Drupal is a leading CMS used in powering all kinds of websites including company, government, organization and information sites. When it comes to having your own business, many people prefer Drupal over WordPress because it provides much more features including security and scaling. The most important thing in your Drupal site is the speed performance. As more posts are being added and your Drupal site becomes more complex, the load speed can slow down and this can cause frustrations to the visitors who are browsing your site. To give your visitors the best experience, you should take the following 8 steps to optimize your Drupal speed performance.
1. Stay Up to Date with the Latest Drupal Version
The easiest step for making your Drupal site loads fast is to make sure your Drupal is up to date to the latest version. Each new update of Drupal contains fixes to the bug issues and other improvements that increase the performance of Drupal. You can check if there is any newer version of Drupal under Reports > Available Updates. In Available Updates, you will see the Check Manually option which you are to click on to see if there is an update available.
2. Drupal Caching
Caching the pages on your Drupal site can reduce the CPU usage and subsequently improves the site load speed. Drupal already have caching options built into its CMS and it is turned off by default. You can turn on the caching option by going to Configuration > Development > Performance. Under Performance, you should enable both Cache pages for anonymous users and Cache blocks.
3. Extra Cache Modules
The bundled cache may not be efficient and you’ll need to enable extra caches. There are a few cache models o choose from including Boost, Memcached, and Varnish cache. Boost is great for speeding up your Drupal site for anonymous users in a share hosting environment. The configuration of Boost will require access to the .htaccess and robots.txt files. Boost will convert all the pages on your Drupal site to HTML. Memcached can also improve your site performance but it is not suitable for using on share hosting like Boost. In order for memcached to work properly, there is a couple of software you must install and configure so you’ll need to have permissions to do these before you install it. Varnish cache offers lightning performance for your site but it is harder to manage the caching HTTP reverse proxy system.
4. Caching on Individual Panel
Some webmasters like to perform caching on each individual panel to improve the performance of their site. PHP caching can speed up the installation time of plugins and modules on Drupal. Browser caching such as Gzip compression will compress the page on server levels prior to displaying it on the browser. Expire headers let the browser know whether it should retrieve the file from the server or cache. Getting rid of query strings in the static resources can prevent caching problems.
5. Compress Your Images
If you are including images in the post on your site, make sure you compress each image so that the file size will be much smaller when uploaded. Images that are smaller size will load faster. The image is usually the first thing that loads on the page. Therefore, if the image loads fast, the rest of the page will also load fast. The default compression in Drupal 7 is 75% but you can change the compression percentage manually by going to Configuration > Image Toolkit.
6. Resize Your Images
Besides compressing the images, you should reduce the image size up to just the size you need for displaying on the page. You can use plugin like Image Resize Filter that will scale down your image automatically after you upload them. The Image Styles plugin allows you to set the image sizes for example Large, Medium and Thumbnail that will be stored on the serve. This allows the right image size to be used for displaying on devices with different screen sizes.
7. Check Your Site for Broken Links
You should use an online broken link checker to check your Drupal site for broken URLs. If a broken URL is clicked by a visitor, it will load and take up some resources on the server. To prevent your server resources from being wasted, you should remove all these broken URLs. In Drupal, 404 errors can lead to heavy consumption of the server resources from 60 MB - 100 MB. There is a module called Drupal Fast 404 that fix the problem so that 404 page consumes lesser than 1 MB of memory.
8. Disabled Unused Modules
The more modules you enable, the more server disk space is used up and the slower your site will load. The latest version of Drupal gives you the ability to disable and remove all unused modules. For example, you can disable Statistics if you are using other analytic software. The Update Manager plugin can be disabled if you use dev to prod migration environment. There are other modules which you can disable including administration development tools, devel, module filter, taxonomy, and etc.
In conclusion, optimizing your Drupal performance can reduce your server resources and prevent hosting suspension problem. Additionally, it can offer a professional impression to your visitors. Faster page loading time can also help your site to rank better on the search engine.