Speed Up Your Azure hosted WordPress site with Caching Plugin

A year ago, we had unsuccessfully tested a number of caching plugins on this Azure hosted WordPress blog. Because of ongoing frustrations with slow page loading speed, we tried installing WP Super Cache again – this time to a resounding YES! IT WORKS! While more work is still needed, the page load speed has dropped from 5.8 sec to 3.0 sec with the basic plugin install.

The caching plugin creates cached php files of website pages

WP Super Cache Setup – Quick and Easy!

  • Install the plugin > Easy tab > Caching On That’s all that’s needed to get started!
  • Check that the plugin is working > Test Cache The green text means go!

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SSL Verification Tools for Azure Web Apps

In a recent blog post, we discussed how we discovered that an SSL Certificate that was not accepted by all browsers had been inadvertently installed months ago on a publicly accessible WordPress DEV site hosted on Azure Web Apps. Only while checking on page load performance, was this discovered by an SSL Checker!

These are some of the free online versions of the tools that we use for testing SSL certificates. Its important to use them!!

SSL Labs:

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Azure Policies Listed in an Excel Worksheet

In my work with Enterprise clients as an Azure Consultant, I’ve created a few tools to help me communicate efficiently and clearly with  team members in various levels of management that need to understand and implement specific Azure concepts.

I’ve already shared one of those helpful tools that I use repeatedly to customize and deliver during conference calls and presentations. Read about and download the ever evolving series of PowerPoint decks of diagrams and icons for your own customizations.

This post is about another helpful tool in my work – a sortable Excel file of all the current and ‘in-preview’ Azure Policies by category that are found in the Azure Portal.

Download Azure Policy Workbook

There is  an Index of Azure Policy Samples online of 56 Policies in 9 different categories. At the time of writing this, there are also 73 ‘in-preview’ policies in various categories on the Azure portal, with 192 Azure pre-built policies in 22 categories! See them here at:

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Performance Testing Tools for Azure Web Apps

We’ve been working at speeding up page loading and general performance of our Azure hosted WordPress websites.  Of course, because these are Azure hosted IIS websites, we can’t make changes to the underlying IIS structures, but it is good to know of any vulnerabilities. (An EXCELLENT Security Protocol software that we use on all of our Azure IaaS web servers/browsers is IIS Crypto)

These are some of the free online versions of the tools that we use for measuring performance changes.

GTMetrix.com

  • For example – this is the Page Loading Speed ‘BEFORE’ any changes:

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Adding a Root Domain to Azure CDN endpoint

We have a static website running from an Azure storage account, using Azure CDN to deliver with a custom domain name and HTTPS. (https://www.alvarnet.com) We need the root custom domain (alvarnet.com) to also be resolvable.

It wasn’t clear in online documentation how to add the root domain to an Azure CDN endpoint, or if it was even possible yet – sub-domains only for CDN endpoints seem to be the standard. In fact, CDN Allow Root Domain for Custom Domains is an Azure ‘feature request’ that has been under review for over a year!

Unsuccessful Trial:

  • I created a new CDN endpoint but the CNAME of the root domain name wasn’t recognized
  • Our DNS provider, EasyDNS, allows for CNAME/Alias records of root domains – but mapping the root domain as a Custom hostname to the alvarnet.azureedge.net CDN endpoint still wouldn’t work. The error message when trying to ‘Add a custom domain‘ basically said it didn’t recognize the CNAME mapping between the root domain and the CDN endpoint.

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Add HTTP Rules to an Azure Content Delivery Network

We are in the process of setting up a static custom domain website with SSL being hosted from an Azure storage account.

After getting HTTPS protocol to work, it is necessary to set up HTTP Rules for the CDN endpoint to be able to serve up the proper landing page of the website, plus force redirecting of all http traffic to https.

Previous steps in Setting up a custom domain website being hosted from an Azure storage account:

In order to be able to configure the Azure CDN’s Rules Engine, the Azure CDN Profile must be the Premium Verizon pricing tier. This is the only one of the 4 Azure CDN products that have the Rule Engine feature:

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Migrate a Custom Domain & Add SSL to an Azure Content Delivery Network endpoint

We are in the process of setting up a static custom domain website being hosted from an Azure storage account. While an Azure Storage Account can have a custom domain added to it, it doesn’t support the HTTPS protocol. Using an Azure CDN will allow both a custom domain, work with an SSL certificate giving HTTPS security.

Previous steps in Setting up a custom domain website being hosted from an Azure storage account:

These are the steps to migrate the custom domain which has already been added to a Storage Account hosting the website assets, to an Azure CDN endpoint.

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