If you have a lot of files on your website, your monthly hosting bill may be higher than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are some easy ways to correct this and streamline your site, especially if you haven’t paid any attention to it before.
The default WordPress settings can result in a rather bloated website, and by tweaking a few things, you can dramatically lessen the space taken up on your server.
In this post, we’ll walk through seven easy ways you can reduce your website’s file size.
1. Do a “Spring Cleaning”
If you’ve been running your website for multiple years, chances are that you have a ton of old images, PDFs, and other files buried in your Media Folder, most of which you don’t need anymore. If you have the time, consider doing a “spring cleaning” of your website and remove everything that is no longer relevant. And remember it doesn’t need to be spring to do a spring cleaning!
2. Use Less Images and Videos – and Compress the Essential Ones
Images take up a ton of space on your site. As the expression goes, “an image is worth a thousand words,” and when it comes to file size, it’s even more true: a typical image has the same file size as tens of thousands of words. So, if possible, try to use less images.
Compressing images can significantly reduce the file size of a website. This can be done using various image compression tools and plugins that can reduce the size of images while maintaining their quality.
If you want to compress an image before uploading it to your site, we recommend a tool called TinyPNG. If you’d like to just use a plugin to compress images, we recommend Smush, Imagify, or ShortPixel.
Also, it’s generally a bad idea to use video backgrounds, especially on your home page. While they may look cool, they are a huge use of resources.
3. Modify Your WordPress Media Settings to Stop Duplicating Images
When you upload an image, WordPress creates multiple versions of it: thumbnail, medium, medium-large, and scaled. It also keeps the original file that you’ve uploaded. Plus, your theme or plugins may also generate additional copies of your images. These are all kept in the Media folder.
As you can imagine, this inflates the file size of your site. To fix this, there are two steps: preventing new images from being generated, then deleting ones previously generated.
The easiest way to do this is by using a plugin called ThumbPress. Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to Media Image Sizes on the left side WordPress menu. Then, choose the sizes you want to prevent from being created and click Save Settings.
Now we need to delete the already-generated images. To do this, simply click Regenerate. Your extraneous images will be deleted in batches indicated by the “chunk size” number. As a warning, be sure that you don’t need these extra images before deleting them. Thumbnail files especially may be used on pages that you aren’t aware of.
4. Host Videos, Photos, and Other Large Files Externally
But what about the videos and photos that you do need? In general, it’s a bad idea to host videos (and especially large images) directly on your WordPress site. Partially this is because of file size, but it’s also because services like Vimeo or YouTube are professionals at streaming video, while your WordPress site is designed more for displaying text and images.
The same is true for any other type of file that is downloaded by visitors, including PDFs, eBooks, courses, and so on.
There are a variety of different ways to offload your media. The two easiest ones are Media Cloud and WP Offload Media. These allow you to host your media on Amazon S3 (both plugins) or Google Cloud Storage, DigitalOcean, and other hosts (only Media Cloud.)
5. Remove Unused Plugins and Themes
Plugins and themes are often some of the biggest files on your server. If you aren’t using a plugin or theme and have no plans of reactivating it in the future, consider deleting it. Just be sure that you have a backup version of the theme or plugin before you delete it.
Remember that you can store theme files locally on your computer or on a service like Dropbox. For optimal performance, you should only have two themes installed on your WordPress site: your live theme and the WordPress default one.
Ditto for plugins: you can also easily export themes and plugins by accessing the files via cPanel, FTP/SFTP, or using a plugin like Download Plugin.
6. Use a Lightweight Theme
WordPress themes can often be bloated and include dozens of features and pages that you end up not using for your live site. If this is the case, consider switching to a more lightweight theme, or modifying your current one to make it more lean.
7. Remove Old Backups or Use an External Service
Depending on your host, you may be saving vastly more backups than necessary. For the most part, you can keep the number of backups to a reasonable number. Even better than hosting backups on your server, however, is to store them on a third-party storage service like Dropbox. This way, you don’t need to worry about their file size!
Whatever your reason may be, it’s almost always a good idea to make your website’s file size smaller. It can save you money every month and make your site load more quickly, too. And who doesn’t like that?