WordPress has functions for getting remote resources (using cURL or PHP streams). When these functions run during a page load request, they will slow down your site, because WordPress has to wait for the external request before returning the page. This is bad practice, yet so many plugins and themes use it. Debugging is notoriously hard because requests appear only occasionally (they are often cached via the Transients API).
Request Buster is a plugin that shows you in the top admin bar if any remote requests were triggered by the current page load. Keeping it open as you develop and use your site will let you find plugins that make remote requests.
The plugin is available on GitHub – click here.
The correct way
The correct way to handle loading of remote resources are:
- Serving the page and grabbing the remote resource via AJAX OR
- Schedule the remote request to go through WP CRON.
Here are the functions this plugin catches: