How to Find Out Which Plugins are Slowing Down Your WordPress Site

It’s easy to tell if your site has performance issues. A sluggish website is oftentimes a sign of plugins that are misconfigured or demanding a lot of resources. However, for the average WordPress user it can be difficult to diagnose the root cause of a poorly performing website.

A new free tool called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) aims to help WordPress users to scan their own sites to find out which plugins are causing a slow performance. It measures the impact your plugins are having on your site’s load time.

How does it work?

After you install the plugin, you’ll need to go to its settings page and start the scan. The scan takes a few minutes, but it’s very thorough. During the process the scanner generates some traffic on your site and monitors your site’s performance on the server. Once the scan is finished, click “View Results” and from there you can figure out your next move, based on what you find.

Click on each of the tabs to view different charts, measuring the runtime, timelines and query numbers for your site. You can get a detailed breakdown which will help you visualize which plugins are slowing your site down the most.

The Detailed Timeline
The detailed timeline features a breakdown of how your pages are loaded, including:

  • Timing information for every plugin
  • Timing information for your theme
  • Timing information for the WordPress core

Some plugins only run on certain pages. If you want to profile a specific link on your site, you can select “Manual Scan” and then visit that link. If you want to profile the admin dashboard, click the “X” in the top right of the scan window in order to be returned to your admin area.

What to do with the results…

One cool features of this plugin is that you can email the results to yourself, your developer or hosting support team. This can be very helpful for steering your support professional in the right direction for understanding the source of your site’s performance issues. I believe that Godaddy built this in order to help their customers and support staff work together to pinpoint issues with WordPress sites more accurately.

If your site has slowed to a crawl, it’s probably a good idea to run the P3 scanner to determine if it’s one of your plugins. You can shut the offending plugin(s) down if necessary and get in touch with the developer to find a better way to configure it or perhaps select a different plugin option for your site.

P3 has an extensive help section which details possible things that could interfere with the accuracy of the scan, other possible causes of slowness besides plugins, and many other FAQs. The plugin’s glossary of terms at the end of the help section will help you to interpret the results from your scan if you don’t know what the numbers are telling you.

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) is available for free from the WordPress plugin repository. It’s one of those tools you’ll want to bookmark for future reference. Try it out on your site today and find out how easy it is to track down the plugins that are slowing your site down.

Comments (26)

  1. This looks like a really good tool, however, on that 2nd screenshot, is the bar-graph legend showing the “P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)” as slowing down the site by 4.5 seconds? I’m thinking it’s actually the “My Developed Plugins” but its almost too close for comfort. Might want to change those colors out in that particular screenshot when advocating this plugin. ;)

    • I thought that too, when first looking at the graph. Then I installed P3 on a site and had an easier time figuring out the graph. Actually, the big spike in the graph above is “my developed plugins”. P3’s load time is so small it barely registers.

  2. Hmmm… I’ve tried this on my multi-site installation (latest everything) and there are no graphs showing up. I see the basic statistics, but no detailed images. : (

      • I’m on IE9 normally (I like to see what gets broken on a regular basis) ; )

        I tried it in Chrome & Firefox though too. Same result. Clicking the button to email the results didn’t work either.

        Don’t know if it’s a plugin or theme conflict – or what. No graphs show though. I’ve tried it on two different computers with the same results.

        • UPDATE:

          There appears to be some sort of conflict with the “Visitor Maps and Who’s Online” plugin by Mike Challis.

          Took me forever to track this down. I have a ton of plugins installed.

          If anyone has that plugin installed an can’t see the graphs from this plugin – try disabling that one.

          • UPDATE TO UPDATE

            I have a sneaky feeling that the author of this plugin was watching this thread – because an update was released tonight that resolves the issue.

            If that is the case…. thank you (and you’re welcome)



    • Well, it is not the multi-site part – I’ve tried on my multi-site installation and it worked fine…

      BTW, very nice plugin – on my linux site. On my Windows site, it killed my WordPress blog completely!

      Just in case someone have the same problem, you have to rename/delete both the wp-content/plugins/p3-profiler AND wp-content/plugins/mu-plugins.

  3. Makes sense godaddy made this plug. Are they trying to nonchalantly say 99% of their clients are morons and that’s why godaddy sites running WordPress are slow as pie?

    THat’s slick… lol

  4. Troy, there’s no automatic scan for the admin (yet?). Click “Manual Scan”, close the dialog, then click around your admin. Once you’re done, go back to P3 and click “Stop Scan” to disable scanning and view your results.

    • Kurt,
      Specifically, I’m trying to troubleshoot a slow loading admin page. It’s taking 45 seconds or longer to load up. I don’t think I can use this plugin to determine the problem.