We've compiled a guide on the Best Caching Plugins For WordPress.

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

Your Internet experience is only as fast as the websites you visit. Typically, the best websites are also the ones with the quickest load times. A slow website makes for a terrible user experience, and let’s not forget the impact that it is likely to have on your search engine rankings. Google has confirmed the same in the past.

WordPress is dynamic. While this helps keep your website up to date and live, it also slows down your website too. So, to tackle this problem, developers created caching plugins. They help produce a static version of your website and this makes your website much much faster.

In this article, we'll take you through the best caching plugins available on the WordPress market. If you aren’t already using a caching plugin, then you’ll find this an interesting and important read. If you are using a caching plugin then read on and you’ll have a few more great options to check out and find out which plugin works best for you.


WP Super Cache

With this plugin there are multiple tabs, the first one titled “Easy” is displayed first. And it is easier when you aren’t bombarded with as many options as other caching plugins.

WP Super Cache creates a static HTML file which is served to users who aren’t logged in, users who haven’t left a comment on your blog and users who haven’t viewed a password protected post on your site. That pretty much means almost every visitor to your website.

This plugin caches files in three ways:

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

The difference between super cached served by PHP and not served by PHP becomes more apparent only when there is an increase in traffic, so much so that the host’s server struggles to keep up, else the differences are imperceptible.

You can selectively choose which sections of your website get cached. The plugin also handles sudden spikes in traffic using lockdown and directly cached files.


W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is known as one of the most powerful caching plugins with a plethora of options at the disposal of the user. Its users include Yoast, Mashable, Smashing Magazine, and many other equally influential websites.

It can cache pages, the WordPress database, and objects. It can enable caching at the browser end. You can use W3 Total Cache for the minification of CSS and JavaScript. It is also compatible with dedicated servers, virtual private servers, and content delivery networks, which is probably why you can scale this plugin for use with very popular high-traffic websites.

A WordPress newbie may find it daunting to negotiate through the plugin’s many options at first, that being said, W3 Total Cache offers tips on how to best use the plugin above the plugin’s settings page on your WP dashboard.

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


WP Fastest Cache

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

With Fastest Cache you can block cache for specific pages/posts with a shortcode. The plugin permits you to enable and disable caching for mobile devices and logged in users separately. Fastest Cache provides CDN support too.

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

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


Hyper Cache

Hyper Cache only has 4 tabs on the settings page of the plugin. While this means there are fewer configuration options compared to others on this list, this works in favour of anyone who’s looking for a plugin to do the job with little or no tinkering.

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

You can set up Hyper Cache so as not to cache specific pages or URLs too, and you can cache only the most recent posts by blocking caching for posts older than a specified number of days. It provides support for CDN and mobile caching also.


Summing Up...

If you’re selecting a caching plugin, then you should consider your requirements. Is your website prone to high volumes of traffic at certain times and do you use a CDN? Questions like these become pertinent to the selection of the best caching plugin for your website. Because the differences in performance are largely imperceptible to the average user, it is very difficult to figure out which among all the plugins is the best. In our opinion, W3 Total Cache is certainly the most complete package, but all the others aren't far behind.

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WordPress plugins are amazing because they let you add tons of functionality to your website with minimum effort. However, a question we get asked a lot is, does having WordPress plugins, and specifically a high number of plugins installed on your site make it run significantly slower? In this article, we will examine this question also how you can control your plugins more efficiently.


How Do Plugins Work?

Plugins are essentially apps for your website that you can download from websites such as the WordPress Plugin Repository. Plugins allow you to extend the features and functionality of your website by allowing you add things like a contact form, image gallery, an e-commerce store, widgets and so much more.


Do Plugins Affect My Site's Load Time?

When your website is visited by someone, WordPress loads it's core files first before loading all your active plugins. All plugins work differently. Some make database calls on the backend whereas others load assets on the front-end, like CSS Styles, JavaScript and more.

Loading assets and making database queries will add to your site's load time. Every time a plugin makes an HTTP request to load certain assets, this increases your site's load time. Normally, the performance impact would be very minimal. However, if you find yourself using multiple plugins that are making too many HTTP requests, this could impact your site's load time and user experience in a negative way.


Can I Check To See Which Plugins Are Slowing My Site Down?

In order to view the plugins that are affecting your site's load time, you will need to check the files that are being loaded by WordPress. There is a range of tools you can use to do this, however, we recommend simply using your browsers developer tools.

By visiting your website and right-clicking, one of the options you will be shown is the 'Inspect' option. ('Inspect' on Google Chrome, 'Inspect Element' on Firefox and other browsers). Just click this and you will be shown your websites developer tools panel.

You will now need to click on the 'Network' tab and reload your page in order to see how your browser loads each file.


How Do I Keep My Plugins Under Control?

The most important thing you can do when it comes to plugins is to use only well coded, well-reviewed ones from trusted sources. If you find a plugin that is negatively affecting your site's load time then try and look for a more suitable alternative.

Another step to take is to utilise caching and a CDN to further improve your site's performance and speed.

If you find that your site is still running slow and you are certain your plugins are functioning optimally, then consider that your website's hosting may be a factor. If your hosting servers are not properly optimized, then it will increase your site’s response time.

As a last resort, you can uninstall plugins that you can live without and are slowing you down. Carefully review the installed plugins on your website, and see if you can uninstall some of them. This is not an ideal solution, however, as you will have to compromise on features for speed.

Further Reading On Plugins...

Must Have WordPress Plugins For Business Websites In 2017

What Are The Best Firewall Security Plugins for WordPress?

Essential Plugin Types Every WordPress Site Needs

How To Add A Plugin In WordPress

The Best WordPress Plugins For Front-End Editing

The Best Affiliate Plugins For WordPress

The Best Plugins For A Custom WordPress 404 Page


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