When it comes to the slew of problems that long load times bring to your website, slow site navigation is only the tip of the iceberg. So, we researched the best WordPress Caching Plugins to speed your site.
Managing a lagging website means you will also be faced with:
- Lower Rankings in Google Searches
- Clogged Web Traffic
- Loss of Potential Visitors
- Reduced Conversion Rates
Simply enough, in a world that covets fast service and immediate results, you can’t afford to let your website run slowly. Studies have shown that load-time delays of only a few seconds will turn visitors away in frustration when they try to enter slow websites, so it’s absolutely vital that yours doesn’t become one of them.
Thankfully, due to its open source software and incredible number of available plugins, WordPress users have a fast and very effective solution available to them.
What is Caching?
A cache is a location in a computer’s memory where recent data is stored.
When your computer caches a website, it means that it’s temporarily storing the site’s data to its local hard drive. This includes individual webpage information, files, images, and so on.
After a website that has been cached is revisited, your browser will already have the majority of its relevant data on hand.
This means it doesn’t need to spend extra time reobtaining the website’s information, allowing it to load quicker and cut down on unnecessary wait times.
How do Caching Plugins Work?
Normally when a website is first visited it dynamically generates HTML files for your computer to read, and that takes time.
On the other hand, a caching plugin saves a single static version of these HTML files to itself and delivers them to the people visiting your website instead. This eliminates the need for the repeated generation of HTML files, meaning your site will load faster for everyone.
Each of the caching plugins covered on the list below were selected for their overwhelmingly popular usage, fantastic ratings, and widely trusted performances. To find the best plugin among them for your own WordPress website, browse over the unique features they offer to determine which is most suited to your needs.
1. WP Super Cache
First up is WP Super Cache. Currently, this plugin stands as the most downloaded caching plugin found in the WordPress marketplace. with over one million installations.
This intuitive plugin earns its popularity due to its, clean and simple interface, easy configuration, and for being free to use.
WP Super Cache Features:
- Uses mod_rewrite to provide static HTML files rather than going through the normal (and slower) method of PHP generated HTML caching. However, if you still prefer to generate your files with PHP that option is available.
- Comes with a convenient plugin organizer than lets you adjust your plugin priority, meaning you can set the order of which WordPress plugins will load onto your page first.
- Includes a built-in-scheduler to help you manage the deletion and re-caching of your website, with modifiable times that you set in advance.
2. W3 Total Cache
Following up is W3 Total Cache, the second most downloaded caching plugin in the WordPress market, which also boasts over a million installations to date.
Known for its broad customizability (and a settings section that has a whopping 16 pages of configuration options that you can tweak to your hearts content), this plugin also provides an efficient default setup for less technologically savvy users.
W3 Total Cache is free to use, though it should be mentioned that there are paid premium services available to be used in conjunction with the plugin as well. If interested, you can see those premium features and their prices listed on their website’s product page here.
W3 Total Cache (Free) Features:
- Uses Gzip compression to reduces file sizes on your website and optimize web browser performance speed.
- Dedicated support team with active forums, and representatives who offer assistance with using the plugin. If you contact their support team, they’ll even offer to help you “set it and forget it” so you can fully implement the plugin without needing to learn the know-how.
- Like WP Super Cache, this plugin also supports CDNs to further reduce website file load times.
3. WP Rocket
Unlike the other plugins on this list, WP Rocket is only available as paid subscription service. It ranges between $39-$199 depending on how many websites you want to license (you can see WP Rocket’s pricing plans here). But despite those costs, over 250,000 websites have chosen to use on WP Rocket as their go to caching solution.
Depending on the needs of your website, the price may be well worth it. A WP Rocket subscription comes with attentive tech support and a myriad of user-friendly features that make it easy to get the most out of your plugin.
When it comes to features, WP Rocket contains most of the benefits of the previous plugins, such as Gzip compression, CDN support, file minification, etc., and offers some exclusive features of its own.
WP Rocket Features:
- Practices lazy image loading to significantly decrease page load times by preventing images from loading until users actually scroll down to them.
- Ability to schedule regular database cleaning to reduce database size and boost overall performance speeds.
- Uses Google font optimization to provoke less HTTP requests that slow down your website.
Choosing the Right Caching Plugin
There are tons of caching plugins out there on the WordPress marketplace, but the three mentioned here stand as titans in their industry, and it isn’t difficult to see why.
When compared to other caching plugins, they’ve successfully dominated the majority of the attention from the WordPress user base due to their low-to-no costs and expansive range of high performing features.
For your own website, you can’t go wrong with any of these three options, though the best for solution for you will be decided by your own website’s performance needs, budget, and the range of features you desire from your caching plugin.