On Friday 26 August, Gilo Varghese, founder of Flying Proxy, a CDN, tweeted the following allegation about WP Optimize: https://twitter.com/GijoVarghese_/status/1563097754322501632 . We were not contacted directly but learned of it a few days later when we were asked by a WordPress news site to comment.
In short, the allegation is that WP-Optimize are deliberately deceiving its users by appearing to use page speed tools like GTMetrix to be faster than sites actually are, and are doing this secretly for the purpose of making WP-Optimize look better.
Varghese then proceeded to respond to users who responded to his Tweet to ‘plug’ his company, Flying Press, which is a competitor to WP-Optimize, with a competing plugin product:
The tweet was widely circulated, and resulted in a WP Tavern article yesterday on the allegations. This was a UK public holiday, when many of our team were away and we didn’t have time to fully investigate the allegations. We were given a few hours before publication to respond, but at that time our main WP Optimize developer was already, in his time zone, asleep.
The team at UpdraftPlus (owners of WP-Optimize) investigated today and found the allegations to be completely false. The truth is actually the reverse – it is the allegations which have been presented deceptively, missing out obvious and key facts.
The most fundamental is that feature used to construct the claim clearly says in the user interface “…if you would like to exclude scripts from page speed tests”. The allegation by contrast implies this is hidden only in the code.
Secondly, the advanced setting used in the allegation is a valid feature, useful to find out whether the essential JS/CSS files are actually slowing down the web page or not. i.e. It has a proper use. This feature is by default, turned ‘off’ and only enabled by advanced users who know what they’re doing.
Joe Miles, a manager at UpdraftPlus said “the claim is the plugin is being deceptive, but it’s actually an explained setting in advanced settings which a site owner would have to decide to use, which have been used to falsely claim that WP-Optimize is manipulating things. The setting is a valid tool for testing. So UpdraftPlus will not be removing it and we’ve asked for the false accusations to be deleted.”
Peter Wilkinson from Divi Engine who developed Divi Nitro, (a speed performance plugin which is not affiliated with WP-Optimize, but actually a competitor), investigated the claims and said “Initially I was shocked at the news and as a competitor, thought it was bad practice to be deceiving customers.”
“To “cheat” the tools, you need to manually add the JS files you want to asynchronous load to a setting that clearly has the label “Use this if you have a completely independent script or would like to exclude scripts from page speed tests (PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix…)”
Wilkinson made this very clear video to show how the untrue allegations have been unfairly presented in a way that misleads people:
“It just goes to show that you should not believe everything you read or hear. Test everything to make sure it is the truth.” Wilkinson added.
“In my view, Gijo Varghese has used deception to promote Flying Pages and Flying Press.”
Adam Lowe, President of PeakPerformanceDigital.com who was initially quoted in WP-Tavern as asking UpdraftPlus “how are we supposed to continue trusting your company with my clients’ backups when you use these deceptive and fraudulent practices?” replied today in support of WP-Optimize. He said:
Meanwhile, Andrew Palmer of WP Plugins Plus, tweeted that he believed the original claims to be false:
Summary: Gijo achieved the result that he did by using a clearly labelled expert feature with explained possible use cases to do something else. He then presented this as the normal but dishonestly hidden result of using WP-Optimize. This should never have been made a news story. We do not encourage anyone to try to “game” PageSpeed scores, and Gijo’s allegations that this is our secret intention that people would do so is unworthy, and we hope he will do the honourable thing and retract it. If any other users are puzzled by anything else in WP-Optimize, we hope that instead of stirring outrage on Twitter, they will ask us about it in a support channel.
Next-day interim update: Now that our main developer with responsibility for this area of the code has been able to get out of bed (he is in a different time-zone) and conducted an initial analysis, things look quite different. The controversy is entirely mistaken, and would not have existed if we had been consulted in any of our available support channels (e.g. the open-to-everyone forum on wordpress.org) and allowed sufficient time to investigate before publication (we first became aware at the end of a Monday that was a UK public holiday). In fact, on the analysis that we have now had time to perform, the controversy originated with a direct competitor who, after misconfiguring the plugin (what he configured is not a default option, and could only be achieved by either overlooking or misunderstanding the described use-cases and entering contrary details into the settings field), subsequently used the resulting Twitter storm to promote his own competing products. Fuller details will be forthcoming once our investigations are complete.
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In the last hour I have been made aware of some code in WP-Optimize’s “minify” module whose actual purpose (whether legitimate, or whether just to “cheat” page-speed-measurement tools) is questionable. We are investigating this, and a statement has been posted here whilst we carry that investigation out: https://wordpress.org/support/topic/code-under-investigate-in-wp-optimize/.
For clarity, we:
definitely do not approve of such “cheats”
will remove the code immediately after our investigation if it is found to be such
and as explained at that link, inherited that particular section of code from another open-source minification project under an open-source licence, and did not at the time notice its suspect characteristics which we have now become aware of.
As stated at the above link, there is no question of the code being dangerous, vulnerable or useful for hackers – the question is whether it does anything useful to optimise your website for real-world visitors, or is just there to get better scores on speed measurement tools. Our products’ integrity and customers’ trust is essential for us, and we will take appropriate action as soon as our investigation is completed.
David Anderson (on behalf of WP-Optimize / Team Updraft)
Premium users of WP-Optimize can now access a new feature called ‘user-specific cache’. When you activate the user-specific cache option, it allows you to cache specific content for individual users on your membership site, such as a partially completed online course.
How does it work?
If a user has logged into your site and purchased an online course for example, the main content of the site will only be available when logged in. When using user specific cache, the participants of the course will benefit from faster loading pages as the content has been cached to their account. If they were not logged in, this would not be the case.
Studies have shown that using this type of user-specific cache results in a much faster and better user experience, which in turn can potentially lead to further sales and interactions. Many websites that offer courses such as SkillShare and Udemy use this type of caching to help improve the user experience.
User specific cache can be turned on with just a tick of a box.
If you have a very popular site with many users, please be aware that this could result in a large amount of files, which could require a hosting package that can handle the extra demand.
When using WP-Optimize’s cache preloader feature, the user specific cache will not be created. But, the preloader will only cache the pages which non-logged in users see. The user specific content will be generated when the logged in user visits the pages (and they will see that cached page only when visiting that page again)
How to setup WP-Optimize. Once you have installed and activated the free version of WP-Optimize, you can learn how to set it up and for current and future use in just a minute or so. By setting up and carrying out these tasks, it can help your site to improve its speed and ranking score, as slow sites will suffer badly in search engine rankings if they are not routinely optimized.
Just follow the simple instructions in the below video to help continually optimize your site’s databases, images, caching and minify settings using the free version of WP-Optimize.
Many websites can accumulate hundreds, if not thousands of images over time. Having all these images on your site in their original uncompressed format can cause frustratingly slow website loading speeds, which can impact on a website’s user experience, bounce rate and SEO performance.
One of the best ways you can improve the speed of your site is by optimizing your images using WP-Optimize. This process, which is commonly known as ‘smush’ or ‘smushing’ allows users to optimize, compress and resize all the images on a website, potentially saving many MB per image and improving loading speeds. This feature is available on both the free and premium versions of WP-Optimize.
How to optimize your images
Once you have installed the WP-Optimize plugin, click on WP-Optimize>Images in your WordPress dashboard. Now you can decide what level of compression you would like to have for your images. There are 3 options:
Prioritize maximum compression
Prioritize retention of detail
By prioritizing ‘maximum compression’, the more space you can save and the quicker your website will load due to it now having smaller and quicker loading images. However, if you run a wedding photography website for example, you may not want to compress your images fully as there can be a slight drop in image quality the more an image is compressed. While the loss in quality is hardly noticeable for most people and is not a consideration for most websites, if high end quality images are important to you, then you should prioritize ‘retention of detail’. This option will still save reduce the image file size (though not as much as ‘maximum compression’), but will maintain the high quality of the original. You can also select ‘custom’, if you would like to format your images to a level that is not quire maximum compression of best image quality.
Below the settings options, you will see all the uncompressed images that have been uploaded to your website. Here, you can manually select individual images you wish to compress, or press the “Select All” button if you want to compress all the images to the same level. As previously mentioned, if you have high quality images that you do not wish to fully compress alongside other images that may not be so important, you can individually select them and run a ‘maximum retention of detail’ compression. You are then able to run the ‘maximum compression’ option on the remaining images.
WP-Optimize also gives you ‘advanced options’ when compressing your images. Here you can choose option such as:
Preserve EXIF data – Handy for professional photographers that may require the EXIF data at a future date.
Backup original images – Don’t worry if you make a mistake or want to revert back to the original image. WP-Optimize gives you the option to retain a backup.
Automatically delete image backups – Once you have compressed your images, you can set a date for when you want your backup images deleted. This helps prevent your site from storing large original files that are no longer needed.
Delete all backup images now – If you are happy with the results and want to delete all your backed-up images, just press this button and WP-Optimize will do the rest.
Mark all images as uncompressed – Use this option if you want to compress your images again, or make further changes.
Restore all compressed images – If you decide that you no longer want your images compressed or have made a mistake and still the original in your media library, you can restore all of your compressed images to their original state.
Once you have set up and decided what kind of image compression you are happy with, you can tick the “Automatically compress newly-added images” button so that you do not have to go through the process every time you upload a new image. Once you activate this option, every new image you upload will be compressed according to the settings you have chosen (compression or detail).