7 Reasons Why Your Joomla Website Response Time Is Suddenly High

We often get calls/emails from clients stating that the response time of their Joomla websites is suddenly high. They say that the day before everything was fine, and all of a sudden in the morning, the website became super slow. Of course, the first thing that we ask them is: “Has anything changed between yesterday and today?”, and their answer is typically “Not that I know of”. But, when we work on the problem, we discover that something did change, and that “something” was the cause of the problem. Since we have worked on many of these websites, we have compiled a list of 7 reasons that can cause a Joomla website to become super slow all of a sudden:

  1. Hacked website: When a website is hacked, it typically attempts to grab the contents of a malicious URL using PHP’s curl library or using PHP’s file_get_contents function (the latter can only work when the extremely unsafe allow_url_fopen PHP setting is enabled). This process is typically instantaneous, however, when the malicious URL gets blocked by the host or when the malicious website is hosted on a very slow (and cheap) host, the PHP function will wait for x seconds (where x is determined by the max_execution_time PHP setting) before timing out and serving the page. Obviously, the solution to this problem is to cleanup the website.
  2. Draconian firewall settings: Many hosts resort to SYN_FLOOD protection in order to minimize the impact of a DoS (Denial of Service) attack. While there is nothing wrong with that, some cheap/inexperienced hosts set the SYN_FLOOD value (at the firewall level) to a very low number, causing a very slow response time on the website. This is somehow ironic, because the firewall ends up causing the very same problem it was installed to protect the website from. The fix to this problem simply consists of asking the host to increase the SYN_FLOOD value.

  3. A switch to a slower hard drive: What most people do not know is that hard drives have a huge, huge impact on the performance of the website. In fact, when the website of a client of ours was moved from an SSD drive to an HDD drive, the performance degraded substantially, and the website suddenly became mostly unresponsive (at best it was super slow). Of course, the fix to the problem in this case was to switch back to an SSD.

  4. Disabled caching: There are many Joomla administrators who give super user access to people who don’t deserve it – typically, this is done because these people outrank the Joomla administrators. The problem with this is that some of these people are a bit technical, and, even though the word bit is the essence of programming, it becomes a huge curse when combined with the word technical or knowledge. Essentially, these super users will not only have enough rope to hang themselves, but also the whole website. For example, when a problem happens on the site, and they read that fixing the problem consists of clearing the cache, they go ahead and disable it altogether thinking that they fixed the problem forever. Shortly afterwards, the website becomes very slow or crashes, with nobody having the slightest idea of what might have caused the issue. A super quick fix to this problem is to re-enable caching on the site.

    Another problem causing this issue is the switch from one caching mechanism to another, for example, after switching a client site from File to Memcache caching, we experienced an increase in response time (although it wasn’t substantial) and we reverted back quickly.

  5. A Joomla plugin/extension: Some time ago, we investigated a Joomla website that was taking exactly 10 seconds to respond. At first, we thought it was hacked, but eventually, it turned out that there was a plugin called pingomatic which was using PHP’s curl to grab the contents of a remote URL that was no longer accessible, and so the request was timing out. Disabling the pingomatic plugin addressed the problem.

  6. High server load on shared hosting: If your website is on a shared host (or even a VPS), then keep in mind that other websites running on the same server can affect the performance of your website. If a website on the same server is resource hungry, and if not enough monitoring/control is done by the host, then this will become your problem and your website will become very slow. An ideal solution to this problem is to move to a dedicated server, a not-so-ideal solution is to tell your host about it and ask them if they can move the offending website elsewhere.

  7. Networking issues: In some instances, we have concluded that high latency was caused by networking issues/DNS issues. Naturally, fixing issues with routing/networking is outside the scope of developers, and is 100% the responsibility of the host. So, check with your host if you think that the sudden slowness on your Joomla website is caused by a networking issue.

We hope that you found this post informative and light, and that it helped you get to the bottom of the sudden performance issue on your Joomla website. As always, we are always here for you if you need professional help. Just contact us and we’ll ensure that the problem on your Joomla website is solved swiftly (well, as fast as we can) and affordably.

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