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How to Improve PHP Memory Limit in WordPress

How to Improve PHP Memory Limit in WordPress

Managing a WordPress site often involves resource-intensive operations like uploading large images, installing complex plugins, rendering detailed analytics, and enabling caches. These critical functions require significant PHP memory to execute properly. 

If allocated memory limits are too constrained, frequent white screen errors, failed processes, and site disruptions occur. Insufficient PHP memory thresholds ultimately cripple WordPress functionality and administration. 

Fortunately, adjusting these ceilings to allow ample overhead room for WP’s ever-increasing demands is straightforward. By expanding fatal memory boundaries, you prevent frequent failures that degrade site performance. 

This guide explores simple methods for determining your current PHP memory limit and reliably increasing it for smoother WordPress management ahead.

Understanding PHP Memory Limit

The PHP memory limit sets the maximum amount of memory a PHP script can use before reaching the cap. In WordPress, functions like uploading media or installing plugins often require significant memory. If the limit is too low, these processes fail unexpectedly.

Increasing the PHP memory limit enables WordPress and its functions to operate with more headroom before hitting ceilings that trigger white screen errors or failed processes. Optimizing this helps WordPress run more smoothly.

Finding Your Current PHP Memory Limit

You can identify the current PHP memory limit amount in the WordPress admin dashboard or by adding a phpinfo() script. The easiest way is to install a plugin like WP System Info that displays the precise limit under the PHP Settings section.

If the memory limit is under 64 MB, common WordPress functions may frequently hit the maximum ceiling and fail. 128 MB to 256 MB is ideal for most WordPress sites.

Why Increase PHP Memory Limit?

More PHP memory allows WordPress to handle larger tasks like high-resolution image editing, complex page rendering, exporting content, installing expansive plugins and themes, detailed analytics, and multisite networks.

With sufficient headroom, WordPress won’t trigger warnings, lock up, or fail to execute requests due to exhausting allocated resources. Fewer memory errors create smoother site management.

Increasing Memory Limit in wp-config.php

The fastest way to increase the PHP memory limit for WordPress is by using the wp-config.php file. This avoids other server-side changes.

  • Add this line above the “That’s all, stop editing” comment:

define( ‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’ );

  • Save modifications and this permanently raises the limit for WordPress only.

Adjusting PHP.ini Memory Value

For a server-wide PHP memory increase, edit the php.ini file typically located in /etc/php/7.X/apache2/php.ini or /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini.

Look for the memory_limit setting and change it to 256M or higher. Restart Apache for adjustments to take effect.

Adding PHP Memory in .htaccess

To increase PHP memory limit specifically for your WordPress site without access to php.ini, add this line to the .htaccess file in wp-admin:

php_value memory_limit 256M

This overrides the default without altering server-wide configurations. Clear caches for changes to engage.

Using WP-CLI to Increase Memory

WP-CLI provides a streamlined way to modify wp-config.php settings through the command line. Just enter:

wp-config set WP_MEMORY_LIMIT 256M

This efficiently alters memory allocation without manually editing files.

Checking Memory Usage in WordPress

To check if current memory thresholds are sufficient, you can use plugin monitors like P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler). It displays used memory during hook execution, exports detailed logs, and notifies when limits are reached.

Review if memory nears the ceiling during resource-intensive WP tasks, indicating the need to still raise PHP allocated memory.

Asking Web Hosts to Increase Defaults

If you lack server access to adjust memory values in php.ini or wp-config.php, contact hosts requesting they increase PHP memory limits for your WordPress site’s server or account.

Most reputable WordPress web hosts provide options to override default memory thresholds in cPanel or via support tickets.

Troubleshooting After Memory Changes

After increasing limits, test memory-intensive functions like importing huge XML sitemaps, installing robust plugins like WooCommerce, uploading big media library items, and complex page builds.

Check that previous memory-related failures and errors no longer occur now with extra headroom. If issues continue despite added resources, further troubleshoot the underlying cause.

Monitoring Memory Usage

Ongoing monitoring with P3 or similar plugins helps track memory-high watermarks over time. As site features or plugins grow more complex, usage may increase and require additional memory limit bumps.

Watch for peak usage nearing the defined memory threshold indicating the current ceiling may still be inhibiting operations.

Optimizing Code to Reduce Usage

In some scenarios, excessively inefficient code that performs poorly leads to unnecessary memory strain. Review plugins and themes with many database calls, uncached requests, background processes, or other potentially unoptimized code.

Concluding Thoughts

Refactoring custom modules for efficiency eases memory requirements instead of continually raising limits. But targeted optimization takes time when immediate increased resources resolve the issue faster. In either case, monitoring usage helps make informed memory-limit decisions.

Raising PHP memory available for WordPress can prevent site failures and errors when memory limits are exceeded. Adequate overhead room enables smooth management operations as site complexity and features expand over time.


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