One of the most important ways to improve site speed is to use a caching plugin. This is particularly important for WordPress websites as factors such as regular content publishing and the use of multiple plugins can all decrease site efficiency.
This blog post aims to describe the process of caching, how it will improve the performance of your WordPress website, and detail a collection of the best caching plugins for WordPress.
What is Caching and How do Caching Plugins Work
Due to the nature of the WordPress CMS working dynamically, multiple database calls will run and retrieve information each and every time the user visits a web page.
In computing terms, a cache is a component of either hardware or software that allows for the storage of data and files. Enabling caching allows for the storage of frequently requested active data files so that when a site viewer returns to your site, only the updated content will be loaded dynamically, resulting in a faster load time.
Typically, there are two main forms of caching that most plugins offer: page and browser caching.
- Page Caching: When a page is requested for load, WordPress runs a number of requests to retrieve relevant resources such as PHP scripts and MySQL entries in order to display the specified page. A caching plugin will create a static version of your website’s pages. Here, bypassing dynamic loading and presenting significantly smaller and cached static files will increase load speed.
While not standard features, most modern caching plugins offer a combination of the following features:
- Minification: Typically for CSS and JS files, minification removes unnecessary characters from code without affecting the functionality. Here, characters such as comments, lines, spaces etc. are removed to decrease the overall file size and increase load time.
- Gzip Compression: One of the many compression methods, Gzip compresses files on the server and returns these (smaller files) during requests. As well as caching and compression-only plugins, Gzip compression can be set up manually by manipulating the code in the .htaccess file.
- Support for a CDN: A CDN (or Content Delivery Network) allows for the storage of static content within multiple cloud storage facilities. Particularly useful for websites that are releasing image-rich content on a regular basis, using a CDN will relieve quite a bit of stress from a single server. Although not all websites will need to make use of a CDN, it’s worth noting which caching plugins offer support for CDNs in the event that it applies to your or your client’s particular needs.
If you’re looking for more information on CDNs, read our post ‘Everything You Need To Know About Using A CDN With WordPress’.
Top Caching Plugins for WordPress
Of the vast number of caching plugins – both free and premium – readily available for download and purchase, we collated this list by cross-referencing a number of sources writing on the topic of page speed and caching plugins, and tallying the number of most frequently cited products.
Our top recommendation for the best caching plugin for Divi and WordPress websites is Divi Rocket. Divi Rocket has been developed specifically with Divi websites in mind, so you can rest assured knowing that it satisfies all of Elegant Theme’s Divi server requirements and helps produce a truly fast and efficient website.
Divi Rocket has a number of amazing features. Like top caching plugins, these include
- Browser caching, to make sure that static versions of your website’s pages are stored and served in your visitors’ browser
- Divi-aware server-side caching, which takes not only dynamic content but Divi modules themselves into account, and only displays updated content
- Divi section controlled lazy-loading to display a Divi page section-by-section, not waiting for the full page to load before displaying
- Database optimization, to clear out unused data and optimize MySQL tables
- And more
We love Divi Rocket, not only because it’s extremely powerful but because it’s really easy to set up and configure. Caching plugins are notoriously extremely complicated, some with pages and pages of confusing settings. We designed Divi Rocket to be sleek, streamlined and easy to use, with very few confusing settings.
This plugin gets straight to the point, so you can get straight to work!
W3 Total Cache
Becoming familiar with the vast configuration settings will require research, but this is a worthy exercise for those who need a very particular caching solution for their website.
Along with a vast number of features (including page/browser/database caching, minification and Gzip compression and much more), W3 Total Cache offers support for a number of CDNs. While the W3 Total Cache free plugin is more than adequate, there is the option to upgrade to a Pro version for additional features.
After activation, W3 Total Cache will have its own menu item in the WordPress admin menu. Along with the various caching settings, the plugin offers instructions/tips, an extensive list of FAQ entries as well as a Support tab to assist you in troubleshooting any queries or concerns.
WP Super Cache
Comet Cache ships with an array of features, including Automatic & Intelligent cache clearing technology, GZip compression and plenty more. Available for free to download from the WordPress repository, Comet Cache is also available as a premium plugin (ranging from $39 to $139 depending on the number of sites intended for use) for purchase directly from the Comet Cache website.
WP Fastest Cache
As well as generating and serving static HTML pages of your website to visitors, WP Fastest Cache offers browser caching, Gzip compression, minification (of HTML, JS and CSS files) as well as the option to combine CSS and JS files (to reduce the number of server requests).
Once installed and activated, WP Fastest Cache will appear within your WordPress menu. Operating on the freemium basis, WP Fastest Cache offers a number of additional features (such as optimization for imagery, statistics and more) in the premium version.
As well as great features (including page and browser caching, cache preloading, Gzip compression, minification of HTML, JS and CSS files), WP Rocket is multisite compatible, offers optimization for Google Fonts, includes LazyLoad (which sees images load only as a user scrolls through the page and not all at once), as well as many, many other features. WP Rocket has been built in such a way that developers are able to manipulate and customize the source code if desired.
One of the benefits of opting for WP Rocket and paying for a package is the plugin support. In the event that anything goes wrong or you’re seeking additional assistance, you’re able to open a ticket and receive dedicated support toward solving your problem.
Autoptimize & Cache Enabler
While Cache Enabler takes care of the HTML files by turning them into static resources and storing these instead of the dynamic WordPress files, Autoptimize operates on the minification side of things, taking care of the various script and style files by compressing them to help save on load speed.
Are you using a caching plugin on your WordPress website? If so, which plugin do you use, and what do you like about it?
We hope that you enjoyed reading this blog post. Please feel free to share any comments or queries below. We love hearing your feedback!
Thanks for reading!