Beware the 100 Page WordPress Limitation

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If you are having performance issues on the backend (in your dashboard) you might want to check on how many pages you currently have. WordPress was not meant for over 100 pages as it will start running into memory issues. This won’t affect the front end load times, but you will want to start banging your head against your desk. I had a client recently with a little over 1,000 pages and it brought WordPress to a crawl. And yes they are on a high-end VPS. It doesn’t have to do with the server, but rather how WordPress is structured.

Ticket related to this issue: #15459

Update: This is no longer an issue and was updated with WordPress 4.2, Changeset 31730

WordPress Mentions This Limitation In Their Documentation

Note: this parameter was planned for Pages. Be careful, when choosing it for your custom post type – if you are planning to have many entries (say – over 100), you will run into memory issue. With this parameter set to true WordPress will fetch all entries of that particular post type, together with all meta data, on each administration page load for your post type. Src: Function Reference/register post type (Update: Codex was updated in January 2016 to remove this as it is now mute)

And in layman’s terms…

Pages have a hierarchy tree. So in the WP dashboard, anything to do with a page ends up having to load the entire page hierarchy tree to distinguish how that page relates to others. When dealing with a post, you don’t care about other posts, only the date of the relative post, so you don’t have to lead nearly as much.

Remember, WordPress was originally built to be a blogging platform. Even though some people might not view it as that anymore.

The solution?

Start using and taking advantage of custom post types. WP Beginner has a great introduction on how to start using custom post types in WordPress. There are even plugins available if you need to convert your pages into custom post types.

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8 thoughts on “Beware the 100 Page WordPress Limitation

  1. As far as I understand it, the general difference between post and pages are that the latter can be hierical. Even if defining a custom post type which you need to be hierical, you would end up with the same problem, right?

    • Thanks for your comment! You are correct. However there are other ways you could do it outside the post if you really need a hierarchy, such as creating a custom taxonomy. Unfortunately this is simply one of the few downfalls to WordPress. Smaller sites probably will never run into this problem, but if you are building out something big in WP then people start running into this issue.

      • Brian, I appreciate your reply! I am researching a way to structure about 2K pages in 2 to 3 level deep hierarchies without “breaking” the server. I cannot see this is possible in WP, even if using a custom taxonomies or I am thinking wrong? As soon as you make hiericies = true for a post type, WP needs to calculate the tree by fetching all pages for each request, or?

        • Ya doing custom taxonomies are only a work around :( If you absolutely have to have a hierarchy unfortunately you will have the problem still. However, I have had some clients with over 5,000 pages before in WP. It does slow the dashboard down a ton, but it won’t affect the front-end load speed. So from a visitor’s perspective at least they won’t notice. But from an administrator’s view and browsing the dashboard it will slow down, even on a beefy server. So I don’t think you need to worry about it breaking the server, just know that it won’t be lightning quick because of how WordPress queries pages (and like you said posts) with a hierarchy. I guess WordPress isn’t always rainbows and unicorns lol :)

          • Ah, I see. Thank you for your clarification! I have experience with other CMSs and they each have a specific way of doing things. WP has a limitation here and I guess doing it the WP-way requires a different approach.

            (PS You don’t know of more PHP/tech-focused WP communities? WordPress.stackexchange.com seems a bit desolated)

  2. Brian, I appreciate your reply! I am researching a way to structure about 2K pages in 2 to 3 level deep hierarchies without “breaking” the server. I cannot see this is possible even if using a custom taxonomies or I am thinking wrong? As soon as you make hiericies = true for a post type, WP needs to calculate the tree by fetching all pages for each request, or?

  3. I’m reading this section on hierarchy and page limit differently. The hierarchical parameter was “planned for Pages” so I assume from this that the memory issue isn’t a problem for Pages.

    Posts, including Custom Post Types, on the other hand are quite different from Pages. While you can add hierarchy to CPTs, you shouldn’t if you plan to have more than 100.

    So the memory issues only becomes a problem if you create a Custom Post Type, choose the hierarchical parameter and create more than 100 of those posts. The memory issue wouldn’t become a factor with many CPTs and hierarchical set to false.

    “With this parameter (hierarchical) set to true WordPress will fetch all entries of that particular (custom) post type, together with all meta data, on each administration page load for your post type (not a page).”

  4. Brian,

    It looks like WordPress updated the documentation to now say this:

    “Note: this parameter was intended for Pages.Be careful when choosing it for your custom post type – if you are planning to have very many entries (say – over 2-3 thousand), you will run into load time issues. With this parameter set to true WordPress will fetch all IDs of that particular post type on each administration page load for your post type. Servers with limited memory resources may also be challenged by this parameter being set to true.”

    Does that mean memory and load time problems won’t occur with hierarchical Pages until you hit 2-3 thousand Pages (instead of the previous 100)? Think they will raise that limit even more in the future?

    If someone’s building a large site with 10,000+ hierarchical pages from scratch (over many many years), should he still worry about this 2-3 thousand page limitation or should he just use go ahead and use hierarchical pages and bet that the limit will increase again before he encounters problems?

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