Speed up Joomla 3.7.5 – a plugin that made my site crawl

In the past few days a website I administer Kampot-ontheedge.org became painfully slow. I am talking about taking 35 seconds to load any page on the website.  When I tried to get some idea of the problem using GTmetrics it took over 2 minutes to load, timed out, and wouldn’t return any analysis.

I searched Joomla forums but the only suggestion that seemed to be practical or relevant was to delete any large picture – and there were several candidates over 400 kb that had recently been put up by one of the authors. But even pages that had only text were just as slow. Baffled, so decided to send a message to the webhost I was using. To be specific with my problem I decided to carefully measure how many seconds it took to load. When I was staring at the blank white screen I noticed in the bottom left hand corner of my Chrome browser “waiting for WikiMedia” followed by “waiting for Extrawatch Live!” It seemed to take an age for these to load. ExtraWatch Live! is an analytics plugin that I had imported. Perhaps that was the problem? I disabled it and found the website loading speedily.

In GTmetrics my rating had increased from unable to be analysed, to category A with loading speed of 1.7 seconds.

Results from GTMetrics for my website

Results from GTMetrics for my website

Obviously I had solved the problem 🙂  The strange thing is that I had installed the ExtraWatch Live! plugin over a month ago, so it wasn’t something that readily came to mind as something now causing problems. Why should I suspect it?

While searching for the solution I also applied some server modifications which could have helped, particularly Gzip Page Compression. You can see the settings I changed here:

Joomla 3.7.5 server settings

Modifications to Joomla 3.7.5 server settings

I got the idea of modifying my Gzip Page Compression setting from this Youtube video by Joomla SEO & Performance .

I suppose the take home message for me from this experience is to watch out for the information at the bottom of the scree as the first line in tackling slow website problems.

 

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