What Can You Do If Your Drupal Website is Slow?

By Ryan Vice | Posted on October 13, 2023


When a Drupal site becomes slow, there are numerous strategies to investigate and employ before considering a move to a different CMS solution like a headless CMS. Moving to a new CMS can be a complex, time-consuming, and costly process, so it’s typically sensible to first explore optimizing the existing setup. Here are some general steps that you might consider:

Analyzing Performance:

  1. Identify Bottlenecks:
    • Use profiling tools (like New Relic, Blackfire.io, or Drupal’s built-in Devel module) to find performance bottlenecks.
  2. Audit Modules:
    • Check if all installed modules are necessary and disable/remove any that aren’t.
  3. Database Optimization:
    • Ensure the database is optimized (consider tools like MySQLTuner).
    • Analyze slow queries and optimize them.
  4. Error Logs:
    • Review error logs to spot any issues that might be causing performance problems.

Optimization Strategies:

  1. Caching:
    • Utilize Drupal’s built-in caching mechanisms.
    • Consider external caching via Varnish or a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare.
    • Use opcode caching via OPCache.
  2. Image Optimization:
    • Ensure images are compressed and optimized for the web.
    • Use responsive images to deliver different image sizes for different devices.
  3. Frontend Optimization:
    • Minimize and combine JS and CSS files.
    • Use lazy loading for images and videos.
  4. Backend Optimization:
    • Use a PHP accelerator.
    • Ensure you’re using the recommended PHP version for your Drupal install.
  5. Hosting and Server Optimization:
    • Consider upgrading to a hosting solution that can handle more traffic (e.g., a dedicated server or a VPS).
    • Optimize server settings and ensure necessary resources (RAM, CPU) are available.
  6. Third-party Integration:
    • Ensure any third-party services or APIs are not slowing down the site.

If Issues Persist:

  • Drupal Version:
    • Ensure you’re using a Drupal version that is supported and updated. Migrate to a more recent version if needed.
  • Consider Architectural Changes:
    • Evaluate if adopting a decoupled (headless) Drupal architecture might offer the performance gains you need.

Moving to a Headless CMS:

If, after investigating and attempting these optimizations, the site is still not performing adequately, then it may be worth exploring alternative solutions, like a headless CMS.

  • Headless CMS:
    • A headless CMS can provide more flexibility in terms of frontend technologies and might be a good choice if you’re looking for a more API-driven approach.
    • Assess the costs, risks, and migration complexity before making a move.
  • Migration Strategy:
    • Develop a clear migration strategy, considering data migration, SEO preservation, and user experience.

Remember, whether you stick with an optimized Drupal or move to a headless CMS, ensure that you have a robust, ongoing strategy for managing and monitoring the performance of your site.

Lastly, always have backups and a rollback plan whenever making significant changes to your website to avoid data loss and to ensure business continuity.

If your team needs help navigating all this feel free to reach out to us for help.

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