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We all want our website to load faster, right? It helps create a better user experience, is a known factor for SEO, and can help turn visitors into customers. And there are quite literally dozens of things you can do to help knock a few seconds off your load time, but one of the most simple and commonly recommended solutions is to install a caching plugin.
It’s easy, won’t cost you a fortune, and is proven to make a difference. What a caching plugin does in simple terms is create a static version of your website’s pages, which can be accessed far quicker when your visitors navigate to them. Normally, when a page is loaded, there are lots of steps involved to get that page to appear in front of your eyes, and a caching plugin removes many of those steps.
But which should you choose? Which plugin works the best? Should you go for a free or premium plugin? These are all questions that we tried to address by contacting and talking to over 60 WordPress experts to ask them, “which is the best cache plugin for WordPress in 2019?” These folks use WordPress every day, and most have tried and tested many of the caching plugins available.
Each expert we spoke to was allowed to nominate up to 3 WP caching plugins. Keep reading to find out which plugin came out on top, and equally as important, why.
Best WordPress Caching Plugin: How Our Experts Voted
|Caching Plugin||# of Votes|
|#1. WP Rocket||39 Votes|
|#2. W3 Total Cache||21 Votes|
|#3. WP Super Cache||18 Votes|
|#4. WP Fastest Cache||15 Votes|
|#=5. LiteSpeed Cache||4 Votes|
|#=5. Autoptimize||4 Votes|
|#=6. Breeze||2 Votes|
|#=6. Swift Performance||2 Votes|
|#=6. Hummingbird||2 Votes|
|#=6. Cache Enabler||2 Votes|
|#=7. JCH Optimize||1 Vote|
|#=7. Simple Cache||1 Vote|
|#=7. SG Optimizer||1 Vote|
|#=7. Nginx +FastCGI Caching||1 Vote|
|#=7. Comet Cache||1 Vote|
|#=7. Batcache||1 Vote|
|#=7. WP REST Cache||1 Vote|
As you can see from the table above, although there were quite a few plugins mentioned, most of the votes were shared between just 4 caching plugins: WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache. So those are the options we’re going to focus on here.
WP Rocket was the clear winner, with just about double the number of experts citing it as one of their preferred WordPress caching plugins. Why was that? We kept hearing the same three things: Ridiculously simple setup, it just works, and a great feature set.
Caching plugins can be notoriously tricky to set up and make sense of, particular for “non-techy” folks. The endless options, the technical jargon; it’s enough to make your head hurt. And that’s where WP Rocket really appeals to a lot of people. Set-up is suuuuuuper simple (in 2 clicks, you can have a basic configuration put to work on your site). Of course, it also backs this up with great performance (numerous experts mentioned seeing massive speed gains literally by just installing the plugin and doing nothing else!).
That’s not to say this plugin can only handle the basics though. It boasts an impressive range of features that you can take advantage of to further speed up your website if you have a little bit of know-how, or are prepared to invest a little time testing. These features include deferred JS loading, lazyload for images, removing query strings from static resources, cache preloading, database optimization, DNS prefetching, HTML minification, Google Fonts optimization, and more.
On top of all of this, for a paid plugin that “does what it says on the tin” and is very well supported (quick to help troubleshoot and solid support documentation), the price they make it available for is very, very reasonable. The fact that there is a licence fee also means that they are able to have a team behind the scenes working to consistently improve the plugin.
W3 Total Cache came in second place, and boasts “veteran” status, having been around far longer than most other caching plugins. There’s always something to be said for longevity, and the support team behind it is pretty responsive when you run into trouble. There is a free version and a paid version of this plugin, and even with the free one, you are equipped with a very extensive feature set, which gives you lots of flexibility. Herein lies the double-edged sword though, as the one criticism that kept cropping up with W3 Total Cache is that it’s not as easy to configure as other options. So if you’re not that tech-savvy, it could be a little frustrating to set-up, and you have to be prepared to invest some time “getting to know” the plugin to really take advantage of what it can do.
In third and fourth were WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache, which both have LOTS of active installations (WP Super Cache has over 2 million!), and are both very stable. WP Super Cache is actually produced by the team behind WordPress (Automattic), so you don’t really need to ever worry about waking up to compatibility issues after an update. Both of these plugins have free versions, are very quick and easy to set up, have nice interfaces, but lack some of the more advanced features such as lazyload. WP Fastest Cache does have a premium version that unlocks more features though.
1) If you’re either a non-techie or don’t have lots of time time/desire to invest in configuring a caching plugin, want advanced features to get the best performance and want to see speed gains fast, then the experts would recommend:
2) If money is tight and you want a powerful caching solution that offers a comprehensive suite of features, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty with “some trial and error” testing initially to get it firing, check out this option:
3) If you’re looking for a free plugin that’s easy to setup and navigate, has a solid track record and comes with the basics to improve your site’s loading time, either of these options will work:
Read What The Experts Said
It’d be far easier to just make all of this up, but that’s not what we’re about here at WSTE. We really DID ask 65 WordPress pros for their take on the best WP caching plugins currently available, and below you can read exactly what each of them had to say on the matter. There’s lots of really good advice in there!
This section is really handy if you want to see what was said about a particular plugin. You can use the filters to jump directly to all of the comments about whichever one you’re interested in.
WP Rocket – “I’ve tried a number of different caching and speed improvement plugins over the last few years, and my absolute fave is WP Rocket.
The default WP Rocket install will improve your speed significantly, and then you have plenty of granular control in their options, making it ideal to keep pushing every little improvement in speed.
A case in point – a recent little side project of mine, https://www.softwareguide.com.au/ has a Google PageSpeed score of 97, even with 57 images, totalling over 2mb in size on the homepage! The only caching or speed tool I am using is WP Rocket.”
“With the ever changing landscape of the internet and the devices on which users consume content, it is now more than ever critical that your website is optimised for the fastest download times possible. I can recommend two WordPress plugins that are suitable for novices and professionals.”
WP Rocket – “A premium plugin that comes in at $49 a year, around £40 UK, WP Rocket is an easy to use and configure plugin that does a great job at reducing page load times. Has all the things you’d expect; file optimisation, Gzip compression and a free image optimisation plugin called Imagify. There are more options for the more advanced user, including connecting to a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Tech support is quick and helpful. Updates regularly with a host of new features and performance tweaks. I think it’s well worth the £40 a year. I have the Infinite Package at £200 a year. I add it to every new website I develop.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “If you don’t want to part with £40 a year, an excellent free WordPress caching plugin is WP Fastest Cache. Not as customisable etc as WP Rocket, unless you upgrade to the premium version, but very easy to set up and can significantly reduce page load times.”
“As a web designer, my goal is to create sites that are fast and secure. So I routinely run performance benchmarks on client sites to ensure they are optimized for speed. I use and highly recommend WP-Rocket or WP-Fastest-Cache (free or premium version).”
WP Rocket – “I have been an avid fan of WP-Rocket for 3 years. I currently have the Infinite license, which allows 1 year of support and updates for unlimited websites. It has boosted speed on every site I’ve installed it on.
PROs: It’s an excellent caching plugin with great support. It generally improves performance right out-of-the box and includes a lazy load feature, which is great for image-rich pages and posts.
CONs: Annual charge”
WP Fastest Cache – “Earlier this year I ran into some performance issues with an e-commerce site that just wasn’t getting the speed we needed with WP-Rocket. So I spent considerable time testing WP-Rocket against the free version of WP-Fastest-Cache. I was amazed to find that the free version of WP-Fastest-Cache performed as well as WP-Rocket on the e-commerce site.
PROs: Free and it works great!
CONs: No lazy load option in free version.”
WP-Fastest-Cache (Premium) – “As part of another site redesign, I decided to swap out WP-Rocket for WP-Fastest-Cache and was thrilled to see consistently equal or better page load times of under 2 seconds. By upgrading to WP-Fastest-Cache premium, we achieved even faster load times per the major online testers including Google Page Speed Insights, GTMetrix, and WebPageTest.
PROs: Rivals and exceeds the best caching plugins out there, including WP-Rocket. Includes lazy load option. One-time charge.
CONs: The license is good for only one site. You need to keep both the free and premium version installed, updated, and active on your site.”
LiteSpeed Cache – “Without a doubt is our winner in this category. Even with its basic settings, out of the box, you’ll notice a huge speed increase – and its basic settings are suitable for most websites. So you’re a pro with caches? Litespeed gives you tonnes of options to play with – such as excluding certain pages or queries by URI, minification and combination of JS and CSS, and loads of fine tuning options (it even plays nicely with CDNS). Litespeed is also compatible with WooCommerce, which is a huge requirement in our line of work (we’ve all had nasty issues before with the basket caching with other plugins!)
The downside? Your server has to run Litespeed as a replacement for Apache or NGINX. We use Guru for our managed hosting requirements, and we seriously recommend them.
So, you can’t host your site on a Litespeed server? That sucks, but there are still some other options….”
Autoptimize – “Autoptimize minifies and compresses HTML, CSS and JS – so it can dramatically reduce the size of your site, and help to please that pesky Google Page speed test by reducing the amount of JS and CSS files your site loads. Be careful though, blindly enabling these options can cause problems, especially with plugins that don’t enqueue JS or CSS in the WordPress way. Autoptimize also allows some other cool features such as deferring scripts to the footer, and can integrate with CDNs (although we haven’t tested this).”
WP Super Cache – “So, this is our fallback (sorry guys) when we can’t host a client’s site on a Litespeed server. It has some great options, and works usually just as well as Litespeed with one main downside – it doesn’t handle the caching of private or dynamic content very well in our opinion (see comment above about cached shopping carts). WP Super Cache encourages the use of JS for dynamic data, and provides developers with a filter to use, but this isn’t always what you want to hear when you’ve spent months developing a site, to have to make last minute changes to make it compatible with a cache. The only other downside is it doesn’t offer minification or lazy load (that Litespeed does), and so we use it in conjunction with Autoptimize above.”
The cache preloading massively helps with load time and using the caching alone we have seen website speed savings of 5-7 seconds in an instant.
Clearing the cache is easy – There’s the option to clear your whole cache for HTML or CSS/JS or to individually clear pages as and when required.
Highly recommend this plugin that we use on all WordPress websites as absolute standard.”
WP Super Cache – “WP Super Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress, with over two million active installs. The plugin is created by Automattic, the same team that created WordPress.com, JetPack, Akismet and WooCommerce. WP Super Cache helps you generate static HTML files instead of the heavy WordPress PHP scripts. It offers three caching modes, which can be used by both amateur and professional users. The huge advantage of WP Super Cache is that it’s open-source and free of charge for everyone.”
WP Fastest Cache – “The WordPress caching plugin that I like the best is the WP Fastest Cache combined with some other techniques. I have tried other caching plugins, but found that the best end effect came from WP Fastest Cache. I will combine it with other plugins and techniques:
1) I use Cloudflare as a CDN to speed delivery and cache some assets.
2) Shortpixel is great at shrinking image sizes to get sites under control.
3) I will use Scripts to Footer in some instances to get render blocking scripts to appear in the bottom of the body.
4) If possible (in terms of time, budget and design), I will convert images into sprites to save on the requests.
5) I like to use SVG images as much as possible, they are small and vector based– two great ways to get a lot more horsepower out of a website.
To assess how well I am doing, I will put key pages through GTMetrix.com to look for weak spots. As I find issues, I return to the site and tweak it more.”
Which caching plugin you should choose highly depends on your hosting provider and your website setup. For example, Cloudways has a really good free caching plugin called Breeze – I tend to use that a lot. Siteground has their own caching plugin as well.
If possible, I advocate to first try the hosting-specific caching plugin if there is any. Those are, if well built like Breeze, deeply integrated into your hosting architecture and can sometimes lead to faster website speed than generic caching plugins.
- WP Rocket – “If you ask me for the best paid caching plugin, I’d vote for WP Rocket. Many of the websites my team maintains run with WP Rocket and they fly. It’s a very comprehensive plugin and supports not just plain blogs, but also more taxing requirements like eCommerce, integrating CDNs, and lazy loading for media files. The ease of use makes it easy to configure and it runs stable.”
- Swift Performance – “My team also likes Swift Performance for caching. Their lite version is pretty good for the basics. But to get to a level close to WP Rocket, you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version Swift Performance Pro.”
So, my recommendations are: hosting-specific plugins should be tried first, then compared to WP Rocket, and lastly to Swift Performance Pro.
WP Rocket – “Our team strictly works in WordPress. In fact, we only build websites for our clients on the Beaver Builder framework. This eliminates the need for many plugins while keeping a nice clean theme. Our customers get what they want, while having a well-built website for their business needs.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve used a number of different caching plugins. I often found them to be hard to use and overly technical. When we tried out WP Rocket there was no doubt that we had found the best caching plugin for our needs. After Google emphasized the need for faster loading websites, we knew that we had to make an investment in a tool that would be easy to set up and maintain.
WP Rocket has not disappointed. Without much tweaking, we find that we can increase our page load speed easily. We love to pair this with ShortPixel for image compression and it makes my clients’ websites scream.”
“I’ll keep this short and sweet. And I’ll only recommend 1 plugin. Drumroll, please…”
WP Rocket – “Sometimes in the WordPress community, people tend to think that by working in an open-source world you don’t need to buy licenses for anything. While that may be the case for some, you’re probably missing out on some awesome plugins and other WordPress integrations. WP Rocket is one of those plugins.
Our team has built near 1,000 websites, so we’ve had the chance to experiment with a LOT of plugins, many of them performance plugins. But as of 4 years ago, we exclusively use WP Rocket. It works great, the price and licensing options are great, the interface is great, support is great, everything about it is great. Every feature that we need is built into WP Rocket. Some of those features include the basics like caching, minifying, and concatenation. But other not-so-common features include sitemap based cache preloading, database optimization, lazyload for images, deferred JS loading, DNS prefetching, lots of filters, and good support documentation.
I also love that I can log into my WP Rocket dashboard and see every website that is using our current license (which is currently over 400 websites right now). If I see one that should no longer be in our account, I can easily remove it from our account. I’m sure many will have their opinions on other plugins, that’s what makes this community great! But if they didn’t mention WP Rocket then don’t listen to them ?
Thanks for reading!”
- WP Rocket – “This is our team’s favourite plugin. We have been using this for more than 5 years now. It is the simplest and easy to configure plugin I have ever found in the market. It’s no brainer to configure. It basically does most of the things by default. And most importantly, it makes your website a lot faster. It has a variety of speed-boosting features for your WordPress website. It also doesn’t conflict with other server’s caching functionality like WP Engine so that’s a big upside. The only downside is it’s paid plugin.”
- W3 Total Cache – “We have used this plugin for hundreds of websites. First thing, it’s free for everyone and it works like magic. It is a very effective plugin to optimise and get the website speed up to the mark. It is not supported by some of the web hosting providers, which have their own caching functionality. It’s very popular and saves a lot of your server resources by reducing the page load time. It also offers Google’s AMP and SSL support.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “The main reason we love this plugin is for simplicity. It’s simple to configure. It has got both a free and premium version for professional users. The main upside is it has very few steps for the configuration and still works like a magic. It’s also available in WP plugin repository and really popular among WordPress users.”
- WP Rocket – “When it comes to caching plugins my go-to plugin is, undoubtedly, WP Rocket. It is a plugin I’ve been using for years and is one of the best on the market that I’ve found. Relatively easy to configure for a beginner, but with a variety of options for those who want to get into the nitty gritty; it really is a great caching solution. Coupled with their stellar support and pretty competitive pricing when it comes to caching, WP Rocket cannnot be overlooked. Paired up with a Cloudflare CDN and Smush for image compression, WP Rocket will give you all the tools and features you need to get your site humming!”
WP Fastest Cache – “In my experience building different corporate sites and ecommerce stores on the WP platform, I would recommend using WP Fastest Cache.
WP Fastest Cache comes in two options – Free and Premium (paid). The free option is great for smaller corporate websites that need basic optimization, including desktop and browser cache, minify HTML/CSS, as well as gZip compression. Really this is more than enough for a small site that doesn’t have much traffic. With the gZip that compresses the files sent from the server, it definitely improves load speed and decreases total page size.
The Premium (paid) version comes with a few more awesome features, that allow you to optimize your images, cleanup your database, minify and combine JS and more. This type of functionality is really helpful for larger sites with more traffic and larger informational infrastucture. The database cleanup feature for example is great when it comes to making a lot of revisions to different pages or posts, as WordPress by default saves all revisions in the database, which can significantly slow down the website.
We always cross-check the site performance through different tools including GtMetrix, Pingdom and Google Page Speed Insights and we see significant improvement with this plugin. Not to mention that it is easy to install and setup, without the need of touching the server htaccess file.”
“Caching is a way of saving your web content so that your website loads faster. Slow pages can lead to high bounce rates, page abandonment, and lower conversion rates. Any one of these negative outcomes will lower your site’s search engine ranking. While Google and other search engines value good content, they also like a quick page – especially on mobile!”
W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache is a robust – and popular – caching plugin with over three thousand 5-star reviews in the WordPress repository. Here are a few of my favorite W3TC features:
*Works out-of-the-box with minimal setup
*Robust customization options with a fairly straightforward interface (this can be intimidating to the uninitiated, thus my first favorite feature)
*Mobile-specific caching options
*Quick access to clear the current page cache, as well as site-wide cache
*Content Delivery Network (CDN) integration (more on this below)
*”Web host agnostic” (to date, I’ve used W3TC successfully on 5 hosting platforms ranging from fully managed commercial WordPress hosting to an internally managed Linux environment)
W3 Total Cache has been available for more than 10 years, and has over 1 million installs. At the time of this writing, the W3TC support team has resolved 118 out of 128 open support tickets in the last two months – and this is a free plugin. That’s a good track record!”
“Cloudflare is a Content Deliver Network (CDN) that brings content closer to your users by caching static web content on its network. Dynamic WordPress content is compressed and routed on the fastest, least congested path to the end-user. Because cached content is stored on the CF network, your server’s traffic load is greatly reduced. Like W3TC, CF allows you to clear your entire site cache at the push of a button, or you can manually clear one or more specific resources (this is very helpful when making changes to your CSS!).
In addition to their caching features, Cloudflare provides multiple SSL implementation options, as well as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) protection.”
W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare Combined
“Combining the W3TC plugin and Cloudflare frees up your server(s) for more immediate tasks and it provides a faster, more efficient website experience to site visitors. Highly recommend!”
“At first glance, there isn’t really a big difference in cache efficiency between different cache plugins. Using the words “total”, “super”, “fastest”, etc. on its name doesn’t make them the total super fastest plugins. But, as with the most delicate ice cream, there is much more to consider beyond its main functionality of giving you a refreshing feeling. God (and the devil) is in the details.
At the same time you consider a cache system, you have to consider the entire performance of your website. Cache is going to be able to speed up your website load by decreasing your server CPU load, but cache is not going to make your server better, nor reduce the number of resources that your website loads unnecessarily, nor improve your site code or reduce the size of your images. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, consider talking to a trusted web developer.”
- WP Super Cache – “If you love vanilla ice cream, this would be your vanilla with macadamia nuts flavour. For me this is the go-to option, it’s backed up by Automattic among other amazing developers, and it’s being used for large sites made with WordPress. You can configure it in simple mode (just two clicks for you) or advanced with great features (around 20 clicks and the possibility to do something wrong). This is my must-use cache plugin for multisite. The only thing I miss is a JS and CSS minification and aggregation, for which I combine it with Autoptimize.”
- W3 Total Cache – “This would be you stracciatella with mint, blueberries and marshmallow ice cream. This plugin has everything you can imagine: lots of options, different types of cache and premium features with even more things. I recommend it for websites requiring some special cache configuration with someone who knows what they are doing when configuring it, and whom is able to run tests on the production server. I mean, you can make your site slower if you don’t do it properly.”
- Breeze – “There is a new flavour at the ice cream store and some people are tasting it. This plugin is just simple. You install it and with a couple of clicks it works not knowing how. Although it is recent, it works fine and looks stable. Like others, it has options to go wrong, but this would be one of the easiest plugins to use.”
WP Rocket – “At Lightning Sites we use WP Rocket to support over 500 of our client WordPress websites. Over the years we have tried many plugins including WP Super Cache, and W3 Total Cache, but we have found that WP Rocket has delivered the best consistent results for our clients. We host all of our websites on AWS Cloud Hosting and so our sites can often achieve sub 4 second load speeds right out of the box without caching. But once caching and server tuning is complete, we often find speeds cut by 1 to 1.5 seconds.
Aside from the uplift in speed, we have found that WP Rocket has a lot better customisation options for tweaking the performance of the plugin. Often times, caching plugins brag about their ability to cut sites speeds, but they do so at the detriment of other areas of performance. For example, breaking page layouts or other website integrations by their over-optimisation of CSS and other onpage code. Instead, WP Rocket has great options for toggling on or off and dialling back certain settings to make sure you get the speed uplift you want, without the negative effects on the rest of your site’s performance.
A single-site license for WP Rocket costs $49, a three-site license $99, and an unlimited license can be yours for $249.”
“I’ve used tons of caching plugins over the past few years and I can highly recommend the 2 following caching plugins:”
- Cache Enabler – “This is my favorite free caching plugin. It’s very lightweight and doesn’t have tons of confusing options like most of the other caching plugins out there. This plugin simply converts your WordPress pages to static HTML pages and stores them on the server. This means very fast load times! When you combine this plugin with Autoptimize, you will see even more of a performance boost on load times.”
- WP Rocket – “I can also recommend WP Rocket as a paid solution. Similar to Cache Enabler, this plugin isn’t loaded with tons of confusing settings. WP Rocket has some great features built in like lazy loading & minification. They also offer great support.”
“Which caching plugin is the best is a funny question. Actually, a much more important question may lay behind it. For example, how do I make my website as fast and smooth as possible for my visitors? How do I save on server costs? After all, these questions may vary, depending on the size of your company, your audience and business targets.
So before selecting a caching plugin, think hard. Think hard about what is your question behind this question? What are your criteria for selecting a caching plugin? Why do I want it?
But even before a caching plugin comes hosting. Hosting has a major effect on how your caching plugins ultimately will perform. The best thing would be to have a hosting party with servers close to your visitors. And obviously, a well-reviewed one. A hosting party that already arranged all caching on the server level. So you do not even need a caching plugin – just a plugin for minification of scripts and styles. Kinsta, for example, is a solid one.
That having said, let’s look what caching plugins I’d recommend.”
WP Rocket – “WP Rocket is the way to go for beginners. Although it is a paid plugin, it is one of the easiest plugins to set-up. Moreover, it incorporates all essential features for caching and speed optimization, such as page caching, lazy loading of images and minification of files and scripts (yup, that makes your website smaller, thus loading faster!). Essentially, you have everything you need and it’s easy to set-up. And it works with most themes and plugins out there.
WP Rocket is the way to go for beginners. Although it is a paid plugin, it is one of the easiest plugins to set-up. Moreover, it incorporates all essential features for caching and speed optimization, such as page caching, lazy loading of images and minification of files and scripts (yup, that makes your website smaller, thus loading faster!). Essentially, you have everything you need and it’s easy to set-up. And it works with most themes and plugins out there.
Don’t you fancy a paid plugin? A combination of the plugins Cache Enabler, Autoptimize and a3 Lazy Load brings you close to WP Rocket’s performance. But as you may have noticed, you will be using three plugins.
The only downside of WP Rocket is the more advanced stuff. Beware! For example, it does not support serving cached pages from the memory (using Redis or Memcached), nor does it support object caching.”
- W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache – Advanced (Total Control). Over the years, W3 Total Cache has grown infamous for its varying effects on performance. It allows you to control almost every aspect of caching, so the first time round, it is quite hard to get to grips with. Still, it is a powerful suite for cranking out great performance. It works great with hosts that use Varnish, Memcached/NGINX FastCGI in combination with Redis for object caching. Moreover, it allows granular control on how to minify styles and sheets in combination with HTTP2 Push of assets. Once you know what settings offer the greatest impact on performance, it’s quite easy to use actually. Moreover, it supports object caching and the basic version is free. In my testing of hosting providers, I get consistently fast performance with W3 Total Cache.”
SG Optimizer – “The ONLY caching plugin I use for WordPress is SG Optimizer.
Yes, it only works if your site is hosted on SiteGround. But since all of my sites, and most of my clients’ sites, are on SiteGround, it’s the perfect choice.
The plugin is designed to link with SiteGround’s advanced technical configuration and squeeze every last ounce of speed out of what is already a pretty fast platform.
And because it is tightly coupled with the server setup, it also include intelligent database query caching, which gives an even greater bump in speed.
Even though SiteGround is a fast host to start with, when SG Optimizer is installed and properly configured, the difference is really visible (no need for automated speed tests to prove there is a difference).
And if you’re not on SiteGround? My recommendation would be to move to SiteGround (I wrote a whole article on why it’s the best host out there). Otherwise, check out what some of the other experts are recommending.”
As a WordPress developer since 2004, I’ve used many caching plugins and they all tend to get the job done, making page load times become quicker so that visitors are attracted to read page content and become customers. I recommend the following two Plugins:
Why? Well, because I can basically install them with very little setup and changes from default settings.
“Before you dig into and you start exploring and adding caching plugins, ping your hosting provider, maybe caching plugins are not needed or are simply not allowed. I know for sure on Kinsta, caching is done on the server-level, Pantheon hosting needs no additional caching plugins, and SiteGround offers their wondrous optimization plugin.
Imagine this scenario: user comes to your website and makes a certain request, let’s say opening a new page. That requires a request and processing by that server and a result sent from the server to the user’s browser. Uses see the complete requested page, with all of the elements that make it look the way it does.
That’s where a WordPress caching plugin comes into play!
To put it in simple words, caching reduces the amount of work needed to generate a pageview.
The caching plugin is telling the server to store certain files to a memory or a disk for later use. When a user requests some content that the server has stored, it will be served directly from the cache, which is always faster than generating a new pageview, making your website much, much faster.
With over twelve years of experience in the WordPress ecosystem, I can recommend you three caching plugins in this particular order: W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, and WP Fastest Cache.”
W3 Total Cache – “I can say this is my favorite caching plugin! Maybe it’s because I’ve been using it since the beginning or maybe it’s just love that I am feeling (Whitesnake fan here 🙂 ), but W3TC has been nothing but a loyal and always a trustworthy tool!
It is true that it is a bit complicated to set it up, but once you passed beyond that, everything is smooth sailing.
Great collection of tools is included in the free version.”
WP Rocket – “Rocket is exactly as it’s advertised: “Make WordPress Load Fast in a Few Clicks.” Simple to set up, easy to use, and it has great support!
It is a premium plugin, but for the toolset – it is affordable!”
WP Fastest Cache – “If you are a fan of checkboxes you should definitely test out this caching plugin. 🙂
The settings page provides explanation boxes making sure you understand what each of the settings does.”
- WP Rocket – “I’ve used WP Rocket for a number of years, & it is still my go to caching plugin, despite my host (SiteGround) having their own solution. What I like about WP Rocket is its integration with external services, like CloudFlare, content delivery networks & being able to take care of things like Heartbeat & database optimisation, all within the one plugin. They also have stellar documentation & support. Being able to cache Facebook Pixel & Google Analytics is also a bonus, so long as you’re not using Google Tag Manager to install those scripts on your site – which is a little frustrating. They do have some pretty stiff competition these days in Swift Performance, but then competition is a good thing. The articles they provide in their newsletter are also fantastic, so I’m sticking with WP Rocket.”
“The best caching plugin really depends on your hosting environment. Some WordPress hosts don’t need you to add a caching plugin at all, some have their own that they have created, and others use one of the popular picks to speed up their WordPress websites.”
WP Rocket – “Our current favourite is WP Rocket (https://wp-rocket.me/), it has a ton of options, but is also very easy to use. The best part is that if you run NGINX, you can use RocketNGINX (https://github.com/SatelliteWP/rocket-nginx) and get a huge performance boost on your WordPress website. RocketNGINX basically allows you to bypass WordPress completely and go right from NGINX to the static cached file. Even without that more advanced configuration option, we have seen sites go from eight seconds in loading time to under two seconds just with WP Rocket configured correctly.
One of the big criticisms that I see for WP Rocket is that it is a premium plugin, but if you sell anything on your website or depend on page speed for SEO/brand/marketing growth, then I think the price to value ratio is amazing.
Don’t forget if your server runs Varnish or you are using Cloudflare, to enable the option under add-ons for clearing them as well, it’ll save you so much trouble down the road.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “The plugin our team default to when optimising a website is WP Fastest Cache (premium). We have tested a few, but this plugin consistently produces a fantastic result. Another big consideration is that this plugin rarely produces conflicts or any other errors. We work with a wide range of websites built by other developers and so occasional issues and conflicts occur, but this plugin runs into far fewer issues than others. It is also extremely easy to set up, with easy to follow instructions and documentation. Another advantage is the one-time fee of $50 making this a very affordable premium plugin.”
- Breeze – “Our second choice is Breeze (free). This produces a fantastic speed improvement for a free plugin. It is not as powerful as premium plugins and has fewer features (as you’d expect), but it is very easy to use and you’ll see a significant speed improvement. It integrates well with Varnish server caching, but unfortunately we often need to turn that feature off as it can cause conflicts with Beaver Page builder, which we use a lot.”
- WP Rocket – “Finally, I would recommend WP Rocket (premium). This is a more expensive premium caching plugin. It is feature-rich and can produce great speed improvements. It is a little more technical (but not as technical as W3TC), it has a recurring fee (which gives trust of ongoing support). This plugin can occasionally have conflicts with some themes, especially the minification feature.”
“One of the most common questions we hear from our members at WP101 is, “How do I make my WordPress site load faster?” And that used to be tricky to answer. Maybe if you had more web server resources… a better host… a CDN… a more lightweight theme… or removed all the images from your site… maybe then your WordPress site would load more quickly. Right? But that’s not at all realistic.
Thankfully, today we’ve got a much better answer: WP Rocket.”
WP Rocket – “Most caching plugins are incredibly complicated to install, configure, and troubleshoot. But you can install WP Rocket in just a couple of minutes, and it will immediately start optimizing your WordPress site, automatically applying best practices — even before you’ve enabled a single option.
Of course, you can dive in more deeply and minimize your files, media, or preload pages. You can easily block specific pages from being cached, and even optimize your WordPress database. Best of all, if you run into trouble, their support team is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.
There’s one more important thing to note about WP Rocket. Most Managed WordPress hosts block the use of caching plugins, because they typically interfere with their own caching at the server level. But not WP Rocket. It’s the only caching plugin accepted by the top Managed WordPress hosts, and that’s why today we only recommend one caching plugin for WordPress… WP Rocket.”
- LiteSpeed Cache – “This is our first choice because the caching is done at the server level, not at the WordPress level like other plugins. You can be very precise on what you want to cache, minify, exclude… etc. It comes with a suite of tools like images optimization and works fast. No need to add another plugins to reduce the size of the images, plus it does this automatically. LiteSpeed integrates with WordPress seamlessly and we get amazing result on load speed. But, this one is only available via your hosting company so choose one that offers it. We are using a Managed WordPress hosting provider.”
- Swift Performance – “This is the only other caching plugin we will use. We deploy this one on shared server or for any other clients where we don’t handle the hosting for them, but where we need to have a very good caching solution. After you install it, you will run a wizard that will setup it properly according to the resources you have on the server and what technology is being used; no need to guess! It comes with nice features like lazy load for images or smart YouTube embed, which will help with the load speed since it will only load the YouTube assets if the visitor starts the video. It supports CDNs as well.”
“Caching plugins vary on features, but most these days work fine depending on the size of your site. I also recommend if you plan to use a CDN, that you check that your choice of cache plugin is compatible.”
WP Super Cache – “Supported by Automattic, this caching plugin in my humble opinion, is top of the list. With over 2 Million installations running it, that alone seems validation for its performance in increasing page speed. Which in turn, translates to better SEO.
As with any plugin for caching it’s worth exploring the ratings, and support. WP Super Cache is heavily active for support, and currently has 901 5 star reviews.
Recommended settings for the plugin are:
Don’t cache pages for known users.
Extra homepage checks.”
W3 Total Cache – “With an impressive list of sites using it, its CDN compatible. While not as many installs, just under 1 Million, it’s still a excellent choice. It also has 3,002 5 star reviews, with active development and support. As I mentioned before, a key element for choosing a WordPress cache plugin.
While W3 Total Cache is more complicated to setup to some, it does have (last time I looked) Object Caching. Something that WP Super Cache does not support currently. However, if you’re on a shared host, you may not want object cache active. W3 Total Cache leaves this feature optional and off by default.”
WP Fastest Cache – “One of the caching plugins that you’ll find on WordPress.org that minifies CSS and JS files. It’s still has an impressive amount of installs. With more features than others, WP Fastest Cache has over 1 Million installs, and 2,585 5 star reviews.
It also has CDN support, and much more, such as blocking cache for specific pages or posts with Short Code. Something useful if you are wanting to use marketing software and need to avoid cache for forms.”
WP Rocket – “For clients not on a managed WordPress hosting plan, I always recommend the premium WP Rocket plugin for caching. It starts caching your site from the moment the plugin is activated – no setup required and that’s what most clients are after.
WP Super Cache – “It’s free and it works like a charm! Minimal setup required and your site is running faster already. Maintained by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, you will not have any compatibility issues between WordPress core and this plugin.
The interface is super easy, with an expert mode if you think you know what you’re doing.”
Nginx +FastCGI Caching – “What the frak is that!!?? Nginx is an alternative to the popular Apache web server. The setup works just like the caching plugins above by storing already compiled PHP to HTML files in memory at the web server (hardware) level, pumping them out as static HTML files at lightning speed. Yes, this is a level up in skillset, but damn will it make your website zoom at warp speed without having to install any WordPress caching plugin. Win!”
- WP Super Cache – “If I’m honest, I would first see if your host has a caching setup, as generally hosting providers caching would work better than any plugin. However the one plugin I return to more often than not is WP Super Cache. Compared to a lot of other plugins this one is relatively simple, and whilst things can go wrong with caching, this one seems to be a lot more stable than some of the other free or freemium offerings on the market. It’s not as complex, yet does things well.”
“Before managed (WordPress specific) hosting became affordable and was as widely available as it is today, everyone using WordPress was using a caching plugin of some kind. Mostly W3 Total Cache. But its settings were a lot of hassle, especially when you weren’t as involved in DevOps related tasks, and moving from development to production caused a lot of headaches.
Nowadays we like to work with managed hosting partners that really know how to set up a caching layer server side to run WordPress as smoothly as possible. NginX together with Varnish seems to be the go-to setup, and honestly that works great for most of our clients. Without any additional caching plugin!”
- WP Rocket – “When we sometimes do feel the need to experiment or just want to get that extra layer of caching going, we’ll fire up WP Rocket. It just works. And we love not having too many options that can mess things up and cause unexpected behaviour.”
Looking forward – this is still a useful plugin if you are on HTTP/2.
And finally, I’m really looking forward to trying out their partner plugin with criticalcss.com to automatically identify and inline critical CSS to improve page render time.”
W3 Total Cache – “For my premium customers I always use W3 Total Cache. The daddy of caching plugins. The plugin is thorough and has an extensive settings section, which can be daunting to the beginner. However, once you have done some groundwork, you’ll find the options available to you through this plugin will take care of most of your caching and performance concerns.
My best recommendation regarding W3 Total Cache, is that once you have finely tuned your project, through the many settings available to you, download a backup of of your settings. This settings backup file can then be imported into future projects, thus speeding up your setup time. You can then do the customisation required to tailor each install to its environment. The caching options here are vast. W3 Total Cache will also take care of browser caching and database object caching. The support for search results is also excellent. Finally, don’t worry, CDN integration is seamless and I’ve never had a conflict issue here.”
WP Rocket – “My vote for the best WordPress caching plugin goes to WP Rocket. During the 12 years I’ve been building WordPress websites, I’ve used many other caching plugins (such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache), but WP Rocket is superior on every count… except you need to pay for it! It’s not expensive, at $49 per year for a single site, but it offers so much more than just simple page caching. Features like deferred JS loading, image lazyloading, and removing query strings from static resources help to improve page speed scores from the likes of GTMetrix. Scheduled database optimisations and cache preloading ensure snappy response times, and it’s dead easy to integrate with CDN’s such as Cloudflare and MaxCDN (Stackpath).
It works straight out of the box too, and although there are loads of settings to tweak, you can just install and activate it to get going. Not all WordPress websites are the same, though, and some WP Rocket options may not be suitable for every site, so if you’re going to go for maximum effect (switching all options ‘on’) then you’ll need to set some time aside to test your site afterwards to make sure nothing is broken.
As I look after a lot of client websites, I tend to roll WP Rocket out as a value add to clients, helping them get faster websites and happier, and more engaged, visitors. Although there is an annual fee, it’s great to know there is a team of developers constantly working to improve the product and add new features, and who are happy to support you when you run into difficulties.”
“For starters, my preference is always no caching or only adding caching after other items are addressed first. Especially image sizes. Optimizing your images for web and sizing them correctly can really give you a speed boost without the need to add another plugin.”
- WP Rocket – “My first caching plugin would be WP Rocket. It’s a paid plugin, but worth it in my opinion. The plugin covers everything from lazy loading for images to minifying HTML. It also helps you optimizing deferring of scripts and has warnings built-in for the items that might break your website. Following their tips will help even a beginner optimize a website.”
- WP Super Cache – “WP Super Cache is my number 2 choice. I’ve always liked the user interface and how easy it was to turn on different caching items. It also doesn’t break as often as W3 Total Cache. It’s a pretty easy plugin to maintain. Fairly easy setup and low maintenance were pretty big factors for why I used this plugin for so long.”
- Comet Cache – “Comet Cache is my third option. I used this plugin for years, and the best thing is its a hassle-free plugin. If you don’t want to tweak a bunch of options, this has one large button. It’s an on-off switch that does a pretty good job. If you’re techy and want to go in and adjust the settings, you still can.”
WP Fastest Cache – “This is always my go-to caching plugin for WordPress, it is by far the easiest plugin to get set up and the results are on par with most premium caching plugins.
WP Rocket – “This is a premium caching plugin that includes a rich feature list. It is ideal for beginners because it is functional after activating the plugin, however, if you would prefer to tweak some settings, there are a huge amount of settings that can be configured to suit the website’s needs.
One popular feature is to lazy load images, so that they are not loaded until the image has scrolled into the viewport. This will decrease page loading times and it will have a positive impact on your Google Page Speed score.”
“In conclusion – WP Fastest Cache is my preferred WordPress caching plugin because of the quick set up, great results and its easy to configure settings. If you want to get even better results from this plugin, you can upgrade to the premium version, which will give you better caching results and additional options such as JS combining and minification.”
“I recently had to research a caching plugin for one of my client’s web sites and the process I used was pretty straightforward.
4 areas I considered before making the choice for the Best Caching Plugin for WordPress?
- Popularity and Support – are others downloading it, what if you get an issue?
- Results – Does it actually work, what are others saying?
- Cost – budgets are low, free is good.
- Has to Work with the latest WordPress version 5.2.2
Using the above process there were a choice of 3 caching plugins I shortlisted and they are probably the 3 most on here will mention.”
- WP Super Cache – “This plugin by By Automattic is just as good as W3 TC in pretty much all areas. It’s easier to setup, so many will prefer this option if you want less control and more instant setup. I’ve used it once before, and it worked seamlessly in a similar way to W3. I felt it was a little limited if you want to tweak under the bonnet. Having said that it is free, has 2+ million downloads and it gets 4.5 stars. The plugin is constantly updated. What concerned me was the lack of answers to support queries. Support Issues resolved in last two months: 3 out of 45, that’s a concern if things go wrong. The caching results when I tested this plugin were as good as W3TC. So if you have this as a preference, I wouldn’t hesitate to support that choice.”
- WP Rocket – “It claims to be the fastest and most impressive and the stats i read seem to agree. But it has no free version sadly, so there is a leap of faith required. WP Rocket caching plugin starts from $49. Recognized as the most powerful caching plugin. I came across this when I was optimising images and started using the imagify plugin made by the same people behind WP Rocket. This is the easiest and pretty smart plugin for caching, so why is it not my #1 choice? It does have a cost that puts clients off. It’s not a lot, but it is a constant running cost. If you want simplicity of configuration then it justifies the cost. You get full support for 1 website for 1 year for $49. They also gladly provide a refund if it’s requested within 14 days of purchase. It’s not as popular as the 2 above, probably because there is no free version, but it still has an impressive 829,000+ websites using WP Rocket. When I tested the plugin it was superb.”
“So in conclusion, all 3 when tested will dramatically speed up the loading of your WordPress website. They are all very current and work well on the latest version of WordPress. If it’s down to ease and cost isn’t an issue, then go for WP Rocket. If you want free and great control, go for W3 Total Cache. Yet if you want free and easy setup, then your middle man WP Super Cache is a good choice.”
WP Super Cache – “I’m a big fan of WP Super Cache by Automattic. Using this plugin on client sites helps me sleep well at night. I know that when WordPress updates, this plugin has a high probably of working well because it is maintained by WordPress’ “home office”, Automattic.
What I love about this plugin is that is operates in multiple modes depending on the user level.
It can be simply configured for beginners, in a kind of “set it and forget it” mode. Simple mode just serves static files with PHP and this works well.
Expert mode is the fastest method and bypasses PHP. This is called Expert mode, but really doesn’t require any deep knowledge of server technology. Of course, for developers and geeks, Automattic includes the potential for making API calls and configuring a CDN.
For users of the plugin who need a little help with installation and configuration, Automattic includes a 30-point troubleshooting list of helpful measures written in a user-friendly manner.
When used with the amazing Autoptimize plugin, most WordPress websites will load blazingly fast and will score well with PageSpeed and YSlow. Caching is wonderful, but if a page still loads 35 different CSS and JS files, then the DNS lookups and additional overhead of loading those separate files will impact load time. Autoptimize combines the CSS and the JS and also minifies HTML to make all pages, cached and uncached, load a lot faster.
Autoptimize also works hand-in-hand with several caching plugins as outlined below.”
If you consider performance important, you really should use one of the many caching plugins to do page caching. Some good candidates to complement Autoptimize that way are e.g. WP Super Cache, HyperCache, Comet Cache or KeyCDN’s Cache Enabler.
“Your website speed is one of the major influences for SEO ranking these days. While there are a lot of things you can do for your website, such as image improvement and code tweaks to speed up your site, you may still only get down to a 3 or 4 sec load time. To get that last little bit and load in less than 2.5 sec, you may need caching.
Caching plugins come in all kinds of flavours, from the very basic to insanely crazy to configure ones. If you are looking for caching, you will want something that is easy to get setup, has minimum fuss and provides excellent caching right out of the box.
You will want WP Fastest cache.”
WP Fastest Cache – “WP Fastest Cache is a simple plugin to use and the free version you can get works very well and is easy to set up with just a few check boxes. It takes care of all the issues of updating your .htaccess file, so you don’t have to go in and mess with any code. When ever you post or update a page it automatically clears the cache to prevent issues. If you have special pages you need to be served without caching, you can also block caching on those pages. WP Fastest Cache minifys your HTML and CSS files for you. It also combines your .js and .css files for faster delivery to site visitors by decreasing the number of files and https requests made. It can also be set up to use Gzip and Browser caching. WP Fastest Cache is compatible with CDN networks such as Cloudflare, Photon and Stackpath.
At only $49.99 for the premium version you can extend the abilities and speed of WP Fastest Cache with additional tools to manage your website such as Image Optimization, Minify and combine plus, cache statistics and more.
This plugin was reviewed in Episode 338 of WP Plugin A to Z (you can check it out here)
Overall this has been the best and easiest caching plugin I have tested and used over the years.”
- Autoptimize – “One of my favorite WordPress caching plugins is Autoptimize. This plugin makes it easy to minimize and combine files, as well as giving you the option to specify which CSS and scripts should be loaded first and which can wait. This plugin offers many functions outside of the standard caching option, and is my go-to plugin when sites need some performance help and owners don’t have the budget for a premium plugin.”
- WP Rocket – “When the budget supports it, my favorite caching and optimization plugin is WP Rocket. This plugin does everything Autoptimize does, with some additional functions, such as locally loading Google Fonts. I recently used this plugin on a client’s site and brought the load time from over 12 seconds down to 4.8 seconds just by enabling the plugin.”
“I LOVE WordPress! I believe it’s the best, most affordable option for small to large businesses with good theme support for smaller budgets, and offers great affordability to built-in options for larger budgets. It’s also easy to find a developer to work with on your new or existing project.
There are many great plugins to extend your options, and caching plugins are one of those great features we can add to any WordPress website.”
- WP Super Cache – “This is a popular option among WordPress website owners with over 2 million active installs! This plugin is simple and easy to go through and set up for your website.”
- W3 Total Cache – “This is another great plugin that we run into all of the time. There are more options and features, but is better suited to advanced users.”
- WP Engine Page Cache™ – “I recommend WP Engine to my clients because of its high speed, security, daily backups, and having an intuitive staging system that allows you to test your changes before moving them to live at the click of a button (literally). WP Engine also features server-level caching – no plugin needed. This, combined with the built-in CDN will bring your website to the fastest speeds we have seen for WordPress websites.”
“Speed is critical for engagement on a website. A site too slow and your bounce rate increases and your customer engagement numbers plummet. A caching plugin allows returning visitors to your website to access your content faster; thus giving your visitors a better user experience. On an ecommerce site this would lead to increased revenue.
I use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) with all of my WordPress websites. A CDN does many things; caching is one part of it. While I believe in using both a caching plugin and a CDN with all of my WordPress sites, because the CDN also does some caching, the overall speed of a standalone caching plugin is not the most important variable to me in deciding which caching plugin to use.”
- Simple Cache – “What is the best caching plugin for WordPress? The caching plugin I personally use and recommend to all my clients is Simple Cache. I have used many other caching plugins in the past. Most of them succeeded at speeding up the website, however there was always some complication; or the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. Then along came Simple Cache! Like its name suggests, the plugin is very easy to install. Doesn’t over complicate things with unnecessary options. Very important to me and my clients, is it doesn’t break the website. On the install or if you choose upon deletion; no site breakage. This plugin also works great with Redis. It’s also open source software available to anyone on GitHub. he Simple Cache plugin is perfect for beginners and the advanced settings makes it perfect for WordPress developers as well.”
“As we all know, WordPress is amazing free software, but it can be slow if you have a lot of plugins, large images and a badly coded theme. But luckily you can fix this with a good caching plugin. A caching plugin can make a world of difference in the speed of a WordPress site if it’s set up correctly. These are my 2 recommended caching plugins. Just remember to backup your site first!!”
WP Rocket – “This is really my preferred choice as it is relatively easy to set up. Even for someone who doesn’t have a lot of WordPress skills. And I have never had a site crash with this plugin either! It can make a big difference in the speed of your site. The best speed to aim for is around 3 seconds or less. So keep this in mind!
This is a premium plugin [paid] but worth every cent. WP Rocket have a simple tutorial on their site to guide you through the setup process. Click the link (https://docs.wp-rocket.me/article/59-getting-started) to view the get started tutorial. WP Rocket also provides great support to get you the best speed possible!”
W3 Total Cache – “If WP Rocket doesn’t help much with your speed it could be that your server is not compatible with the plugin. So the next best plugin is W3 Total Cache. The only problem I have found with this plugin is it is quite complex to setup. You really need to find a good tutorial on how to set it up properly, as it can crash certain elements of your site or your whole site entirely! This site has a great tutorial.
My tip for setting this plugin is to check one option at a time only! Then preview your site. If all is ok, then try the next option. And so on and so forth until you get the best speed possible.”
To sum up
“I would definitely try WP Rocket first. Try checking one option at a time. Then use https://gtmetrix.com/ to test the speed of your site from your website location.
Don’t forget to backup your site first before attempting to configure any caching plugin! Good Luck!”
Rory M Heaney
- WP REST Cache – “This has hands down become my favorite caching plugin this past year. If you’re looking to get into headless development with WordPress, then you’ll need this plugin! It has a broad caching scope and offers granular controls through functions (cache all the things, post types, taxonomies and more). You can also just as easily register custom endpoints for caching and/or set specific endpoints not to be cached. It keeps my single-page applications blazing fast without adding excessive overhead to my WordPress installation and performance. I’ve tried numerous other options and this has outperformed them all!”
- WP Super Cache – “It’s hard to say a plugin is essentially 1 size fits all, but WP Super Cache basically is. You set it and forget it (cue cheesy as seen on tv jingle). It has additional settings for a more advanced and granular control (Preloading posts for example) if you’re looking to really customize your experience. If you’re unsure about which plugin to use or even start with when it comes to speeding up your website, you really should try WP Super Cache.”
- WP Fastest Cache – “I have been using this plugin for the last 3 years, and it’s one of the simplest plugins for caching, with a huge impact on performance. The plugin comes with a few simple configuration settings that almost anyone could set, even if you’re not an expert.”
- W3 Total Cache – “One of the most advanced plugins for caching in WordPress. I love this plugin, but it’s too complicated to set up, and I don’t like it for small projects. In addition, while it supports nGinx, it requires extra configuration to make it work properly.”
“Caching is so important for a website, as page speed forms part of the Google search algorithm. I am recommending caching plugins here, but I would also say that there are some great hosting companies who offer top notch caching as part of their package. For example, you don’t need to install anything with WP-Engine to get lightening fast speeds.
You will quickly see that I focus on great caching and ease of use for the website owner. Caching is complex and that needs to be taken care of for you.”
- WP Rocket – “My number one is WP Rocket. It’s absolutely brilliant, so good I use it myself. Whilst there are advanced configurations, you can just install and go and watch your website speed up immediately. It is a fully featured optimsation plugin, so focuses on more of the page load elements than caching alone. It will sort out everything you need, such GZIP compression, reducing file sizes through minification and loading images only as required – when the visitor scrolls. This is a premium plugin though and the cost is $49USD per year. Money well spent as far as I am concerned.”
- WP Super Cache – “Number two is WP Super Cache. This is built by the people behind WordPress, Automattic. This is a free plugin available through the WordPress repository. It’s easy to setup and is great as a caching only plugin. WordPress generally uses PHP to load the page, gathering together all of the data it needs prior to loading, so this can take time. WP Super Cache generates static HTML pages, pretty much a snapshot of a ready loaded page, so these are much smaller and quicker to load. I think for the sake of 5-minutes it is worth installing this if you don’t have a caching plugin, it will give your visitors a much better experience.”
- Hummingbird – “Number three is Hummingbird. The free version of Hummingbird is a very good product. Like WP Rocket it is a fully featured optimisation plugin that compresses files, does the GZIP stuff, optimises file and image loading and provides a complete caching solution. I quite like this one because it lets you know what could be done to speed up your site and offers you one click options to get the best solutions. If you really want a belt and braces solution, you can run this and WP Rocket together. The reason I put this lower down the list is because if you decide to move up to the premium version (which you will need to do if you take all of their suggestions on board) you have to subscribe to the full WPMUDEV package, which is $49/month. Having said that it does give you everything you need to run your site from hosting to marketing and SEO.”
LiteSpeed Cache – “Without hesitation, the caching plugin I always recommend is LiteSpeed Cache. Whilst the plugin will work on any Apache or NGiNX server, to make use of the page caching features, you will need to have a web server with either OpenLiteSpeed or the commercial alternative offered by LiteSpeed installed.
Guru web hosting (based in the UK) offer shared hosting with the LiteSpeed web server installed for about a fiver a month. At this price point, you will be blown away by the speed and memory efficiency. LiteSpeed is still compatible with Apache configuration files (htaccess rules stay the same) but it blows vanilla Apache out of the water. I believe many tests have also shown LiteSpeed to be faster than NGiNX too!
Coming back to the plugin itself, it is fully featured, and as far as caching plugins go, fairly easy to set up. The default settings are sensible for many site configurations. The plugin makes the most of the distinct advantage that it knows what kind of web server environment to expect.
If you simply install the plugin into a LiteSpeed environment and go with the default settings, you will notice an enormous performance improvement right off the bat. However, if you’re a tech head like me or you know an experienced web developer, then get them to configure it properly. It will be worth the investment, especially if you run a larger or more sophisticated website.
The plugin also minimises and concatenates JS and CSS and can generate ‘above the fold’ critical CSS to dramatically improve page rendering times. Better yet, the plugin includes lazy loading for images and iframes and will compress your media library using the WebP format. Whilst the interface for compressing and converting images is a bit clunky compared to SmushIt, the plugin can consistently deliver a 60 – 80% reduction in image file sizes — even for images I’ve already compressed using JPEGMini!
I could go on about other killer features, such as the Memcached/Redis object cache integration (for which you’ll need a VPS), but if I haven’t convinced you to give it a go by now, I never will be able to!
I’ll finish my recommendation with a real-life example: after full configuration, one of the sites I moved across from an Apache shared hosting environment to a LiteSpeed shared hosting environment saw a 1000% performance improvement! The best thing was that the plugin is free and the hosting itself didn’t cost any more than what I was already paying!”
WP Rocket – “I’ve tried a few different caching plugins, but my favourite by far and preferred option is WP Rocket. I installed it recently on a site and immediately noticed it was much faster! Most of the speed improvements work right out of the box. The remaining settings are simple to enable, though you might need to do a bit of tweaking to check you haven’t broken anything. WP Rocket’s friendly support staff are knowledgeable about other services that impact site speed, like the HTTP/2 protocol and Cloudflare (which has an integration with WP Rocket).
WP Rocket has database optimization and heartbeat control built-in, so you don’t need separate plugins for managing those things.”
- W3 Total Cache – “For smaller budget sites, I use W3 Total Cache, which is good for a free plugin, but I find it trickier to configure.”
Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Perfmatters plugin, which fine-tunes what loads across a site, so you’re not loading your contact form scripts and styles on every web page!
There are two plugins that I prefer to use, WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.
- WP Rocket – “First of all, I like WP Rocket because it’s effective. It’s user friendly and very easy to configure, the ideal plugin for the “non-tech” people. Most of the time it works out the box or barely needs configuration. Last but not least, I love the “Separate cache files for mobile devices” feature.”
- W3 Total Cache – “On the other hand, W3 Total Cache is effective, but it’s not a plugin for the “non-tech” people. I like it because it has tons of advanced but complicated options that give developers full flexibility, but may be frustrating for the simple website owner. And a bonus point for the mobile support, apparently, it’s very important.”
- W3 Total Cache – “I settled on W3 Total Cache a long time ago and haven’t changed since. There are many things to look at performance-wise: a good host; a lean, well-coded theme; a good CDN; image optimisation, and a good caching plugin. And I’ve always found W3 Total Cache works well with a bit of tweaking. I’ve heard great things about WP Rocket too, but haven’t gotten around to checking it out. The free version of W3TC always does the job!”
There is extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.
Every site is different and Autoptimize does take a little tinkering to get the settings right. My suggestion is to make 1 change then check for js errors, and run it through GT Metrix.”
“I also like the following in terms of speeding up your WordPress site:
Smush Image Compression and Optimization
Smush allows you to resize, optimize and compress all of your images. It is best to upload this before theme customization and set it to automatically smush all images on upload.
Asset CleanUp: Page Speed Booster
Asset Clean up scans your pages and detects all the assets that are being loaded and easily allows the exclusion of scripts on a page per page basis.
This plugin is good for 2 different uses. One, if you do not have a custom-built WordPress theme and are not able to properly wp dequeue scripts via PHP, then you can easily exclude scripts and style sheets on a page per page basis. This way scripts that run the slideshow on the home page, do not load slideshow scripts on pages that do not have a slideshow.
The second use is for developers and helps to easily determine the handles of all the scripts being loaded on each page. Now simply dequeue scripts and styles using is_page() conditional statements in your functions.php file.”
“With your website’s speed being a major factor for search engine ranking, it’s essential that you have not only fast web hosting but, just as important, a good caching solution in place on your website. I can personally recommend 2 caching plugins for WordPress; a free plugin and a premium/paid plugin.”
W3 Total Cache – “If you have a limited budget or are just looking for a free caching solution, then W3 Total Cache should be your number one go-to. It has an extensive list of features, offers great performance and, best of all, it’s free.
The only downside to W3 Total Cache is that it can be a little overwhelming and complicated for non-technical/end-users to set up.”
WP Rocket – “With pricing starting at just $49/year for a single site license, if you have a little budget to spare then you can’t go wrong with WP Rocket. It’s also the most feature-packed caching plugin including some great additional features to speed up your website such as lazy loading, Google Fonts optimisation, database optimisation.
Best of all, it’s super quick and easy to set up and get it working.on your site – it has a really clear and simple admin interface and the settings are easy to understand and give detailed descriptions of what the settings do. Most importantly, it offers the best site performance from testing that I have done when comparing caching plugins.
If you want to compare the features of the above caching plugins (and a couple more) then there’s a great feature comparison on the WP Rocket website here.
I personally use WP Rocket on my own website but, as above, if you’re on a limited budget then W3 Total Cache is a great caching plugin too!”
“WP. Caching. Questions for reality check and ask yourself as a solution provider just a several simple questions:
1) Do we need it?
2) Do we REALLY need it?
3) Why do you need caching – and what’s wrong with the site you’ve developed?
An honest answer to these questions will save you time. There are just a limited set of options:
- You simply created something slow – and desperately hope that caching will save you and your client. Well – that’s not good and you try to save something – but it’s a bit late.
- Wow – the site you’re going to build will attract more visitors than Google plus YouTube. Really?
- Something is the middle of above. And that’s good ground to start.
As with any caching solution, there are pros and cons. It’s simple to make “a cache”. It’s hard to insure that cache is invalidated properly. As usual, there are no “silver bullets” and in some cases, caching may deliver lots of interesting yet hard to solve issues.”
WP Super Cache – “Well, and anyway, if we’re talking about simple, boring and the most common – and simple case. – there is WP Super Cache. It’s not too smart if you have users who are logged in. Ok. But it’s more than good enough if most of your visitors should not log-in and if they will not return some comments. Sad but true – lots of one-time visitors – and you (of course, the site you develop) should serve them fast.
That’s cool – that’s the most optimal case for us. Simple, fast, pain, widely adopted… oh, and it’s supported by Automatticians… You know – these guys are behind the creation of WordPress and other sites. Well, I can believe these guys do know how to cook WordPress and they are good enough with cache.
More than enough for simple sandbox and 90% of typical clients. And workloads. Simple way for most cases.
“But if you are really going to do something more. Something. Say – 74 billion unique visitors. In an hour. Well, in this case, you’re going to be beyond the limits of this plugin. And if you’d still like to house your site within the WordPress framework, you’ll need a custom caching solution.”
For such cases – we handle this is using our in-house solution. And there is nothing I can really share or recommend. Redis, Varnish. Clusters. Replication and CDNs. Amazon. Just to give you a few pointers…
As I said – there is no silver bullet. For loaded sites – Think. Try. Measure. Think again. Improve. Try something weird. Do something great you may be proud of.”
Batcache – “Batcache is a single file caching solution that works on some of the largest WordPress sites around. It is a developer focused plugin, it has no admin UI or settings page. It requires WordPress to have an object cache (such as memcache) installed and running.
Because Batcache uses the object cache, it is more suitable for our large projects because a lot of caching plugins write files to disk, which is not possible on large multi server environments. It also works in harmony with the rest of our setups which include nginx page caching and CloudFlare caching.”
WP Fastest Cache – “Easy to use, mostly straightforward. Free version does quite a bit of out of the box, which provides significant performance increases. We’ve used on multiple sites with noticeable performance increases. Free version also does more out of the box than the other big caching plugins.
The premium version isn’t crazy expensive. It unlocks additional features like mobile caching, image compression, lazy load, and further minifying of html, css, and JS (removal of spaces, comments, etc).”
- W3 Total Cache – “There’s something to be said for longevity, and that’s the primary reason I recommend W3 Total Cache. It’s been around longer than most caching plugins, is well supported, and is highly rated. When my team and I add caching to a website, this is the plugin we use 99.9% of the time.”
- WP Rocket – “I’m a big fan of premium plugins where it makes sense. I’m particularly drawn to premium plugins that have a good reputation and a pricing option that includes unlimited websites. WP Rocket checks both those boxes for me, making it a good option for a premium caching plugin when W3 Total Cache just doesn’t fit the bill.”
- WP Super Cache – “It may be that for some reason you’re not a fan of either W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket. In that case, WP Super Cache checks all the boxes of what we look for in a plugin, so I recommend it as a final option. It is updated frequently, has plenty of installations, is well rated, and seems to be well supported based on the Support page on the plugin repository. Also, it’s by the team behind WordPress, Automattic, so that’s a bonus!”
WP Fastest Cache – “I can’t recommend WP Fastest Cache highly enough for both speed optimisation and ease of use. To install you simply go to the settings and tick the boxes (I usually select all), but to get optimal speed results you will need to upgrade to the premium version of the plugin. The plugin also offers image compression.
The results speak for themselves, and to show the difference it made to my own site, I’ve attached some before/after screenshots taken from GTMetrix in 2015 when (I first installed the plugin) to a screenshot taken earlier today.
I first installed the plugin on my own site in Feb 2015 and went from page speed 40%, YSlow grade 68% and a Page load time of 4.03 seconds to a page speed 94%, YSlow grade 82% and a Page load time of 2.12 seconds.
I’ve since added quite a few plugins and bloat to my site which has increased the Fully loaded time to 3.9 seconds but I’m still achieving a page speed score of 97%, YSlow grade 83%.
The speed results you achieve will vary depending on your website and various factors; size of site, number of plugins etc.”
- WP Rocket – “My absolute favorite caching plugin is WP Rocket. I have used it for many years, and it was great from the beginning. The development team improves it consistently. The settings of the plugin are very flexible, and with a little WP expert help, you can achieve really great scores in performance metrics and really improve your site load speed. You can try to set it up by yourself if you have basic WordPress skills.”
- JCH Optimize – “A useful caching plugin with many other options available. Has multi-tier one-click settings available for easy setup. What I like most about this tool is that it can be installed on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. I have done projects with all 4 of those CMS systems, and having the same tool made it easier to learn and deploy. The pro versions add excellent features such as Kraken image optimization.”
- W3 Total Cache – “In addition to being really popular, it is one of the few caching plugins that offers Fragment Caching: Fragment Caching allows breaking objects into multiple pieces that may be cached and generated with more granularity than Object Caching alone. The idea is that rather than simply caching an entire Object and rebuilding the entire object when a portion of it updates, you can break the object into multiple fragments.”
WP Rocket – “For years now, I’ve been recommending WP Rocket as an alternative to the free caching plugins available, and the most important reason is simple … the plugin is as simple as they come! Activate it and it’s already running with a basic configuration, providing immediate results.
Of course, you may enable additional features to gain even more performance. And in doubt, WP Rocket’s documentation is thorough, their tech support is top-notch and they’re taking a proactive stance in ensuring their plugin is tested and compatible with all major hosting providers.
The money spent on this plugin will easily save you hours of works, while providing extreme performance painlessly!”
WP Super Cache – “What’s not to like with WP Super Cache : it’s free, it works very well and it’s from Automattic, the company behind WordPress, so you know it’ll always be compatible with WordPress.
It offers a few modes to choose from, supports CDN and advanced configurations, but the Simple Mode lets you get an instant boost with minimal risk. Highly Recommended.”
WP Rocket – “We host lots of WordPress websites and it’s important we make sure that they’re snappy when they’re browsed. We’re always playing the battle between keeping a WordPress site fast to load and useful for our clients to edit, and WP Rocket lets us do exactly that very effectively.
It allows us to configure everything in one place. In the past, we’d use W3 Total Cache along with Autoptimize and a few others and sometimes they’d clash or you’d forget to clear one or the other. WP Rocket allows us to clear the cache quickly and easily. Combined with Nginx, we can configure it so that WordPress is bypassed completely if a cached version exists.
It’s reasonably priced as well, especially for when you’ve got a lot of websites. Use it!”
“I’ve been using various caching plugins with mixed results. Every caching plugin works differently depending on the theme, website configuration and a number of other factors. The only way to find out is to try different ones and see which plugin works better on your website.
I mostly stick with WP Rocket, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache plugins.”
- WP Rocket – “If you’re willing to pay, WP Rocket is probably the best option to consider. It’s user-friendly and is extremely easy to set up and use. I also found WP Rocket performance to be superior compared to the other caching plugins. WP Rocket helped me improve the Google Speed Test Score more than any other plugin.”
- WP Super Cache / W3 Total Cache – “If you want a free plugin and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are good alternatives. Out of the box, these plugins might not be as effective, but if you’re willing to experiment and play around with settings, you will definitely be able to improve the performance of your website.”
WP Fastest Cache – “My go-to caching plugin for WordPress is WP Fastest Cache. What I like best about this plugin–besides getting incredible speed improvements on my clients’ websites–is that it’s extremely simple to set up and manage. I’ve worked with other popular caching plugins in the past, and found most of them to be overly complicated and frustrating to use. Then a couple of years ago, I found WP Fastest Cache, and I haven’t looked back.
After installing the plugin and selecting a few preferences, WP Fastest Cache takes care of a bunch of the technical “stuff” that’s needed to optimize your website’s speed and performance. Gzip compression, code minification, preloading resources, and the ability to delete cached files via the WordPress admin are just some of what can be done with this plugin, with no coding required. The results are hard to beat, too. I regularly see pages load 2 to 3 times faster just from using WP Fastest Cache alone. WP Fastest Cache is the first tool I use to keep my clients’ websites running fast and smooth for their visitors.”
- LiteSpeed Cache – “Another caching plugin that I’ve had great results from is LightSpeed Cache. Like WPFC, LiteSpeed Cache is quick and easy to set up, and it’s simple to manage. It gets great performance results, and requires little technical knowledge to use. I started using LiteSpeed Cache recently when a client’s web host was being particularly aggressive with server caching. We had made a number of significant changes, and the only way I could get the changes to show up on the live site was by logging on to the server directly, and clearing the cache from there. The only plugin that resolved this issue, and let me manage the cache from the WordPress admin, was LightSpeed Cache, making it the second caching plugin I choose for my clients’ WordPress websites.”
“There are many caching plugins available. But according to my experience and opinion I like the following sequence.”
“Pros: Easy to install and configure without expert knowledge. Chances of installation error are almost 0 and provides best performance in terms of loading time.
Cons: Only one issue a few webmasters might face is that it’s a paid plugin. But if you can afford licensing cost of 49USD, it’s the best.”
“Pros: It’s a free plugin, is simple and easy to install, and no installation errors so far
Cons: In terms of performance, it it’s not at the same level as WP Rocket.”
“Pros: It’s a free plugin and is the most installed plugin so far with maximum customer ratings.
Cons: Might be little complicated to configure in terms of options, so you need a little technical knowledge before using it.”
“I would suggest to go with the above options, in that order, and if the above 3 options don’t work, then go with WP Fastest Cache.”
“The biggest bottleneck when it comes to scaling WordPress is most cases is the database. Every interaction with the website will most likely result in either a read or a write from the database. On a clean WordPress install running the twentynineteen, the queries can be in the low 20s! Quickly though, with the help of custom designs with relational content and a few plugins, this balloons past 100 and sometimes higher. Whilst there might be optimisations that could be made to reduce the queries, it will most likely not have as big an impact as implementing a front end caching strategy.
Our first recommendation is to choose a host that implements server side caching. Varnish and LiteSpeed are the two most common implementations. By utilising server side caching, the first time a request is made for a page, WordPress will go through its standard process of making database calls and generating the page, but with server side caching, the request for the page never makes it to WordPress, thus removing the slowest part of the website.
Managed WordPress hosts such as WPEngine, Kinsta and Flywheel all implement server side caching, and all behind the scenes so there is no configuration (most providers install a plugin to give you the ability to clear the cache too). Cloud hosting providers such as Cloudways support Varnish as well.”
WP Rocket – “Our second recommendation is only for when server side caching is not available. The WordPress community over time has attempted to address the performance problem by implementing caching solutions similar to server side caching but in the form of plugins. The first time a request is made, WordPress will go through the full process of generating the page, but instead of just sending it to the browser, it stores it for next time. Whilst this offers a performance improvement, it still requires WordPress to start up and made requests.
WP Rocket is our recommended caching plugin, as it is simple and effective. It’s simplicity makes it quick and easy to set up without too many confusing options or jargon that are common in other caching plugins. It also includes nice features to improve performance beyond the minimum expected of a caching plugin. These include pre-caching, meaning that the cache is generated before a real user hits the page, compression of HTML, CSS and JS files and lazy loading of images to further improve page load times and user experience. WP Rocket delivers the biggest performance boost with the least hassle.”
WP Rocket – “WP Rocket is hands down my favourite caching plugin for WordPress. I resisted buying it for ages, but I’m glad I finally gave it a try.
I like how it’s pretty much set and forget. It plays well with Cloudflare and other plugins. And as it’s a premium plugin, I have the confidence that the developers are going to be around for awhile.”
W3 Total Cache – “W3 Total Cache was my goto caching plugin for years. If I can’t use WP Rocket on a particular website for some reason, I’ll use W3 Total Cache.
The major benefits are that it’s free and has all the features you’d expect. It’s been stable for years. When there have been issues with the plugin, the developers have been pretty quick to fix it. It generally plays well with other plugins.
The only real downside to W3 Total Cache, in my experience, is that it has so many options that you just don’t use, or options for which you can only use the default.
W3 Total Cache can be a bit quirky and take a bit to get used to. It’s probably normal to get a little frustrated at how it handles minifying. But it’s worth hanging in there and getting to know it.”
Hummingbird – “If you’re looking for a caching plugin, I would recommend trying out Hummingbird. Hummingbird Is a relatively new product on the market, when compared to plugins that have been around for over 10+ years (W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache). But it’s being actively developed with new features added almost every release.
Hummingbird focuses on providing the user with easy to use tools to optimise website performance. The caching module is split up into four sub modules (page caching, browser caching, gravatar and rss caching), allowing you to easily customise what should and should not be cached on the server.
Page caching module will give your site a major performance boost. It’s a one-click solution that can be customised to fit any website. Hummingbird has a close integration with the most popular hosting platforms and server-side caching tools (OpCache, Varnish, Mamcache). Mobile caching, cache preloading, compressing cached files, exclusion rules, integration with Gutenberg and many other features will make your site running super fast.”
About Chris Herbert
Founder & Chief Question Asker @Whatsaytheexperts.com. I'm seriously passionate about publishing content that helps. I also love a good coffee!