Building on last week’s topic of how many visitors a hosting plan can handle is this week’s post: Optimizing WordPress for Performance. Even with the highest quality hosting and the most optimized and performant MySQL/MariaDB server poor content and database optimization can still bite you.
I am going to share with you some of the optimizations we have found that have helped our clients do more with less faster. Your results may vary and it is suggested that you take a full backup of your site, both files and database, before you make any changes.
If you are a client of ours and would like us to take a look at your WordPress site(s) please don’t hesitate to reach out. We perform optimization on a regular basis for our clients at no additional charge and we are happy to help as much a we can.
Quite often our clients and potential clients ask us a question that on its face seems simple: How many visitors can my account handle? This question is not as simple as it seems.
As with any deceptively simple question there is more to it than a simple number. We wish we could simply give a number as a response but to do so would be disingenuous and deceptive from our perspective. We know that there is far more to the question and the answer than a simple number.
If all sites were created equal and all sites used the same amount of resources per visit, transmitted the same amount of data, performed the same SQL queries, etc – the answer would be simple. In the real world every website is different. We have some clients that are handling more than 100,000 visitors per month on our cheapest and least-powerful plans and then we have other clients on our most powerful and most expensive plans that are struggling with only a few thousand.
We don’t want to make what seems like a promise – that you can hit a particular number of monthly visitors – when it’s not something we can guarantee as we do not control your content or applications.
I always wanted to start my own web host and the earliest I remember having that desire was in 1998 when I was still in middle school. I had written my own web server software and already had a solid grasp of the protocols of the time. Being young and still in school this got put on the back burner for nearly a decade.
Fast forward to 2007 when I was looking for reliable hosting for one of my own projects and having significant trouble finding a provider I felt that I could trust. This was even before EIG, or Endurance International Group (now called Newfold Digital), had swallowed up all of the common providers. Many of the larger providers were still independent and providing decent but not amazing services.
My decision process came down to Site5 and HostGator at the time, both of which are now owned by Newfold Digital. I will be straightforward in that I honestly don’t remember what leaned me towards HostGator over Site5 but that is where I ended up. Having wanted to start my own provider for nearly a decade at this point I went for a reseller plan with HostGator.
The service overall was ok but not anything I’d consider spectacular. The long and short of it was that the server I was placed on was so hopelessly overloaded that important system wide processes like Apache or Named would crash. Over the first couple of weeks I saw several outages of 1 to 4 hours as services on the server would crash and it would take time for support to fix the issues. There was no way I could reasonably and truthfully recommend my own services to anyone else based upon a HostGator reseller account.
The vast majority of support requests we receive are either about WordPress or email. This is not entirely surprising as most of our clients run WordPress sites and most also use our email services.
We are always happy to help so please do not hesitate to reach out to our support if you are having issues with your site. At minimum we can point you in the right direction and in most cases we are able to identify and resolve the issues our clients are facing even if they are not server or network level. Most issues we solve are content based but we are still happy to help!
From our experience the most common issues here lately are due to the WordPress core or Plugins updating and not supporting the version of PHP an account is set to. We just now solved an issue for a client where they were getting the “There has been a critical error on your website. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions,” message.
In this case, and many others, we don’t generally have access to the administration email for the site so we simply enable WordPress Debugging. The process for this is fairly straightforward.
Using your favorite method for editing files – be it the File Manager in your control panel or downloading the file via FTP and editing it locally – open up your “wp-config.php” file. This file is located in the base folder of your WordPress Installation.
Inside of the WordPress Configuration file you will generally find a line like the one just below and you will want to change “false” to “true”:
define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );
Reload the website and/or reproduce the error. In many cases you will get get a verbose error that tells you which file is having the issue. You can usually identify the plugin or theme causing the issue based upon the error.
In the instance from just before writing this post the error we were seeing was:
Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '?', expecting variable (T_VARIABLE) in /home/redacted/public_html/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/vendor/symfony/polyfill-php80/bootstrap.php on line 29
So in this case the issue is with the WooCommerce plugin. When looking at line 29 of the referenced file we saw nothing wrong although the syntax for this line is not compatible with any version of PHP older than 7.4:
As there was nothing obviously wrong with this line of code – the line is intact with no obvious errors we suspected the PHP version may be at fault.
We checked the version of PHP the account was assigned to and found it on version 7.0. Moving the account to version 7.4 or newer resolved the issue and allowed the site to function as expected.
It’s very common for automatic updates, or even manual ones, to update a plugin, theme, or even the core installation to a version that does not support older versions of PHP. This is but just one example but most issues share the same initial troubleshooting steps.
Steps that you may take to investigate the issue would be to set a default theme, to disable plugins, or to even roll back the installation to a backup from when the site was known to be functioning. We do suggest taking a current backup before doing that.
If you ever have issues with your WordPress site, or any site you host with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our support for assistance. We have decades of experience when it comes to investigating and troubleshooting issues with websites and while we can’t make promises that we will resolve your issues we’ll do our absolute best!
Since our inception in 2007 MDDHosting has always relied mainly on word-of-mouth referrals of satisfied users to gain new clients. Unlike most of the other hosting providers, we do not allocate much budget to marketing and advertisements but instead we choose to reinvest our profits back into our infrastructure and services to provide the best hosting services for our clients.
As a token of our appreciation to all our loyal clients, we have just launched a new Refer-A-Friend program to reward any clients who refer one or more friends to sign up with us.
You can find your unique link to share among your friends in your client area homepage. When someone successfully signs up for our services for the first time after clicking your link and maintains that service for at least 30 days, your MDDHosting account will be credited with account credits which can be used to pay for your existing services.
We are offering a $25 credit every successful referral so the upcoming holiday season should be a good time to start casually mentioning about your hosting provider during your friends and families gatherings. 😉
How is this different from the Affiliate Program?
Our Affiliate Program is open to all while the Refer-A-Friend program is reserved exclusively for MDDHosting clients only.
Affiliate commissions can be paid via Account Credit or PayPal with a minimum required commission value of $250 while the referred credits of the Refer-A-Friend program is paid into your Account Credit with no minimums.
You can enroll into both our Affiliate Program and Refer-A-Friend program as we do not force you to choose one or the other. You will have two different set of unique referral links in such a situation so you will need to determine which of the two to give out.