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September 2, 2014

Wordpress Caching Plugins

w3 total cache

You don’t really have to be a web designer to know that a site doesn’t only have to look good. The usability part is extremely important so you should never neglect it. And when it comes to usability, you should try everything for your visitor not only to stay on your page but also enjoy the time spent as well. Now, you should know that page loading is part of usability. Which means you need to keep an eye on how fast your page loads, no matter how simple or complex your site is or what kind of CMS you are using.

So in this article we will try to explain what can caching do for you and why it is good to use WordPress caching plugins for your website or blog (as long as it’s running on WordPress, of course).

What Caching Means?

Caching is some sort of storing your website pages for an easier and faster future access to it. When a visitor gets on your website, the PHP code will process the request, call the database for every query that’s needed and then output an HTML file which will be displayed by your browser. Enabling caching means only the first visitor to a certain page will have to wait until he gets the final HTML page. Next visitors will be served directly the HTML file that was loaded before, without going through a lengthy process.

This equals a better user experience, faster page loading, less database requests and reduced network traffic. Although this does wonders for big, popular websites (because of the high amount of visits and requests), small site owners will see the benefits too!

Forwards you will find a couple of the best WordPress caching plugins to use.

1. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

1.1 Installation

The installation is very easy and doesn’t differ from other plugins.

  1. In your WordPress admin navigation, go to Plugins -> Add new, search for “w3 total cache” and install. In case you have the zip file, you can manually upload the archive and install it. Also, you can use your FTP to upload the unzipped plugin folder to wp-content/plugins.
  2. Now you should find W3 Total Cache in your Installed Plugin’s list. You just have to click activate and you’re done with installation!

1.2 Configuration

Regarding configuration, it’s okay to leave the options as they are, as the plugin is great without you having to do anything. It’s already set up with the recommended settings.

To get to plugin’s options page after activation, go to Performance -> General Settings in your nav menu.

Under General tab is a check box where you can activate or deactivate the caching of your pages. It’s useful when making changes to this plugin, as it’s better to turn it off while doing that.

Page Cache – if you want the your pages to be cached, make sure you check that box. The recommended method for caching is the one that comes by default, disk:enhanced.

Minify – this feature removes unnecessary parts of code from your javascript or CSS files. This will improve your page load speed even more.

Database cache - having this enabled will cache the database queries, meaning the page, post and RSS creation will be faster.

Object cacheif you have a highly dynamic site using Object Cache API, it’s best to have this enabled. It will increase the performance.

Browser cache - as you may know, browsers cache pages too. This will allow an user’s browses to store and use the cached page next time he visits your site. Expiration date and http compression

CDN - this means “content delivery network” and is a little more complicated to use it properly. So we will write a post for this and let you know more. This means you should disable it for the moment, no harm is done.

Next, go to Performance -> Page Cache.

You will probably see this under General tab. It’s best to check all of these and make sure you don’t forget the last one! Unchecking it will make you (the admin) see no changes after you make modifications to your blog.

Under Advanced tab, I recommend you keeping the default options. What you can do if your site is not that busy is to increase the garbage collection interval.

Next, we have Cache Preload. Normally, this plugin will cache a page when a visitor loads it. By using this option, you can pre-load the page so the first visitor will see the page as fast as any other visitors.

Now move to Minify Settings from the menu.

In order for Minify to work properly, it’s best to customize this exactly for your theme and the files it uses (CSS and javascript). So what I’d recommend is to use the help section and customize it by your needs. Usually people configure this section by going for “Trial and Error” method. Check a box, reload the page and see how it goes.

Next, let’s go to Database Cache from the menu.

From my experience, there is no need to change the configuration here unless your site contains pages that are dependent on db queries. In which case you will add them to “never cache the following pages”.

The following section is Object Cache.

You will leave them as they are and move to the last section, Browser Cache.

What can speed up a page load by a lot is using the browser cache, especially if you have a strong readership which keeps coming back on your site. When they return to a page, the images and CSS will be loaded from their stored browser cache. I recommend checking all the boxes above.

Last, but not least: if you use a separate theme for mobile users, make sure to specify the user agent in “User Agent Groups” section.

2. WP Super Cache

WP super cache

This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After a html file is generated your webserver will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expensive WordPress PHP scripts.

3. DB Cache Reloaded

DB Cache Reloaded

This plugin caches every database query with given lifetime. It is much faster than other html caching plugins and uses less disk space for caching.

4. WP Green Cache

wp simple cache

WP Green Cache is a powerful caching plugin for WordPress blogs. It highly minimizes (%95) the usage of server’s resources and provides very fast blog pages. If you care about the speed of your site, WP Green Cache is one of those plugins that you absolutely MUST have installed.

5. Quick Cache

Quick Cache

If you care about the speed of your site, Quick Cache is one of those plugins that you absolutely MUST have installed. Quick Cache takes a real-time snapshot (building a cache) of every Page, Post, Category, Link, etc.

Always Monitor Loading Speed

It’s highly recommended to always check the speed of your site. Not only a lengthy loading speed might ruin what have you worked for by driving all your visitors away, but also Google takes it into consideration when raking websites.

For more info about Monitor Your WordPress Site speed With This Free Tools

Conclusion

Now I hope everyone got this caching thing and knows what it means. Feel free to choose that plugin that suits your exact needs and stick with it. As a personal consideration, I find W3 Total Cache the best for my sites and I also use it on clients websites. After keeping an eye on these websites’ loading speed, seems like I made a good choice. It’s true that I didn’t try all the available plugins out there, though.

Do you feel like we should have mentioned another WordPress caching plugin? Let us know in the comments below, thanks!

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