How to scale a WordPress website

By on August 29th, 2019

WordPress, a content management system that does not require any introduction. On the internet, WordPress powers millions of websites or blogs. In the top 1 million, over 240k sites rely on WordPress as the content management system. If your website is in the top 1 million, you have to make sure that your WordPress based blog/site scales up smoothly. In this guide, we will discuss how to scale a WordPress website smoothly and efficiently.

Before we start learning how to scale a WordPress website, we have to learn the types of scaling and How a WordPress website works. We have to learn both of these things because scaling is something that every company/person handles differently. Some companies prefer scaling up initially, and some companies want to scale out. If you do not understand the meaning of Scaling up and scaling out, do not skip the scaling section of the guide.

Once we learn how to scale any web application on the internet, we will see how exactly WordPress works under the hood. And we will learn how to scale our WordPress website step by step.

So, Let’s start with the types of scaling.

Techniques to scale a Web Application

There are two basic ways you can scale your web application to handle more data and traffic. The first one is called Scaling up, also known as vertical scaling. And the other one is called scaling out, also known as horizontal scaling.

Let’s discuss both the types in detail. We will consider scaling up first because it is the first choice of any person because it is easy.

Scaling up or Vertical scaling

Scaling up or Vertical scaling is a technique in which you host your web application on a single server and increase the resources on your server to handle the traffic and data. It is the easiest one as increasing and decreasing resources on the server are very easy nowadays. You just have to click to expand the resources on your server and click again to shrink.

For instance, Let’s say we have a server with 4GB RAM and two core processor on the server. And the traffic on our website is increasing day by day. The resources we have on the server cannot handle the traffic and data processing. So, We will just increase the resources from 4GB RAM and two core processor to 8GB RAM and four-core processor.

It will do the trick as now our application has two times more resources to handle the load. However, there is a limit! A single server can only have a limited amount of resources. But this scaling process is useful if you do not have a complicated website that requires constant monitoring and data processing.

In the case of InterServer, you can have 32GB RAM and 16 core processor on your InterServer VPS. It means that if your application is optimized correctly, you can handle millions of visitors a month! It means that if you have a typical WordPress website that is not too much complicated, you can handle millions of visitors a month on that server!

The main advantages you get with this type of scaling is, it is fast and easy. The main disadvantage you get with this type of scaling is, eventually you have to scale out, and that’s what we are going to discuss next!

Scaling Out of Horizontal Scaling

Scaling out is a technique in which you distribute the traffic and data processing load on multiple servers. And you can scale up and down individual server depending on the resources that specific server requires!

Let’s say we have a web application that is built on PHP programming language and uses the MySQL database management system to manage data. And our web application is growing fast! To distribute the load, we would host MySQL database on a different server and our application code on another server.

It means that we now have to manage two servers. One server will handle all the web requests and the code, and another one will handle Database queries only. It means that we have now distributed the load on two different servers, and we can now monitor them individually.

This method is not easy to adopt. Because you have to migrate your database or application code or any other part of your application to a completely different machine and have to make servers work in harmony, it is not easy. But once done, you will have a clear idea of how you would further scale your application on the cloud.

We recommend you to use this technique if you are running SaaS business or any other business on the internet. Because it is stable and you can monitor each part of your application individually.

How to scale a WordPress website

Scaling a WordPress website is very similar to scaling any other web application. All the web applications need a programming language to process the data, a webserver to handle requests, a database to store and manage application data. Here is what WordPress needs.

  1. A web server – It can work on almost all the web servers.
  2. A programming language – PHP
  3. A Database Management System – MySQL

As you can see, just like any other web application, WordPress relies on a web server, a programming language and a database management system. It means that we can distribute or code and database on different servers to distribute the load too!

You can follow our tutorial on setting up WordPress with an external database. In that tutorial, you will learn how easy it is to set up a WordPress website with a database hosted on a completely different server.

Once you have database and application code on different servers, you can set up multiple servers to handle and divide the web requests to different servers that have your WordPress files.

WordPress is so easy to scale. You can even create master-slave MySQL replication and utilize the power of replication on your WordPress website using HyperDB drop-in plugin.

Because the WordPress ecosystem is so open to innovation, Now you can also offload your WordPress media on cloud and get it whenever you want with CDN! It means that you can have multiple servers that can handle your WordPress files without worrying about losing some media files.


Conclusion: Scaling a web application can be a headache if you do not know the right direction. First of all, you will choose the scaling up method, which is very common. But if your aims are too high for your web application, you will eventually scale-out. Scaling a WordPress website is not so hard too! You can follow the tutorials we have mentioned above to perform a specific task on your WordPress site to scale it to the next level.

However, there are many methods to scale a WordPress site. You can follow the one that you see fit! Let us know the method you follow to scale your web application in the comment section given below. For further help, you can comment down your query or reach InterServer support!

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