Simply Static Plugin

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I got an email and phone call from the hosting company I use (HostPapa). They were upselling their services because I was close to exceeding the 30GB of space allotted on my shared server account. I could upgrade my account to a personal server. I do not currently have the financial capabilities to do so. I needed to find an inexpensive solution. The first step was to figure out what CMS was taking up so much space.

Two of my WordPress installs are about my webcomics. Both these instances use the WordPress Multisite function for different stories. For my main site, Mythos Imprint, I used a plugin called WP Multi-Network to create a multi-network WP install. To maximize the website speeds, my images were optimized using ShortPixel. Using this plugin, however, generated a lot of Webp and Avif files. I wanted a solution to reduce the size of my WP multi-site/multi-network installs. So I decided to create static files of old webcomic posts. There is no point in burdening the servers with posts that barely get human traffic. I peruse Reddit to see if I can find a way. I did find an option via a thread about a plugin called Simply Static.

Simply Static is a plugin that converts dynamic PHP websites (like WordPress) into static HTML web pages. The plugin was created by Patrick Posner, a WordPress Developer. The plugin will also generate files for comments and feeds. A developer/webmaster will not lose their visitor interaction when converting their sites. The PRO version of Simply Static will build posts that will allow visitors to comment (despite being static HTML pages). A developer will not need to embed code for third-party apps like Disqus. Simply Static PRO will generate the contact forms created in WordPress. The search function will work too. This plugin was ideal for what I needed.

I opted to pay for a single-use license. This cost me 99 bucks. I was afraid I would need to buy a license for every subsite I had. I did not. All I needed to do was deactivate the plugin, remove the URL listed in my Simply Static account, then activate the plugin on a new subsite (including entering in the license key). I opted to load the new files into my local director (instead of creating a ZIP file or uploading them to GitHub. I created new folders in my directory and changed the subdomain URLs to redirect to those folders. Then I changed the URLs of my comic stories on my CMS sites to link to the static pages. I successfully turned 15 subsites into static websites.

There were some issues using the Simply Static plugin. The images were not copied into the new folders. I went into my WP installs and copied the image files. Because the images did not transfer, the IMG links were invalid. I went to each page and change the URLs to the correct location. When using the Free version, the plugin added a period at the beginning of each URL in the webpage code. This was frustrating when processing large sites. So paying for a one-year license helped when archiving those larger sites. It did take some time to go through each HTML file and change the code to correctly link to everything.

The plugin reduced my physical memory usage from 26GM to 17.48 GB. Additionally, my WP installs are receiving far fewer bots. I used Elementor and the Responsive theme by Cyber Chimps for my sites. Both programs added additional stylesheet links in the header. Having a page calling out to so many files lowered the speed of my pages. I was correcting all the image URLs; I might as well cut irrelevant external stylesheet links.

With a little CSS/HTML knowledge, Simply Static is a powerful plugin for WP users. A user can create an archive with ease using Simply Static. I would recommend this plugin to any WP developer looking to archive their content. I would also recommend getting the PRO package for sites with more visitor engagement.