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Do you have any tips for reducing First Byte Time back end processing... I disabled most of the plugins I could, I am using CDN, W3 Total Cache.. but still the back-end processing time is around 3 seconds.

Is this time acceptable? What else could be done?

thanks Andy

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3 Answers 3

That is a huge question and it is going to be hard to answer. And it is going to take a lot of research and trail and error on your part.

As far as WordPress specific things go, analyze your code base. Poorly written plugins or themes can cause huge delays. A 3 second backend processing time is not typical for a stock WordPress so disable your plugins one by one and see if you see a difference. If you do, maybe that plugin can be re-written to be more efficient. Same with the theme.

Other options are not WordPress specific-- server specs, server config, database config, etc. I suspect it is probably server related. My instinct is to say "overloaded server", especially since your are seeing this delay even with caching. Cached pages should have very, very little backend processing.

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This is not a WordPress related solution, but if you are really trying to squeeze as much performance as possible out of your site, and you have control over the server, you might consider using a reverse proxy like Squid. This will begin the cacheing process even before requests go through Apache. (Or whatever HTTP server you are using)

However, as mentioned by @s_ha_dum, I would strongly suspect an overloaded server. (Although again, Squid would definitely help alleviate that) Run through the typical debug process, and perhaps examine what else is going on with your server. Do these ~3 second load timers occur even with static HTML pages?

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I am switching to a new server, so let's see what happens... It seems the server is going down mostly whenever someone makes a new post or uploads images.. This is still quite worrying because the site only has 400 visitors per day. When I was in shared hosting everything used to work just fine... I had to move to a dedicated server bcs I reached a max file limit of 260,000 files.. –  Andy Jonathan Dec 8 '12 at 15:04
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You don't indicate what type of hosting environment you're on (shared, VPS, co-location). Obviously this can have a major impact on your overall performance; for example a shared hosting environment typically is oversold by the vendor and resources are restricted.

Schedule a little down time for some benchmarking in your production environment or setup a duplicate test environment on the same physical host.

Factors that are important here -

  1. MySQL/database benchmarking
  2. Apache/httpd benchmarking
  3. OS benchmarking
  4. Network latency

Suggested tools:

Host if you have shell access:

  1. Top
  2. MyTop

Client:

  1. FirePHP with net tools and perhaps ySlow

So setup some simple monitoring/tools (i.e. top, mytop) to see how your host is performing:

  1. With the default Twenty Ten theme and no plugins enabled.
  2. Switch to your regular/custom theme.
  3. Benchmark each plugin's impact by enabling one plugin at a time. I'd suggest working from most important to least important.

This systematic approach should give you a pretty good idea of where your performance issues are. You may not be able to address issues while testing but you should be able to develop a plan of attack.

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This is all good information everyone, lots of optimization and testing to be done... One thing I noticed is that in IE, the website takes a lot of time to load (4-5seconds) and then it just spits it out.. Is there a way to do a more progressive rendering? Does this indicate problems? –  Andy Jonathan Dec 5 '12 at 18:47
    
Are you sure you mean load or do you perhaps mean render? –  Stephen Dec 5 '12 at 18:50
    
i mean for about 5 seconds, the user just sees a white screen and then instantly the site appears in a split of a second.. what could be the cause of this? –  Andy Jonathan Dec 5 '12 at 20:53
    
What you are describing could be either server performance or page rendering time. The rendering time is often the result of the clients browser, so you'll need to figure out which it is by testing on different browsers. –  Stephen Dec 5 '12 at 21:09
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