A slow loading website can harm your online presence in many ways and solving this issue should be the number one priority for any web owner. There are many ways of solving this speed issue and caching is one of the best.
A slow websites discourage visitors. It reduces your traffic, lowering your Google rank. Good thing however, is that there are numerous plugins that you can use to boost the speed of your website.
What is caching?
A cache is part of computer memory that stores data temporarily, mostly recently used information. When we say a site is cached, it means that its pages, files, web objects, and pictures are stored in static form either in online servers, or on the user’s computer. This means that when the user visits the same website over again, the server will serve the static files which is much faster than running scripts to generate the page. Several objects will also not need loading if they are saved on the user’s computer.
When a browser receives less ‘new’ information from a website, it results in the shortened loading time. And that’s when we say your website is loading faster.
Things to consider when picking a cache plugin
The plugin you choose will primarily depend on your website’s needs and your general expectations from your caching plugin. Your considerations should be based on the following:
- Cost: You have an option of choosing a free or premium plugin depending on your budget allocation. While there are quite decent free plugins, a premium one offers additional features that will help you achieve your objective faster.
- Customer support: Several free plugins lack forums and documentation and when you have a question, it may take ages before somebody come to your rescue. Unless you are a pro, meaning you won’t need any support, you should consider this.
- Functionality and its power: some plugins are backed with extra features such as GZIP compression, integration with content delivery networks (CDN’ s), and ways of removing meaningless code from your pages. These enable your site to function even more smoothly.
- Its complexity: How complex a plugin of your choice will be depends on how experienced you are. Experienced web owners would generally want a plugin that they can control every feature while beginners would want a plugin that is simple to use and maybe one with a setup wizard.
Now that we are clear on what to look for in a caching plugin, let’s dive into the most popular and best-caching plugins in WordPress.
I. WP super cache
WP Super Cache is one of the most downloaded caching plugins on the market. According to its official website, the plugin has been downloaded by more than a million users.
It is free and beginner friendly since it requires little to no configurations.
How WP super cache works
Its caching functionality is easy to grasp. The plugin generates static HTML files from your website and caches them. It uses mod_rewrite and PHP to deliver its static pages. This mostly depends on your preference, which means that every time your site receives a visitor, his browser doesn’t have to load all the PHP files of WordPress, they simply receive a static HTML file.
There’s also a ‘legacy caching mode,’ this feature ensures that administrators don’t experience cached HTML pages when you log in.
The plugin also allows you to change the loading order of your plugins. If you need some of your plugins to load faster than others, this is the best plugin for that.
- Supports content delivery networks (CDN’s)
- Allows caching for mobile device users
- Comes with a scheduler that enables you to clear cached pages at your own time
- Can export your customized settings so that you will use it in your future sites
- Beginner friendly
- It supports CDN’s
- It is free!
- Has few compatibility issues with some other plugins and themes
- When a user logs in, he doesn’t experience the caching effect.
II. W3 Total Cache
It has more than 800k downloads making it the second most downloaded caching plugin on the plugins market. It is a free plugin that offers lots of customization options making it the only WordPress optimization framework designed to increase user experience and page load time.
This plugin has a total of 16 pages of option configurations that enable you to tailor a caching solution to your personal best. It also comes with one-click setup, making it one of the most newbie friendly plugins.
How it works
The W3 super cache uses file minification and GZIP compression to reduce loading time.
- GZIP compression that optimizes web browsing
- Supports Content Delivery Networks (CDN’s)
- CloudFlare compatible
- Boatloads of customization options (16 pages)
- Support CDN’s, GZIP and minification
- Too much customization options could be daunting especially to non-tech savvy.
III. WP Rocket
Unlike the previous plugins discussed above, WP rocket requires you to buy a license. The license cost between $39 and $199, depending on the number of sites you intend to install it on.
WP Rocket is one of the best caching plugins for WordPress websites. It is very user-friendly and easy to navigate regarding technical terms and its web programming.
It has few advanced features and a very quick support team that is eager to show the depth and quality of their product.
WP Rocket is a feature-rich plugin that:
- Has Google Fonts optimization that minimizes HTTP requests
- CloudFlare compatibility
- Immediately caches pages
WP Rocket plugin has lazy image loading feature. This function stops unloaded pictures from being stored. The feature differentiates it from the other popular caching plugins. It makes it that images on a page are only loaded as the user is scrolling down the page. This reduces loading time significantly.
That’s it. WP Rocket out weighs all the caching plugins on the market as the fastest caching solution you’ll ever need for your WordPress website. But the bottom line is that the best caching solution to your site depends on your needs and the features you’ll be looking for.
To get the best and make an informed decision, use evaluation criteria and use it to rank plugins.