These are not your straight forward, step-by-step guide on how to optimize a virtual private server for WordPress. There are plenty of guides out there written by experts and professionals. This post is a log of my experience in following those guides.
These optimizations were done on two fronts: the actual WordPress installation and the underlying software that made up the server stack: mySQL, PHP and Apache. Not much was done to the OS as I was running Ubuntu 12.10 Server edition and it did a good job out-of-the-box.
Before the actual migration of this blog from the old host, i took time in reviewing the plugins I used. Over the years, this blog has built up a considerable number of plugins for a particular function or feature that I wanted to have.
Thanks to the 2013 Theme, I was able to shave off 2 to 3 plugins as the functions they provided came with the theme.
Another trick is to find a plugin that provided the features provided by individual plugins. One sample is the WordFence security plugin which replaced 3 plugins. Another is the Jetpack plugin which replaced the Facebook and Twitter connectivity plugins allowing for putting in comments using accounts from either social networking sites.
The basic premise here is that the fewer plugins running, the lighter the installation would be thus it would be less taxing to the server.
On the WordPress side, I installed the WP-Supercache plugin instead of the W3 Total Cache plugin that I long used before. Super cache runs lighter than W3TC and it uses less database space.
On the server side, I installed memcached to help the server with the overall load.
Aside from memcache, MySQL query caching was also enabled and fine-tuned for optimal performance. At this point, MySQL suits the traffic needs of this blog and there’s no need to use other database engines like innoDB or the like.
Tweaks to Apache
Since WordPress would be the only software running on this VPS, it’s best to disable the Apache modules that aren’t needed. There are also a lot of tweaks to Apache and a great guide can be found over at the Theme Foundry.
The next steps
To know if the optimizations I’ve put in place will give the desired results, a monitoring system must be in place. I’ll be browsing for monitoring tools that will provide a view of how things are going – the server performance, WordPress’ performance and how to further fine tune things.
It’s been a fun journey so far, I’ve learned so many things along the way and the best part is, I’ve just barely begun.