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How do most of you find these slow spots?
Another way is to add a start time variable/array at the top of the script and drop markers throughout the script, noting time from start time and presenting a summary at script's end.
id select_type table type possible_keys key key_len ref rows Extra
1 SIMPLE _images ALL NULL NULL NULL NULL 290 Using temporary; Using filesort
1 SIMPLE _ads eq_ref PRIMARY PRIMARY 4 hometow_fas._images.adId 1 Using where
1 SIMPLE _zipcodes ALL PRIMARY NULL NULL NULL 32236 Using where
But I have no idea what that stuff means.
the query runs in 0.16 seconds through straight SQL
What exactly do you mean by this statement, "straight SQL"?
You should consider flushing all the connections and using mysql_connect() in all scripts.