WordPress/Nginx response long pauses

I have been working more and more with WordPress lately, and since I am into technology, I would have to host it myself. Right? 🙂 Anyway, I recently ran into an issue that took me a while to figure out. Well, almost fully figured out. At least I have mitigated the main issue. Here is it…

I was noticing that my page would load at a decent speed, nothing to cause alarm. However, when I would access individual pages, they would sometime (usually) take 15 to 20, and sometimes longer, seconds to load. I would confirm the same by using curl to request the page. The odd thing I noticed doing this, was that only part of the document was returned, and then there was a long pause, and finally the rest of the document came.

When this first started happening, I had suspected maybe there was something wrong with my nginx proxy settings, since I was passing PHP requests off to PHP-FPM. I tweaked pretty much every setting I could find and nothing helped. Then I started looking at PHP settings, maybe there wasn’t enough memory and it was buffering to disk. Nothing helped there either. I had other WordPress sites as well. Some were exhibiting the issue and some were not. I figured the issue had to be somewhere in WordPress, but wasn’t sure where yet.

I started by deactivating a bunch of plugins on my site to see if there was an issue there. It didn’t seem to help, although I could have just been a fluke, since sometimes the pages would work fine. This led me to believe it might have been network related somehow, but since the pages would still hang for a bit during a curl request I had suspected that it might have been more of a backend thing. It took some digging, but I finally searched for the right terms in the big Google, and case across an article that helped out, https://deliciousbrains.com/wp-migrate-db-pro/doc/wp_http_block_external/.

After I implemented this change in my WordPress blog, pages were loading lightning fast again. The only word of caution I should use is that this blocks all external requests, including plugin calls and updates, so you will want to combine this change with the WP_ACCESSIBLE_HOSTS setting which is also mentioned in that page.

WordPress vs Everything Else – Why you should not build your own blog

Being a web developer, the idea that I would use a blogging platform always made me cringe a little bit. I mean, why not. I had the skills to create my own blog that I could customize exactly how I wanted. And thats where I started originally.

I wanted to learn a new language, Ruby on Rails, and what better way to start than follow one of many “How to build a blog with Ruby on Rails” posts that were littered across the internet at the time. So I did that for a while, and back then (circa 2006-ish) there wasn’t much in the way of deployment and server-ease like Heroku, so I had to manually do all that myself, with FastCGI and eventually Mongrel.

 

I quickly realized that all the customization that I wanted to build, I no longer wanted to build. I just wanted a place to share some ideas and not worry about the management of another web application. I was already doing that in my day job. At this point, I decided to use WordPress, but this wasn’t my final decision, I would come to find out.

I had started using WordPress for a while, but again, the developer bug crept back in. I wanted to find something else that wasn’t so “WordPress-y”. I tried some other things like Joomla, Typepad, Jekyll and other static blogging codebases. I eventually settled on using Bolt, which is another PHP based blogging platform. I have no idea why….

I used that for a while and finally got tried of the lack of community around it and some customizations that I missed, that were available with WordPress out of the box. After battling with that for a while, I decided to move back to WordPress and import all my data back into it. I think this is where I’ll live now and its just so flexible and easy to just start writing.

I am in no way saying, don’t write a blog if you want to learn a new language. It’s a super simple idea that I think anyone can grasp, and you don’t want to be overwhelmed while learning a new language. I would just recommend to not bother using it for your official, public blog that you want to write on all the time.

So at the end of the day, I am not a super fan of having a PHP based blog, when I mostly code and write about Ruby on Rails code, but the fact that I pretty much never have to dig into the internals of WordPress, makes it worth it in the end.

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