Find Which Plugins are Slowing Down your Site

The results screen gives you information about the performance of each plugin

A default installation of WordPress is very trim and will load pages very quickly. This is a purposeful decision of the development team, to keep the core quick and leave non-essential functions up to plugins, so that people who don’t need those functions aren’t slowed down by them.

With that said, most people will immediately start seeking to install some plugins once they install WordPress to get the functionality that they’re looking for. As you start building your site and tacking on plugins, you may not immediately realise the few milliseconds here and there that each plugin adds to your load time.

If you’ve decided that your page speed is getting a little slow (or if you haven’t even considered it), it may be worth doing a little audit to get an idea of which of your plugins are adding the most to your site load time. And in true WordPress style, there’s a plugin for that.

Install P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

P3 Plugin Performance Profiler is a plugin that you can activate just to do this audit and then deactivate it once you’ve finished tuning up your site, so that it’s not impacting your general site speed when you’re not using it.

Performing the scan

Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll find the plugin screen under the Tools menu. The user interface is very well laid out and easily navigated. To run your first assessment, hit the Start Scan button. Once you tell it to do an Auto Scan, it will then go through a process of loading a good number of your pages and assessing the load time of each one; this will take a couple of minutes, so be patient.

Understanding the results

The results screen gives you information about the performance of each pluginOnce the scan is over, you’ll be presented with an option to view the results of the scan. The results screen will look something like the image to the right. At the top, you get information about how many plugins you have, how long it took to load them all and what percentage of your page load speed is attributable to plugins. For me, it’s over 70%, so my site is now about 4 times slower than it was when it was first installed without any plugins. That’s not bad in and of itself – you have to balance functionality with page speed. But the really useful information comes in the breakdown.

The pie chart will give you a visual representation of the most burdensome plugins (each slice representing a percentage of the total plugin load time). In my case, the biggest culprits are Formidable Pro, OIOpublisher and WordPress Database Backup. This is where you need to make a decision as to whether the biggest offenders are really worth the extra load time, or whether there are suitable, more lean alternatives that will do the job just as well.

If you click over to the Detailed Breakdown tab, you can hover over each bar in the chart and see the actual load time for each plugin. The remaining tabs provide additional information about how each page that was scanned loaded, a comparison between the WP core load time, theme load time and total plugin load time, how many SQL queries were required to load each page and other metrics.

Time for a change?

Now that you’ve run the scan and seen the results for yourself, you’re in a good position to make an informed decision about what to do with your site. Review the heaviest plugins and decide whether you really need them. If you can’t live without them, maybe there’s a different, lighter plugin that will still achieve the same functionality? I’d be interested to hear whether your results made you take action.

31 thoughts on “Find Which Plugins are Slowing Down your Site”

  1. Paul Salmon says:

    I just installed the P3 plugin last week and so far have found it to be one of those plugins that I can’t do without. I have been waiting for a plugin that can analyze my blog’s loading time and then report back which plugins are slowing it down. It is definitely one great plugin.

  2. shawn says:

    Are you sure of the load time is “a visual representation of the most burdensome plugins” or the plugin active run-time, my site load speed 0.233 secs the plugin that is active the most grabs biggest piece of the chart, just made me wonder!

    1. The plugin estimates the load time attributable to each plugin based on the number of database queries and how long to load all of the plugin files, so yes it is a fairly accurate representation of how burdensome each plugin is.

  3. Roy says:

    I tried P3 last month and it reported my plugins were less than 25% of page load speed and no single plugin was very slow – but I had kept plugins to a minimum anyway. Would be worth rechecking if adding/changing plugins in future though to see if the load ratio increases. It’s likely to be more useful the more plugins you have.

  4. Thanks for listing this WP plugin, I am in the process of cleaning up my website of plugins and code and this will help. If one has over 20 plugins installed, this might take sometime to go through, but will see how I do.

    1. It’s definitely a useful thing to revisit a few times a year to keep everything ticking over smoothly.

  5. Zvi says:

    I’m currently using 43 plugins on my blog (yes, it’s a lot) and honestly it’s really hard not to use all of them. Besides, I’m quite happy with my blog’s performance and thanks to Hostgator, so far this blog can still survive a 4,000 visitors-a-day traffic. That is a great plugin, and one that I have been looking for since I started with WordPress. I’ll definitely go and install it now and see what is slowing my blog down. I don’t have as many plugins as you, but I do have quite a few.

    1. Yes, while the amount of plugins will play a part, it is important to note that a plugin can consist of a single function, which is extremely lightweight, or can contain a myriad of includes and thousands of lines of code, which is far heavier. So the number itself is not very helpful, but the plugin will help identify which ones have the biggest impact on your load time. Also, as you mention, your host plays a big role in how fast everything loads. If you’ve got an overloaded CPU, it will take that much longer for the server to serve up your pages.

  6. Here’s what I’d love to see. A plugin that can not only tell me how much of an impact it is having on page load times on the front-end of the website but also tell me the impact it is having on the back-end.

    My WordPress admin panel is terribly slow and I’d really prefer not to disable all my plugins and activate them one by one to find the culprit.

  7. Jupiter Jim says:

    Dave,

    Thanks so much for sharing the information on this plugin with us. Because of you I downloaded, installed and activated and ran the plugin. Love it. Deactivated it as soon as I was done. I have 18 high quality plugins that are running and I really cannot live without. It was good to know that they were NOT having a significant negative impact on my load times. Love the easy to read pie charts and all the information this plugin shares. Did a complete scan fairly quickly. Very satisfied with it.

    Thanks,

    Jupiter Jim

  8. Most of the newbies have too many plugins on their blogs. I was recently approached by one of my friends who had some issues with her blog. When I logged into the admin section, I was extremely surprised with the number of plugins (around 50) she was using on her blog. For every single (and simple) task, she was using a plugin.

    It’s really important to analyze your blog and see whether you’re using more plugins than you actually require. Many tasks (that you do using a plugin) can be done with replacing or modifying a single line of code. And there are guys who can offer you some advice regarding that for free.

    P3 Profiler is really a cool option to cut out the extra fat on one’s blog.

    Thanks for this helpful share, Dave!

    1. There’s so many small plugins that have extra fluff that just bloats your load time. Simple things like adding your Google Analytics tracking code to your site can be incredibly bloated when done through a plugin. Where possible, it’s definitely better to enter the code yourself.

    2. Ryan says:

      I have seen countless plugins that are created to accomplish the simplest of tasks, and it is usually people who are new to WordPress that end up using 50+ of them, haha. The ease of installation for plugins through the WordPress dashboard is wonderful, but it also lends itself to overuse.

      1. Agreed. And there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself – if a simple plugin is written well, it can be very light and shouldn’t slow down your site much at all. It’s all these big, over-heavy plugins that have underused features that can be the biggest problem though.

  9. Dale says:

    Incredible plugin. I agree with the Artful Dodger that maybe in a future release you can add an option to find out which plugins are sapping the life out of the Admin panel, but for the time being it helped me identify the Page Lists Plus plugin as one of the worst culprits for dragging my load times down. Out of 26 plugins, it was swallowing up 80% of the runtime pie!

    1. Wow, that’s incredible. For me, about half of my load time is attributable to OIOpublisher and Formidable Pro, so I’m currently in the process of looking for alternatives ;)

  10. Dale says:

    Just like you I’ll be searching for an alternative to my Page Lists Plus problem, but since the site it’s running on has close to 3000 pages, I might just have to bite the bullet and live with this resource pig.

  11. Hi Dave, I tried it, but when I hit scan, it showed my home page address followed by “?P3_HIDE_ADMIN_BAR=1″ and appears to have stopped. OK, then I checked the debug mode box, hit scan, and it did the same thing, but I was able to use the back button and find the log reports. It worked! It turns out that Headspace2 uses the most .6 seconds, and CommentLuv uses .37. Jetpack takes .26 and Quickcache takes .2. All the rest (40 plugins!) are light and combined use only .34. Later scans gave different values. CommentLuv (.11), Quickcache (.06), and Headspace (.18) went way down, and JetPack (.52) went way up. The “others” went down to .27 A little weird (are they caching??), but interesting.

    1. Well, no two scans will produce the same result, in the same way that a human won’t run 100m in the same time every time he tries to run it, but it gives a good overall view of what’s going on. Once you’ve run it 2 or 3 times, it should become pretty apparent which plugins are the bulky ones.

  12. J. Dexter Smith says:

    I am a novice at plugin determinations and usefulness. Is there an automatic site or link that I can go to that will scan all my plugins and determine 1. if I every use them 2. if I use them enough to justify keeping them, and 3. if they are properly functioning or are they causing problems. I have been having a boat load of problems with just about any site failing to download or messages at the bottom that continually state “waiting on site to download or respond”. I am presuming that this might be a plugin problem.

    1. It sounds like either your host has put you on a very crowded and underpowered server, or you may well have way too many plugins installed. I’d recommend using this tool, using Pingdom Tools to see where the hold up is in your site load time, and then perhaps hiring someone to try and tune up your site. There’s no service I know of that would do the things you’re asking.

  13. Skye says:

    We installed your p3 plugin and we love the detail in the results – the pie chart is especially helpful as we can see the heavy resource users at a glance.

    We do wonder as we ran the scan three times and got wildly varying results, if the load times might be impacted by the server’s performance. We’ve been getting very long load times on our site of late, but not changed any plugins.

    Any thoughts on that?

    1. I think that individual results can absolutely vary depending on the specific server conditions at any given time, but when you run it a few times, you’ll start to see a pattern emerging. Bear in mind that any active caches may also have a bearing on how they perform.

  14. Kent says:

    Can someone please tell me what the WP Core Time plug in does? After running the P3 scan, this is the plug in that is taking the most time to load. I am wondering what this plug in does and if I should delete it, or if I really need it.

    Thank you!

    1. That isn’t a plugin, but the time it takes for the core of WordPress to load, i.e. the parts you can’t do without. If it’s taking a long time for WordPress itself to load on a regular basis, I’d say that your server is underpowered/overloaded and you might consider a move.

  15. Lorenzo C. says:

    Great post! I also recommend running a lean WordPress site. Provides a bit of a speed boost and reduces the likelihood of a plugin or theme conflict. GTMetrix is another tool that I recommend. It scans your site and returns recommendations for speeding it up based on information from YSlow and Page Speed Insights.

  16. David Taylor says:

    Great post! I’ve been having issues lately with my site. The admin and front end are very slow to load (frequently 20-30 seconds!). I tried deactivating all plugins, which didn’t improve load times at all. P3 Profiler names my WP-Core as the major problem as well – recording it at 27 seconds!
    I contacted GoDaddy (I know… Cringe…) and they say they don’t see any problems on their end, and gave me a list of things to check on my end (optimize my SQL database, check Internet connectivity (really?!?), etc…). So, I’ll try their suggestions, and get back to them if/when it doesn’t solve the issue.
    But 27 seconds for WP-Core to load sounds like a server issue to me, especially since the admin pages take 30″ to load. I can’t even get Jetpack to reconnect to WordPress because it times out!

    1. Agreed. For Core to take 27 seconds to load, you’re definitely looking at a server issue unless you’ve got a particularly obscure or complex setup, which it doesn’t sound like. Just get away from GoDaddy and be done with it! May I suggest HostGator…?

  17. Greg says:

    Very impressed with the P3 plugin.I seem to have conflicting knowledge though
    I was informedc that Social Media Feather plugin was very lite on server usage
    However of all my plugins P3 reports that this very plugin is taking a huge amount of cpu. Infact 76%
    I just can`t see how or why
    Great discussion on your post by the way

  18. blue presley says:

    This is a great plugin, but my website only has 6, and most of the functionality is in the theme. Is there anyway to profile a theme’s performance?

    1. This plugin actually does this. It doesn’t specify anything detailed about the theme, but in addition to specifying how long each plugin takes, it indicates how much of the load time is taken up by both core and your theme.

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