Keep Your Joomla! Site Lightning Fast!
June 21, 2011 | David Henzel
Joomla!® is one of the top 3 CMS solutions in the world. The power of Joomla lies in the many available extensions. If you need a certain functionality in Joomla that it doesn’t have by default, there is a large chance that one of the 7000+ extensions will provide you with the solution.
Want a commenting system? There are extensions for that. Want advanced SEO functionality? Plenty of extensions for that too. Need a fancy poll? Want a forum? Should your site be a community portal? All possible with the help of extensions.
But there is a downside to all these extensions and that is speed. There is nothing holding you back to install tens or hundreds of extensions. And before you know it you find yourself in the middle of an “extension frenzy”. And with every extra feature you add to Joomla you will most likely also require extra server power and processing time. In other words, Joomla sites packed with extensions tend to slow down. People leave your site because it has become so slow.
Luckily, there are some great solutions for this problem. Here are some techniques that will make sure Joomla is running at its full potential.
Joomla extensions come in different forms: components, modules, plugins, template…
Components & Modules
It is great to play around with all the fabulous power components and modules can offer you. Especially with modules you can dress up your pages to have countless functionalities. But keep in mind that more is often less. Less in performance and efficiency of not only your page loads, but also of the user experience and revenue!
So try to only use the extensions you really need. And uninstall everything you don’t use. Don’t just disable them, uninstall them!
Plugins: friend or foe?
Plugins are great to add all sorts of functionality to your site. They are loaded and executed at different stages of the page rendering process. In most cases you don’t even know what plugins have been doing there thing. And there lies the danger!
When your website has a lot of plugins installed, they will slow down your site. Especially if these 3rd party plugins are not coded efficiently. Unfortunately – unless you are a programmer – you have no real way of telling if extensions are coded well
So plugins are your friends and can turn your site into something fantastic. But if you are not careful with them, they can group up and become your foe by slowing your site down.
There are hundreds of thousands of Joomla templates out there. Varying from very simple to extremely extensive ones. But also from very well to very poorly programmed ones.
Be careful in choosing your template. With more functionality also comes more server load.
Also many templates are packed with images. Especially if these images are not optimized, this will have a drastic effect on your page load speed. But luckily you can fix that yourself!
Out-of-date and out-of-touch
Technology never stops. And neither does the development and improvement of Joomla and its extensions.
Make sure you keep up-to-date with the latest releases of Joomla. Keep track of new versions of the extensions you use.
Also make your host use the latest versions of PHP and MySQL. And that the server is setup correctly and is maintained.
Staying up-to-date will not only help you in keeping your website up to speed, but also it will protect you from known security issues.
Database: time to clean up!
MySQL databases are normally very efficient. But sometimes databases can gather junk and even become corrupted. This can slow down your site and even make it unreachable.
There are fortunately ways to fix this, or better yet, prevent it. You simply have to ‘repair’ your database tables.
Most hosting providers will offer you access to your database(s) via phpMyAdmin, a mysql web interface. There you can select your database tables and tell it to repair them.
There is a great Joomla extension that will help you do this right from your Joomla administrator: Admin Tools. It will also provide you with other great tools to keep your website nice and clean.
If you want to be really geeky, you can also set up a cronjob script to repair your database regularly.
Cache: use it!
Joomla has a built in content caching system. This will take all dynamic content, cache it, and deliver the cached content to your unregistered viewers.
Caching will prevent your components, modules and plugins to have to do the same thing on every page load. This will reduce server load significantly.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN): take load off your server!
A lot of your server power and page load time is taken up by loading the different images, stylesheets, scripts and other files your website requires. A CDN will take that load of your own server and offer these files from a different server close to the visitor. The page load speed will improve dramatically because there are multiple servers serving the necessary files simultaneously.
There is an excellent Joomla plugin called CDN for Joomla!, created by NoNumber! (Peter van Westen). Not only does CDN for Joomla! fully support MaxCDN, you have a variety of options on how to use this CDN extension. And best of all, CDN for Joomla! is 100% free!
There’s some of our tips on how to speed up Joomla! Do you have any more tips on how to speed up Joomla, leave them in the comments below!