If you are a tech savvy website owner, I'm sure you understand the importance of page loading speed. And if you have a WordPress powered website, you probably know that WordPress offers some exclusive caching plugins to speed up a WordPress hosted site.
Caching is a critical aspect of website's performance, since it can greatly improve loading time. In simple terms, a caching plugin creates a static version of your site. When a visitor lands on your website, the plugin serves the static version instead of forwarding all the requests to the server. The end result is that the website loads faster for the visitors. Google takes the speed of your site very seriously. In fact, it is one of the main factors for determining the position of your website in SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
A fast web page brings in more traffic, reduces bounce rates and is positioned better in search engines. The goal is to get the lowest possible pages load. To help WordPress users determine the best caching plugin for their websites, I present the following evaluation of few remarkable caching plugins for WordPress.
In order to evaluate the performance of these caching plugins, I signed up with Cloudways, a managed WordPress hosting platform and launched a DigitalOcean server with the latest WordPress version. The server size is of 512 MB and is located in London, UK.
I used Pingdom Tools and tested my website speed without any caching plugin enabled. The results are as follows:
Next, here is a look at the caching plugins that I am going to test. Apart from WP Rocket, I found all caching plugins in the WordPress plugins directory.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins, trusted by tech giants such as AT&T and Mashable. The developers of W3 Total Cache say that your website can load 10 times faster with the plugin installed. However, I cannot verify the “10 times faster” claim, but I can confirm that there is a visible improvement in the page load time of the websites.
This plugin offers a multitude of site optimization options such as source code minimization and integration with the content distribution network (CDN). I think that the admin interface may be a bit confusing, especially for the beginners. Although, I just let the plugin work with the minification enabled and realized that my website performed much faster.
Following are the results after activating W3 Total Cache plugin:
WP Rocket is a paid plugin, and is considered much more powerful than W3 Total Cache. It is reputed for being an effective, simple and very easy-to-configure plugin. However, you are required to pay an annual subscription fee for continued use.
One of the advantages of WP Rocket is that its developers offer excellent support in the case of plugin incompatibility problems.
To speed up the website, the plugin offers minification of HTML, JS and CSS. Similarly, integration of a CDN is a simple matter. On the frontend, the plugin allows for lazy loading of page’s images. On the backend, the database cleanup could be done in a single click.
For the purpose of this test, minification and grouping of static files was enabled. Following are the results for WP Rocket caching plugin:
Breeze is a free and lightweight WordPress caching plugin that quotes ease-of-use is its major strength. The UI describes each option in detail so you know exactly what the option does. What makes it fantastic is that it works great with the default settings.
Breeze has an impressive list of options, including the ability to minify the HTML, CSS, and JS, file level cache system, database cleanup, support for Varnish cache, and simplified CDN integration options. However, it has to be noted that the plugin is still in beta phase.
For the purpose of this test, minification and grouping of static files was enabled. The following are the results for the Breeze WordPress caching plugin:
I conducted this experiment about the WordPress caching plugins to discover the best fit for my WordPress website. Each plugin in this list has its own set of features that set them apart from the competition. The plugin that you ultimately decide upon should match the requirements of your site, your level of experience, the features you are looking for and ultimately, your budget.
If you are in search of a free and high performing WordPress caching plugin with the maximum performance, then Breeze can be the best option for you. Although, it is still in beta phase, it performs well enough for the purposes of many websites. On the other hand, if you have technical knowledge and dollars to spend, W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket may spark your interest.
Which of your favorite WordPress caching plugins have I missed? Do mention in it in the comments! 😀