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All websites’ audiences expect the sites to load fast without waiting at all. So, it is understandable that Google emphasizes site speed in its search algorithm. The higher the page speed, the higher your search rankings will be and the more traffic you’ll gain.
If you wish to make your WordPress website faster, implementing page caching is your top priority.
A cache is a group of temporarily stored data to allow quick access upon request. In computers, information is stored on a hard disk. When a request is made for that information, the computer runs several processes before it can be presented.
However, there is some information that the computer accesses very often. When it does, it will have to run the same processes, again and again, to access the same frequently accessed information. Not very efficient, isn’t it?
So, why not store such frequently accessed information in temporary storage or memory where the computer can quickly access them without having to run all those processes again each time upon access?
WordPress Cache Plugin
WordPress sites can apply this same caching concept to improve performance and make your site load faster. Each time a user visits your WordPress site, WordPress runs several processes, fetches information from the database, and runs several other steps before returning the results to the user’s browser.
Each of these steps adds time and causes your website to load slower. This is made worse if the website is huge or when more users are visiting your site, all at the same time. This is where the WordPress cache plugin comes into play.
Depending on the set configuration, the WordPress cache plugin instructs the server to store certain files to disk or RAM. By doing so, it can remember and duplicate the same content it’s been serving in the past, to serve a future request. This helps reduce the number of processing steps.
Simply put, instead of executing the whole page generation process each time a request is made, your cache plugin makes a copy of the page after the first load, then serves that cached version to every other subsequent user. As a result, your web pages load much faster, which offers a big increase in performance.
When Do You Need a WordPress Caching Plugin?
Using a WordPress Cache Plugin on your website is one of the best ways to ensure your site loads faster. However, there are things that could go wrong when it comes to using and configuring cache plugins. You have to know what you’re doing. That said, you still have to have some form of caching done.
You can choose a managed WordPress host that implements and takes care of the caching for you. Of course, this would depend on your budget. You’ll need to know the options you have with web hosting solutions and How much would they cost you? to make a well-informed decision.
Bear in mind that this form of server-level caching is much faster, and no additional expertise is required. In such cases, you won’t need to use a cache plugin at all.
Benefits of Caching
As mentioned, caching’s primary objective is to speed up your website. As such, your overall user experience improves. There’ll be a lower bounce rate and higher user retention rate for your website. Additionally, your server will use fewer resources which allows it to serve more visitors.
Caching can also improve time to first byte (TTFB) – measured as the time taken between a user request and when their browser received the first byte of a response. Lower TTFB contributes to faster web page loading speeds as well.
No Caching vs. Caching
You can run speed tests via any website speed test tool on your website with caching enabled and without caching.
This test is in part to help determine which plugin works best for you. All you need to do is test your site performance before and after cache plugin implementation. Then make a comparison to help decide which works for you.
You’ll find that with caching in place, page load times can reduce significantly.
8 Best WordPress Cache Plugins
If you have decided to manage your server, there are several good cache plugins you can try out. It’s hard to pinpoint which is the best one as plugins are typically going to perform differently based on different factors such as your server, configuration, resources, and even physical location.
It is recommended that you individually test the WordPress cache plugins to ascertain which is right for you. Remember, what works best for one person, may not be so for another.
Here’s a list of the 8 best WordPress cache plugins which you can try:
WP Rocket is known as the most popular premium cache plugin. It provides a developer-friendly experience yet is also the most beginner-friendly caching plugin available.
Standard caching plugins often look too complicated for beginners. So, if you’re unfamiliar with the different caching options, WP Rocket could be it for you.
It is so easy to use that you can instantly cache your website via a single click. WP Rocket will automatically fetch your WordPress pages to build up the cache. After which, it will automatically turn on recommended WordPress caching settings like gzip compression, page cache, and even cache pre-loading.
WP Rocket shines in that it works with many managed WordPress hosts that otherwise ban or discourage caching plugins. It also runs smoothly with eCommerce websites, especially when these are often the types of sites that need speed the most.
Unfortunately, WP Rocket comes with a price tag. However, many are willing to foot the bill simply because of the tons of features it has. Some of them are browser caching, lazy loading images, content delivery network (CDN) support, DNS prefetching, minification, and many more. It is no wonder WP Rocket is so popular.
W3 Total Cache is a developer-friendly WordPress cache plugin. It is a very comprehensive cache plugin, which may appear to be intimidating for beginners. Having said this, W3 Total Cache is great for developers.
W3 Total Cache plugin is a free, open-source program with tons of features that you’ll need to understand well to reap all its benefits. Such features would include page cache, object cache, CDN support, gzip compression, limited minification support, and more.
It also works well for mobile-friendly sites, regular desktop ones, and SSL certificates-enabled websites, making this an ideal solution for eCommerce stores. The plugin is compatible with hosting options such as dedicated servers, shared hosting, and clusters.
Developers have claimed that the plugin can offer up to 80% bandwidth savings via minification, a process of reducing the size of your codes and feeds without any negative impact.
W3 Total Cache is an excellent WordPress cache plugin that will improve your overall site performance and boost your conversion rates.
WP Super Cache is also a popular cache plugin for WordPress, run by Automatic, the same team behind WordPress.com. It is free and comes highly recommended by most of the top WordPress hosting companies. Overall, it’s pretty easy to understand and activate, even for beginners.
The plugin comes with all recommended caching features such as gzip compression, page cache, cache pre-loading, CDN support, advanced-cache preload, and more. WP Super Cache offers three caching modes:
- Simple Mode – recommended option for the average WordPress user since it’s the least risky. You won’t need to edit and configure files.
- Expert Mode – the fastest caching method for users but needs modification on your files. This is best suited for advanced developers who would like to have more control.
- WP Super Caching – used to cache pages for known users. Although very flexible, it’s slightly slower compared to other options.
Your cache directory will fill up over time and can cause your site to run slower. This is where WP Super Cache’s garbage collecting feature comes in. The plugin will regularly run an automated garbage collection process, clean out the old files, and keep your site optimized.
NitroPack was a performance optimization service for websites back in 2012, but in 2018, it was released as a standalone service. Developed exclusively for e-commerce sites using the OpenCart framework initially, it now works with WordPress and other e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce.
It uses many website speed improvement technologies, including page and browser caching, built-in CDN powered by Amazon CloudFront, image and code optimization, compression, modification, and prefetching, all in the name of reducing the loading time of your pages and maximizing conversions.
NitroPack is easy to get started with and use. It is one of the simplest optimization tools available. Bear in mind that the NitroPack plugin is best suited for larger sites with lots of assets. You’ll see significant improvements in the speed of such sites.
There is a pretty stiff price tag to this, though. That said, you can try their free plan with no credit card required to get a better feel of things.
Unlike most other cache plugins, Comet Cache can cache logged-in users. This means that if you’re running a membership site, eCommerce site, or any other site that relies on users’ registration details, Comet Cache could be the plugin for you.
The plugin is relatively easy to install and simple to use. Its detailed documentation and knowledge base are impressive and helpful.
There are several caching options available. You can choose to perform caching on posts, pages, categories, or even tags. It uses WordPress browser caching with the Apache server, which means multiple roundtrips between server and browser can be avoided.
You can serve cached files on your site from the CDN of your choice. In Comet Cache, you can use popular CDN networks like CloudFront, MaxCDN, and more. The plugin can display the cache statistics to help you understand more about your site cache status.
The Comet Cache plugin comes in both free and paid versions. The paid version starts at $39 – $139, and these are all one-time payment fees. However, most of the primary features are included in the free version, so you may not need to upgrade to the paid version.
Cache Enabler plugin requires minimal configuration and is easy to set up and use. It’s efficient and fast, with automated and manual options for clearing the cache. Unlike most free WordPress cache plugins, Cache Enabler comes fully equipped with very comprehensive documentation that will make your understanding of this plugin a walk in the park.
You can also use this Cache Enabler plugin together with the Optimus, ShortPixel, or EWWW plugin to take advantage of the newer image format (WebP images). This is especially useful if your online business relies a lot on images.
Although you won’t be getting the complete set of features other paid options, such as WP Rocket, Cache Enabler is still a top-notch cache plugin without the price tag. It is a viable alternative for those on a budget.
WP Fastest Cache is popularly known as one of the easiest WordPress cache plugins available. This is because it comes with very few configuration settings for WordPress caching. It effectively reduces page load time for repeat visitors by combining CSS files into one to reduce the number of round-trips.
You can start by using the free version, however, upgrading it to a premium version is worth the price.
Unfortunately, their documentation is not very systematically arranged in one place, but you can look into their blog tutorials to help you.
One of the most effective ways to keep your WordPress site fast is by optimizing its database. Most websites use MySQL for their database, and there will be times when the MySQL database can get cluttered, which will slow things down. Cleaning up your MySQL database is necessary for your website.
Enter WP-Optimize, created by the same team behind the legendary backup plugin, UpdraftPlus. The WP-Optimize plugin is a free, all-in-one, progressive plugin that thoroughly cleans databases, your tables while compressing large caches and images on the site efficiently.
Equipped with all the essential features of a cache plugin, WP-Optimize is also easy to use with minimal setup configuration.
Most of you may be content with using the free version but explore the features that come with the premium version. These features include multi-site assistance (optimize databases across several sites at a time), enhanced scheduling, lazy loading, etc.
Many have used this plugin and have nothing short of praises for it. In short, it’s an excellent plugin, especially when you need help in optimizing your databases to help with speeding up your site performance.