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A guide to the “Advanced” tab of the Flywheel Dashboard

Updated on May 7th, 2020

Flush cache

By default, when a WordPress page loads, several PHP and SQL processes have to run on the server, and the browser has to fetch every image and file needed to render the page. That takes time.

The cache is a stored version of the result of all of those processes. The server basically “remembers” the finished page, in order to load it faster in the future. This way, instead of making the server load all that stuff every time your site has a visitor, those processes can be skipped entirely, making the page load much more quickly and saving your server unnecessary work.

Caching is a great and fully automatic way to speed up your site, but sometimes you might want to flush (i.e., erase) the cache if you’ve just made changes to your site, so that those new changes show up immediately. It should be noted, however, that this may also slow the site down temporarily as the server builds up a new cache.

Want to learn more about caching? Our free ebook will teach you everything you need to know!

Development mode

Flywheel Development Mode is just a permanent version of the “Flush cache” feature; it disables all caching until you turn Development Mode back off again (and hides the “Flush cache” option in the meantime, since it would be redundant).

Warning

While enabling Development Mode will allow you to see all file changes as soon as they’re made, it will also prevent your site from running as fast as possible, particularly on heavily trafficked sites or those that run lots of server processes, since it completely disables caching. So it’s highly inadvisable to leave Development Mode on for any longer than necessary.

Enable WP_CACHE

For users who want to use a caching plugin on top of Flywheel like WP-Rocket (the only caching plugin officially supported by Flywheel), that plugin will need WordPress to set the rule that the cache should never get rebuilt unless this plugin explicitly tells it to. That’s what enabling WP_CACHE is for.

For more information, check out our How to enable WP_CACHE help article.

Warning

WP_CACHE offers some great additional features for customers who are using a persistent caching plugin on top of Flywheel’s stellar server-level cache. WP_CACHE doesn’t do anything on its own, so it’s best to leave WP_CACHE disabled unless your site has a specific need for it.

Enable WP_DEBUG

WP_DEBUG is a WordPress feature that allows PHP warnings and errors that are normally hidden to be shown directly on your site for debugging purposes. It’s usually best to leave this off, especially on live sites, as it will likely ruin your site’s appearance by putting unwanted error messages on your pages.

WP_DEBUG can be helpful if your site is showing a white screen or a 500 error in Chrome, however, as it may display the fatal error or syntax error leading to the source of the issue.

Enable Staging

Enabling Staging will create an exact duplicate of your live site on a Flywheel staging subdomain. You can make changes to the Staging site and, when you’re ready, push those changes back to the live site.

Be sure to check out our help articles on how to get started with Staging, and our guide to Staging usage recommendations.

Export logs

We keep copies of your site’s access logs, slow error logs, PHP error logs, and PHP server logs for seven days. You can have these log files emailed to you, for your live site or staging site (or both) with this button at any time.

This feature is primarily useful if you notice that your site seems slow or is experiencing errors, and you’d like to check the logs to find out what might be the cause. Generally in these cases, you’ll notice a plugin name showing up repeatedly in the files, or a fatal error or syntax error repeatedly coming from a specific file.

Reading the logs can be a bit difficult, though, so don’t hesitate to contact Flywheel and pass your error log files along if you spot any issues or need any assistance.

WordPress version

Flywheel automatically updates WordPress for you, but we wait to push out major version releases for an average of about two weeks, to allow any unknown bugs and issues to be discovered and patched first.

We usually roll out smaller security updates much more quickly, but in both of those cases, if there’s a version available and we haven’t run the update yet, you can do it yourself from here to get up-to-date right away!

And if you’d prefer to opt out of major version updates, be sure to check out this help guide.

Database

This is where you can get access to your site’s SQL database directly. If you’re unsure about working with SQL databases, it’s probably a good idea to leave this alone; things can get messy in a database pretty quickly, even for seasoned developers, and you shouldn’t ever need to edit your database directly with WordPress.

But if you do know your way around a WordPress database, you can view and modify your database’s tables from here, run SQL commands, and import or export your database if need be. You can also update your database table prefix here, which you should never do on a live site, but which you may need to do if you’re manually migrating a database to Flywheel.

Note

This list of options may not be exactly what you see under your site’s “Advanced” tab; options may be added or removed as other features are enabled. As always, if you have questions, contact Flywheel and we’ll be happy to assist!

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