Are you grappling with speed issues on your WordPress site? A Page Speed survey by Unbounce.com had an insightful finding. 70% of the consumers admitted that page speed impacts their willingness to buy.
There are many solutions you can pursue to speed up a WordPress site. WordPress Caching is one of the ways. Since you are looking for the best WordPress cache plugin, I am sure you understand its benefits. As a recap, I am touching on some of the basics.
What is a WordPress Cache Plugin?
In short, caching is the process of enabling quick access to often-used content. This process is done by temporarily storing the content in easily accessible locations. It saves the need for the server to process every request. It also keeps the browser from reloading the entire site every time. It’s an excellent way to speed things up!
WordPress Caching plugins do a great job of managing the caching process. The WordPress plugin settings will decide when to offload their cache content.
Besides, they have mechanisms to refresh the Cache whenever new content is published. They do the same when existing content is updated on your server.
The best WordPress caching plugins have great performance optimization features as well.
Actions Before Evaluating Caching Plugins
I have a couple of suggestions as you start evaluating WordPress caching plugins:
- Your hosting service provider will be compatible with certain caching plugins. Check their documentation to know which ones. For example, if you use WP Engine or Kinsta hosting, they only allow WP Rocket as a caching plugin.
- Run speed tests on the WordPress site before choosing a caching plugin. You will need them to quantify the benefits of a caching plugin. These benchmark metrics can be compared to the test results after installing the plugin. Or they can be used to compare outcomes from different plugins.
Best WordPress Cache Plugin
The best WordPress cache plugin, in my experience, should be one from the below list. In this article, let’s dive into the features of each one of them:
- WP Rocket
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Super Cache
- WP Fastest Cache
- WP Optimize
WP Rocket is among the Premium plugins available in the WordPress market. Their pricing starts from $59/year for one website. Unfortunately, WP Rocket does not have a free trial period but offers a 14-day full refund if you want to opt-out.
It is very user-friendly, and its rich features appeal to beginners and advanced users. The ease of use stems from its pre-configuration setup visible after installation. You only need to install and activate it. Then, most of the performance best practices are automatically applied.
This ease of use is pretty helpful for beginners. On the other hand, those who understand advanced caching have plenty of configurations to optimize their installation.
WP Rocket Premium Features
Along with caching, the WP Rocket plugin offers powerful features for web performance. These include LazyLoad Images, Delayed JS, Preload, and Removing Unused CSS. In addition, WP Rocket is one of the few WordPress plugins to have language-specific configuration options.
A quick look at their Pricing is below:
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is of the best WordPress caching plugins in the free category. It offers a comprehensive set of caching options. However, these options could seem overwhelming for newcomers. Nonetheless, it’s a free download, open-source, and has everything you need.
Upon activation, W3 Total Cache adds a ‘Performance’ menu to your WordPress Dashboard. Clicking on it will take you to the plugin’s setup process. Setting it up can be a bit tricky compared to other plugins. But I am optimistic that it will be worth your time and effort.
W3 Total Cache Features
W3 Total Cache offers all the standard features like
- Page Cache
- Database Cache
- Object Cache
- Lazy Loading of Images
You can also integrate the plugin with CDN services like Cloudflare. This CDN Integration gives a tremendous boost to your website performance.
An exciting feature is you can test all the configurations in Preview Mode. After that, you can finally decide to deploy it on your website.
You should go for this one if you want a free caching plugin. And are technically inclined to get your hands dirty during the configuration process. You may refer to this W3 Total installation document for beginners.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is one of the widely chosen plugins. This plugin is because it is easy to install and use and gives you a significant performance boost.
Automattic is the company that developed WP Super Cache. The company owns WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Tumblr, and others. So even though WP Super Cache is an open-source tool, it has a strong trust history.
WP Super Cache has two installation modes – Basic and Advanced Setup. The Basic way is as easy as installing, activating, and turning ON caching. The basic setup covers all the necessities, including clearing of cache. And will speed up your website by serving users cached versions of your pages.
The Advanced setup allows you to configure several options. These options provide more control over how the plugin will cache your site. For example, you can define Dynamic caching, which pages you do not want to cache. You can also set up expiry times & garbage collection.
WP Super Cache Strategy
How exactly does a WordPress Cache Plugin increase loading speed? The WP Super Cache plugin creates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog. After the HTML file is built, your Webserver will deliver these files. So it does not need to run through heavy WordPress PHP scripts. These static HTML files will be served to almost all your website visitors.
This strategy dramatically boosts your website performance. And that helps with the Core Web Vital metrics & conversions.
You should choose this one if you are a beginner looking for the best free WordPress caching plugin & simple one.
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is another popular WordPress caching plugin. You can download and set it up in a few minutes. It is one of the most highly-rated cache plugins in the official WordPress directory. They have over a million downloads with 64k+ paid users.
WP Fastest Cache’s free version comes packed with many cool features. For example, admins can clean cached files, minify CSS and JS files, or set a specific time to wipe them out. And they only need to check a box to activate the Cache for mobile and logged-in users on the Settings page.
WP Fastest Cache Premium Features
The free version does enough to speed up your site. But the premium version offers several extra features, including:
- Minify HTML, CSS, JS
- Optimize Images / Convert WebP
- Mobile Cache Widget
- Cache Database
- Clean-up Google Fonts Async
- Lazy Load of Images
The pricing plans for WP Fastest Cache start from $49. All the pricing plans are a one-time fee with lifetime access to updates. In addition, they provide a money-back guarantee and refund within 30 days if you are unhappy with the product.
You should consider WP Fastest Cache seriously if you are looking for a free solution. And you are looking for the settings to be easy for beginners. This plugin helps if you want to grow into the advanced features in a paid version later.
WP Optimize Cache is a popular plugin in the WordPress directory. They have 1 million+ active installations globally. WP Optimize is an all-in-one caching and database optimization plugin. It caches your site, compresses images, and cleans its database.
WP Optimize Strategy
Their strategy for WordPress site performance optimization is by taking three approaches.
- The first approach is Database Clean-up. Here the tool performs tasks like removing unnecessary data and defragmenting MYSQL tables. These tasks “lighten” the database for best performance.
- The second approach is to deploy image compression. Here cutting-edge lossy compression techniques convert large images into compressed files.
- Finally, Caching is done by keeping dynamic data in a temporary storage area. This storage is done in such a way that it can be retrieved in an instant.
In summary, WP-Optimize combines the best caching, image compression & database optimization technologies. All these are in one seamless plugin. They make your WordPress site fast, lean, and efficient.
A significant part of this functionality is available in the free plugin. The Premium version is available for a $49/year subscription. You get advanced features with the premium offering.
WP Optimize Advance Features
Some of the advanced features are:
- Advanced Database Clean-up (like choosing specific tables to optimize)
- Lazy Loading
- Remove Unwanted Images
- Multilingual & Multicurrency compatibility
- Prevent specific page caching
- Purge pages based on pre-set events
- Premium Support
Each of the Best WordPress Cache Plugin has its own merits and demerits. A WordPress Cache Plugin comparison is summarized here:
WP Rocket is undoubtedly a leading premium choice if you have the budget.
W3 Total Cache is the one to go for if you want a free one and can review the documentation to set it up. Combined with a CDN, the caching features competes well with the premium ones.
WP Fastest Cache is relatively easy to set up. The free version has pretty good features. In this case, the paid version is a one-time fee with access to lifetime updates.
WP Super Cache is a great choice of a free plugin if you are a beginner looking for basic features.
WP Optimize is a useful one if you would like to include database optimization along with caching.
I am sure this article will give you enough food for thought while choosing the right caching plugin. Let me know which one you chose and why in the comments.