W3 Total Cache is a strong caching plugin like WP Super Cache. It has more features than other caching plugin available in WordPress plugins directory. For long time, I was using WP Super Cache plugin on Bloggers Passion. And I was satisfied with its performance most of the time. But recently I started seeing this blog speed slowing down due to increase in traffic. So I have to look out for better alternates.
For some time I’m hearing lots of good words about W3 Total Cache. So I decided to give a try to it. And to my surprise, W3 Total Cache plugin seems to be doing much better job than WP Super Cache. This plugin used to improve every aspect of your WordPress site like its page cache, Minify, Database Cache, Object Cache, Browser Cache, CDN support, Varnish and Network performance etc. And all these things make W3 Total Cache as the one of best caching plugin for WordPress blogs.
W3 Total Cache Popularity Details
It’s not Hostgator only that is recommending this plugin, other big players in the web hosting industry like Media Temple, Page.ly, WP Engine and many more are also recommending it as a caching a plugin for WordPress blogs. W3 Total Cache plugin is used popular blogs like MattCutts blog, Mashable, Smashing Magazine, Yoast.com, Makeuseof.com, Webdesignerdepot.com, JohnChow.com and css-tricks.com etc.
This plugin has already been downloaded more than one million time from WordPress plugin directory and every week ten thousand (Average) new downloads are made for this caching plugin.
How to Install W3 Total Cache
First of all, you should deactivate and delete the caching plugin if any you are already using on your blog. I deactivated and deleted the WP Super Cache plugin from Bloggers Passion plugin section. Go to Plugins section from your WordPress admin panel and Click Add New. Make search with W3 Total Cache in the search box and the very first result will be for this plugin. This plugin is developed by Frederick Townes. Now you have to install this plugin and activate into plugins directory using the Activate link.
You can download W3 Total Cache from WordPress.org website here.
How to Set Up W3 Total Cache Settings
It will take some time in W3 Total Cache Settings. I will try to help you with it through exact steps that you need to follow and will also be sharing the screenshot that make the things bit more easy for you.
Here is the step by step manual for setting up W3 Total Cache plugin on your WordPress blog. Access the Plugins section and click on the Settings link available with this plugin.
W3 Total Cache General Settings
First of all lets go through the General settings section of W3 Total Cache plugin.
You should keep preview mode as disable.
Page Cache: Enable
Page Cache Method: Disk Enhanced
Page Cache method can be basic or enhanced for shared hosting. Enhanced method performs much better than the basic mode. Enhanced mode use the .htaccess file while basic mode does not use that. If you are getting errors while using the Disk enhanced caching method, you should switch to basic mode.
Minify Mode: Auto
Minify Cache Method: Disk
HTML minifier: Default
JS minifier: JSMin (default)
CSS minifier: CSS Tidy (if face problems use Default)
You should use other options from Minify Cache method if you are on a virtual host or dedicated host. These settings will work for shared hosting WordPress blogs only.
Database Cache: Enable
Database Cache Method: Disk
Again you should opt for other options if your website is hosted on virtual or dedicated server.
Object Cache: Enable
Object Cache Method: Disk
You will be using other options if your website is not hosted on shared hosting.
Browser Cache: Enable
You should enable CDN if you have decided to purchase a CDN. For running a normal blog, you would not need a CDN. You should go for it if your website is getting millions of visitors every month from different traffic sources.
Your WordPress website can run smoothly with a W3 Total Cache type of strong caching plugin even if you are on a shared hosting and your website is getting 10000-15000 visits per day.
Enable varnish cache purging
You can know in detail about Varnish Cache from Wikipedia page here.
I’m leaving out the Miscellaneous and Debug options as such.
If you want to install W3 Total Cache plugin on multiple WordPress websites that you own, then this feature will be really handy for you. Once you are finished with setting W3 Total Cache plugin for one blog, you can replicate the same settings on other WordPress blogs by downloading the W3 Total Cache plugin settings from this section. All you have to do is import this W3 Total Cache configuration on other blogs where you want to install this plugin.
I’m going to use this feature and install the same set of settings for W3 Total Cache plugin in other blogs that I own.
W3 Total Cache Detailed Settings
No doubt making changes at General settings level will optimize your WordPress blog performance to some extent. But to make the best use of this plugin, you need to go through each section individually and make the required changes.
You need to make sure following settings are made at page cache level:
Enable Cache Home Page
Enable Cache Feeds
Enable Cache 404 (not found) pages
Enable Cache requests for your domain Host Name
Enable Don’t Cache pages for logged in users
Don’t need to make any changes at Advanced tab level.
Update Interval: 907 seconds
Pages per Interval: 10
Sitemap URL: http://bloggerspassion.com/sitemap.xml
For your domain, you should enter your XML sitemap URL in Sitemap URL section. And keep the Purge Policy as default.
You need to make the following changes at Minify Cache level:
Enable URL structure
Enable Disable Minify for logged in users
HTML & XML
Enable Inline CSS minification
Enable Inline JS minification
Enable Hide Comments
Enable preserved comment removal
Enable Link break removal
Enable Combine Only
Enable Preserved comment removal
Enable line break removal
Keep the Advanced tab settings as they are.
You should do the following changes at Database Cache level:
Enable don’t cache queries for logged in users
And keep the advanced tab section as it is.
Don’t make any changes in to this section.
After making changes into this section, I see lots of improvement in my blog performance.
You should enable all options that are available as shown in the screen
CSS & JS
Again select all the check boxes in CSS & JS section as low the way it is shared in the screen
HTML & XML
Enable all check boxes in this section as low as shown in screenshot
Media & Other Files
Enable all options available here the way shown in screen:
That’s all you need to be done to configure W3 Total Cache plugin on your WordPress blog.
W3 Total Cache Support
If you face any issues or have any technical questions related to this plugin, you can post your queries at W3 Total Cache Support section here.
W3 Total Cache Impact on Bloggers Passion
As I mentioned above, I was using WP Super Cache plugin on this blog till 12th July 2012. When last time I analysed the speed of this blog using Google Page Speed Tool, this blog was getting a page Speed Score of 84/100. But after deleting the WP Super Cache plugin and installing the W3 Total Cache plugin, Google Page Speed Score improves to 91/100 and which looks satisfactory to me. You can also analyse the speed of your website through Google page Speed Tool here. In case you want to try checking speed of your website on some other speed testing tools as well, you can find the list of popular website speed testing tools here.
Installation of this plugin will be a major step towards speeding up your WordPress blog. I hope this tutorial will answer lots of your doubts related to this caching plugin like W3 Total Cache (W3TC) installation, W3TC settings, W3TC Support and W3TC Setup etc. Do you have something to share like your experience with W3 Total Cache plugin, please do the same in comments section.