One of the most important performance aspects of a website is the speed with which it loads. If you want to optimise your site to give your visitors the best possible experience while also improving your status in Google’s ranking system then you need to make sure your site loads fast. A slow site can push you down the ranking and make your visitors push the back button – two things you never want to happen.
WordPress Caching Plugins
WordPress uses caching plugins that create a static HTML page of every page on your site. This way every visitor won’t be requesting everything off your server each time they visit your site, drastically reducing its page load time. Here’s a video of WordPress guru Matt Martz’s take on the use of WordPress caching.
It’s important to remember that when changing the template or design of your site you should always turn off and purge the cache. This ensures that you’re seeing the latest version of the page and not a cached one. For more information about why and how to refresh your cache visit Refresh Your Cache.
So let’s take a look at the best options available for caching plugins.
W3 Total Cache (W3TC) is one of the most powerful free caching plugins out there. It is used by many top-grade developers and a host of large companies such as yoast.com and AT&T. W3TC improves the user experience of your site in a few different ways.
It increases server performance, reduces download times, provides CDN, and more. In fact, the creators of W3TC claim to provide a ten fold improvement in overall site performance, and they’ve got some great reviews to back that up.
It’s a great plugin that can do wonders for your site. However, the only downfall seems to be the complicated nature of the plugin. It is aimed at the more advanced user, and you’ll notice this as soon as you install it and go to its settings page.
You are presented with a large variety of options, some of which you might not understand if you’re not familiar with how caching works in detail. Others need to be setup in a certain way, sometimes changing depending on what host you’re using. If set up correctly though, it can work wonders.
WP Rocket is the newest caching plugin from this list and it is the only premium-only caching plugin available for WordPress. It’s already been downloaded 6500 times, which considering how long it’s been out on the market for and the fact that it’s a premium plugin is quite good.
WP Rocket offers better performance levels than the free options and also includes a better, easier-to-use settings area for the variety of options it has. Most free caching plugins have very simple configurations, limiting your options, while others have premium add-ons to do this stuff, which are quite expensive.
It also offers regular updates and support, as is the norm with premium plugins; something that none of the other caching plugins offer to the extent that WP Rocket does.
WP Super Cache is one of the most popular and user-friendly caching plugins you will find. It is very easy to get started with, even for the most beginner of users.
Just by going into the settings section of your WordPress dashboard, clicking on WP Super Cache, and switching the caching option ‘on’ will give your site a significant increase in speed.
The advanced section then gives you more options such as choosing which pages not to cache, compressing files, etc. WP Super Cache even gives you a recommended selection of which settings to utilize to get the best out of the plugin.
Furthermore, WP Super Cache provides you with the choice to load several plugins directly into it, making them load faster than any other plugins, and also supports content delivery networks.
WP Fastest Cache is another user-friendly and simple caching plugin. Although it doesn’t have the capacity to work as well in all the aspects that some of the more complex plugins do, it does enough to improve your page load speed and overall site performance to make it more than satisfactory for your average user.
As you can see above the settings page is very easy to configure, and you’re also given options to delete your cache as well as to set a cache timeout. This is a determined time and frequency at which you would want the cached files to be deleted.
While offering simplicity and ease of use, it doesn’t support CDN and your options are limited to just ten basic ones.
Hyper Cache is one of the least configurable caching plugins, however it still caches normal and Gzip compressed pages. It’s a plug and play style plugin that works right out of the box.
It only offers some configurations options such as feed caching, mobile device configuration and the choice to exclude certain specific URLs of your choice from being filtered.
Conclusions & Recommendations
Whichever caching plugin reviews you read, every blogger, web designer or WordPress guru is going to have a different opinion based on their own experiences and preferences.
Different plugins work differently depending on a number of factors. These include the type of hosting plan you’re on, whether your server and caching plugin have been configured correctly, the type and abundance of content on your page, and more.
The only way to find out which caching plugin is best for you is to test them out for yourself, with your own site and hosting service. Apart from WP Rocket all other plugins are free and can easily be tested at no cost.
Using Managed Hosting? You’re All Set
Even though managed hosting comes at a higher cost, it not only takes a load off your shoulders but is also the best and most straightforward solution when it comes to caching your site.
W3 Total Cache is a great plugin I would only recommend to someone who is knowledgeable about how cache works. WP Rocket, in my opinion, is the best choice (even though it comes at a price). WP Super Cache, although offering less options, should be the plugin of choice for the more novice user.
I’d love to know what you guys think of these plugins and your experiences with them. Feel free to comment below.