W3 Total Cache Plugin Review: Is It A Better Cache Plugin for WordPress?
If you’re curious to know about the best cache plugins, this post is for you where we’ll review one of the most popular caching plugins W3 total cache plugin.
W3 total cache plugin can 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. All these things make W3 Total Cache as the one of best caching plugin for WordPress blogs.
Table of Contents
- What is caching?
- W3 total cache plugin Review: Everything you need to know about the caching plugin
- W3 total cache plugin features list
- How to Install W3 Total Cache plugin
- FAQs on W3 total cache plugin
What is caching?
A cache is an area in the computer’s memory that stores recently used information. When a site is cached, caching plugins save dynamically generated HTML files in the cache and serve them whenever a request is made instead of reloading the entire scripts from WordPress.
Here’s how it looks like;
To put it simply, caching stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster, which improves your overall website loading times. That’s why it’s essential for every WordPress user to install a caching plugin for better performance.
Let’s get into the basic details first, then we’ll talk about W3 total cache.
W3 total cache plugin Review: Everything you need to know about the caching plugin
Just in case if you’re wondering how the performance works when you install a caching plugin, here’s the performance report of Bloggers Passion on GTMetrix.
Here’s the performance report on Pingdom tools;
As you can see, our site loads within 3 seconds which is way faster than 95% of the sites in the web right now.
W3 total cache plugin features list
Here’s a list of some of the incredible features and benefits that you get with W3 total cache plugin in 2018.
- GZIP compression to optimize web browser rendering
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support
- Secure Socket Layer (SSL) support
- Caching of search results pages that is URLs with query string variables
- Caching of database objects in memory or on disk
- Caching of objects in memory or on disk
- Caching of fragments in memory or on disk
- Minification of posts and pages and feeds
- Browser caching
- Import post attachments directly into the Media Library
- Support for Content Delivery Networks (CDN) which helps in speed
- Compatible with CloudFlare to boost your website loading times
If you’re wondering about why should you use W3 total cache plugin for WordPress sites, here are few strong reasons.
- Browser caching
- GZip compression is enabled
- Minification of posts and pages
How to Install W3 Total Cache plugin
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.
Or you can simply download W3 Total Cache from WordPress.org plugin directory 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.
General: You should keep preview mode as disable (which is by default disabled, so don’t enable it)
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: Enable
- 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: https://bloggerspassion.com/sitemap_index.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.
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.
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.
Top 3 most popular caching plugins for WordPress
Here are the top 3 popular alternatives to W3 total cache.
- Comet Cache
- WP Super Cache
- WP Fastest Cache
Let’s briefly talk about each one of them.
#1. Comet Cache: The best part of using Comet Cache plugin is that it takes a real-time snapshot of every blog post, page, category, links and so on which are then stored (cached) intuitively, so they can be referenced later when the user requests a page, link or post.
That way, it will save all of that processing time that has been affecting your website loading times, so your website visitors can access your site much faster.
#2. WP Super Cache: This plugin generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog in order to serve custom cached files tailored to your website visitors browsing from different locations.
#3. WP Fastest Cache: This is another great cache plugin which creates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog. That means, when a page is rendered on your website, php and mysql are used so the system needs RAM and CPU, this plugin provides optimal performance based on that.
FAQs on W3 total cache plugin
Here are some of the most important questions you might want to know about W3 total cache plugin in 2018.
#1. What does W3 Total Cache do?
W3 total cache helps you increase your site speed by increasing website performance, reducing download times by using special features such as minify, browser caching, using CDN and so on. If you want to increase your website performance on WordPress, you must install a caching plugin like W3 total cache.
#2. Which cache plugin is best?
We’ve so far used a lot of caching plugins and we absolutely satisfied with two plugins which are W3 total cache and WP super cache as both of them are free (although both have premium versions) and both work like a charm.
#3. What’s the difference between W3 Total Cache vs W3 Total Cache Pro?
W3 total cache free version is enough for almost 90% of the WordPress users as it solves all the performance related issues such as caching, minify and so on but if you want to get access to more incredible features, go for pro version which costs you $99 per year and highly recommended for all publishers.
Above all, if you want to take full advantage of the fragment caching framework (which bridges the gap between no caching at all and the “ideal,” full page caching), you should go for W3 total cache pro version.
#4. How to setup W3 total cache for best performance?
By default, W3 total cache comes with all the built-in features where you don’t have to make any other changes to the settings. But if you want to get better performance, just use the tips mentioned on this post and you’ll see better results.
#5. W3 total cache Vs WP super cache: which is best?
Both are great plugins but if you want a detailed explanation of their features, we highly recommend you to go through this post on W3 Total Cache Vs WP Super Cache: Best Caching Plugin and you’ll find a lot of interesting things about both the plugins.
Final thoughts on W3 total cache plugin review for WordPress blogs
W3 total cache plugin is extremely easy to use and easy to make changes to the settings for optimum performance.
So if you’re looking for better website performance and loading times, make sure to install a caching plugin like W3 total cache and you’ll see amazing results.
Do you’ve any more questions related to W3 total cache plugin review or its settings? Let us know in the comments below.