Top 6 WordPress Caching Plugins To Make Your WordPress Website Faster

Wordpress Cache Plugins

Post Series: WordPress performance – How to make your website faster?

  • 1.How To Speed Up Your WordPress Site ? A Complete Guide 2016
  • 2.Top 6 WordPress Caching Plugins To Make Your WordPress Website Faster
  • 3.WordPress Spring Cleaning Toolkit – A Complete Guide How To Optimize Your WordPress Installation For Better Performance
  • 4.How To Choose The Right Hosting For Your WordPress Website? – A Beginner’s Guide
  • 5.Top 20 Mobile Friendly WordPress Themes To Help With SEO And Website Usability On Mobile 2016

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 have confirmed the same in the past.

If you run a WordPress site, a caching plugin can dramatically effect better site load times. Typically when you access any website, you request information from their servers. WordPress runs of a database and every time someone loads your site on their browser, they retrieve files in the form of CSS, images and javascript.

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 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 it doesn’t make your site any quicker, then 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.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache Header

This plugin is widely touted as one of the most powerful caching plugins with a plethora of options at the disposal of the user. It is used by Yoast (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 a very impressive list of users.

Update(1): Yoast no longer uses plugin based caching and have switched to server side caching. Likely a similar caching we use for Colorlib which is combination between HHVM, Redis and fastcgi_cache.

Update(2): 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.

Update(3): We now use a completely custom built server side caching. It uses Nginx, HHVM and Redis as base but we have made some tweaks specially for Colorlib. This includes custom comment and bbPress forum thread handling to make sure that they are posted in real time. If you like how well our website perform, make sure to read our hosting guide to find out how you can achieve similar results.

It can cache pages, the WordPress database and objects, it can enable caching at the browser end. W3 Total Cache can be used for the minification of CSS and Javascript. It is also compatible with dedicated servers, virtual private servers and Content delivery networks, which is probably why this plugin can be scaled for use with very popular high traffic websites.

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.

W3 Total Cache Guide

The tips actually seem more daunting than the advanced options themselves, how well you use this plugin depends on your ability to attend to each instruction provided. At the bottom, you’ll notice a “Toggle all caching types”, this is sufficient but doesn’t maximise the impact of the plugin.

Even an experienced user would find the instructions helpful because installing the plugin is only part of the process, it needs to be configured appropriately for full impact. Else you can simply choose to enable the default settings, it should be sufficient for most websites.

The plugin isn’t complicated, it is merely vast with a number of options. If you can get past the clutter of options and follow suggestions as presented by the plugin below your WordPress dashboard and may be watch a tutorial or two then it can speed up your website ten times over, which is an impressive feat.

At $99 per year for the paid version, you can enable 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

WpSuperCacheHeader

When I first used this plugin, it was far easier to figure stuff out than the previous plugin. The plugin settings screen greets you with an easy to use 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.

WpSuperCache1

A simple setup with 7 tabs, ideal for new WP users and for experienced ones as well.

WP Super Cache creates a static HTML file which 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,

  1. Supercached Static files – PHP is completely bypassed and it served as such to unknown visitors.
  2. Supercached Static files ( served by PHP ) – Server more likely to struggle with large increase or bursts of traffic.
  3. Legacy Caching – Slowest caching method used for known users.

The difference between supercached 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 Lock Down and Directly Cached Files.

WpSuperCache02

WP Super Cache helps get rid of your cache files as well, by deleting your cached files at specified intervals of time. The files can be preloaded, it will create supercached 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

WPRocket

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 in active use on 26,000+ websites.

WpRocketUsers

A few websites cached by WP Rocket.

Plugin’s features include page caching which is activated immediately after installation & activation, cache preloading and images on request to ensure that images load only when needed. WP Rocket makes lighter, the HTML, CSS and Javascript on your website.

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 that simply works with a minimal number of problems, the settings panel is very much similar to Super Cache and easy to handle.

Image From- WpSeer

Image From- WpSeer, Click Image For A Detailed Review Of WpRocket

The plugin is priced at $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 but without support or updates. Generally trying the latter is not advisable.

Zen Cache ( Successor To Quick Cache )

Normally, I would have written about Quick Cache which is a well known caching plugin, but all updates for the plugin were halted about two months ago. The developers rebranded the plugin and dubbed it “Zen Cache”. They effected a name change to avoid the perception that it is a “simple” plugin.

Migrating from Quick Cache to Zen Cache is easy and your settings are carried over to the newly installed Zen Cache from Quick Cache.

But enough of that, Zen Cache/Quick Cache is a great plugin which requires minimal setup time and achieves what is expected of caching plugin with ease.

ZenCachePRO

A simple setup with an optional advanced panel for the experienced user. The light features are present only in the PRO version of the plugin.

There is little that this plugin can not accomplish for you, the setup is easy and intuitive to use. At the end of each option, there are a few tips to help you better utilize the plugin.

Zen Cache is priced at $39 per year for single site use, for multisite (unlimited number) usage the plugin will set you back $139 every year. Purchase ensures support for a minimum of three years after which a minimal fee of $9 or $29 per year is charged for continued 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

FastestCacheHeader

Fastest Cache employs a number of methods to cache your website. Mod Rewrite takes your dynamic WordPress and make it static. The cached files are deleted at appropriate intervals or based on events such as 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.

WP Fastest Cache

If you know what each of the caching methods will do for you, this should be a very easy plugin to handle. Just tick your caching methods and submit.

The plugin minifies your HTML, CSS and compressed with Gzip. It can combine CSS which helps reduce the number HTTP requests to your host’s servers, similarly it can combine Javascript as well. Fastest Cache also provides browser caching, which is useful for visitors who return to your website often.

Hyper Cache

HypCacheHeader

Hyper Cache has only 4 tabs on the settings page of the plugin. Obviously has lesser configurability but that works in favor of anyone who’s looking for a plugin to do the job with little or no tinkering.

With HyperCache you can cache at specified intervals of time, enable on the fly compression, clean caches when a new comment is made or a new post is published and enable browser caching.

HyperCacheSettings

Hyper Cache can be set so as not to cache specific pages or URLs and you can cache only the most recent of posts by blocking caching for posts older than a specified 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 caching plugin.

Kim Tezlaff conducted quite a number of tests on three plugins, Super Cache, W3TC and Quick Cache. And the results are published on DashBoardJunkie. He concluded that W3 Total Cache is the fastest plugin followed by Super Cache and Quick Cache ( Zen Cache).

Kyle of Tutorial9 also conducted his own tests only to conclude that Hyper Cache and DB cache combination is the most potent one. You can find the results of his experiment on Tutorial9.

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. So I’ll refer you to DevShed’s article by Charles. This test is very comprehensive, he has compared 20 caching solutions for WordPress. WP Rocket came out as the winner, with special mentions for WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

The fact is it is very difficult to figure out which among all the plugins is the best. In my opinion, WP Rocket certainly seems to have the edge. But 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 selection of the best plugin for your website. Because the differences in performance is largely imperceptible to average user.

Test Your Site With A Cache Plugin Fully Configured

You can use one of the following,

  • GTmetrix
  • WebPageTest
  • PageSpeed Tools

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 on 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 level of comfort with caching plugins you can select any one of the 6 plugins presented in this post. Try each one 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 a number of URLs (apart from just your website’s homepage) for some variability and to ensure that the test is fair.

Conclusion

Choose the plugin that you are comfortable with, spending an hour each day to constantly reconfigure your plugins simply isn’t worth it. The differences, when comparing these 6 plugins are marginal. But it can become a chasm depending on your ability to rightly configure the cache plugin in question.

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 known for their speed and popularity.

If you have very good 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 suggest strongly that you read the benchmarking methods used on our tests before trying your own tests.

If you were wondering, Colorlib uses W3TC in combination with Memcached for object and database caching and CDN management.

For every website there is a speed ceiling and once you’ve hit it, you need to upgrade your hardware perhaps a top notch CDN service like MaxCDN or CloudFlare.

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 on the comments section. I look forward to reading them!

I hope that you found the post informative about the WordPress caching choices available to you. And that you’ve found the right plugin for your site. ?

22 thoughts on “Top 6 WordPress Caching Plugins To Make Your WordPress Website Faster”

  1. I have recently been wanting to use a cache plugin for my websites, but due to many issues i have encountered with cache plugins in the past, i think twice before using it…anyway thanks for the list

  2. Yes, configuring the plugins can be tedious. If you aren’t able to get it right with one plugin, there are others you can try. It makes a tremendous difference to your site’s load times. Perhaps you can try SuperCache and ZenCache, they have single toggle for all caching options to remove any difficulty with configurability. Or you could go with a premium plugin, you’ll get good support and they’ll help you with any difficulties you have.
    Another option would be get managed WordPress hosting from WPEngine and you’ll never have to worry about caching.

  3. Al3x,
    Even similar plugin than SuperCache and ZenCache is WP Rocket. It offers the same performance improvements as W3 Total Cache but it does everything for you automatically.
    There are usually two problems that users have with cache plugins:
    1. Your website becomes slower for administrators. Cache plugins puts an extra load on your hosting account but for administrator level users content is not being cached because cache might cause problems with some important functionality such as WordPress customizer, Post/Page editor, Widget Administration etc. These changes just doesn’t appear as they are being cached and it confuses most users. That’s why most plugins have cache disable for administrators and you get a slightly slower website for yourself. This is really confusing but you must test your website when you are logged out from it and you will see that it actually is noticeably faster.
    2. CSS and JavaScript file minification and combination is hit or miss. It might offer you some speed improvement but in many cases it might break some functionality on your website or even your entire website layout. Once users have enabled minification and see broken layout they just freak out and disable cache plugin completely. However, you should have just disabled Minification while leaving other settings in place because others are working properly.
    If minification didn’t work in the first place then the only option is to configure everything manually but it is rather advanced approach and definitely not for everyone.
    Cache for your WordPress website is a must because WordPress is slow by default and comes with very limited caching. Let me know if you need any further assistance.

  4. Hi
    Great list. I would however, also like to mention a new plugin, called WP Superformance, as an alternative to the above. This plugin weighs less than 50KB and does its job exceptionally well. WP Superformance has a load of features, such as image lazyloading, HTML, CSS, JS minification, hotlink protection, browser caching, etc. It also handles a great deal of performance tasks – which one would generally need a dozen or more plugins for. This is all done automatically without any configs.
    Well worth a try.

  5. Ron,
    Unfortunately, we can’t list your plugin on this list. Since your website doesn’t load fast enough it means that your plugin is either not good enough or you don’t know how to configure your own plugin.
    Here is comparison between your website:
    And colorlib:
    As you can see our website is much larger in size and doesn’t have any minification and combination in place and still it loads much faster. Therefore I can’t recommend your plugin to anyone who is looking to improve their website performance.
    Sorry for inconvenience.

  6. Be very careful about WP Rocket. I’m on shared hosting and I got a mail from Google telling my site was giving 403 errors recently. I identified this was because of the .htaccess file WP Rocket creates. The mod.rewrite section of the code was causing 403 errors. I contacted support and first they said their plugin can’t cause 403 error. Then they accepted their plugin indeed causes 403 error, but they still haven’t released an update. If you’re using this plugin, I highly recommend running a Google Pagespeed test to see if your site is giving 403 error or not.

  7. Karga,
    I am sorry to hear about your experience with WP Rocker. 403 error means that access to your website is denied and it is not a good sign at all. You were lucky that you find that this plugin throws errors or otherwise you would have lost most of your search engine rankings.

  8. 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

  9. Would love to see you guys add Litespeeds new WordPress Cache to the list. We recently did a quick comparison / benchmark between the 2 and Litespeeds Cache pretty much doubles the performance of WP Super-Cache. Given this is a pretty simple bench but still shows that this is a plugin that is on it’s way to the top and a great new option for people on Litespeed based hosting (host needs to add support).

  10. Great list! I have a site that loads quick on the front-end but on my admin panel (wordpress) it takes ages. Any idea how to fix that?

  11. Tabea,
    That’s because caching plugins doesn’t work in backend. In fact they are even slowing down your dashboard because once you hit “publish” or “update” caching plugins are working hard to create cached page therefore adding extra load on your server. To speed up WordPress dashboard you can either switch to PHP 7 or install HHVM. Both are much faster version of PHP (HHVM is installed on top of PHP as a virtual machine) and are currently available only on managed WordPress hostings such as Pagely, Kinsta and others. Otherwise there is no way to speed up your dashboard because there are so many things going on and nothing is being cached and every request loads information from database over and over again.
    You can also look to install Redis for caching, however, it is available only for VPS or again managed WordPress hosting because of the nature of Redis caching. Redis caching plugins that are available on w.org doesn’t do anything without server configuratin in place since I have seen many users installing them. But that won’t work.

  12. Thanx for this article. I did some tryouts with caching but cannot make a choise.
    The main problem of our website are the pages with sometimes 10 youtube movie requests.
    Which one suits a wordpress embedded movie website best?
    Thanx for your advice in advance

  13. SuuS,
    These kind of request are not going to be cached as they come from external website. The best you can do is to have dns-prefetch and preconnect for those external resources and only WP Rocket offers this kind of functionality.

  14. Vishnu,
    Thanks for the WordPress ideas , I’m currently using WP Rocket as well its working fine for me . I will continue to scan through the options on making my blog faster keep up the great content .

  15. Angelo,
    As our recent benchmarks shows WP Rocket is by far the fastest and most efficient caching plugin for WordPress. Therefore there is no need to look for other solutions as you already have the best that there is.

  16. I have found that with certain caching plugins, they trigger a disconnecting error when trying to create new posts or uploading images. I think it’s best to manually edit your .htaccess file and implement caching via that.

  17. Nathan,
    Editing your own .htaccess file is not for 99.9% of the users because it can go wrong is so many ways. Also not all caching can be done via .htaccess and you need some extra libraries that comes with these cache plugins. While you might achieve some caching using .htaccess rules it is certainly not enough and I would never recommend to do that unless you are a skilled developer.

  18. Great list but you are missing one plugin that i use and it is very good .Google analytics counter tracker is the name of the plugin. I have no regret with this plugin.

  19. Stefan,
    This list of plugins is for performance improvements and Google Analytics plugin has nothing to do with website performance. It is for tracking purposes only.

  20. Hi Aigars,
    Your collection for plugins is classical.
    Caching plugin is one of the best tonics to make the site faster and thus way bounce rate is being decreased. But only selecting best caching plugin is conducive to this way. In this case the plugins shared here are awesome. So this article can be said one of the best sources to get caching plugins. I would like to share another great source for log slider plugin to add client’s Logo to display anywhere of sites using shortcode.

  21. We used the W3 caching plugin for a while on our magazine site, but had to disable it because it kept confusing my logins as a user (subscriber) with my admin logins. Do any of these plugins allow someone to login as both a site user and as an admin without causing problems? I’m talking about switching back and forth between the two logins, not being logged in as both simultaneously.

  22. Storm,
    W3 Total Cache would work as well but you need to configure it properly. You can set exceptions on what you don’t want to cache in advance settings. The same for other cache plugins including premium ones such as WP Rocket. If you are not sure how to configure exceptions just use cache plugins for CSS and JavaScript file combination and minification by leaving other features disabled.

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