How to Speed Up WP Engine for Making WordPress Sites Super Fast?

Speed up WP Engine - Fastest Web Host Server for WordPress

Need to Speed Up WP Engine !

WP Engine is one of the fastest web host servers for hosting WordPress sites. WP Engine is known for its hassle-free WordPress hosting services. After reviewing the features and services of WP Engine, Mark de Scande, who himself is a WordPress Speed Optimization Expert decided to move his site to WP Engine. He wanted his site to run super fast and shared his tips on this post about how to speed up WP Engine for making WordPress sites super fast.

A great web host server acts as the backbone behind a fast running website and Mark de Scande wanted to get the MAX speed for his website www.markdescande.com. WP Engine in itself is considered as the fastest host for WordPress Sites, but Mark de Scande proves that the fastest web host WP Engine can also be tweaked and configured to make it super fast.

Site Speed Optimization Reports Gone Bad on WP Engine

Mark de Scande compared the page speed optimization reports before and after switching his host service provider from WP Engine to WP Engine. WP Engine was much faster even without using cache plugins, but after analysing some of the speed test reports, Mark de Scande noticed that the user load time of his site has increased after switching to WP Engine. Mark de Scande started his quest to get the best site speed out of the best web host server – WP Engine.

Load Impact Report before switching WordPress Site to WP Engine

Speed up WP Engine

Load Impact Report after switching WordPress Site to WP Engine

WP Engine Speed Up Report of Load Factor

WP Engine Team Advice About Speeding Up WordPress Site

Mark de Scande send an email to the technical team of WordPress Expert Team at WP Engine. He mentioned the issues regarding the slowdown of his website. The technical team of WP Engine responded back with their detailed analysis report and recommendations. Read it in their own words –

Hello, Mark.

I ran a WebPagetest on your site to see if I could identify any possible causes to the performance issue you’ve been experiencing, the results of which can be seen here:http://www.webpagetest.org/result/140103_E8_RSA/.

Overall, your site speed is very good! However, there are still a few recommendations we can make to further increase its performance. Your Time to First Byte is one thing that stands out. To further investigate this issue, I ran an internal diagnostic test on your site and the results showed that this could be related to your theme and/or your plugins. To test your theme and plugins to see which is the possible culprit behind your slow TTFB, we recommend the following:

  • Move the site to staging
  • Set your theme to the default twentyfourteen and run another WebPagetest to see if TTFB is still long.
  • If it is not, then the theme may be to blame.
  • Disable plugins and re-run the test.
  • If it is better, then you can begin to re-enable plugins one at a time to find the specific plugin that is causing the issue.

Additionally, if you navigate to www.markdescande.com and view the Page Source, you’ll notice a large amount of content lines between<head> on line 8 and before </head> on line 90 (http://cl.ly/image/102d233b0X2c). This will give you an indication of the amount of initial content that is needing to be loaded when the page first appears. Large amounts of content in this area can usually be the cause when the TTFB for a site is taking several seconds but the entire Load Time for the rest of the page is pretty quick.

Please let us know if you have any questions or if you require additional information!

Sincerely,

Nick | Customer Support Specialist

WP Engine – Finely Tuned WordPress

Mark de Scande wasn’t happy with the above response.  The technical team of WP Engine believed that site theme was the culprit for pulling his website’s speed down.  Mark de Scande knew that the reason behind his slow site speed was hidden somewhere else and WP Engine support team failed to nail down the root of the real problem. It appeared as if they tried to blame his WordPress theme instead of taking the blame themselves or on the configurations.

How to Speed Up WP Engine in a step by step process ?

Mark de Scande tweaked and configured his WordPress site hosted on WP Engine to run it super fast. Let us go through the step by step procedure performed by Mark de Scande to speed up WP Engine. Readers who have their sites hosted on WP Engine can follow the same procedure to speed up their websites and their great host – WP Engine.

1.htaccess Configuration Changes on WP Engine WordPress Site

As the first step, Mark de Scande started his site speed optimization process to speed up WP Engine by tweaking .htaccess file with the following code:

<ifModule mod_php5.c>
php_value zlib.output_compression on

</ifModule>
SetOutputFilter DEFLATE
<IfModule mod_headers.c>
Header set Connection keep-alive
Header append Vary User-Agent env=!dont-vary
</IfModule>

<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive on
ExpiresDefault “access plus 14 days”
Header set Cache-Control “public”
</IfModule>

<FilesMatch “\.(html|htm|xml|txt|xsl)$”>
Header set Cache-Control “max-age=7200, must-revalidate”
</FilesMatch>

<IfModule mod_mime.c>
AddType application/x-javascript .js
AddType text/css .css
</IfModule>

<IfModule mod_deflate.c>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css application/x-javascript text/x-component text/html text/richtext image/svg+xml text/plain text/xsd text/xsl text/xml image/x-icon application/javascript
</IfModule>

<IfModule mod_setenvif.c>
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:rar|zip)$ no-gzip dont-vary
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.(?:avi|mov|mp4)$ no-gzip dont-vary
SetEnvIfNoCase Request_URI \.mp3$ no-gzip dont-vary
</IfModule>

# BEGIN WordPress

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

# END WordPress

2Speed up WP Engine using Cache-Images Plugin

Cache-Images plugin by Matt Mullenweg ensures that all the images sideload to their own host, even the images hosted on other domains. Mark de Scande used this plugin to ensure that none of the images were loaded from his test site. The plugin suppresses loading of images from test site, if any. Mark de Scande installed and activated the plugin on his website hosted on WP Engine to speed it up.

3WP Engine Speed Up using SEO Friendly Images Plugin

SEO Friendly Images by Vladmir Prelovac is a good plugin to fix missing ALT tags or TITLE attribute for images loaded on a WordPress site. Mark de Scande installed and activated this plugin on his site hosted on WP Engine to fix some missing ALT tags in some of the images to optimize his site for speed.

4Speed Up WP Engine using WP-HTML-Compression Plugin

WP-HTML Compression plugin by Steven Vachon is a great plugin to compress HTML on WordPress sites. It shortens the URL and also removes any standard comment and/or whitespace. Mark de Scande installed and activated this plugin on his website hosted on WP Engine to let the plugin handle all the HTML compression features required on his website.

5WP Engine Speed Up using WP Smush.it Plugin

WP Smush.it by WPMU DEV is a great plugin to optimize images loaded on WordPress sites. The plugin optimizes the images in lossless ways by optimizing JPEG image file compression, meta data stripping from JPEG image files, stripping unused colors and also converting GIF image files to indexed PNG files.

Mark de Scande installed and activated this plugin on his site hosted on WP Engine so that the images can be optimized for better rendering and also for reducing the page load time.

6Speed Up WP Engine using BWP Minify

BWP Minify is a great plugin to minify JSS and CSS files to reduce the page load time for WordPress sites. Mark de Scande installed and activated this plugin on his site hosted on WP Engine, but the plugin did not worked with WP Engine. Looking at the Better WordPress Minify Settings, we got the following message:

Better WordPress Minify Settings
Notice: Could not delete any cached files. Please manually check the cache directory.
Warning: Cache directory does not exist or is not writable. Please try CHMOD your cache directory to 755. If you still see this warning, CHMOD to 777.

The BWP Minify plugin was removed.

7WP Engine Speed Up using Autoptimize 1.7.3

Autoptimize is another great WordPress plugin used for WordPress site speed optimization. It is an easy to use plugin that minifies CSS, JSS and HTML without any complexity. It automatically adds expires headers, concatenates styles and scripts, move scripts to footer and makes several other configuration changes to optimize and speed up WordPress websites. Autoptimize is a simple, but powerful site optimization plugin used to speed up WordPress sites.

Mark de Scande installed, activated and tested Autoptimize plugin on his website hosted on WP Engine. Autoptimize was configured on the site to achieve best speed performance and it did worked like a charm. Take a look at the following screenshot to understand the configuration settings in action for Autoptimize plugin that worked on http://markdescande.com hosted on WP Engine. Autoptimize 1.7.3 works with WP Engine.Autoptimize settings to speed up WP Engine

8Speed Up WP Engine using JS & CSS Script Optimizer

JS & CSS Script Optimizer plugin is a great tool to pack JSS and CSS files used on WordPress sites. It combines all CSS scripts and also helps move Javascripts to the bottom of the web page. Mark de Scande installed, activated and tested this plugin to analyse the speed performance of his site hosted on WP Engine. Unluckily, the plugin was removed because it did not worked with WP Engine.

The probabilities of many cache and related plugins were tested by Mark de Scande on his site hosted on WP Engine. Some of these plugins worked, while some others did not worked. After doing all these configuration changes and tweaking, Mark de Scande did a series of site speed optimization tests to understand the site speed performance of his website hosted on WP Engine. Let us have a look at the site speed test reports and analyse the site speed test results.

Analysis of WP Engine Speed Up Process Performed by Mark de Scande

WP Engine Site Speed Optimization Test Report at Load Impact

Load Impact Test Report after speeding up WP Engine

WP Engine Site Speed Optimization Test Report at GTMetrix

GTmetrix site speed report for speed up WP Engine

WP Engine Site Speed Optimization Test Report at Pingdom Tools

Pingdom Tools Report to speed up WP Engine

WP Engine Site Speed Optimization Test Report at Webpagetest

Webpagetest speed report after WP Engine speed up

WP Engine Site Speed Optimization Test Report at Webhostinghero

WP Engine Site Speed Up Test Report at Webhostinghero

Text To HTML Ratio Test Report

WP Engine Speed Up Text to HTML Ratio

Initially, text to html ratio was 9%, but it has been improved to get a value of 11%

Page Speed Optimization Test Report at ismyblogworking

The results are Super Fast as we got a value of 7 ms page generation time and 13 ms page fetch time.

WP Engine Website Speed Optimization Test Report at Redbot

Redbot Test Report to Speed Up WP Engine

Most of the site speed test reports are looking good, but in order to make it better, I refined the site with some more tweaking. Let us have a look at  some of the site speed test reports once again.

Load Impact Test Report

Load Impact Speed Optimization Report

Start load time on load impact test report is 1.25 seconds, but it shifts down to 200 ms as soon as caching and CDN kicks off on the site.

GTmetrix Test Report

GTmetrix speed optimization final report

Pingdom Tools Test Report

Pingdom Tools speed optimization final report

Webpagetest Report

Webpagetest final speed optimization report

Conclusion

Great host like WP Engine is the backbone of a fast running website, but it also needs some complex configuration to make it super fast. WP Engine is fast and is one of the best WordPress hosts, but it can be made faster in the skilled hands of a site speed optimization expert. Mark de Scande tried and tested his site hosted on WP Engine to prove that WP Engine can be made super fast. His WordPress Theme was perfect, without having any flaws and had the potential to improve site load speed.

WP Engine provides the best host infrastructure, but a little tweaking can make it the best of the best web host service provider to power WordPress sites. People running their sites on WP Engine can follow the step by step procedure mentioned by Mark de Scande to turn their sites run faster than ever before. You can ask questions regarding the speedup of WP Engine by using the comment box below or writing a direct email to Mark de Scande. Suggestions are also welcome.

Mark de Scande Cheat Sheet MarkdeScande-htaccess

Post super charged by Ashutosh Kasera

Author 


WordPress Site Speed Expert, Speeding up WordPress sites across the Globe

I am the fuel behind the high speed of innumerable fast running wordpress websites hosted either on a cheap server or a dedicated server.
Today, Speed is a matter of great concern, and I don’t only optimize but re-energize. I am also a lifetime WPMU Dev member.


One of the largest free blogging websites BlogLines in South Africa is my baby. I not only conceived the idea of free blogging in South Africa, but also implemented it with an objective of adding a new dimension to the world of free blogging. Blogging helps us in enhancing the quality of our social life by transforming the ways in which we share our ideas and opinions with each other. South Africa blogging environment has never been so easy and user-friendly as it is today.

I have practised and learned all the technical aspects related to WordPress. In the past couple of years, I have developed a wide range of websites using WordPress, WordPress MU and now using the latest WordPress MultiSite.

I am the WordPress Speed Energizer Wiz, and I am always hunting around to find slow running websites. I know, these websites need me in order to live a long and healthy life.
Only the wordpress sites powered with speed, capable of running at full throttle are going to survive in this tough and competitive world of Internet.


Need my help but can not afford my hourly rate buy me coffee and i will do a full report on your website.

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  1. hooed.com
    hooed.com01-25-2014

    Nice post. Thanks for the tips how to optimize WP. That’s what i was looking for.

  2. Kyle Rollins
    Kyle Rollins10-14-2014

    When was this posted? I’m testing this on WP Engine in Oct 2014 and am concerned about issues with WP 4.0. Would be nice to know if this was written in 2014 or if its older…

    Great post so far!

  3. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande10-14-2014

    Hello Kyle Rollins

    I have added the date to the top of the post :) 01-12-2014 my bad

    Ps this post will still work for WPE

    As a side note i run all my sites like this on WP engine

    1) CloudFlare.com (FreeVersion) Turn it to full and then turn of RocketLoader
    2) MAX CDN (Paid)
    3) CDN CNAME
    4) WP engine ask them to add a custom CNAME
    5) Some .htaccess Tweaks that’s in this post

  4. Gabriel
    Gabriel10-16-2014

    I have tryed to add the the code n .htaccess but it give me a php error page.

    Not sure what happen, but didn’t work. Something on my side?

    Thanks

  5. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande10-16-2014

    Hello Gabriel

    Did you just copy and paste the code from here https://www.markdescande.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MarkdeScande-htaccess.txt

    Please do this in steps

    1) htaccess zlib.output_compression

    Then pull up your site and see if it still loads

    2) htaccess mod_expires.c

    Then pull up your site and see if it still loads

    and so on :)

    The trick is to not just copy and past stuff do it bit by bit.

    Thanking you kindly

    Mark de Scande – optimize / scrutinize / re-energize

    Mobile: +270723040097
    Web: http://www.markdescande.com
    Book me on UpWork https://www.upwork.com/freelancers/~01d899ada51ae72f32
    “procrastination is the thief of time”

  6. Jesse Brede
    Jesse Brede01-08-2015

    Hey Mark,

    Great post. Tons of solid tips here.

    On step 1, adding the code to the .htaccess for our site causes errors.

    Also, using Autoptimize plugin causes our entire site CSS to break.

    Sounds like we might need to hire you to help.

  7. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande01-08-2015

    @Jesse Brede

    The tips should work, but sometimes if you copy and paste from the website it can make problems..

    Ps Book me trough UpWork and i will have a look at your site and give you a free report https://www.upwork.com/freelancers/~01d899ada51ae72f32

  8. HouseofStrauss
    HouseofStrauss01-10-2015

    Interesting and pretty well detailed commentary. I wonder what WPE techs would say to this article? I looks like some of these plugins used are duplicating some optimisation processes already in place on WPE. The whole point of a managed service is to fine tune behind the scenes to eliminate the need for these types of tweaking. Nonetheless, your data seems to indicate genuine improvements. For the less ambitious tweaker, which single action, or two would you say added the biggest improvement(s), other than image optimisation ?
    Thank-you

  9. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande01-10-2015

    Hello There HouseofStrauss

    The only thing that i would concentrate on is Images as 99% of the load time on any site is images :)

    The rest of the stuff is more just i want it all green :)

    Thx
    Mark

  10. HouseofStrauss
    HouseofStrauss01-10-2015

    Hi Mark, thanks for that feedback. Fully agree, images carry most of the load. The htaccess tweaks looks interesting. I’ll start with this one and do some benchmarks.

  11. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande01-10-2015

    @HouseofStrauss Only add this :)

    php_value zlib.output_compression on

  12. Tony Zeoli
    Tony Zeoli01-15-2015

    Why would you use SEO Friendly Images when the media library has Title, Alt, Caption, Description already? Seem redundant, no?

  13. Tony Zeoli
    Tony Zeoli01-15-2015

    Why also use BWP Minify and Autooptimize at the same time? Don’t they do the same thing? Also, what about cloudlfare minification?

  14. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande01-15-2015

    BWP Minify “WP Engine, but the plugin did not worked with WP Engine.”

    CloudlFare minification?
    Ps this post will still work for WPE
    As a side note i run all my sites like this on WP engine
    1) CloudFlare.com (FreeVersion) Turn it to full and then turn off RocketLoader
    2) MAX CDN (Paid)
    3) CDN CNAME
    4) WP engine ask them to add a custom CNAME
    5) Some .htaccess Tweaks that’s in this post

  15. Mark de Scande
    Mark de Scande01-15-2015

    SEO Friendly Images Still a nice plugin as the theme that i am using don’t always add all the meta data
    Ps I no longer use SEO Friendly Images as i have fix some of the theme to work better :)

  16. Art
    Art03-21-2015

    Thanks for validated information about WPEngine!

    I’m truly having trouble with my e-commerce site to fix the inconsistent of page load speed and to me, it’s important as the website design itself. I thought of going to RackSpace to use W3 Total Cache Pro however I’ve sticked to WPEngine yet hopping there is a solution.

    Particularly Autoptimization didn’t work on my theme since it makes the page load 5-10 times slower and even trouble shooting 120 files would worth a full-time job.

    I used htaccess codes and it makes instant improvement yet it doesn’t last long either in Cart or Product View page website stopes working (internal server error). I also get Internal Server Error when adding theses two sections in all pages. Is there specific reason or a way to customize codes?

    Header set Cache-Control “max-age=7200, must-revalidate”

    ExpiresActive on
    ExpiresDefault “access plus 14 days”
    Header set Cache-Control “public”

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