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WP Rocket – Much More Than Just a Caching Plugin

Experiencing long page load times on your WordPress site? Here's a great all-in-one premium solution to your problem - WP Rocket.

Having a website that looks great is all well and good, but having that site work fast and efficiently is even more important. Long page load times are one of the biggest downfalls a website can have. They result in your visitors leaving the site prematurely or clicking backwards.

The solution to this problem is the use of a caching plugin. What this does is it temporarily stores anything related to your website in a cache. When the visitor comes back to that page a while later all the data can be retrieved from that cache rather than requesting it from the server all over again. This saves time on getting the files the browser needs and your website will load faster.

wp-rocket-cachingNow, when it comes to WordPress, this caching problem can be solved using a caching plugin. Most of the ones out there right now are free plugins with some of them having premium add-ons. If you’ve used W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Hyper Cache, or any of the other caching plugins out there, you know that while doing a good job (once configured correctly) they are all missing those extra features we crave to improve our site’s performance. Most of the time you would end up combining a number of free plugins to cover every aspect of caching you want to cover.

In addition to the limitation of features in these plugins, there is also the issue of being user-friendly. Some of the plugins are overly-complicated for any beginner who hasn’t researched caching in detail, while others are so simplified that you don’t have the flexibility you need to enhance your site’s performance in the best way possible.

Three French web developers who specialise in web optimisation decided to try and solve this problem, developing the first premium-only caching plugin out there – WP Rocket. You’re free to follow my written review or watch the video version below.

Why Pay Premium?

Some of you might ask why anyone should pay for a premium plugin when there are so many free plugins out there that are held in such high regard. Well, those free plugins might do a good job, but they don’t offer the same level of performance and support that a premium plugin does.

WP Rocket not only offers better performance levels than the free options but also includes a better, and easier-to-use settings area. Most free caching plugins have very simple configurations, limiting your options, while others have premium add-ons to add advanced features, all of which come at a high cost.

wp-rocket-bannerSome other perks to purchasing a premium plugin are Regular Updates & Support. Updates are vital to keeping a plugin working efficiently , and at one time or another you are always going to need help from the developers.

The support for premium plugins is faster and more in depth than that for any free ones out there. In fact the guys behind WP Rocket have some raving reviews for their quick and helpful support. Just check out their Wall of Astronauts on their homepage to see what I’m talking about.

WP Rocket’s Features

WP Rocket offers many features, all of which could be seen in the image below. You can also see the differences between WP Rocket and some of the other top free caching plugins out there. Just a quick glance will suffice for you to realise the extent to which WP Rocket has gone to optimise your site’s performance.

Rather than looking around for other plugins to work in tandem with your caching plugin, WP Rocket introduces these extra features right into the caching plugin, making your job easier and much more efficient.

wp-rocket-featuresSome of its best ones

Besides your normal page caching function, WP Rocket introduces cache preloading. Here WP Rocket use their own robot to simulate a visit to your site, preloading the cache and hence improving speed as well as the indexing of your site by search engines.

It also uses minification; a process whereby the plugin reduces the weight of your HTML, CSS and JavaScript. These lighter files mean less load on your server and even faster loading times.

Besides all this, the developers smartly incorporated an images on request function. This cool feature loads only the visible images on your page, with the rest appearing as the user scrolls down. The effectiveness of this feature is well known, so much so that it’s used by top websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

Using WP Rocket

Before starting to test WP Rocket on WP Mayor founder Jean’s blog, I ran a few speed tests on the same site to compare the results before and after using WP Rocket. For these test I used two websites, namely pingdom and GTmetrix.

This blog uses shared hosting from hostnine. I’ve kept the locations and settings on both sites the same before and after installing the plugin to ensure the fairest results possible. I also ran the test three times with each site and took the middle time as the benchmark for the test. All the data in each test was very similar so discrepancies were not an issue.

Below are the results for Fit for Blogging before installing WP Rocket.

Pingdom ffb-before-pingdom2GTmetrix 

ffb-before-gtmetrix2

Installing the Plugin

Installation is as easy as can be. Once you’ve purchased and downloaded the plugin you can head to the Plugins section in your dashboard and click Add New. From here you can upload the downloaded file straight into your site. Once uploaded it will show up in your plugin list from where you will activate it.

wprocket-install1

Once activated you will find that under the Settings section you have a new section called WP Rocket. The next step is setting up the plugin to optimise the site.

Setting it up

Once you have opened WP Rocket you will find 7 tabs; 4 for options and 3 for support and documentation. One thing you will notice throughout these tabs are the instructions that are given with every option, except those that are self explanatory of course.

wprocket-basicoptionsStarting with Basic Options you’re given a list of the most basic options you can set to optimise your site. Firstly you’ve got Lazyload, whereby the images on your page are only loaded when visible. The images further down the page will be loaded only when the user scrolls down that particular page.

Next is Files Optimisation; this constitutes the minification and concatenation of HTML, CSS and JS files. Following this you find Mobile Cache, Logged In User Cache and SSL Cache; all simple options that depend on your own preferences.

Finally you’re given an option to set the Clear Cache Lifespan time. This is the time you want the cache to be stored in the browser after being created, before it gets removed and reset.

wprocket-advancedoptionsThe Advanced Options tab opens as is shown in the screenshot above. Under this tab you will find options to Prefetch DNS Requests, Empty  the Cache of particular pages when updating a post, an option to Never cache a particular set of pages and an option not to cache pages that use particular cookies. All these options are self explanatory and have informative tips and video links beneath them to help you out even further.

Besides those you’re also given the options to select CSS files to exclude from minification, JS files to include in the footer during the minification process and JS files with deferred loading. Explanations and warning signs are once again given to help guide you in your selection

wprocket-cdnThe third tab is CDN. Here you can enable content delivery network and state the url to replace the site’s hostname with. For further information on how a CDN works you can visit our WP Mayor Guide.

wprocket-toolsThe final options tab is Tools. Here you’re given the option to become a Beta Tester for WP Rocket – a choice left completely up to you. The real and useful tools come next. The Clear Cache option is there to clear the cache for the whole site. Preload Cache will request a bot crawl to preload the coach. This bot was developed by WP Rocket themselves and preloads the homepage as well as internal links.

Settings Exporter and Settings Importer do just that. You’re given the ability to import and export your settings from your computer should you want to use a previous settings configuration on another site.

Last but not least you are shown 3 documentation tabs; Tutorials, FAQ and Support. Here you will find youtube tutorials (in French – not very helpful for the non-French speaking users out there, but you might be able to follow some parts just through viewing), frequently asked questions that you will probably have too, as well as a link to the WP Rocket support.

wprocket-tutorials

wprocket-faqs

wprocket-support

Testing the Results

Pingdomtest-pingdom-new GTmetrixffb-after-gtmetrix3As I mentioned earlier I ran the same tests on Pingdom and GTmetrix, only using some of the basic options on offer from WP Rocket, plus I excluded a couple of pages from caching, namely the contact and news pages. I also left CDN unticked since there was another plugin running CDN for images already installed.

The results seen above need a bit of explanation. First of all, the Pingdom test shown here is a test that was run by the WP Rocket guys themselves. This is simply due to an error in my initial test that was pointed out to me by Jean-Baptiste from WP Rocket. Nevertheless, the page load time of 1.12 seconds and better grade are a big improvement on the previous test where WP Rocket was not present.

The GTmetrix test does show an improvement too, but not to that extent. This is for three main reasons also explained to us by the WP Rocket developers themselves. Firstly, on FitForBlogging the image size is not specified in the html; secondly it’s loading images that are much bigger than the ones being displayed; and thirdly WP Rocket adds all the good expires headers to the content on your site, but if you have external resources they can’t control their expires. All issues that are completely out of WP Rocket’s control.

All these reasons contributed to the lack of improvement in the GTmetrix grade, and it’s important to remember that this is purely down to FitForBlogging not following all the best practices rather than anything to do with WP Rocket’s performance standards.

So, in both tests we can see that there were considerable improvements with just the most basic of options any beginner can handle. This is a testament to WP Rocket’s capabilities and is a clear indication that with a bit more tinkering and testing the improvements can be even bigger.

The more variations you test out, the better your site will perform, and the more worth it WP Rocket will become.

Pricing

WP Rocket is available in three packages. Single is priced at $49, Plus is priced at $99, while Infinite costs $249 and can be used on an unlimited number of sites. All licenses come with 1 year of updates and support and a 30 day refund policy.

These prices are for licenses, and not subscriptions, meaning you are free to use this plugin for as long as you’d like, without the need to pay every year. However, while renewing a license is not compulsory, you will only receive updates and support if you renew the license every year.

My thoughts on WP Rocket

Without a doubt, WP Rocket is an outstanding plugin. It’s so easy to configure that any novice can use it and get his/her site to perform that much better. With just a few clicks you can have WP Rocket up and running on your site. If you do run into problems, such as noticing your CSS is getting messed up, these can usually be easily solved. If not, there’s always the ever-efficient Support to guide you through it.

Performance wise, there can be no complaints. My experience proves the improvements possible from even the most basic of options, while the countless reviews you can find on Google are a testament to the wide array of support this plugin is getting.

The only things that I’d suggest improving are the tutorial videos, but that’s simply because I don’t understand a word of French. Seeing as not everyone knows French, an English version might be helpful to those who prefer video tutorials to written documentation.

WP Rocket hits all the right spots. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who affords to set up their site with a premium plugin, and for who doesn’t I’d still recommend the investment. You might end up spending even more by investing in multiple smaller plugins to do each job that WP Rocket does separately.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to subscribe to WP Mayor’s RSS feed.

Mark Zahra
Mark Zahra
CEO at RebelCode, the team behind WP Mayor, Spotlight, WP RSS Aggregator, and the Mastermind.fm podcast. Follow me on Twitter @markzahra.

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26 Responses

  1. Hi Mark!

    Great review of WP Rocket. I am using it on my own website and I must say it is very easy to install and configure and it work right out of the box. I used the free W3 Total Cache plugin before but I absolutely prefer WP Rocket. This is an outstanding plugin and service with great support.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback!

      Definitely agree it’s a great plugin. Even with my limited knowledge when I started trying it out I could figure most stuff out for myself and there were significant improvements.

  2. Looks good but it’s a complete turn-off that all the videos have been in french since over a year ago. This is a premium plugin. What would it take for the developers to translate all the videos to English, since they are selling and making money. Again, this is a very big turn off!

    1. Hi Teb, hopefully they’re in the pipeline. It’s true it’s a turn-off but I don’t believe it’s the deciding factor when it comes to purchasing the plugin. Let’s hope the developers see these comments soon and take the suggestions on board.

  3. Please can tell me comparison between between wp rocket and wp fastest cache plugins ? I am still confused which plugin to use w3, super, fastest cache or wp rocket ?
    looking for your reply.

  4. I just wanted to warn people, caching is a complex concept and be careful being seduced by the wp-rocket ‘one click install’. I had various issues with wp-rocket minification which they initially solved. However, with an update to their own plugin 2 months after I bought it, images stopped loading in certain browsers.

    I had a lot of back and forth with wp-rocket support (mind you they are not native English speakers) and there was so much miscommunication it was staggering. They did not troubleshoot my issue thoroughly and I wasted many hours on emails getting nowhere. I requested a refund. Their policy is that after 30 days refunds aren’t possible so I ended up disputing with PayPal to refund 10 months worth of wp-rocket’s value. I am waiting for PayPal to decide.

    I was using W3 total cache before and have switched back after removing wp-rocket. W3 total cache is definitely faster than wp-rocket and more customizable so ultimately more powerful.

  5. Hi Mike,

    Jean-Baptiste from WP Rocket here

    Thank you very much for your feedback and apologize for the mess here.
    Time is precious and we really don’t want to waste yours.
    I’ve just contacted Paypal to process to your refund.

    Have a great day 🙂

  6. WATCH OUT: WP ROCKET IS A SCAM!

    As stated above, the website clearly promises “30 Days Satisfied or Refunded”:
    http://wp-rocket.me/pricing/

    Well, this is not true because when requesting a refund, they suddently pull out this “refund policy” that Dan also mentioned in his comment:
    http://wp-rocket.me/refund-policy/

    Note that there is no link to a “refund policy” on the above Buy-It-Now page at all.

    BUYER BEWARE: WP ROCKET IS A RIP OFF!

    1. Hi, I just wanted to point out that the link to the refund policy is in fact present on the Buy-It-Now page, it’s right in the footer. Even though the folks at WP Rocket should have the “30 Days Satisfied or Refunded” text link to it (preferably), it’s still there and you should always check such policies before making a purchase anyway.

      Note: I’m not in any way affiilated with WP Rocket. This is my opinion as the project lead on another premium WordPress plugin.

    2. Hi,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      We’ve just updated our refund policy, which is now much more flexible. You can have a look at it: http://wp-rocket.me/refund-policy/

      You also have now a link on the pricing page on “30 Day Money Back Guarantee”.

      PS: We’ve just refunded you.

    1. Glad to hear that. Can you link us to your website too so we can see the speed? Have you got a comparison with how the website ran before you used WP Rocket? It would be interesting to see that.

  7. Be careful with Wp Rocket! It has its own .haccess file but it blocks bots and gives 403 error! Thanks to this stupid plugin I’ve lost all my place on Google search results. I have removed their .htaccess and it returned to normal. This is unbelivable!

    1. Hi, thank you for your feedback.

      You are right, WP Rocket writes into the htaccess to put some good performance rules to make your website faster, but of course not to block bots.

      More than 80 000 websites are using WP Rocket, without any issue regarding bots being blocked, and we have very positive feedback about SEO improvements.

      We would be more than happy to help you in our support

  8. Looking at the source code of this page, it seems that it is not utilizing WP Rocket Cache or any other cache/minify/combine module? Care to share why?

  9. This post cleared my doubts about the WP Rocket plugin. There were two plugins on my list namely W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket. I was confused to select one from them. But now I will be using WP Rocket on my website. Thanks for the awesome review. However, keep up the awesome work.

  10. Hi Mark,

    I am considering using WP Rocket on my WordPress site ‘EyeCandyForCarLoverss.com'(not multi-site installation) but need to first verify certain requirements are met:

    1) Works with Sqlite3 databases.
    2) Coordinates correctly with Varnish 4.0 caching.
    3) Has provided proven page-load times with Sqlite3 and WordPress installed together.
    4) No problem using Cloudflare CDN as well.

    Thanks for your advice.

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