Best WordPress Caching Plugins Comparison

WordPress caching plugins is a complex topic for many people (especially newcomers), and there’s a lot to cover in any guide. A comprehensive exploration of WordPress caching might even demand a whole book — which we obviously don’t have the space or time to create here. But we can make the essentials of WordPress caching easier to understand, and that’s exactly what we’ll do below.

First, let’s start by looking at caching it as if it were a fairly straightforward math problem to be solved. Most of you reading this would have no problem multiplying, say, eight by eight to get 64. That’s a simple sum countless children learn in school every year. And they — and you — know the answer because you’ve memorized it. You might run a brief calculation in your head, but it should seem as if you can pull the solution out of your memory as naturally as recalling your own name. So, this form of memorization can be compared to website caching, even though it is a major simplification of the process. This example helps to visualize caching and illustrates why WordPress caching plugins are so important for a quality user experience.

Your website is required to present the same (or similar) content again and again, no matter how many visitors you receive per day. Even if you only attract a few dozen people, your site is still bringing the same content up repeatedly over weeks and months. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the server was able to remember the necessary files required to present your website as it needs to every single time more efficiently, as you can when solving simple calculations?

Explaining the Caching Process

Basically, any page a visitor navigates to on your website requires a server request, and processing by that same server (along with database queries). Next, a final result will be sent from the server to the visitor’s browser, which enables them to view your website with all the elements and files essential for forming its complete design. These include menus, blog posts, images, videos, etc.

As the server is expected to process each of these requests, and to do so as quickly as possible, delivering a full web page to users can be a surprisingly time-consuming process. Particularly for bigger websites or those best described as “clunky”.

But this is where WordPress caching plugins prove helpful. The caching plugin is designed to tell the server to keep some of the files stored to RAM or disk (based on your specific configuration). That means the server can remember content it’s served in the past and duplicate it for the user. Web pages will load far faster from the cache directly, and the amount of work needed to generate a pageview is reduced significantly.

That’s the power of caching.

When You Need WordPress Caching Plugins

We’ve already covered how caching can increase the speed of web pages, but is it always essential to install WordPress caching plugins? And are there any other advantages to caching you should know about? For anyone responsible for managing their own servers or using shared hosting, caching plugins are generally a fantastic idea.

But there are times when you won’t actually need a caching plugin. If you were to work with a trustworthy managed WordPress host, for example, they would handle the caching on your behalf. This would be performed at server-level and much quicker, in a lot of cases. Server-level caching demands no knowledge, expertise, or time-intensive configuration to achieve the best speeds. It will be fast all the time — that’s it.

Often, top managed WordPress hosts don’t utilize caching plugins on their platforms as they may affect performance quality. Some things can go awry if you don’t know what you’re doing with plugins, which is where a little expert management can be a big help.

Why Some Caching Is Always Necessary

No matter if you choose server-level caching or opt for a plugin instead, you’ll always find some type of caching necessary. Here are some of the main benefits of caching to consider:

  • Deliver a faster browsing experience for users — we’ve already addressed how WordPress caching plugins can boost your site’s speed, but it’s a core advantage so deserves to be on this list!
  • Provide a better user experience overall — as your website will run more quickly, users will be more likely to stay and explore. Faster sites are known to have lower bounce rates, reducing the risk of people becoming frustrated and clicking away after waiting for more than 10 seconds or so for pages to load.
  • Servers rely on fewer resources — fewer resources contribute to a quicker website, and place less strain on servers. This is crucial for highly-dynamic websites (e.g. membership sites) and for determining what can or can’t be served from cache.
  • Potential SEO improvement — a faster speed and better user experience can inspire search engines to recognize that your website is worthy of a higher ranking. This makes caching a helpful addition to your search engine optimization strategy.
  • Lower time to first byte (TTFB) — using WordPress caching plugins is one of the simplest ways to reduce your TTFB, by as much as 90 percent in some cases.

How Does Caching Compare Against No Caching?

To show you how much difference caching versus no caching makes, we decided to run a few simple server-level caching speed tests.

First, we ran five Pingdom tests with no caching activated and measured the average, and then did the same with caching enabled. The average load time without caching was 677 ms, and the average with caching was 521 ms!

So, caching decreased our page load time by more than 23 percent, with no additional work required. We used a fairly well-optimized site for the speed tests, which means websites with less optimization will run even more quickly.

TTFB with no caching

Remember when we discussed how caching can affect your TTFB above? Well, we ran some more tests to identify how well caching can reduce TTFB.

We found that TTFB with no caching was more than 200 ms, but this dropped to under 40 ms when we enabled caching. That’s a huge difference.

It’s clear, then, that enabling WordPress caching plugins can decrease your TTFB substantially. And, again, that means better performance overall.

What Are the Best WordPress Caching Plugins Available?

Below, we’ll explore the best WordPress caching plugins to try if you plan to manage your own server or use shared hosting. While some may be more intuitive, they’ve all earned fantastic reviews from users. A lot of posts published online will attempt to compare caching plugin speeds and sell you the one they consider the best. But this is almost impossible, as plugins will perform differently depending on your choice of server, resources, configuration, and location.

Yes, we find speed tests as helpful as anyone else, but dubbing one plugin “the quickest” is frankly unfair. Why? Because what works brilliantly for one user might not be so effective for another. And that’s not to mention that there hundreds of different settings may be available to enable or disable.

With all this in mind, we feel it’s best that you always test WordPress caching plugins yourself to determine which work best for you.

We’ve collated a concise list of the top WordPress caching plugins to help you make an informed decision. You’ll find more detailed insights for each one further down, covering pricing, benefits, and more.

Our list:

We’ve found that it’s ideal to experiment with a minimum of two or three WordPress caching plugins before committing to any one option. You might find that you love the user interface and design in some caching plugins, but find others much easier to use overall.

Another recommendation from our experts is to run a speed test with a dedicated tool, such as GTMetrix or Pingdom, once you’ve implemented each plugin. This will enable you to check the impact the plugin has on your site’s performance.

But be sure to run a number of speed tests to make sure plugins are serving from cache. When you clear your WordPress website’s cache, it needs to rebuild. Helpfully, some plugins include an option to preload (or “warm”) the cache once it’s been cleared.

Be aware, though, that caching plugins can lead to issues while they’re helping your website run faster. There’s a particular error to watch out for when using caching plugins: “No update required. Your WordPress database is already up to date”. Keep that in mind, though it certainly shouldn’t put you off!

So, onto our in-depth look at the top WordPress caching plugins for your site!

WP Rocket

This is a premium WordPress caching plugin, offering three payment plans. You can pay a one-time fee, but if you keep your payments running, support and updates will be included. WP Rocket lists caching for a single website as $39, while support for three sites is just $99. For $199, you can get caching for an unlimited number of websites. Free plugins are available, but these rates are impressive considering WP Rocket is one of the market’s most feature-rich WordPress caching plugins.

There’s no free version or free trial for the WordPress caching WP Rocket plugin, but WP Rocket’s developers provide a 14-day money-back guarantee to ensure your satisfaction.

One of the main advantages of WP Rocket is its user-friendly interface and fast, hassle-free setup. This is a caching plugin for WordPress with the power to help your website run much faster, and yet any newcomer would find it easy to grasp the majority of the settings from the start.

Another top reason for WP Rocket to be worth a consideration is that it’s designed to run nicely on eCommerce sites. That’s ideal as, most often, those require better caching speed the most.

On the whole, you might ask why you should pay any cash for a WordPress caching plugin at all when there are some competitors giving theirs away for free. Well, that’s because WP Rocket offers a wealth of solid features and is simpler to use overall.

For example, WP Super Cache provides users with page caching, yet browser caching is unavailable. WP Rocket, on the other hand, delivers both.

And Hyper Cache is missing lazyload, whereas that’s just another part of the WP Rocket package.

We could go on and on like this, comparing WP Rocket with the competition, but the main point to remember is that $39 is a modest rate to pay for the sheer variety of features included.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • WP Rocket delivers a developer-friendly package, with a great dashboard to help newcomers feel at ease. Developers rarely have so much to experiment with in caching plugins, and others can make it far too complex for first-timers too.
  • The setup process is highly accessible for users of all experience and skill levels.
  • You can use the included database optimization to clean up your WordPress database, as well as decreasing the amount of resources used.
  • You can use WP Rocket to lazyload media, so that images don’t load on your site until a user actually scrolls over them. That means the server won’t need to do the work until it’s absolutely necessary.
  • You can increase your website’s speed even more with WP Rocket’s CloudFlare compatibility.
  • Multisite compatibility is also available through this plugin.
  • You can preload your cache.
  • Tools for minification and concatenation are included.
  • One of the most distinctive features is the Google Fonts optimization. I haven’t seen this included as part of another caching plugin so far.
  • Support available for object caching.

Take a look at the official WP Rocket documentation for help when configuring and experimenting with this plugin on your WordPress website.

Cache Enabler

Cache Enabler is an open-source, free caching plugin from KeyCDN (known for powering the Kinsta CDN). The disk caching engine’s performance is quick and dependable, while the multisite support is a benefit for users operating networks of sites.

The WordPress caching Cache Enabler plugin is a quality option without a hefty price tag: you may not be receiving the comprehensive range of features you would in WP Rocket, but Cache Enabler is still a terrific alternative if you’re on a tighter budget.

Cache Enabler’s big claim to fame is that it was the first WordPress plugin designed to help you serve WebP images with no need to use JavaScript. Sounds like senseless technical jargon to you? All you need to know is that while JavaScript is an important coding language, it can disrupt website speed in some cases.

Combining Cache Enabler with ShortPixel, EWWW, or Optimus plugin enables you to utilize this more recent image format properly. That’s a fantastic option for anyone running an online business, as most websites include dozens or hundreds of images, such as eCommerce sites or blogs.

Finally, Cache Enabler’s settings are simple and concise. They ask for such things as caching behavior preferences and cache expiry behind the scenes, the settings page offers explanations, and the number of settings is fairly low overall. As a result, most people will find this a confusion-free zone.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • Cache Enabler provides a unique way to serve WebP images: you can convert pictures to WebP format via ShortPixel, Optimus, or EWWW Cloud (the cloud version is recommended for its solid performance).
  • Cache Enabler WordPress caching plugins include a user-friendly, streamlined interface for maximum convenience. This is one of the simplest plugins to set up, and users at all levels of experience should find it a pleasure to handle.
  • Actual cache size is presented on the dashboard, to help you understand the amount of space the cache consumes. This is a fast, efficient caching program, offering manual and automated clearing options.
  • Minification for inline JavaScript and HTML is available.
  • This combines with the Autoptimize plugin to bring you additional features, such as injecting CSS into page heads.

Take a look at the official Cache Enabler documentation for help when you configure and test this plugin on your website.

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is a terrific example of an open-source WordPress caching plugin boasting installation numbers in the millions. When you search for caching plugins, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache (see below) will appear high on the list most of the time.

While it’s unfortunate that these plugins have such similar names, they are very different. It’s best to install both and try them separately to identify the right one for your site. You might prefer to install WP Super Cache first purely because it’s the work of the Automattic team, but both are worth considering.

Regardless, WP Super Cache is an open-source, free plugin with zero upgrades required once you’ve installed it. This performs efficiency by building static HTML files and serving these instead of the weighty WordPress PHP scripts.

Three caching modes are available, which is one of the WordPress caching WP Super Cache plugin’s most appealing features. One is titled Simple Mode: the average WordPress user would choose this as it poses the least risk. But another of the modes, Expert Mode, enables you to super cache files with various modifications to the .htaccess file. This is great for seasoned developers who prefer greater control over their site’s caching process.

The Simpler mode makes WP Super Cache simple to set up (as the name suggests!). This enables you to compress pages, and offers easy caching, CDN support, as well as cache rebuilding. On top of all this, you can identify known users and choose to not cache pages for them if necessary.

Additional homepage checks can be helpful too, when you want to make sure your site’s primary page is as optimized as it can be.

One of the core advantages of WP Super Cache is its garbage collecting: your cache directory fills up and can leave your site running slowly over time. WP Super Cache runs automated garbage collections regularly to clean older files out and maintain your site’s optimization.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • WP Super Cache boasts a positive reputation and track record, so you can expect its caching services for one or more of your sites to be of a high standard (no matter how big they may be).
  • This is an open-source, free product from Automattic — this means updates are regular and WP Super Cache is unlikely to disappear without warning.
  • In WP Super Cache’s backend interface, a lot of the settings you require are already filled in. As a result, it’s fairly easy to understand and put to work, even if you’re a total novice.
  • WP Super Cache utilizes a garbage collection process, clearing your older files out of the cache to prevent slowdown. This helps your site run faster and more smoothly.
  • This is integrated with a unique CDN setup, distributing your files better.
  • You can select from three caching modes, including Simple and Super Caching. This makes WP Super Cache a top option for diverse skill levels: the Simple cache option is great for the average user, while the Super Cache mode enables more advanced users to boost their site’s speed substantially.
  • WP Super Cache includes a unique feature known as Cache Rebuilding. Your blog’s cache won’t be cleared whenever a visitor posts a comment: the cache will be rebuilt and the old page will be served to other users instead.

While WP Super Cache has no official documentation online, the repository page carries a wealth of information.

 

Comet Cache

Comet Cache has one of the coolest names of all the WordPress caching plugins, and it has a solid reputation too. You can choose from a free or paid version.

The paid version is available from $39 to $139, as a one-time charge. However, you can opt to pay extra fees if you would prefer more extensive customer support with the WordPress caching Comet Cache plugin.

Comet Cache includes similar features to the caching plugins we’ve explored above, but it stands out for its incredible documentation. Even the regular WordPress plugin page offers lots of FAQs and links to help you learn about caching.

The Comet Cache website is home to a complete knowledge base and insightful blog. There’s plenty of information on the free and premium versions, with comparisons to help you choose.

A key reason for upgrading is Comet Cache’s automation: you can set this up and forget about it while the plugin does the majority of the work on your behalf.

The free version is capable of accomplishing many of the same tasks, but you will need to complete them yourself manually at times.

The client-side browser caching is helpful, too, as you’re basically double caching: the server is on your end and the browser is on the user’s. Crucially, it’s fairly simple to install the Comet Cache plugin and the dashboard is easy to navigate.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • With Comet Cache, you can take advantage of a quick setup and decent backend, so configuring the cache takes a matter of minutes.
  • You can cache on pages, posts, categories, and tags.
  • With the paid version of Comet Cache, you can try intelligent and automatic cache clearing. This allows you to establish caching preferences when you install it and forget about them for a while.
  • You can cache RSS feeds to avoid delays in your content syndication.
  • The plugin gives most of its main features away free, so you might not need to upgrade.
  • The paid version is similar to what you would receive from WP Rocket, so we’d advise that you test both to see which suits your goals best.

Browse the Comet Cache official documentation and community forum for help when configuring or testing this plugin on your website.

Hyper Cache

The WordPress caching Hyper Cache plugin runs on PHP only, so it’s simple to set up with no complicated configurations to worry about. This is also compatible with WordPress blogs of any kind.

A main benefit of Hyper Cache is that it’s aware of mobile environments. As a result, the caching continues to run when a user visits your site on their smartphone or tablet. This ensures your website remains fast and performs smoothly across devices, for total user convenience.

As Hyper Cache is open-source, there’s no need to pay or stress about future upgrades either. If you want to support the developer and compensate them for their work, though, you can make a donation.

The installation process for Hyper Cache is quick and easy. That’s ideal for newcomers and unskilled users of WordPress who might feel overwhelmed by extensive caching settings.

Furthermore, the compression caching optimizes bandwidth and boosts page speed brilliantly. This plugin is also intended to work with bbPress well, so if you want to run a forum, Hyper Cache is a fantastic option for caching its pages.

Perhaps Hyper Cache’s biggest advantage is its simple configuration. You can almost set it up and forget about it, with no reason to worry about its function following installation.

Admittedly, some of the settings have been assigned unexpected names or can seem somewhat tricky at first. But they generally include recommendations to help you understand what to enable and how they work.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • There are no payment plans for Hyper Cache: this is a free, open-source plugin, and all features are included with initial download.
  • Hyper Cache is mobile-aware, so caching runs on mobile devices too.
  • This plugin includes CDN support, enabling you to tap into larger networks of servers and increase your website’s speed further.
  • Hyper Cache provides options for serving cached pages to visitors writing comments on your blog. You can cultivate more discussions on your posts without worrying about them affecting its speed.
  • Compression will be managed via the Hyper Cache plugin, for non-cached pages too.
  • Hyper Cache is designed to detect if a site’s theme has changed to its mobile version, for a better user experience.
  • This plugin will relocate the cache folder beyond your blog, and the cache folder won’t be included in your website backups. That means you can make smaller backup files while saving space.

Take a look at the official Hyper Cache documentation and visit the community forum to learn more when setting this plugin up on your site.

WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache’s name is obviously similar to some of the other WordPress caching plugins on this list, but don’t be fooled: this has a number of features that make it stand out.

You can get started with a free version of the WordPress caching WP Fastest Cache plugin, though a premium one is available for purchase through the settings module if you want to upgrade.

With the premium version of WP Fastest Cache, the fee is one-time only, and you’ll get access to a varied selection of tools that are unavailable in the free version. But generally, the majority of websites will be satisfied with the free plugin, as it features desktop caching, combination options for CSS and JavaScript, as well as HTML minification.

You’ll also have access to GZIP tools and browser caching in the free WP Fastest Cache plugin. Overall, this plugin can help to make websites’ performance much faster and smoother compared to sites using no caching plugin whatsoever.

The settings basically consist of a checkbox list, which makes it one of the simpler settings pages to explore. Information boxes are also included, offering clear explanations to guide your choices. You can switch between tabs for managing key items, such as imagine optimization, the CDN, and the cache timeouts.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • The free version of WP Fastest Cache can prove useful for the majority of sites, and it appears to serve sites more quickly than a lot of the competitors.
  • The settings comprise a list of checkboxes alongside easy-to-follow information points, so it’s simple to use.
  • You can upgrade from the free to the premium version in the WordPress dashboard for maximum convenience. You don’t have to download a plugin from the developer’s site.
  • CSS and JavaScript can be combined and minified.
  • You can integrate CDN without too much configuration required.
  • Optimization of images is performed separately from the caching process, so you can see the amount of space saved with one of your biggest resource-consumers.
  • A feature is included for creating a cache for a mobile theme specifically. You can also opt to not serve a cached version for the desktop to your mobile users.

While WP Fastest Cache has no official documentation in one place, you can still find a wealth of tutorials on configuring WP Fastest Cache on your WordPress website on their blog.

W3 Total Cache

You might be aware of W3 Total Cache, as it’s one of the most popular WordPress plugins available. The WordPress caching W3 Total Cache plugin is a decent free, open-source solution, though we can’t pretend that it’s the ideal option for any website.

One of its main disadvantages is that its backend settings can be extensive and, sadly, hard to grasp. The development team can complete the proper settings for you efficiently, though newcomers may still feel confused.

Despite this issue, W3 Total Cache has managed to achieve millions of installations. It can be integrated with a CDN, and works for mobile and desktop websites nicely. It’s also recommended as a helpful companion for sites holding SSL certificates, which means eCommerce websites in particular might benefit from installing it.

The free version of the W3 Total Cache plugin includes all the features, and there are no prompts designed to push you into upgrading. The plugin can also help you make savings on bandwidth, thanks to HTTP compression, feed optimization, and minifications.

Yes, it doesn’t have the best backend configuration we’ve ever seen, but that could be down to our personal taste. Nevertheless, W3 Total Cache is still sure to help your website’s performance improve and, in turn, increase conversions.

Reasons this is one of the top WordPress caching plugins

  • W3 Total Cache is free, and most of the caching plugins you’ll need to boost your site’s speed and optimization are included.
  • Popularity can be considered an indication of a plugin’s quality,thanks to its millions of installations, though we don’t recommend you base your decisions on that alone. Take the time to browse the many positive reviews to learn more about W3 Total Cache before you commit.
  • W3 Total Cache is compatible with various hosting options, including shared hosting, clusters, and dedicated servers.
  • You can use caching for any mobile environment, so that when a user visits your site on a smartphone, they’ll still benefit from caching as they would on their computer.
  • W3 Total Cache provides SSL support, to help your online store run more quickly and efficiently. That can improve the customer experience overall.
  • As the CDN works with the media library, you can check the quality of your images’ optimization easily.
  • You’ll have access to compression and minification, as well as caching of databases, objects on your disk, and posts.
  • Object caching is supported with W3 Total Cache.

You can get started with help from the in-depth documentation for W3 Total Cache available

Alternative Approach To Caching

Instead of using caching solutions on web app level you may think about NGINX – it can proxy requests to other web servers or apps. The outcome here – performance increase for serving static files.  Another important feature – NGINX can sit ‘in front’ of web servers where it acts as a gateway to other applications or servers. Additionally, it can also cache the results of requests proxied to FastCGI and uWSGI processes, as well as to other HTTP servers.

NGINX is fully supported by Plesk and can be configured/tuned up easily via Plesk interface. And if you consider to user NGINX with Plesk for caching – think also about WordPress Toolkit, which will help you a lot to manage WordPress routine tasks.

Conclusion

We hope we’ve helped you understand why website caching is so important, but the functions that make caching work can be incredibly difficult for the average WordPress user to understand initially. That’s why you might struggle to determine which settings in a caching plugin will be right for you at first.

Again, if you choose managed WordPress hosting, you won’t need to organize your own plugins. The host will do that for you, and caching will take place on the server. But caching plugins are essential if you’re using shared or self-managed hosting.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, we hope you’ll find picking the best plugins for your WordPress website easier. Focus on learning as much as you can about any of the WordPress plugins that appeal to you most, to help yourself make the most well-informed decision.

One comment

  1. Hi,
    Some people use two caching plugins to get best results. Is this correct?

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