Recently, over the past few months, ACF has become incredibly slow. On the backend when working with Flexible Content changes within actual ACF, and then on the page where the actual fields are being used.
When there are many rows in a repeater (this includes flex fields because they are just a special kind of repeater) and or there are a lot of fields for each layout, performance of the admin will degrade as more rows are added. Eventually this will cause a timeout on the saving of edits.
There are ways to improve initial page load, this can be done by setting fields like wysiwyg fields to not initialize until they are being edited.
There is nothing that can be done in ACf to improve/speed up saving under these conditions. ACF calls update_post_meta() or other similar function for each field. This means that every field creates its own DB queries to update the value. Repeaters do not scale well.
I hear what you’re saying, but it seems to me that a recent update might have compounded this problem. A few weeks ago, I was able to load my flex fields with only a short wait (maybe 3-4 seconds). Now, with no changes on my end, it takes over a minute to load them, if it loads at all.
(EDIT: The problem has compounded in Safari. In Chrome, it seems to work as it used to.)
Without going into detail, if you do I would see what happens when it’s deactivated. if your admin gets better I would then replace it with something like Rank Math.
This is only one example of a plugin that can have a large effect on admin performance when combined with ACF. Yes, ACF can be bad and does not scale well, but there are plugins that compound the issue.
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