How to Fix a Memory Leak in WordPress
A memory leak can be extremely frustrating to debug. It causes all sorts of problems, such as unexpectedly high CPU usage and low storage space. In this article, we’ll discuss how to fix a memory leak in WordPress so that you can avoid these problems and enjoy clean, high-performance WordPress sites.
The Symptoms Of A Memory Leak
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re already familiar with the horrible feeling of a memory leak. The term means that the program or process you’re using (WordPress in this case) is consuming more and more RAM as you use it, even after you terminate the program. This eventually leads to the slowing of your computer and/or mobile device, as well as unexpected peaks of CPU usage.
The most common symptom of a memory leak is that the browser (in this case, Google Chrome) begins experiencing frequent slowdowns. Once you notice this happening, take a bit of time to identify the exact source of the problem: is it ads? Third-party plugins? Is it a theme you’re using? Once you know what’s causing the issue, you can begin fixing it. In this case, the culprit was an affiliate plugin that was causing the issue.
Rerun The Diagnostics
As frustrating as it is when your computer starts acting up due to a memory leak, it’s even more frustrating when you don’t know how to fix it. Even more so when the problem is apparently caused by a minor error on your part. Fortunately, Google Chrome has a feature called “Memory Diagnostics” that will allow you to identify and fix many memory-related issues, including leaks. To use it, simply type chrome://memory-diagnostics in the address bar. You’ll then see a short list of potential causes that could be causing your problems. From here, you can click on the problem that you’re experiencing and get more information about it.
In this case, we fixed the issue by rerunning the diagnostics. Chrome displays a list of possible causes, and we simply had to choose the first one that applied (in this case, “plugin”) and then clicked on it to see more information on the issue.
Use WordPress Profiles
Another thing you can do to avoid problems related to a memory leak is to use WordPress profiles. A WordPress profile is simply a unique set of settings and information for a WordPress site that is not stored in the standard WordPress configuration files located in the wp-content folder. It was designed to be used when you install WordPress in a new location (on a web host, for example).
When you use WordPress profiles, you don’t have to keep re-uploading your site’s configuration files to a new location every time you set up a new WordPress site (which can be very time-consuming). Instead, you simply have to connect your existing WordPress site to the new host via FTP or the console, and update the site’s profile with the information the new host requires. Then, when you’re done, you can disconnect the profile and move on with your life.
This is a lot less work, and it allows you to avoid many of the problems that come from not using WordPress profiles, including slow downs, unexpected CPU usage, and random errors. If you’re looking for an easy way to get started with WordPress profiles, you can try this free plugin from WooCommerce: Create Profiles to Easily Configure Your WooCommerce Stores.
Use Only The Necessary Plugins
Another thing you can do to avoid many of the problems associated with a memory leak is to use only the necessary plugins. A plugin is a small piece of software (typically a script or a library) that you can install in WordPress to extend the functionality of the platform. Third-party plugins are great because they can make using WordPress much easier. However, it’s very important to note that not all plugins are created equal, and it’s very easy to overload your site with too many plugins. If you ever notice your site slowing down or experiencing any unexpected issues, it’s usually a good indication that you’ve loaded too many plugins.
In order to use only the necessary plugins for a WordPress site, you have to be careful about which ones you install. The best way to do this is to register for a free WordPress account and then install a plugin that you find useful. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the plugin, take a bit of time to see whether or not it’s essential to your site. If you find that it’s not, then you can disable it from the WordPress dashboard.
Clear The Cache
One of the most important things you can do to avoid problems with a memory leak is to clear the cache. The cache in WordPress stores previously-displayed content in a small, fast storage area on your server so that when a user requests it, the content does not have to be retrieved from disk. This is especially useful for people accessing the Internet from mobile devices, as it allows for much faster download times. However, the cache also can build up over time, causing slower speeds and even crashes due to resource exhaustion.
To keep your server from running out of storage, you have to regularly clear the cache. You can use one of the many WordPress plugins that are out there to help you with this. However, you have to be careful not to delete any content from the cache without previously checking to see whether or not it’s been downloaded already (this is usually done using the ‘wpack’ command-line tool). If you’ve ever spent any time in WordPress support forums, you’ve probably seen many posts asking for help with ‘cache problems’. Clearing the cache regularly can help prevent that. In some cases, it’s also enough to clear everything except the WordPress libraries and some other essential files, as this usually fixes the issue for many users.
Back Up Your WordPress Site Daily
Another thing you can do to avoid many of the problems associated with a memory leak is to back up your WordPress site regularly. Just like with your computer’s hard drive, you should make sure that you have a daily backup of your WordPress site. This will help you in the event that something happens and you need to restore your site from a backup (which you can do using WordPress itself).
Backups are very useful because they allow you to restore a previous snapshot of your site’s state when you need to. However, they are not a replacement for regular maintenance and updates. It’s a good idea to at least once a week run the wp-cli commands to check for updates and to perform certain maintenance tasks (such as clearing the cache or backing up your site). This way, you’ll always have a recent snapshot of your site’s configuration when needed – and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you updated your site’s code in the last week or whenever the last backup was taken.
Use A Viable Web Host
Another thing you can do to avoid many of the problems associated with a memory leak is to use a viable web host. A viable web host is one that is dedicated to providing a good experience for its customers and is equipped to handle unusually high traffic levels. Due to the nature of the internet, high traffic levels are very commonly experienced by web hosts, so it’s very important that you choose a host that is used to dealing with this sort of thing. Look for a company with a large enough network to accommodate your growing audience – if they don’t have enough servers to meet your needs, it’s time to find a new host.
If you’ve been searching for a new web host, take a bit of time to read reviews and check out what others have to say about their services. You can also contact their support desk directly via email and get more information about their offerings. Be sure to read the reviews with a critical eye though, as not all positive reviews may be accurate. Sometimes, a host will deliberately pose as being good in order to make sales.
Use A Content Delivery Network (CDN)
One of the most important things you can do to avoid many of the problems associated with a memory leak is to use a content delivery network (CDN). The purpose of a CDN is to provide faster speeds to websites by storing copies of their content in geographically-distributed data centers. In order to use a CDN to its fullest extent, you have to install a caching plugin in WordPress. This way, when a user visits your site, the content will be supplied by a nearby server instead of your own, increasing their experience (and your revenue, of course).