Sunday, December 3, 2023

Switch Your WordPress Site to PHP 7 for Increased Performance

A few weeks ago, a customer asked us if newer versions of WordPress had improved performance. Surprisingly, we found there isn’t much literature on this topic. Thinking about it makes sense because the performance of WordPress depends on multiple variables, such as themes and plugins and the volume of content hosted on the site. Our curiosity is now piqued, and we decided to check how WordPress’s core performance changes between releases. The idea is to first set up a basic WordPress install of an official release, with only one post, the default theme, and the plugin sets distributed with that release. We’d then run a fundamental set of stress tests against that machine, collect the results, and do it again with another WordPress release.

Setting up the Experiment

We designed the experiment to be repeatable by others — all scripts and tools are open source and can be run independently from DreamHost products. There are three main components:

  • A script to deploy a specific WordPress version
  • A module that stress-tests WordPress
  • The modules used for collecting data and plotting results
  • WordPress Deployment

To have a repeatable base environment for the WordPress deployment, we opted to use DreamCompute. Using Ansible and the OpenStack shade library, we wrote a simple Ansible playbook that creates a Ubuntu virtual machine, installs the LAMP stack, and deploys a specific WordPress version. After running the playbook, we now have a fundamental WordPress site. The sites are set up with the default theme for the performance of WordPress being installed, with default posts created with the installation and no caching. This step doesn’t necessarily require DreamCompute and could also be done on a shared hosting account or a VPS; all needed for this first part of the experiment is installing WordPress from the release archives.

WordPress Testing


After setting up two test sites — one running WordPress 4.6.6 and another with version 4.7.5 — we performed HTTP load tests against them. Autobench turned out to be a good tool. It’s simple to set up and powerful for generating load (and collecting data). After a few trials, we configured Autobench as shown in this gist to identify where the performance plateaued. This is where the data gets the most interesting, as it could now show whether the different versions plateau at the same number of requests and how they differ when they plateau. If you generate too much load, the statistics you grab are not all that meaningful because your site could take seconds to load at that point and might as well be down. You might not see where the performance differs with too little load, such as handling more requests.
Data Collection and Presentation

Finally, we collected data from the servers and the WordPress versions. The server resource statistics are collected and presented in graphs by Zabbix. These turned out to be less useful than we originally hoped, with all of our tests looking identical regarding the resources consumed. The site response time and performance statistics are collected by Autobench and dumped into a file; then, Google Sheets can take the statistics from the file and generate a graph.

What Makes For A Good WordPress Installation

Your web hosting provider will allow you to install WordPress within 5 minutes using a free Fantastico script. Once you have Fantastico opened, the program will ask you what domain you want it installed in. This means that if you own both and, you will choose what part you want your new WordPress site installed on.

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Once the domain is set, you can install your site within a sub-directory on your chosen part. For example, if the install is created on, you can make it on a blog sub-directory (you can call it whatever you like). This means the new WordPress site will be on, and you can have other content besides your WordPress blog on your main domain, To keep your site secure, the WordPress install has a safeguard allowing you to set a username and password for privacy. After choosing a username and password, the Installation is set to begin. After less than 5 minutes, your new site is up and running.

After Installation, you may need to do a little “house cleaning” to optimize your new site. Your new blog will have an automatic first post called “Hello world.” We will have to manually go in and delete that post to not show up on your site as your first post. A Hello Dolly plugin will also be automatically installed. This plugin highlights little quirky sayings in the top right corner. If you want to delete it, we go into the installed plugin section of our blog and deactivate the hello dolly plugin.

One of the first things I like to do with my new install is change the permalink setting. This setting allows the link for recent posts to automatically add the post title at the end of the new page URLs. By default, your links will have random numbers and letters at the end of new post URLs. With the setting changed, your new link will look like this When you create a new post, there are a few things to remember. You will have to enter a title and design text into the body. However, WordPress comes with other cool features as well.

Some of these features include:

  • Publish Posts in The Future
  • Organize Posts Into Categories, Subcategories
  • Different Formats on How The Posts Will Be Seen On Your Site
  • Whether or not to add comments

This is why WordPress is considered by many to be the best blogging platform on the web. It is very newbie-friendly. Many features that will enhance your blogs, like SEO, link building, commenting, grammar, images, advertisements, and traffic, come with a simple plugin add-on. These “plugins” are complex programs you download and upload to your blog. Once uploaded, you may have to fill out some simple forms to get the plugin going; however, all of the complex work, which could take hours or even months, has already been done for you.

WordPress includes a large, responsive community working together to answer questions, fix problems, collaborate on ideas, etc. If you decide to blog with WordPress, you are in great hands. Difference Between Java and WordPress. Java and WordPress are very different; this is an attempt to compare and see where they intersect.

William M. Alberts
William M. Alberts
Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Professional beer scholar. Problem solver. Extreme pop culture fan. Fixie owner, shiba-inu lover, band member, International Swiss style practitioner and holistic designer. Acting at the intersection of design and mathematics to save the world from bad design. I'm a designer and this is my work.

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