Aug 202008
Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Welcome to the first official installment of my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series!

I love WordPress and I assume if you’re reading this that you’re at least flirting with it as a blogging platform yourself. Today let’s take a look at something nice we can do for our WordPress blog that will help us (and our readers!) out at the same time.  Today’s topic is optimizing your WordPress installation.  Don’t worry, we’re going to take things easy here…

One of the most powerful aspects of WordPress as a blogging platform is that its open source nature allows people with far more programming skill than I to easily create plugins or add-ons.  If WordPress doesn’t do what you want out of the box, odds are someone else wanted the same functionality and a plugin has already been developed to modify WordPress to do that very thing.  In fact, the Official WordPress Plugins Repository holds more than 2,700 various plugins!  That’s a lot of add-ons to experiment with and, odds are, you’ve tried a few over time that you’ve chosen to no longer use for one reason or another.  Which means, of course, that you’ve probably got a lot of unused plug-ins sitting around in your wp-content/plugins folder as well.  Some of these may even still be activated, despite the fact that you’re no longer using them.

Did you know that WordPress loads the vast majority of plugins on every page whether they’re needed or not? For example, up until yesterday I had Alex King’s excellent WP-Grins plugin installed.  It allows users to click on smileys to place them in their comments.  Frankly, I think I’m the only one who ever used it, but it was cute, so I kept it around.  I had no idea it was loading with every page, regardless of whether there was a comment box available or not. So now it’s gone.  In fact, I deactivated a half-dozen plugins while researching this article and my blog loads noticeably quicker over my DSL line.

Sometimes deactivating a plugin can cause errors on your blog because the template is still calling the plugin.  If this happens to you, check out John Lamansky’s aptly named What To Do If Plugin Deactivation Breaks Your Blog.  But deactivating unused plug-ins is just the first step.  After deactivating a plugin you also want to make sure to go the extra step and completely delete it from your plugins directory.  While you’re deleting things, make sure to get rid of any themese you’re notusing as well.  Not only will this clear up a little server space and make the plugins and presentation pages of your WordPress Admin that much cleaner, but it’s essential to our next step of automatically deleting orphan database entries.

If those last three words got you a bit nervous, just stick with me.  I promise this is easy, thanks to Allan Hutchinson (aka Mittineague) and his WordPress Clean Options Plugin.  Essentially orphaned options are lines that have been inserted into your WordPress database in order to allow various plugins to do thier job.  Most plug-ins don’t delete these options when the plugin is deactivated (for various reasons).  What the Clean options plugin does is scour your database and blog directory, then lists any database options that are not called upon by any of your WordPress files.  You then have the option of selecting which of these orphaned options to delete.

Why would you want to delete these poor little orphaned database options?  Well, simply put, because they’re useless and still taking up space which bloats your database and makes WordPress work harder while actually running slower.  By deleting all of your deactivated plugins before running this plugin you ensure that it cleans out the maximum number of orphaned entries.  That, in turn, makes WordPress work both smoother and more quickly, which means a happier blog, a happier blogger, and happier readers as well.

This installment is running longer than I expected, so I’m actually going to split it into two separate posts.  Check back next week for Lighten The Load Of Your WordPress Blog – Part Two when I’ll show you an easy way to further optimize your WordPress database as well as a simple plug-‘n’-play plugin to lighten your server load, and increase page load times, in one easy step.

Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series        Next in series

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