As your WordPress site grows, you may notice a dip in its performance. Even after all your efforts, if there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the efficiency of your website, the answer to your trouble might lie in caching! To help you get started with caching, we’ve collected four of the best caching plugins out there.
Beyond sharing more information about each plugin, we’ll also make some recommendations for which plugin to pick based on your needs and knowledge level.
What is caching and why is it valuable?
In a general sense, caching means storing “something” in a temporary storage area so that it can be more easily retrieved. For your WordPress site, caching is important because it can make your site load faster or, sometimes, reduce the load on your server.
The most common type of caching for WordPress sites is page caching, in which your site stores a static HTML version of each page, rather than dynamically building each page with PHP and database queries like WordPress normally would.
But there are also other types of caching that WordPress sites can benefit from like:
- Database caching – most common queries (like getting the list of posts for your homepage) are cached so as to avoid a redundant database query altogether.
- Browser caching – the process of storing files on the browser for quick rendering; this can be triggered by your server.
- Object caching – an object is a collection of files (documents, scripts, images); object caching involves storing a bunch of these files locally.
Some of these caching plugins will focus almost exclusively on page caching, while others offer a more comprehensive approach.
Let’s get to the plugins now, starting with…
1. Comet Cache
Comet Cache is one of the best caching plugins for beginners because of its simple, easy-to-use interface.
If your target is to find a quick fix, this is what you should go for. You pretty much just click that yellow button in the screenshot above to activate it and enable caching on your site.
For webmasters who may be looking for something more, Comet Cache provides advanced features, some of which are highlighted below —
- Cache clearing on change of content: When you modify a post, the cache associated with it is changed automatically
- Set a manual expiration time for cache clearing: Every time a cache is created, you can set an expiry time for it. After expiration, the cache will be rebuilt.
- Enable client-side caching
- Caching of elements like the RSS feed or 404 error pages
- Apache optimization by modifying the .htaccess file
Overall, Comet Cache provides a good option for someone who is not looking to go deep into caching.
2. WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is a little more comprehensive than Comet Cache, as it provides a few other performance-boosting features outside of caching.
In addition to easy-to-enable page caching, WP Fastest Cache provides you with the option to integrate with a CDN, where your static files like scripts and images would be rendered through a CDN to reduce load times.
In addition to that, there is an option to create “exclude rules” to exclude certain web pages, JS scripts, CSS files, and cookies from being cached. This option can be useful if you have pages that go through frequent changes, like the homepage of an e-commerce website.
Although most of the features in WP Fastest Cache are free, a few advanced features can be enabled only by purchasing a premium edition of the plugin for $49.99. Premium options include the ability to manually delete a cache, image optimization and compression, and cleanup of your MySQL database.
3. WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is developed by Automattic, the owner of WordPress.com, and a major contributor to WordPress. In its settings, WP Super Cache provides logically grouped options that go hand in hand with the types of caching mentioned earlier in the post:
Just like Comet Cache, you can enable it with a single click, which should work for most sites. In addition to that, this plugin provides support for CDNs like WP Fastest Cache.
Beyond the basic settings, WP Super Cache lets you:
- Select a delivery method for the caching
- Exclude certain users from seeing cached content
- Rebuild the cache manually if needed
- Control caching for mobile devices
- Specify a location for cache files
Finally, WP Super Cache has a debug mode that creates cache logs. This can be helpful in case you are not getting the desired performance improvements from the plugin, and want to explore the reasons behind the issue.
4. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular and best caching plugins for WordPress sites, though it’s geared a little more towards advanced users. It offers an array of different caching methods, including:
- Page cache
- Database cache
- Object cache
- Browser cache
In addition to the features provided by other plugins, W3 Total Cache has an option to minify your static files in order to reduce their size and make load times shorter. Moreover, there is also an option to import and export settings, which can be a blessing when you are migrating your site across servers.
Overall, W3 Total Cache is a complete solution for caching in WordPress with a comprehensive set of options making it one of the best caching plugins for WordPress. The only catch is that it can take some time to set up. But don’t worry – we have a beginner’s guide to setting up W3 Total Cache to help you out!.
Final thoughts on the best caching plugins
Caching is one of the best ways to speed up your WordPress site and reduce the load on your site’s server.
So which one of the best caching plugins is right for you? Let’s recap:
- Comet Cache and WP Super Cache are the two simplest caching plugins, which makes them good options for beginners.
- WP Fastest Cache does a good job of blending ease of use with depth of functionality
- W3 Total Cache is the most advanced and flexible caching plugin, but its lengthy feature list might scare away some beginners.
No matter which plugin you choose, make sure to test your page load times before and after to see how much of a difference it makes.
Do you have any questions about using these plugins? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to help!