5 Reasons Why Saving Joomla Articles Is Timing Out (or Taking a Long Time)

One of the most annoying problems on Joomla websites is that saving articles can timeout (and display a 500 – Internal Server Error message) or can take an insane amount of time. This problem is not uncommon on large websites, and it typically gets worse every day. But why does this problem exist on a high profile CMS such as Joomla?

Well, there are five reasons that can cause a timeout when saving Joomla articles (or can cause the process to take a lot of time, like many seconds or even minutes):

  1. An overcrowded assets table: When you save an article on a Joomla website, a row (sometimes even more than one row) gets inserted/updated in the assets table. The problem is, the more rows you have in that table, the more costly the operation is. A “good” assets table is a table that only has a few hundred entries, more than that and this table can be the source of major trouble on your website. A quick (and dirty) fix to the “assets” problem is to clean the assets table as described here. You should also consider running a nightly cron that will clean your assets table (that’s what we do on large Joomla websites that we support).
  2. Smart Search: The so-called smart search is the unsung hero (or is it villain?) of Joomla performance nightmares. Smart search was created to replace classic search plugins on Joomla websites, and that was because the latter created performance issues on large websites. Unfortunately, not only smart search did not solve those performance issues, it added even more performance issues. You see, when you save an article with the Smart Search – Content plugin turned on, many entries (rows) will be created in the finder tables (the number of entries is proportional to the length of the article), which is a very costly process when it comes to the database. If you have millions of rows in those finder tables, then likely the problem lies in the smart search plugins that you’re using. To make sure, just disable all the smart search plugins that you have and try to insert an article. If the problem is gone, then the cause is definitely smart search. The solution to this problem is to use Sphinx instead.

  3. A system plugin: Some non-core system plugins are triggered when you save a Joomla article. These plugins are typically harmless, and they merely run only to support a feature on your website. Some of these plugins, however, perform some heavy database operations, or request a remote file (but timing out on that file because of permission reasons), thus slowing down the saving process. A good strategy to solving this problem is to disable all your non-core system plugins one by one in order to locate the rogue plugin.

  4. Shared hosting: If your website resides on the server of a mainstream shared host, then be prepared to encounter performance issues everywhere, not just when saving articles. This is because mainstream shared hosts try to cram as many websites as they can on the same server, so they’ll barely give each website enough power to run. If you are serious about your Joomla website (or any type of website), then you should go with at least a VPS. Note: avoid all these “cloud hosting” solutions – cloud hosting is technically shared hosting, but with a different, more attractive name to lure the masses.

  5. A hacked website: There are many variations of hacks on Joomla websites. Some of these hacks affect specific functionalities on the Joomla website, such as when saving new articles. Run a scan on your website (a super quick method that has very high accuracy is to run these couple of shell commands to find hacked files on your Joomla website), and ensure that you have the latest version of Joomla installed, and also ensure that all your extensions are up to date.

We hope that our post helped you find the cause (and the solution) to your article saving problems. If it didn’t, then don’t despair, just contact us and we will find the solution to the problem quickly, efficiently, and affordably.

Note: The above list is not fully exhaustive, there are other reasons (mainly having to do with the firewall or the server’s environment) that may cause article saving problems on a Joomla website.

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