10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress

The enduring popularly of .htaccess files as the way for webhosts to allow people to take a little more control over the web server is high. Almost all Apache webservers administered by hosting companies will support .htaccess files. If you’re on a host that uses Nginx only, all of these points are completely irrelevant. If you’re unsure, just ask your host. Off the top of my head the only host I distinctly remember learning wasn’t running Apache was WP Engine. Most others so, so without further ado, today we’re going to look at ten easy methods to speed up WordPress with the .htaccess file.

It’s worth knowing that .htaccess files at an Apache server thing, not a WordPress thing. So not all of these apply specifically to WordPress; you could easily apply most of these to any other site. How Apache fits in with the other technologies in use on a WordPress site is explained in this article:

A WordPress LAMP?! An Introduction to WordPress Infrastructure

Before We Begin: Make a Backup

Just before we start, make sure you always have a backup to hand as you may find some of these changes aren’t supported by your host and so your site could not load. For .htaccess files, a common solution is to create a duplicate—maybe .htaccess_pretweaks.Then when you make your changes, it you need to rollback, just rename that file by dropping the suffix.

Additionally, whenever you apply changes, you may not be able to immediately tell, given the caching layers your site may have. Most of these shouldn’t be affected by that weirdness, but in the last few years I’ve heard more stories of people a little confused by weird caching layers, so do keep it in mind.

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
Header set Cache-Control "max-age=7200, must-revalidate"
Header set Cache-Control "public"
Header set Expires "Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:00:00 GMT"
Header unset Last-Modified

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\.)?yourdomain.com/.*$ [NC] #RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ - [F] RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/stophotlinking.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} !.*yourblog.com.* [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 ^(.*)$ http://newfeedurl.com/feed


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.

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September 27, 2012 3:51 pm

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.

December 30, 2011 10:47 pm

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

Cui Bap
November 25, 2011 8:23 am

thanks for share, this is the best htaccess

Everything is good jobs

April 26, 2011 9:27 am

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

April 14, 2011 3:38 am

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!

Speeding Up Your WordPress Website: 11 Ways to Improve Your Load Time | WordPress News at WPMU.org
April 12, 2011 4:56 pm

[…] Use htaccess to Speed up WordPress (from WPShout) […]

December 20, 2010 2:54 pm

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


Sachin Gupta
November 19, 2010 5:27 am

Good technique these the ways to use .htaccess.

Thanks for shairng…

September 14, 2010 2:24 pm

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).

August 24, 2010 3:42 pm

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?


Ningbo Hotel
September 22, 2010 4:07 am
Reply to  Colin

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

July 24, 2010 8:53 pm

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…

Jack Fisher
May 30, 2010 7:55 am

compressor already working thanks
good tips about htaccess file.

Doug Wilson
April 20, 2010 12:13 pm

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

Blog posts about digital evangelism. And how to speed up Wordpress
April 15, 2010 4:54 pm

[…] are the various sections of code to copy into your .htaccess file. It works! This baby really flies along now. Share and […]

March 27, 2010 6:09 pm

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 🙂

March 27, 2010 6:08 pm

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 🙂

Julius Kuhn-Regnier
February 2, 2010 9:32 pm

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.

Michael Pehl
January 9, 2010 9:09 pm

Very useful tipps. Thank you for sharing 🙂

A to Z of WordPress .htaccess Hacks - Moray Web Design
January 5, 2010 5:42 am

[…] You might also want to use .htaccess to speed up your wordpress site. […]

December 26, 2009 3:35 pm

It worked like a charm…

December 13, 2009 3:54 am

great techniques. thank you for sharing

10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress « MTA Base
November 16, 2009 10:36 pm

[…] 10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress […]

Stop Scrapers and Spammers Fast « Blogoholics Anonymous
November 4, 2009 10:25 pm

[…] bit tricky for anyone who has never done this before, but here is a great link to learn how to stop scrapers [item #9]. Basically you are blocking the access of the scrappers from receiving your blog and rss […]

9 Ways to Create a Crash Proof WordPress Site | WPShout.com
October 26, 2009 1:05 pm

[…] Cache turned on, it’s loading just over a second!WP Super Cache3. Caching with .htaccess!As I wrote a while ago, it’s really easy to cache your files with the .htaccess file – the following code can […]

October 23, 2009 1:28 pm

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

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

Thanx in Advance!! 🙂

Huge list of resources for Wordpress | Bastovanov Weblog
October 20, 2009 10:11 pm

[…] 10 Ways To Use .htaccess To Speed Up WordPress […]

Stop Scrapers and Spammers Fast | bloggersexpose.com
October 20, 2009 6:40 pm

[…] bit tricky for anyone who has never done this before, but here is a great link to learn how to stop scrapers [item #9]. Basically you are blocking the access of the scrappers from receiving your blog and rss […]

Stop Scrapers and Spammers Fast | waystomakemoney.tv
October 20, 2009 4:20 am

[…] bit tricky for anyone who has never done this before, but here is a great link to learn how to stop scrappers [item #9]. Basically you are blocking the access of the scrappers from receiving your blog and rss […]

Stop Scrapers and Spammers Fast | Wizpress.com
October 19, 2009 10:32 pm

[…] bit tricky for anyone who has never done this before, but here is a great link to learn how to stop scrappers [item #9]. Basically you are blocking the access of the scrappers from receiving your blog and rss […]

Harsh Agrawal
October 19, 2009 4:05 pm

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 =-.

Stop Scrappers and Spammers Fast
October 19, 2009 3:35 pm

[…] bit tricky for anyone who has never done this before, but here is a great link to learn how to stop scrappers [item #9]. Basically you are blocking the access of the scrappers from receiving your blog and rss […]

Web Development and Design Articles 9 Oct 2009 | Technical Dig
October 9, 2009 3:42 pm

[…] 10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress – An “A to Z of WordPress .htaccess Hacks”, from (wpshout.com) […]

Comment Name Violation
October 4, 2009 12:38 pm

Amazing techniques to speed up blog… Thanks for sharing 🙂

September 30, 2009 3:31 am

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 =-.

Cocktail de Web News » Couteau Suisse N°51, Wordpress, outil, découvertes et humour
September 25, 2009 2:22 pm

[…] 10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress | WPShout.com […]

Ayah Drajat
September 24, 2009 3:10 pm

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

September 23, 2009 6:36 pm

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 =-.

Steve Firth
September 23, 2009 5:04 pm

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.

Bastovanov Weblog » Inspirational .Htaccess resources (1)
September 22, 2009 10:33 am

[…] – 10 Ways To Use .htaccess To Speed Up WordPress […]

September 21, 2009 3:40 am

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 askapache.com, specifically http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/apache-speed-cache-control.html – they’ve got some other great mod_rewrite rules and tips for WordPress users on the http://www.askapache.com/htaccess/htaccess.html page as well. 🙂
.-= mwaterous´s last blog ..WordPress is currently down for maintenance =-.

BlogBuzz September 19, 2009
September 19, 2009 10:17 am

[…] 10 Ways to Use .htaccess to Speed Up WordPress […]

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September 19, 2009 6:06 am

[…] als letztes noch für unsere Blogger : 10 Wege seinen Blog zu beschleunigen, hauptsächlich durch geschickten Einsatz der .htaccess Datei. Den Tipp mit WP-Supercache haben wir […]

The week in links 18/09/09 - Craig Baldwin's Blog
September 18, 2009 11:03 am

[…] 10 Ways To Use .htaccess To Speed Up WordPress (wpshout.com) […]

September 16, 2009 8:37 am

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

Josh L
September 15, 2009 8:56 pm

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

September 15, 2009 2:02 pm

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 🙂

Jared Earle
September 14, 2009 10:32 am

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 =-.

Ann Graves
September 12, 2009 4:47 am

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 =-.

Jared Earle
September 14, 2009 10:38 am
Reply to  Ann Graves

You can redirect to some pervy xXx pics, as long as you have access to the photos. Create a random image picker in PHP and change the last line as follows:

RewriteRule \.(gif|jpg)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/grumblepics.php [R,L]

As long as your grumblepics.php random smut page outputs a JPEG mime type, it’ll serve an inopportune picture. This sort of thing was used to great effect here: http://www.b3ta.com/links/273385
.-= Jared Earle´s last blog ..Daily iPhone photos =-.

Brett Widmann
September 11, 2009 1:57 am

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 =-.

Karl Foxley
September 10, 2009 7:12 pm

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 =-.