57% of visitors will leave your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
That means optimizing your load time is essential to the user experience. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to speed up your WordPress site, such as optimizing your images and purchasing a CDN service.
These steps can require more time and budget investment than others. If you’re looking for an easy and quick way to optimize the speed of your WordPress website, then consider data caching. Let’s define what caching is and why it’s important, then look at some plugins that can simplify the process for you.
What is caching?
Caching is the process of saving and storing static copies of your site’s files in a temporary storage location. That way, a web page can be generated and delivered to a visitor’s browser more quickly.
By caching your website, your server will need fewer resources to load a web page, which will in turn reduce Time to First Byte (TTFB). TTFB is the amount of time between the browser sending a request to the server and receiving its first byte of data. This will improve your overall website performance.
While you can set up caching manually on your WordPress site, it will require you to add code to your cache.php file or create an SQL query.
If you don’t have the technical experience to feel comfortable with either of these methods, then you can use a WordPress plugin. Let’s check out some of the best cache plugins available below.
Best WordPress Cache Plugins
The best cache plugins for WordPress will enable you to quickly and easily cache your posts and pages. Below is a collection of premium and free plugins that do just that.
WP Fastest Cache is the highest-rated cache plugin in the official WordPress directory. The free version of WP Fastest Cache offers a range of advanced features. With this plugin, site admins can delete all cached files and minified CSS and JS files, or schedule them to be deleted at a particular time. They can also enable or disable the cache option for mobile devices and logged-in users — all by checking a box in the settings page.
Unlike other free cache plugins like W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache not only minifies HTML and CSS files — it combines them to make your code cleaner and web pages leaner.
Unlike the previous plugins, WP-Optimize is an all-in-one solution for web optimization. In addition to caching your web pages, it will help you clean your database and compress your images, which will make your site even faster.
W3 Total Cache (W3TC) W3TC is one of the most popular cache plugins for WordPress. One reason for its popularity is that it’s compatible with most hosting plans, including shared, VPS, and dedicated server hosting.
W3 Total Cache Pro offers even more functionality, including fragment caching, advanced caching statistics, lazy load for Google Maps, and more.
WP Super Cache is a free cache plugin developed by Automattic. With over two million active installations, it’s the most downloaded cache plugin from the WordPress directory. Part of its appeal is that it offers three caching modes. Expert mode is the fastest but requires you to modify the .htaccess file. While it’s great for developers and users with technical experience who want more control over the caching process, it’s not ideal for all users — particularly since making a mistake in the .htaccess file can take down the whole website.
That’s why WP Super Cache also offers Simple mode. In this recommended mode, the plugin generates static HTML files to serve to most visitors. There is one other mode called WP-Cache for serving custom cached files that are tailored to visitors who are logged in, viewing a password-protected page, or have left comments.
There is a premium version available with even more advanced features, including automated scanning, uptime monitoring, enhanced minify compression, and CDN-hosted minification.
7. WP Rocket
It’s also optimized for ecommerce sites so it automatically excludes “Cart”, “Checkout”, and “My Account” pages from the cache to avoid interfering with the purchasing process.
What sets WP Rocket apart from other speed optimization plugins is that it begins working right out of the box once installed and activated on your site.
Cache Enabler is a simple, lightweight cache plugin for WordPress. It allows users to set cached files to expire after a period of time, clear the site cache if content has changed, pre-compress cached pages with GZIP, and minify the HTML in cached pages. It also works on multisite networks.
It is limited in functionality compared to other plugins on this list, however. For example, a user can only clear the site cache if a post type, comment, or plugin has been published/activated, updated, or deleted. Excluding content from the cache is even trickier. Instead of checking a box, the user has to type in the post ID, page path, query string, or cookies manually to control what pages should bypass the cache.
9. Comet Cache
Comet Cache is an easy-to-use plugin for caching your WordPress posts, pages, tags, categories, archives, RSS feeds, and XML sitemaps. The settings page contains detailed explanations of its features, making Comet Cache a beginner-friendly option for users who aren't familiar with caching.
You will have to purchase Comet Cache Pro for some of the features that the above mentioned plugins offer for free, like HTML compression and the ability to cache logged-in users.
Also, unlike other cache plugins, Comet Cache does not directly handle GZIP compression. If your site is running on the Apache web server, you can enable GZIP compression in your admin dashboard in a few clicks. If it’s not, then you’ll have to create an .htaccess file in your WordPress installation directory or edit the one that’s already there. If GZIP compression is a must-have feature, then this plugin might not be the right choice for you.
10. Borlabs Cache
Its fragment caching feature, for example, enables you to have some dynamic content in your static files so that you can still serve ads in cached versions of your site.
It also offers cache presets so that you can have different cache settings for every site in your WordPress multisite installation. Most cache plugins that support multisite networks only allow you to set global cache settings.
Speeding Up Your Site
A cache plugin is a must-have WordPress plugin. You can use any of the plugins above to create a fast website that delights your visitors — without touching any code in your theme or .htaccess files.
Originally published Jan 20, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 21 2021