A WordPress cache plugin can make your website load faster and help a lot in the user experience on the site navigation. See now a list of the best plugins to make your WordPress site faster today.
Your internet experience is only as fast as the websites you visit. Typically, the best websites are also the ones with the quickest load times. A slow website makes for a terrible user experience, and let’s not forget the impact that it is likely to have on your search engine rankings; Google has confirmed the same in the past.
WordPress is dynamic. Whilst this helps keep your website up to date and live, it also slows down your site. So to tackle this little problem, caching plugins were created. They help produce a static version of your website, and this makes your website much much faster.
I’ll take you through a few cache plugins that can help speed up your WordPress site. If you aren’t currently using a caching plugin, you’ll certainly find it an interesting and rather important read. And if you are using a caching plugin, then you’ll have a few more options to check out and find out which plugin works best for you.
If all these caching plugins fail you and don’t make your site any quicker, you’ll probably have to upgrade your host. But before you do so, try a few caching plugins and see how they work for your website.
The Best Cache Plugins For WordPress
W3 Total Cache
This plugin is widely touted as one of the most powerful caching plugins with a plethora of options at the user’s disposal. Yoast uses it (Author behind the most popular WordPress SEO plugin, which we use on Colorlib as well), Matt Cutts ( Works on search quality & web spam for Google ), Mashable, Smashing Magazine, and many other equally influential websites. That is an imposing list of users.
Yoast no longer uses plugin based caching and have switched to server-side caching. Likely a similar caching we use for Colorlib, a combination of HHVM, Redis, and fastcgi_cache.
Matt Cutts has switched from W3 Total Cache to WP Super Cache. It’s similar to W3 but is much easier to setup and, according to some benchmarks, can deliver even better website performance under certain conditions.
We now use a completely custom-built server-side caching. It uses Nginx, HHVM, and Redis as the base, but we have made some tweaks, especially for Colorlib. This includes custom comments and bbPress forum thread handling to make sure that they are posted in real-time. If you like how well our website performs, make sure to read our hosting guide to determine how you can achieve similar results.
A WordPress newbie may find it daunting to negotiate through the plugin’s many options. That being said, W3 Total Cache offers tips on how to best use the plugin above the plugin’s settings page on your WP dashboard.
Even a user would find the instructions helpful because installing the plugin is only part of the process. It needs to be appropriate for full impact. Else you can choose to enable the default settings. It should be sufficient for most websites.
The plugin isn’t complicated. It is merely vast, with several options. If you can get past the clutter of options and follow suggestions as presented by the plugin below your WordPress dashboard and maybe watch a tutorial or two, it can speed up your website ten times over impressive feat.
At $99 per year for the paid version, you can enable the fragment caching module for better performance with themes/plugins that use WordPress transient API, and the paid version also provides CDN mirroring.
WP Super Cache
When I first used this plugin, it was far easier to figure out than the previous plugin. The plugin settings screen greets you with an easy to use a version of the plugin. There are multiple tabs, the first one titled “Easy” is displayed first. And it is easier when you aren’t bombarded with as many options as with W3 Total Cache.
WP Super Cache creates a static HTML file that is served to users who aren’t logged in, users who haven’t left a comment on your blog, and users who haven’t viewed a password protected post on your site. That pretty much means almost every visitor to your website.
This plugin caches files in three ways:
- Supercached Static files – PHP is completely bypassed, and it served as such to unknown visitors.
- Supercached Static files ( served by PHP ) – Server more likely to struggle with large increases or bursts of traffic.
- Legacy Caching – A slowest caching method used for known users.
The difference between super cached served by PHP and not served by PHP becomes more apparent only when there is an increase in traffic, so much so that the host’s server struggles to keep up. Else the differences are imperceptible.
You can selectively choose which sections of your website get cached. The plugin can be used to handle sudden spikes in traffic using LockDown and Directly Cached Files.
WP Super Cache helps get rid of your cache files by deleting your cached files at specified intervals of time. The files can be preloaded. It will create super cached static files for your most recently published posts or for every page and post on your site. With preloading, dealing with cached files after they become redundant is all the more important.
WP Rocket is a premium plugin that advertises speed and simplicity. And they certainly deliver results with little effort on the part of the user. The plugin is currently inactive use on 26,000+ websites.
You can run an eCommerce site due to full compatibility with eCommerce plugins. It is Cloudflare compatible, can utilize browser caching. This plugin offers Google font and image optimization along with multisite and multilingual compatibility. In addition to these features, WP Rocket provides DNS prefetching and is extremely developer-friendly.
A no-nonsense plugin works with a minimal number of problems. The settings panel is very similar to Super Cache and easy to handle.
The plugin is $39 per year for the personal version. The business version costs $99 per year, available to 3 websites, and the Pro version is priced at $199 for use with an unlimited number of websites. If you do not like the plugin for some reason, you can ask for a refund for up to 30 days. The support and updates will have to been paid for yearly. If you choose not to pay, you will still be able to use the plugin without support or updates. Generally, trying the latter is not advisable.
Zen Cache (Successor To Quick Cache) WordPress Plugin
Normally, I would write about Quick Cache, a well-known caching plugin, but all updates for the plugin were about months ago. The developers re-design the plugin and dubbed it “Zen Cache.” They change a name to avoid the perception that it is a “simple” plugin.
Migrating from Quick Cache to Zen Cache is easy, and your settings are over to the newly Zen Cache from Quick Cache.
But enough of that, Zen Cache/Quick Cache is a great plugin that requires minimal setup time and achieves what it needs of a caching plugin with ease.
There is little that this plugin can not accomplish for you. The setup is easy and intuitive to use. There are a few tips to help you better utilize the plugin at the end of each option.
Zen Cache is $39 per year for single-site use. For multisite (unlimited number), using the plugin will set you back $139 every year. The purchase ensures support for a minimum of three years, after which a minimal fee of $9 or $29 per year for support beyond three years. Unlike most premium plugins, they offer lifetime updates for a one time purchase. The purchase comes with a 30-day refund guarantee.
WP Fastest Cache
Fastest Cache employs several methods to cache your website. Mod-Rewrite takes your dynamic WordPress and makes it static. Delete the files at appropriate intervals or on publishing a page or a post.
With Fastest Cache, you can block cache for specific pages/posts with a shortcode. The plugin permits you to enable and disable caching for mobile devices and logged in users separately. Fastest Cache provides CDN support.
Hyper WordPress Cache
Hyper Cache has only 4 tabs on the settings page of the plugin. Obviously has lesser configurability, but that works in favor of anyone looking for a plugin to do the job with little or no tinkering.
With HyperCache, you can cache at intervals of time, enable the fly compression, clean caches when a new comment is on, or a new post, and enable browser caching.
Hyper Cache can not cache specific pages or URLs, and you can cache only the most recent posts by blocking caching for posts older than a number of days. It provides support for CDN and mobile caching.
Which One Is The Best One?
I’ve looked at the tests conducted by different people with differing recommendations for the caching plugin.
Those tests do provide a great deal of information. However, they do not include WP Rocket, which I feel would have certainly been just as good as the competition. This test is very comprehensive; we compared several caching solutions for WordPress. So, WP Rocket came out as the winner, with special mentions for WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
The fact is it is challenging to figure out which among all the plugins is the best. In my opinion, WP Rocket certainly seems to have the edge. But the rest of the pack aren’t too far behind at all.
If you’re selecting a caching plugin, then you should consider your requirements. Whether you’d need CDN support? Questions like this become pertinent to the selection of the best plugin for your website. Because the differences in performance are largely imperceptible to the average user.
Test Your Site With A WordPress Cache Plugin Fully Configured
You can use one of the following,
To keep track of your website regularly, you can access site performance under labs via your Google Analytics account if you’ve added your website to GA. And most hosting services also provide access to basic page load speed information.
But if you are insistent on running a cache plugin and benchmarking your website thoroughly, it would come in handy if you understood the benchmarking methods used in our post. You’ll see that performing a thorough check is rather tiresome. It is only worth it if you’re website receives sufficient traffic. Else one of the three aforementioned tools should be sufficient.
Based on your comfort level with caching plugins, you can select any one of the 6 plugins presented in this post. Try each of them (even the paid ones have refund periods) and arrive at what works for you.
Be sure to use the same theme, plugins, and same host for your tests. And also, test several URLs (apart from just your website’s homepage) for some variability and ensure that the test is fair.
WordPress Cache Plugins Conclusion
Choose the plugin that you are comfortable with. Spending an hour each day to reconfigure your plugins simply constantly isn’t worth it. In addition, the differences when comparing these 6 plugins are marginal. But it can become a chasm depending on your ability to configure the cache plugin in question rightly.
Personally, if I read this article, I’d look at the plugin screenshots, check for the one that seems least daunting, and try that one out first, provided it meets all my requirements. And then test your plugin. Compare it with similar websites that are for their speed and popularity.
If you have outstanding results with your first try, you can stop there unless you need to specifically tackle a problem, like, say, a burst in traffic. Then it gets a bit trickier. I’d strongly suggest that you read the benchmarking methods used on our tests before trying your own tests.
If you were wondering, Colorlib uses W3TC combined with Memcached for object and database caching and CDN management.
If I’ve missed out on a great plugin or if you have an awesome internal caching solution that your host provides, please do weigh-in in the comments section. Moreover, I look forward to reading them!
All Visualmodo WordPress themes are fully compatible with these plugins, and while we develop using clear codes, it will load much faster by default.