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10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress


Recently I’ve become more and more interested in the .htaccess file as a way to speed up and protect your site.

Previously here on WPShout I’ve written an “A to Z of WordPress .htaccess Hacks”, which has been a very popular post, and today we’re going to look at ten easy methods to speed up WordPress with the .htaccess file. Not all of these apply specifically to WordPress; you could easily apply most of these to any other site.


Just before we start, make sure you always have a backup to hand as you may find some ‘things’ aren’t supported by your host and so your site could not load. Whenever you apply any changes, turn off Super Cache and check the site still works. If it doesn’t, load the backup and locate the problem before trying again.

1. Enable caching

Since using starting to use this on [wp], I’ve really noticed a difference in load times. In a nutshell, we’re telling browsers to cache files with the extension x for x amount of time. That way, especially on image heavy sites (ie sites using Magazine themes), you can increase the load time a heck of a lot.

# 1 YEAR Header set Cache-Control "public" Header set Expires "Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:00:00 GMT" Header unset Last-Modified # 2 HOURS Header set Cache-Control "max-age=7200, must-revalidate" # CACHED FOREVER # MOD_REWRITE TO RENAME EVERY CHANGE Header set Cache-Control "public" Header set Expires "Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:00:00 GMT" Header unset Last-Modified

Source (I can’t remember where I found this; if anyone knows where the page is, leave a comment with the URL and I’ll update the post).

2. gzip files

gzip allows you to compress files, so obviously that means they load faster. The code below will gzip html, text, css, js and php files:

<ifModule mod_gzip.c> mod_gzip_on Yes mod_gzip_dechunk Yes mod_gzip_item_include file \.(html?|txt|css|js|php)$ mod_gzip_item_include handler ^cgi-script$ mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/.* mod_gzip_item_include mime ^application/x-javascript.* mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/.* mod_gzip_item_exclude rspheader ^Content-Encoding:.*gzip.* </ifModule>


3. Combine gzip and caching

Combining the two tips above, gzip and caching, the code below is a brilliant snippet from Samuel Santos‘ site:

# BEGIN Compress text files SetOutputFilter DEFLATE # END Compress text files # BEGIN Expire headers ExpiresActive On ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 seconds" ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 2592000 seconds" ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 2592000 seconds" ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 2592000 seconds" ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 2592000 seconds" ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 2592000 seconds" ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 604800 seconds" ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 216000 seconds" ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access plus 216000 seconds" ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 600 seconds" ExpiresByType application/xhtml+xml "access plus 600 seconds" # END Expire headers # BEGIN Cache-Control Headers Header set Cache-Control "max-age=2592000, public" Header set Cache-Control "max-age=604800, public" Header set Cache-Control "max-age=216000, private" Header set Cache-Control "max-age=600, private, must-revalidate" # END Cache-Control Headers # BEGIN Turn ETags Off Header unset ETag FileETag None # END Turn ETags Off # BEGIN Remove Last-Modified Header Header unset Last-Modified # END Remove Last-Modified Header


4. Stop hotlinking

When someone hotlinks an image on your site, that’s using up your resources and so potentially slowing down your site. Thankfully, it’s really easy to stop hotlinking with the following .htaccess trick:

#disable hotlinking of images with forbidden or custom image option RewriteEngine on RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$ RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?*$ [NC] #RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ - [F] RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ [R,L]


5. Stop spammers

Just like hotlinking, every time a spammer comes on to your site, they’re using your resources, so by stopping spammers you can free up said resources and speed up your site. There are a number of ways of doing this; Perishable Press has some brilliant blacklists, but often highlighted as the tell tale sign of a spam comment is the no refferer; it seems to have come from nowhere. The following will stop no referrer requests and therefore stop spam also:

RewriteEngine On RewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} POST RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} .wp-comments-post\.php* RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.** [OR] RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^$ RewriteRule (.*) ^http://%{REMOTE_ADDR}/$ [R=301,L]


6. Block spammers

After stopping spammers, we’re now blocking them too! Change the line deny from 123.346 etc to include the IP of said spammer.

<Limit GET POST PUT> order allow, deny allow from all deny from 123.456.789 </LIMIT>



7. Use PHP compression

Another compression technique, this time for PHP. At this rate, your blog will be compressed to 1kb!

# php compression – use with caution <ifmodule mod_php4.c> php_value zlib.output_compression 16386 </ifmodule>


8. WP Super Cache

The single plugin that everyone always points at as a tool to speed up your blog, Super Cache generates static .html files of WordPress generated pages. It qualifies to be on this list as mobile support requires you to edit the .htaccess file (see the plugin’s options page). Asides from that, it really is a great tool for speeding up your blog and should help you survive any social media barrage you receive.

9. Stop scrapers

The low life that scrape your content are too using up your resources, and they can be stopped from accessing your RSS feed if you’ve got their IP address and the code below in your .htaccess.

RewriteEngine on RewriteCond %{REMOTE_ADDR} ^ RewriteRule ^(.*)$


10. Practice good security

I thought I’d write up a post about speeding up WordPress with .htaccess after needing to do so myself, and in a blatant attempt to get some social media traffic, I’ve (obviously) put it in ‘top ten’ format. When writing this though, it became apparent quite quickly that finding ten things to write about was going to be a bit of a struggle, hence the shift towards looking at security. Tip ten ‘practice good security’ is just that; a number of techniques that you can implement that will help in keeping spammers off your site. By doing this, as I said previously, you can free up resources for other your readers to use. Regular readers will have read another article on [wp] about .htaccess, ‘A to Z of WordPress .htaccess Hacks‘, and throughout this post I’ve been trying to stay clear of the code snippets in that post, but the following snippets all come from that post:

Allow access to the wp-login file to only certain IP addresses (ie yours!)

<Files wp-login.php> Order deny,allow Deny from All Allow from 123.456.789.0 </Files>

Rename the .htaccess file (thus making it harder to find)

# rename htaccess files AccessFileName ht.access

Protect the .htaccess

# STRONG HTACCESS PROTECTION</code> <Files ~ "^.*\.([Hh][Tt][Aa])"> order allow,deny deny from all satisfy all </Files>

Disable directory browsing (thus stopping visitors finding what plugins you’re using etc)

# disable directory browsing Options All -Indexes

And with that, we’re done. If you enjoyed this post, check out ‘A to Z of WordPress .htaccess Hacks‘, save it to your favourite social bookmarking site,  [s] and/or [t]. Any questions feel free to leave a comment.

  • Great collection of .htaccess techniques here. The security ones in particular are essential to have a secure WordPress site.

    • Alex Denning

      And that’s especially true in these days of blogging (see recent uproar). The .htaccess file it one of the best ways to secure your site, although that wasn’t really the aim of this post!

  • Nice man! Good tricks.
    .-= NICOLAS´s last blog ..Infnet: Ciclo de Palestras Gratuitas – Setembro =-.

  • Okay, this post went by in my Twitter stream as a re-tweet and also as a status update on Facebook so I thought I would come and check it out.

    This is certainly a great post and well worth sharing.


    .-= Karl Foxley´s last blog ..Explode Your Tweets With Tweet Dynamite =-.

    • Alex Denning

      Glad you liked it!

  • Awesome post. I’m just getting into the possibilities that .htaccess files have to offer. This post really adds a lot to the mix of possibilities!
    .-= Brett Widmann´s last blog ..August Updates =-.

  • The stop hotlinking worked a treat. I just wish there was a way to send the hotlinker some perverted x rated photos instead of the ones he/she is stealing.
    .-= Ann Graves´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  • This post is a bit of a tricky one to deal with. Instead of in .htaccess, all these changes should be done in the Apache config for the virtual host.

    If you use an .htaccess file, it gets read and interpreted every time, causing a performance hit, whereas if you put the changes directly in the Apache config, the modifications are read once and applied more efficiently.
    .-= Jared Earle´s last blog ..Daily iPhone photos =-.

  • Simon

    Renaming the htaccess file is very dangerous ! All files prefixed with à dot can’t be accessed by browsers which means that if you rename your .htaccess file to ht.access file, the file will be readable to everyone ! I really don’t understand what you”re trying to do…
    All other points are quite interesting though, thanks :)

    • Alex Denning

      Fair point. The idea is that the file can’t be automatically searched for as it won’t exist, hence your security will be better.

  • Any tips for automating this process?
    .-= Josh L´s last blog ..FreshCut Presents YUI Slideshow =-.

    • Alex Denning

      Afraid not, although it shouldn’t be too much effort to copy and paste!

  • Point 1: What is the difference between 1 Year cache and Forever Cache?

    • Alex Denning

      One caches forever and the other caches for a year.

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  • Good post, lots of great information for people who are learning about .htaccess. The source you’re looking for in your first item there is, specifically – they’ve got some other great mod_rewrite rules and tips for WordPress users on the page as well. :)
    .-= mwaterous´s last blog ..WordPress is currently down for maintenance =-.

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  • Am converting my main site to WordPress in the near future so looking to make it as quick and secure as possible, some great tips, bookmarked for later.

  • I like the rule about the using mod_gzip to compress lots of things – thats a much better set of rules than I have seen elsewhere — going to give that a shot now. We have something else that compresses just the pages before they are sent, and we compress our cache before it is stored, so that it can then be sent right away.

    Also the way of setting the cache-control looks pretty good. We will have check those resources as well.
    .-= matt´s last blog ..3 Tips For Your Internet Marketing Sales Funnel Plan Posted By: Lonnie Minton =-.

  • Waow, amazing technic for speeding up blog with wordpress engine. thanks
    .-= Ayah Drajat´s last blog ..Ayah Drajat Friends Share =-.

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  • Just make sure you completely understand what you’re doing before messing with the .htaccess file. I put into place Step 1 verbatim and five days later learned that a large chunk of my readers had stopped receiving any updates whatsoever. Not throwing stones, just a friendly warning :)
    .-= Goob´s last blog ..Free Always Infinity =-.

    • Alex Denning

      Yeah. Tis true you’ve got to be careful! Just remember to always have a backup and check not just yourself but email a couple of readers to check.

  • Comment Name Violation

    Amazing techniques to speed up blog… Thanks for sharing :)

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  • Hey Alex
    Thats a very useful connection but its only step 9 which i might not enable on my blog ever because this may create problem in terms of blocking an Entire network..
    .-= Harsh Agrawal´s last blog ..How to Configure WordPress SEO Smart link Plugin =-.

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  • Zia

    You have a great collection of this tricks…. Will u do Link Exchange with my wordpress blog?

    Or can I write your post and give the source to here?

    Thanx in Advance!! :)

    • Alex Denning

      Sorry, at this time no. I’d also appreciate it if you cite your sources on the .htaccess article that’s on your blog – looks an awful lot like some of the tips here.

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  • nazcar

    great techniques. thank you for sharing

  • Den

    It worked like a charm…

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  • Very useful tipps. Thank you for sharing :)

  • Alex, you’ve got some nice tips here, thanks. I haven’t really seen most of them on other blogs. I will include them in my article on Speeding up WordPress.

    • Alex Denning

      Thanks mate :)

      Just one request though – WordPress not WordPress!

  • Zia

    Heya man,
    Before When I commented i didnt checked this blog again.. Now when i saw the traffic i got sum from here.. So checked and i rember now that i told that i wll give u credit…

    Will edit the post by day after tommorow and inform u

    thanx :)

  • Zia

    Before When I commented i didnt checked this blog again.. Now when i saw the traffic i got sum from here.. So checked and i rember now that i told that i wll give u credit…

    Will edit the post by day after tommorow and inform u

    thanx :)

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  • Won’t that “no referrer” block people who have bookmarked the site?

  • compressor already working thanks
    good tips about htaccess file.

  • Den

    Using it in my .htaccess…no more email address harvesting and no more spams email. Comments spam stopped completely and secure protection from malware codes injection from hackers…

  • Just a question from a newbie.

    I’m wondering if the first 3 options for .htaccess referring to gzip and cache don’t affect the functionality of W3 Total Cache plugin. Are they safe to be used with W3TC?


    • Hey Colin!
      These options are already valid in W3TC. I guess there’s no need to manually activate them once again. Paul

  • Jon

    If I just paste No.3 into my htaccess will it just work? I am on a shared Linux server, with cpanel access only (if that helps answer yes/no).

  • Good technique these the ways to use .htaccess.

    Thanks for shairng…

  • nice collection indeed!
    all of my projects are WordPress based. these are surely handy.


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  • Wow, I was completely unaware that I could stop spammers on my blog by just updated the htaccess code. Thanks for all the tips I’m going to give them a shot!

  • For #6 to block spammers, do you just add the complete line “deny from 123.456.789” for each ip address? Thanks

  • thanks for share, this is the best htaccess

    Everything is good jobs

  • I am getting 500 internal server error, why is this so? Am using WordPress and its really pissing me off. Totally tired :(

  • Oops, sorry, didn’t realize this was an HTML imput. :)
    It should read:
    Thanks for the resource! Just wanted to give you a heads up that your code is not wrapping but is extending past the page in Chrome. You probably already know this, but if you use white-space: pre-line on the pre that will fix it.

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