If you perform a Google Search about WordPress caching, probably 9 out of the 10 top results will mention W3 Total Cache.
This plugin is without a doubt the most comprehensive caching WP plugin on the market, but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice for your website.
For some reason, my experience with it is not positive at all. I have read all the guides and tutorials on how to set W3 Total Cache to work the best way, and I have tried to switch all kinds of configurations, but the result is always the same – massively increased page load times.
And if it’s not working for me, I suppose there are more people having a hard time with it. So I decided to share what I use as an alternative and show you wpctrl.com’s real results after testing a few of the most popular free WordPress caching plugins on the market.
Let’s jump into it…
I’m using a cheap shared hosting, with no CDN and WpCtrl has just a few articles. I think that’s the case with the majority of starting websites out there.
First I will Analyze the site’s speed with Pingdom Website Speed Test without any caching plugin activated.
I was a little surprised by the fast page load time, but I guess that’s a combination of the little content put out here and the amazingly well build MTS Theme I’m using.
Now let’s enable the W3 Total Cache.
In the options, I’ll only enable the main features stated in this WPBeginner tutorial.
The results are pretty good again – 0.76 s (29%) Faster Load time and reduced page size of 11%!
I have to say I’m a fan of the “set it and forget it” plugins, and W3 Total Cache is a little bit more complex for my taste. Sure you have huge control over it, but you first have to spend some time to understand how stuff works.
Also, options like Minify and Combine JS&CSS files resulted in huge delays in my tests, so I disabled these.
That cheetah in your dashboard menu! I like this plugin for the fact that it really gets it done with minimum effort. From the plugin’s settings, I have enabled only these 4 options:
- Cache System
- Combine CSS
- Combine JS
and nothing more…
Better Performance grade, faster Load time, even though the Page size is bigger. Great job! That’s what I like about plugins in general, simplicity and noticeable results. Remember I configure the plugin in less than 30 seconds and 5 clicks.
This is another popular “just enable it” WordPress cache plugin. It is recommended to enable some options from the Advanced tab in the plugins’ settings screen, but I will just enable it for now and move on to the test…
Even though it shows great performance on the test, I don’t like how this plugin is built and its visual interface is just so basic in the bad kind of way.[alert-note]Things to consider when aiming for better results:
- Less is more in some cases
- Better grades doesn’t mean better Speed
- Some things are just a matter of web server and you can do nothing about it
All in all, I’m just sharing my experience with caching plugins. I’m not saying WP Fastest Cache is the best plugin out there and you should totally switch to it.
But if you are searching for this kind of plugin, or you are unhappy with your W3 Total Cache performance, go and try something different.
The setup is so easy so it won’t cost you anything to try. Just remember to never have more than one caching plugin active on a site, or it can get messy!
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