SpeedXray plugin overhead assessment.

OUR MOBILE-SPEED PRESCRIPTION: Designed for code-free mobile speed. Included in Geek and Pro bundles.


WordPress works fine. But you need plugins to add extra features and functionality. Without plugins, WordPress is not-worth-as-much. Plugins give you control over website functions and performance without writing any code. Choosing the right plugins play a big role in your mobile speed success.

It seems as simple as searching for the most popular plugins. Then installing and activating them on your website. The result: an instant functionality upgrade without needing technical knowledge.

The problem is most popular plugins are slow loading. They bog down your site. Often globally, meaning slowing every single page and post. We call that site drag. Other plugins are more forgiving. They don’t suffer from site drag. Instead, they load only where used – or where there’s a shortcode installed. How can you know if a plugin causes site drag? Experimentation. This undocumented gotcha isn’t in read.me files.


A process for assessing which plugins hurt speed the most.

The plugin directory is one of WordPress’ great assets. It provides over 55,000 applications extending WordPress. It’s also completely open and free. Any author can contribute. Anyone can download. The plugin auditing process and security analysis are sometimes flaky. Bad plugins happen.

Many plugins have identical functions – but they’re not built the same. Some hog resources. Others are fine quality. You can solve about any WordPress problem with a plugin – or a plugin combination. We do research and experimentation to discover plugins helping mobile WordPress speed. We appreciate alternatives to bloated popular plugins.

WordPress.org used to place a label on plugins not updated in over 2 years. Now they indicate how many update version have been missed instead. This staleness warning may mean the plugin won’t work – or worst case – could break your site. Often, we find old plugins work great. Especially for speed. Even when they aren’t updated for years.

Scary WordPress directory notification: This plugin hasn’t been tested with the latest 3 major releases of WordPress. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress.

This shelf-life warning, above, scares people from unrealized opportunities. So we still test obsolete plugins. There are many compatible-and-clean 8- or 10-year-old plugins. There are always risks with even the biggest and best – and most popular. These unpredictable gambles include plugins with millions of active installs and recent updates. Even WordPress or Yoast stubs it’s toe. It happens to the peerless.

The Plugin Review team takes down a plugin if it’s becomes vulnerable. But they don’t always notify users when this happens – or tell us to remove a bad plugin. We know this from sad experience.

SpeedXray is a process to assess load-time impact for every plugin you have activated. It helps narrow down plugins causing potential speed issues.

Description: See which plugins are slowing down your site. Our process helps you create a performance report for your site.

What’s important are relative results. Not the absolute numbers generated. It’s ranking the worst-offending plugin to the least. There’s intuitive data to analyze and we appreciate it. There’s no way to prove accuracy. We don’t care. Our gut says the plugin ranking is correct enough.

SpeedXray is needed for speed assessments. It shows information not represented in any known speed report we’ve found.

PagePipe has 52 free WordPress plugins. What?!

That’s right. 52 are active. It’s quality – not quantity – that slows down a website. (The average WordPress site uses 25 plugins.)

The deactivated plugins include:

  • Link Finder (which we run quarterly to check broken links. It’s is heavy on server usage).
  • Better Search and Replace (as needed also a database intensive plugin).
  • Find Posts Using Attachment (as needed).
  • UpdraftPlus Backup/Restore (set to run automatically once per week).
  • Enable Media Replace (enabled as needed).
  • Regenerate Thumbnails (we use it when restoring a backup) because we use Exclude Image Thumbnails From UpdraftPlus Backups plugin to keep the media library slim. This creates faster backups and reduced consumption of server assets during backup .
  • Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions (we activate and run once quarterly for cleaning).

Most of our inactive plugins are “resource intensive.” That means they hog database and RAM on the host server. If they all were running at once, our generous hosting provider would – with total lack of courtesy – shutdown or throttle our site. Our resource overages affect our other 23 shared-host neighbor’s speed. Can’t upset the server neighbors!

After installing iThemes Security plugin, we got a GoDaddy email notification. It said our hosting account exceeded its resource limits. We dumped the plugin. Read More.

Pareto principle is still alive! 10 of our heaviest plugins contribute to 80 percent of the cumulative weight (see column 3. The red text indicates the 80 percent cutoff). Roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In this case, 80 percent of the slowness comes from 20 percent of our “red-heaviest” plugin choices. These slower plugins need the most scrutiny.

Here’s the SpeedXray ranking results:

Plugin kilobytes percent Pareto selective
1 UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore 26400.00 46.09% 46.09% ***
2 LiteSpeed Cache 7100.00 12.40% 58.48%
3 Redirection 5300.00 9.25% 67.74%
4 Simple Content Adder 3300.00 5.76% 73.50%
5 Blog Manager Light 2700.00 4.71% 78.21% ***
6 Advanced Ads 2000.00 3.49% 81.70% ***
7 Lazy Load for Videos 1100.00 1.92% 83.62% ***
8 Limit Login Attempts Reloaded 1000.00 1.75% 85.37%
9 Hide Dashboard Notifications 993.00 1.73% 87.10%
10 Watu Quiz 877.30 1.53% 88.63% ***
11 Autoptimize 775.70 1.35% 89.99%
12 Really Simple SSL 717.10 1.25% 91.24%
13 Disable Comments 563.20 0.98% 92.22%
14 rocket-lazy-load 543.20 0.95% 93.17%
15 Simple CSS 437.70 0.76% 93.94%
16 Plugin Toggle 423.00 0.74% 94.67%
17 Simple Pull Quote 349.00 0.61% 95.28%
18 WP Image Borders 292.10 0.51% 95.79% ***
19 Easy Publisher 273.00 0.48% 96.27%
20 Similar Posts 265.60 0.46% 96.73%
21 Category Sticky Post 253.00 0.44% 97.18%
22 CAOS 186.40 0.33% 97.50%
23 Imsanity 182.50 0.32% 97.82%
24 Easy Table 151.40 0.26% 98.08%
25 WP Post Hide 146.50 0.26% 98.34%
26 Asset Queue Manager 138.90 0.24% 98.58%
27 BBQ Firewall 119.60 0.21% 98.79%
28 Simple Drop Cap 101.00 0.18% 98.97%
29 ToTop Link 90.10 0.16% 99.12%
30 amr shortcode any widget 66.80 0.12% 99.24%
31 Classic Editor 61.20 0.11% 99.35%
32 Admin Post Navigation 53.00 0.09% 99.44%
33 SpeedSwitch 52.70 0.09% 99.53%
34 Email Address Encoder 40.50 0.07% 99.60%
35 Date/Time Now Button 34.10 0.06% 99.66%
36 Quotes 22.20 0.04% 99.70%
37 Far Future Expiration Plugin 21.80 0.04% 99.74%
38 Disable Emojis (GDPR friendly) 20.40 0.04% 99.78%
39 Change Table Prefix 19.00 0.03% 99.81%
40 More Plugin Info 18.60 0.03% 99.84%
41 Hierarchical HTML Sitemap 18.40 0.03% 99.87%
42 WP Counter 14.30 0.02% 99.90%
43 Display PHP Version 13.70 0.02% 99.92%
44 Current Year and Copyright Shortcodes 8.00 0.01% 99.94%
45 Disable Embeds 8.00 0.01% 99.95%
46 WP Author Date and Meta Remover 8.00 0.01% 99.96%
47 All 404 Pages Redirect to Homepage 7.00 0.01% 99.98%
48 BleuT FavIcon 4.30 0.01% 99.98%
49 Instant-jQ 3.80 0.01% 99.99%
50 Restore Image Title 2.60 0.00% 99.99%
51 Exclude Image Thumbnails From UpdraftPlus Backups 2.30 0.00% 100.00%
52 Widon't 0.67 0.00% 100.00%
TOTAL 57280.67
Twenty seventeen theme 2000.00

PagePipe.com Pingdom to SF, USA results:
710 milliseconds. 21 requests. 910k page weight.

PagePipe.com Pingdom to London results:
1.4 seconds. 21 requests. 910k page weight.

PagePipe.com Pingdom to Frankfurt, Germany results:
1.25 seconds. 21 requests. 910k page weight.

We decided to run a test on WebPagetest.org. This produces a homepage worst-case scenario. Pingdom being best-case.

PagePipe.com WPT.org to WV, USA results:
1.213 seconds. 13 requests. 153k page weight.

It’s not the quantity of plugins – it’s the quality.

  • Cheap, shared hosting.
  • No paid or free CDN.
  • No paid plugins or themes. You can do it, too!

Is this homepage beautiful?

No. It’s fast. It focuses on usability. Site goals are the foundation for decision making. We’ll improve branding and expressive aesthetics later. That costs money – and always slows down the page. The page needs to prove itself with results first. Then we’ll formalize the graphics. Or maybe we’ll leave it “as-is.”

Are delinquent plugins slowing your site speed?

Too many activated plugin slowing your site is a speed myth. The number of plugins isn’t important. It’s not the quantity, but quality that affects speed. Your site can have over 80 plugins – and still load in under 2 seconds. The WordPress average number of active plugins is 25 per website.

Another web speed myth is that popular or paid plugins are the best. It’s often the opposite. Popular plugins usually slow down sites most. Testing reveals the truth.

You can deactivate all plugins and then retest your site speed. If the site loads faster, you know there’s a problem with one or more plugins.

This tedious method then requires activating plugins one at a time for problem discovery. Repeated speed tests are required consuming time and energy.

The SpeedXray process is a more intelligent way to track down resource hogging plugins.

Our goal is ranking the slowest plugins consuming 80 percent of plugin overhead. This Pareto principle – or 80/20 rule – helps identify the sweet spot for balancing functionality and user experience with the fastest load time.

This technique is also known as value analysis. Slow plugins then are  selectively activated – or substituted with faster alternatives – or eliminated.

We analyze the data with an open-source spreadsheet program.

The heaviest plugins can be substituted of eliminated. Avoid these plugins.

SpeedXray process and plugins are included free when you purchase SpeedHosptial.

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