We're big fans of speed because, as it's been widely proved, speed makes all the difference: better UX for your users, higher SEO rankings, improved click-through rate. But speed isn't important only for the visible part of your WooCommerce store (aka the fronted). Speed can also affect how you manage it, how smoothly and quickly you'll be able to make changes "behind the scene", how efficiently you'll be able to work in your admin panel (aka the backend).
So, this time, I'd like to focus on this part of your WooCommerce store. Thanks to WordPress developer and Codeable expert Nabeel Molham, I'll go through some of the most common issues that might be causing your WooCommerce admin panel to lag and provide tips on how to fix them.
But before that, there's something you should do...
Update everything before you start
Before any fix, or improvement work with software there's always a step 0 that you need to take, otherwise, your work will be of less impact, if not useless to an extent. And when it comes to WooCommerce, this preliminary tasks you're strongly suggested to take is updating your store to its latest available releases. The benefits of keeping your WooCommerce and website up-to-date have already been discussed.
It's only after you're sure all of WordPress core files, the WooCommerce plugin along with all other plugins, and your theme as well are at their latest stable release that you can start working on fixing and improving your slow WooCommerce backed.
It's now time to see which are the top 6 reasons for a slow admin panel in WooCommerce.
Reason #1 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Object caching
WordPress and WooCommerce users rely heavily on plugins because they make their life so much easier. Problem is that, not only all plugins are created equal (some are great, others good, others again are simply poorly coded), but also a plugin might affect several areas or aspects that you don't expect to be directly touched by it. For example, one type of plugins that has gathered lots of attention among WordPress users is caching plugins. The main reason behind this choice is that, when properly configured, having a good caching system in place can dramatically increase the performance of any WordPress website.
I said properly configured because wrong setups within W3 Total Cache, one of the most famous WordPress caching plugin, could lead you to very slow pages both on your frontend and backend. As Nabeel explains:
If you're using W3 Total Cache, based on your specific WooCommerce builds and features, it sometimes might get you a slow backend because of the 'Object caching' feature. If you're seeing that happening, I'd suggest to simply disable the object caching option in that plugin so that your backend will almost immediately have some performance boost out of it.
As a good alternative, Nabeel suggests giving WP Rocket a try:
If you don't want to use W3 Total Cache, there is another one that started to get a lot of attention: it's called WP Rocket. Especially, the latest versions of WP Rocket are providing really good results and can speed up a website dramatically. And, most importantly, WP Rocket doesn't affect your backend in any way.
Another little tip on top of disabling object caching you might want to try is also disabling database cache as well to gain a little more speed boost in your admin panel.
Never forget, though, that playing around with caching preferences isn't as easy as the possibility to check/uncheck options provided by the plugins UI makes you think. Speed and performance are serious matters you should know how to properly handle. If you don't want to mess things up and get your store slow, ask help to a performance specialist.
Reason #2 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Translation plugins
If your clients are spread around the world, there's a high chance your WooCommerce store is available in more than just a language. For that reason, it could become quite heavy and result in slower speeds. For example, WPML is known for making WordPress admin run slow and there are several things you'd need to do to fix its slow performance.
As Nabeel highlights:
One of the most used plugins for multiple-language stores (and websites) is a plugin called WPML. This one might be really heavy on the CPU, especially on the backend. If you need to translate your pages into several languages, I'd suggest switching to different plugins such as Polylang or qTranslate X, which don't have as many features as WPML, but they're lightweight on your admin panel. For basic translation needs, both of these plugins will do the trick.
Reason #3 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Old transients
You might be not aware of it but your WooCommerce store saves temporarily cached information in your database, like customer sessions data, in the form of transients. If you haven't configured any automated way to remove those you no longer need to store, they can quickly start cluttering up your database.
Result? Slow admin panel in WooCommerce! Explains Nabeel:
Sometimes old and expired transients aren't successfully cleared in WooCommerce. Unfortunately, when they are stacking on 'top of one another' over time, they cause the slow down your backend. What I'd strongly suggest here is for you to install a plugin that will help you manage transients. There is a great one called Transient Manager thanks to which you'll be able to delete all transients, or just delete the expired ones.
Regularly clearing useless transients will help you keeping your WooCommerce backend run smoothly.
Reason #4 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Unused plugins/themes
As with any WordPress and WooCommerce install having many unused and outdated theme files and plugins might affect your performances. The main reason is that all these files, even if deactivated, they keep storing their settings in your database. But there’s more: WordPress will keep checking for new updates as well, which will cause unnecessary HTTP requests in your backend. With WooCommerce there are also add-ons you should be taking into account. That's why deleting all these files you're not using will benefit your store's speed as a whole.
Reason #5 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Wrong settings within your Content Delivery Network
Content Delivery Network (CDN) services like Cloudflare or KeyCDN are great tools to help you serve pages faster from your WooCommerce store. Specifically, they "duplicate" your pages across multiple servers in different locations so that the time to retrieve those pages is reduced because they're served from the closest location.
If you're relying on a CDN, you might experience a slow admin panel because you haven't set up a specific rule within their settings. As Nabeel warns:
Depending on the Content Delivery Network that you're using, it might be the case that your backend gets delivered through the CDN as well, resulting in a slow admin panel. With some providers, you don't need to take care of it because they automatically exclude your backend but others don't do that right from the start. If that's your case, I'd recommended excluding your admin dashboard from the delivery network to improve its performance.
In other words, you should invest a little more time to create a custom rule that will allow your admin panel not to be delivered through the CDN (here's how to do it on CloudFlare and how to set KeyCDN up properly).
Reason #6 for a slow WooCommerce admin panel: Slow servers
I kept probably the most important as the last one: even if you put in place all these tactics, if your servers suck big time, your WooCommerce store's backend will be no different. That's why you'd need to realize that if you're relying on a cheap hosting provider, it won't get you very far. If you have no idea how your servers (and hosting provider) are doing, you could talk to a speed and performance specialist to get some advice.
Additional things you should try to make your WooCommerce admin panel faster:
With these six elements above here to look into you should already be able to fix, or at least improve, your WooCommerce's backend speed. I'd like, though, to give you a couple more inputs that will help you get a better understanding of what's happening "underneath" your store so that you can monitor what's clogging everything up and act accordingly:
Install the Query Monitor plugin or Debug Bar to get a more effective way to uncover slow scripts/database queries. As Nabeel describe it:
This is not a fix for your slow admin panel. It's more of a way to investigate or to get more information on what's happening in your backend. There are two plugins I'd like to suggest you, one of which is called WP Query Monitor, while the other is Admin Debug Bar. The combination of these two plugins will give you clear insights and alerts on any process that's taking too long, which might lead to a slow admin.
Install Heartbeat Control plugin to have more control
WordPress introduced WordPress Heartbeat API with WordPress 3.6 in 2013, which introduced some cool features such as the autosave feature (Thank God!), the post locking feature warning while two users are working on the same post, and so on. What's important here to know is that the Heartbeat API will keep sending AJAX calls to the server as soon as you - or any other of your users - is logged into the admin area.
Continuous calls and server request?! This can't be good for performance! That's why thanks to a plugin such as Heartbeat Control you could stop it from being triggered in some or all areas of your store.
Make sure your WooCommerce store has enough memory
Speed is important for your customers but should also be powering your admin panel to make both your work and your developers' life more efficient. A WooCommerce store is a complex business asset that connects lots of "moving parts", some of which you can surely optimize and improve. Never forget, though, the two most important elements that directly affect your store's performance: its foundations (aka how it's been built in the first place) and the quality of your hosting.
This blog post features Nabeel Molham, a freelance professional with 10+ years of web development experience, with a love of WordPress since version 2.8 way back in 2009. He specializes in helping clients achieve more with WordPress than thought possible. His extensive client work includes custom themes, plugins, integrations, security, speed, and performance optimization.