How to make your WordPress Site Super Fast with Cheap Hosting

Last updated on: March 18th, 2014

WordPress hosting comes in all shapes and sizes and there are lots of players in the market. Generally how things works is the more you pay for hosting the faster your site is. At least this has been my experience.

So a WordPress site hosted on GoDaddy or some other shared host is typically super slow. Where as a site hosted on ¬†WPEngine or another managed host are super fast. I’m going to show you how to get those super fast speeds on a cheap WordPress hosting plan.

I Feel the Need for Speed

We all know that adding CloudFlare can speed up your site. The way it works is CloudFlare acts as a proxy and stores all your images and other assets and serves them from a global content distribution network. The actual request for the page however still hits your hosting provider and has to be processed. On a cheap host this is usually the slow part. You can add a caching plugin and that can help a bit, but there’s actually a cooler trick you can use with CloudFlare to have your website’s page html be server from CloudFlare’s CDN making it blazing fast.

Here’s a video compares of 4 different hosting provider.

org = My live site hosted on WPEngine
cheap = GoDaddy’s Shared Hosting Plan
do = DigitalOcean’s $5 VPS
managed = GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress

As you can see the cheap GoDaddy hosting plan is the slowest, which is to be expected. All the other ones load just over 2 seconds.

Captain Prepare for Warp Speed

To speed things up on the cheap hosting we are going to use CloudFlare to host our pages html and completely bypass our cheap server. How do we do this?

We tell CloudFlare to ‘Cache Everything‘ and use ‘Page Rules‘ to bypass the cache for the WordPress admin section. You’ll need 3 pages rules to achieve this and that just happens to be how many come with the CloudFlare free plan.

Here’s how to set up the rules after your login to CloudFlare.

 

The 1st rule you want to add is to tell CloudFlare to bypass the wp-login.php page so you can log in.

rule1

 

The second rule tells CloudFlare to bypass the wp-admin.

rule2

The last rule tells CloudFlare to cache everything for 1 hour . You can set this higher.

rule3

Note the order this is import because rules are processed in order.2014-03-11_15-23-16

After you set this up you can then visit your site check to see if it’s being server from CloudFlare by checking the headers using Chrome’s Dev tools. This 1st time will likely be a miss, after that you should see a hit in the headers like this.

2014-03-11_15-28-34

 

Congrats you now have a super fast site on a cheap host!

See the results:

As you can see the cheap GoDaddy hosting is now just as fast.

Here’s a head to head comparison to WPEngine against GoDaddy with CloudFlare Cache Everything

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa Stop the Clock

So this is great but now you are probably asking “What’s the catch?” We’ll you’re right there is one. So now that all your content is being cached what happens if someone adds a comment or something else changes on your site. We don’t want to have to keep going in and clearing CloudFlare’s cache.

No worries, the mighty WordPress plugin system comes to the rescue. Use Disqus to offload comments and this nifty plugin to automagically purge ¬†CloudFlare’s cache when you make a post or page change in WordPress.

Do not use this method for a WordPress e-commerce site since there are so many parts of the site that need to be dynamic. Also I’m not telling you to drop your awesome managed host in favor of this. But if the use case is right then this makes cheap hosting for WordPress site super fast!

About John Turner

John Turner is the founder of SeedProd. He’s an Entrepreneur, Web Developer, Marketer, SysAdmin, DBA, Support Tech and can even Cook.

21 Comments

  1. Darren Waring on April 8, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Hi that’s really useful John, I’m going to try this out. What do you recommend using to test the speed of the site?

  2. Keyur on May 20, 2014 at 3:21 am

    You can also use http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ to check the speed of your website directly from Google. I also use the one suggested by John Turner

  3. Gonzalo on August 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Very useful. Thanks! To check the speed, you can also use http://gtmetrix.com/

  4. Harsh Agrawal on August 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for the guide and after reading this I’m upgrading to paid version of cloud flare. Meanwhile anything important one should know before using SSL from cloud flare??

    • John Turner on August 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      This method work mostly for static in nature sites. If you have any ecommerce site this won’t work. Otherwise I have been using it on my site for the past few months with no issues.

  5. Adam on November 6, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    This is really helpful. Your post on Cloudflare SSL was great as well. Thanks for posting! It looks like you can’t combine this technique with the SSL. Cloudflare won’t allow any rules when using SSL.

  6. Gabriele on November 12, 2014 at 3:11 am

    This is a great post and put my (cheap-hosted) WP on steroids!nnBut I was wondering if you probably need to add another rule for cache bypassing. Something like:nn*foo.it/*&preview=true // bypassnnnnto let you see fresh content while authoring.nnnThis addition knock you out because the 3 pagerules threshold of the free plan. But I guess that the first two rules could be collapsed in one (probably slower, but let you save a slot):nnn*foo.it/wp-* // bypassnnnStill not tested, but they should work…

  7. Andrea Branca on February 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Works incredibly well. Thank you so much!

  8. Andrea Branca on February 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    One question: will this create any problem with my visits count with analytics? It is very important to me that my visits are recorded correctly 100%

  9. Paul Spiteri on February 27, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I am don’t the cache is getting purged every time I update a page, but this is a great tip nonetheless

  10. Andres on June 15, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Truly awesome, thanks John!

  11. Ali Khan Niazi on September 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

    cloudflare have problems with adsense some of my ads not viewed in certain areas

    • Sarang on June 7, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      yes cloudflare is bad for adsense. Never going to use it,

  12. Fox Emerson on July 6, 2016 at 7:00 am

    You’re awesome! Thanks so much!

  13. Fox Emerson on July 7, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Interesting results. When I checked Google’s Speedtest, nothing had changed, even though I pointed DNS for http://foxemerson.com to cloudflare and did every step above. However, then I noted in the comments that you used Webpagetest and Pingdom. Both of these showed a massive speed performance increase so I was very happy.

    This is an absolute must and I’m going to link to you from my website. Nice work John!

  14. Heather Brown on January 24, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    You missed ecomlane, If you want speed this company will give it to you. They have great managed dedicated servers. Been with them for just over a year, and I’m extremely happy with them!

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