[Tutural] How to increase your site performance without spending a penny!

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As we all know, site performance is critical to the user and in the eyes of Google. The faster your site loads, the higher you will rank.

I'm going to share with you what I have done to increase the performance on my several WordPress sites and forums.

The first thing is to stop using shared hosting and find a reliable but affordable KVM VPS. I know this will cost you a little more money, but for a few dollars more you can have your own VPS with dedicated resources for your site(s). I've found several good deals for a VPS on https://lowendbox.com/tag/kvm/ and https://lowendtalk.com/categories/offers. Black Friday deals are usually the best. To give you an idea, I found a 4GB, 2 CPU, 80GB HD, and 1 static IP address with unlimited bandwidth for $40 a year with racknerd.com. This is enough to run several WP sites with dedicated resources.

Follow these steps to improve your VPS speed:

On the backend:​

  1. After you install a fresh new image on your VPS (I recommend Ubuntu). Be sure to update it with the latest webstack via SSH:
    1. Run these commands once a month, if running Ubuntu:
      apt-get update
      apt-get upgrade
      apt-get dist-upgrade
    2. About every six months or so, it's best to keep things tidy and cleanup some space by running these commands:
      apt-get autoclean
      apt-get autoremove
  2. I use a free control panel to manage my VPS and sites. I highly recommend FastPanel. It's completely free and easy to use. It uses Nginx by default and allows me to switch PHP versions for each site on the fly.
    1. Another free alternative CP is aaPanel, I'm not familiar with it, but I've heard good things about it.
  3. Use the latest PHP; at this time it's 8.1.
    1. Some plugins might throw an error or not work at all if it's not updated to work with php8.1
  4. Within the FastPanel CP enable the following:
    1. Go to your site card, Options -> Static Content and Enable Gzip, Use Nginx for static files, Сaching period (days) for 365, Gzip compression level, and choose something 7 or higher. The higher you go, the higher the CPU usage. Depending on how many sites you have, balance this out among your sites accordingly. I haven't noticed a significant return on performance by setting the Gzip compression level higher than 7.
    2. On the left hand side, click on Settings -> Services and install redis.
    3. Applications -> jpegoptim, optipng, php81 (if not already installed), Redis, fail2ban if you want to secure your VPS with a firewall.

On the front end:​

  1. If using WP try to use the least number of plugins as possible. Ask yourself if you really need that Google Analytics plugin or you can simply paste the code in your header of your theme template, if possible. Sometimes a single plugin can combine two functions that would be handled by two separate plugins. Poorly written plugins can significantly impact the performance of your site.
  2. Use a well known template that is optimized for performance.
  3. Use a caching plugin such as WP Rocket.
  4. Use Squoosh to significantly reduce the size of your images before uploading them to your site, but don't squooh them to much.
    1. Consider using WebP image format in place of jpeg images. Keep in mind that you will need to configure WP to serve this type of images.
Bonus for the technical:
  1. You can use a plugin called Query Monitor which allows you to quickly determine poorly performing plugins, themes, or functions.

    Query Monitor.jpg
After making all the settings from above here are my results from my VPS with 4GB, 2 processors, 8 plugins and 4 other high traffic WP sites running on the same VPS.

SpeedTest.jpg



Finally give your site a test on GTmetrix.
I hopes this helps you, if so please give this a
like.jpg

, it's appreciated.