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WordPress security and performance – two closely related subjects

WordPress security and WordPress performance are two main topics that bother website owners every day. Everyone wants a fast and secure website which would require as little care as possible. For some unknown reason, a lot of users thinking that safety and speed are two incompatible things. However, we would like to we want to prove that this is a misconception. In the real world, attempting to make the site safer also has a positive effect on its speed. So, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to enhance the WordPress security while speeding it up noticeably.

Do you really need all of the WordPress plugins you have?

There are thousands of various free WordPress plugins available on the WordPress plugin repository, moreover, there are thousands of premium WordPress plugins available across multiple code markets like Envato and similar. Indeed, the choice is extremely large and tempting, but are you really not using more plugins than you really need? Yes, plugins solves many problems, offers more features and functionality for your site, but there is also a dark side. Each plugin uses one or another resource of your website server, which affects the speed of your site and hurts the user experience. This is just one dark side, the other lies in the potential vulnerability of the software code. You can not be sure of the security of the source code. Nobody can guarantee that there will be no security issues in the current or future versions of the plugin. So why keep more plugins than it is really necessary?

We highly recommend checking plugins installed on the site and try to reduce their number. First of all, if there are plugins that are only installed but not activated, you do not seem to need them. Deleted them. Now check out your active WordPress plugins if they offer the same functions and capabilities, maybe there are plugins that you can remove and use other active plugins to cover those functions.

There are a lot of small plugins that are designed to offer a straightforward function. For example, plugins that disable the Emoji script integrated into the WordPress core or those that make HTTP to HTTPS redirection. It’s not a good idea to solve simple tasks with plugins, especially if there are a lot of solutions how you can reach same results by merely altering files like .htaccess, wp-config.php, functions.php (WordPress theme file) and more. Get rid of the plugins whose offered functions can be changed only by several lines of code.

A straightforward method for identifying plug-ins that may pose a risk to WordPress security or cause speed and compatibility issues in the future is the latest version release date. If the plugin has not been updated for several years and there are many unresolved issues in the support forum, there is a chance that this plugin is abandoned. In this case, it would be better to replace the potentially dangerous plugin in the other one that is actively developed and maintained. From practice, we can say that many abandoned plugins may have compatibility issues with the latest PHP versions that are very actively implemented by hosting companies.

In the end, check if none of your plugins is identified as vulnerable. Plugin vulnerabilities are one of the significant WordPress security issues, so knowing if you are using a dangerous plugin is very important. Remember that each plugin that you delete will reduce the security risks and will speed up your site.

Are you sure you want to keep unused themes?

We talked a lot of about unused and unnecessary plugins, but the same applies to themes. If you have unused themes in your WordPress install, please delete them. If you ask why the answer is simple – Google dorking. Sometimes WordPress themes can also be vulnerable. If a hacker can detect a website that contains a vulnerable template through Google’s search with a specific search query it will definitely exploit the theme vulnerability. Delete unused themes (be careful, make sure you’re not deleting parent theme that is used by child theme). A small reminder, avoid templates and plugins that you do not know or have downloaded from untrusted sources or torrent networks.

Think about whether you really want to register users?

Two words – privilege escalation. Think well if you need user registration functionality? If not, avoid this function and forget it. No registered users – no problem. This allows preventing the risks related to privilege escalation vulnerabilities and will require fewer resources of the database used by WordPress, which will respond positively to the site’s speed. Undoubtedly, if you need a user registration feature, you do not need to abandon it, but be sure to assess all the risks and take the necessary security measures, including protecting the personal data of these users.

Software and its versions

Update, update once more and always upgrade to the latest available software versions. You need to keep your WordPress, its plugins and themes up to date, this is the only way to get the safest and cleanest code of your software. Well maintained and developed plugins, themes and other software that is up to date will work better, faster and of course it will be more secure. Same applies to server software. If you have fully managed hosting make sure to select the latest version of PHP that is available, and if you’re running an unmanaged server don’t forget to install all latest patches especially ones related to the security. Remember PHP 7 is way faster and safer than PHP 5 versions. Also, you need to remember that PHP 5 will not be updated and maintained anymore, so it’s time to migrate to the latest PHP version as soon as possible.

WordPress security and speed enhanced by CDN and WAF

Content Delivery Network (CDN) or Web Application Firewall (WAF) should be on your must-have list. In both cases, you have better DoS/DDoS resilience with better speed figures at the time of the attack. If the DoS/DDoS attack is not significant most of your users will not notice any speed drop. Perfect tools to enhance the WordPress security and its speed.

WordPress security and performance relation conclusion

Your main task is straightforward – reduce the amount of software used, get rid of unused files and software, discard unnecessary features, use only the latest software versions, and use advanced tools to help protect and speed up your website. By the way, don’t forget to back up your WordPress files and database before making any changes, it could save you a lot of time in case of emergency. We hope you succeed in achieving excellent results in optimizing your site, write to us in comments or on our social networking accounts what results you have achieved. Good luck!

Darius S.

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