. Upgrade your hosting

Whenever you first start out with your WordPress website you might just have considered keeping your expenses low, but never considered the implications of such a decision.

Now, that decision is coming back to bite you in several ways. Some hosting plans are simply too overwhelmed (to keep the cheap), to be able to handle at a decent performance. It could be possible that your business has outgrown your original plan.

So if you've opted for a fairly cheap, or lowest-tier hosting plan, your first stop should be upgrading to the highest tier hosting you can afford. You should consider opting for a Virtual Private Server, where you will have a number of dedicated resources available for your website.

Check out some of our recommended WordPress hosting services in our web hosting section. We host most of our websites on InMotion, we've been with them for several years and have never had anything to complain about them - and we're thrilled with the performance we've gotten out of this service.

2. Discover the plugins slowing down your site

If you already have good hosting, but your WordPress admin is still slow, there may be other culprits. Resource-heavy or badly coded plugins could be to blame. Or it could be a question of a plugin having a conflict, or possibly is overwhelmed with too much data.

Whatever the case may be, you need to discover the source of the problem.

But how do you find which plugin is actually causing the issue? You could opt to disable all plugins and reactive them slowly until you discover which one is causing the problem. But this is both time-consuming, and not very reliable, because there could be multiple plugins causing an issue or slow plugins affecting each other.

But - there is a solution: Query Monitor.

Query Monitor is a nifty tool that is able to discover and debug several different kinds of problems such as:

  • Slow database queries
  • PHP errors on your site
  • Slow HTTP API calls
  • Blocked performance

query monitor screenshot

By narrowing down the monitor to specific plugins, it helps you to quickly determine poorly performing plugins, themes or functions.

Once you install the plugin, check out the Queries by Component and you'll find which plugin(s) are slowing down your site, both in the frontend and at the backend. You should try disabling that plugin and see whether it makes any difference.

Once you discover the culprit, you have several options.

  • Try to reconfigure the plugin such that it isn't so heavy
  • Speak to the plugin vendor and see whether there is a fix
  • Delete and replace it with another plugin that doesn't exhibit such performance problems

You could also choose to switch to the default theme, say TwentyTwenty to rule out any theme-specific problems.

3. Upgrade PHP/plugins/themes to the latest version

PHP, the language in which WordPress is built, typically includes several performance improvements with each new version that is released.

Check out the following graph from Kinsta, where you can see the drastic difference in performance between the different versions of PHP.

php version performance graph

However, you won't get any of these performance improvements if you don't configure your hosting server to use the latest (and fastest) version of PHP. Most hosting companies will not upgrade your website to newer PHP versions, because this might cause problems.

But you should ALWAYS upgrade to the latest version.

Given that some sites might be using plugins or themes that aren't 100% compatible, do not simply upgrade to the latest version without performing a thorough test. We would suggest that you create a copy of your website, and upgrade the PHP version for this version only.

Once you've done that, go through ALL of the functionality of your website and check if there are any problems. If there are any problems, check with the respective vendors to see whether there is a new version of the product that addresses such issues.

When you have completed all the testing and confirmed that everything works well, switch your site to the latest version of PHP. As part of this testing, we would strongly suggest that you also update themes and plugins to their latest versions. 

The most recent versions of products typically perform better than their older counterparts.

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4. Increase the WordPress Memory Limit

If you find that as you are in the backend, your site throws a WordPress screen of death - or blank page, you might be suffering from a memory bottleneck. This means that there is a process that is running out of memory and throwing an error, which cannot terminate gracefully and thus does not show any error.

In this case, you might be able to resolve this problem by increasing the WordPress PHP memory limit.

While some hosts limit the memory, some others allow you to increase it by adding a line in the wp-config.php file of your WordPress installation:

define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);

You should check whether this configuration works by checking the PHP information through phpinfo - a command which displays all of the PHP information related to the current installation.

If the memory limit did not increase after setting this command, get in touch with the support of your hosting company and let them know that you would like to increase the memory limit. 

5. Clean and repair the WordPress database

If your site has been running for some time, or you've done a lot of changes to the site, you might be experiencing performance degradation due to a cluttered database. Sites running WooCommerce, in particular, tend to suffer from this problem.

In particular, what are knows as expired transients might exist in your database. Also, MySQL databases tend to need repairs every so often, otherwise, they could slow down.

To clean the database, you can either use the plugin WP-Optimize or run the Database Optimization commands on WP Rocket (highly recommended).

Once you've done this, you should also login to PHPMyAdmin and run a Repair command on ALL the tables in your WordPress database. This command will fix any errors with the table and recreate any indexes that might have corrupted or are otherwise slowing down your site.

mysql repair database table 

6. Disable Dashboard Widgets

One of the growing frustrations that we have with WordPress is the ever-growing number of widgets that are automatically loaded by 3rd party plugin vendors. While we appreciate the need of some widgets, some of these widgets are just sales pitches for premium versions of plugins, or other upgrades.

As the number of widgets on the Dashboard increases, the loading times go down, so we need a way to declutter the dashboard from such plugins.

The easiest way to do this is to use the Widget Disable plugin. Once you've installed the plugin, go to Appearance > Disable Widgets and remove all of the unnecessary widgets that are not helpful to you by unticking their checkbox.

disable dashboard widgets screenshot

7. Limit the Heartbeat API

The WordPress Heartbeat API has a tendency to create performance problems because it is quite overzealous. It sends an Ajax request every 60 seconds when you are working in the WordPress backend, and every 15 seconds, if you are working in the WordPress editor.

This sometimes is the culprit for slowing down the WordPress dashboard.

WP Rocket is able to reduce the activity of the Heartbeat API, together with a number of other performance tweaks. If you find that you are constantly struggling to make your WordPress faster, we would highly recommend that you check out whether WP Rocket can help your site.

wpprocket control heartbeat api

Alternatively, you can install the Heartbeat Control plugin, which modifies the Heartbeat behaviour such that it is less aggressive, without disabling it completely.

8. Limit the WordPress Dashboard Content

This is a tweak that does not require any plugin to be installed. In fact, you can do this via the native Screen Options in the WordPress backend. 

screen options limit

By default, the value is 20 - which usually does not create any issues. However, if you've increased in for some reason, you might want to try reducing the number to see whether this has an effect on the loading time of the WordPress dashboard.

9. Remove WordPress admin toolbar for faster loading

Here’s another easy trick to speed up your loading time. You can remove the WordPress admin toolbar by adding a small piece of code to your functions.php file.

{code type=php}
add_filter(‘show_admin_bar’, ‘__return_false’);

This small piece of will remove the admin toolbar and thus reduce the core memory used, which will improve the loading time.

You can also remove this from your User Profile settings:

To remove the toolbar from simple go to Users > Your Profile. Scroll down to “Toolbar” and check “Show Toolbar when viewing site.”

disable show toolbar when viewing site

Over to you - suggestions to make WordPress admin panel faster?

If you're still having a problem, you might consider finding a WordPress developer for hire to help you solve these issues. Click here to read how to find the best WordPress developer to work on your website. 

Is your WordPress admin loading faster? Do you have any trick to make WordPress backend faster that we’ve not mentioned here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author
David Attard
David has been working in or around the online / digital industry for the last 18 years. He has vast experience in the software and web design industries using WordPress, Joomla and niches surrounding them. As a digital consultant, his focus is on helping businesses get a competitive advantage using a combination of their website and digital platforms available today.

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