The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress Site Speed

The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress Site Speed 1 2020

How fast is fast enough when it comes to loading websites? According to Google,  3 seconds is all you have to load your website before mobile visitors get annoyed and leave. Sounds like a difficult demand? That’s because it is. For example, the average load time for sites on mobile is 19 seconds and 14 seconds, depending on whether one is using a 3G or 4G network. So, how can you be better than average? 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best email WordPress caching plugins that can significantly increase your site speed. Websites that load within five seconds perform much better in terms of viewability, average session time, and bounce rate.

Can a caching plugin help you achieve that? There are many things that can affect the speed of your WordPress website and we wrote about the subject in great detail in our comprehensive guide on How To Fix A Slow WordPress Website. While hosting-related problems come first, having no caching plugins in place is the second most common reason why your WordPress site is slow to load. 

The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress Site Speed 3 2020

Caching is a must-do for WordPress and you can think of it as a data storing unit that memorizes a static version of your website and is ready to display it as soon as your page is requested.

How You Can Benefit From a Caching Plugin?

The first and main benefit of installing a caching plugin is the increased speed and performance of your website, but there are also a few other benefits that come as a result of the increased speed. 

Installing a caching plugin can also reduce the load on your hosting server. This can be especially beneficial for anyone who uses a limited hosting plan. Caching will save you a lot of memory and transferring operations. 

Furthermore, faster websites get more visibility because they provide a more positive user experience. Being on Google’s good side will get you new visitors while being on the users’ good side is key to retaining those visitors as loyal customers. The fact that Google confirmed that site speed is one of the main ranking factors speaks a lot about how important this is. 

When you combine that information with the astonishing statistics that say 92% of traffic goes to the results on the first page of Google, you can’t afford to be without a caching plugin. And we are here to tell you which ones will get you the best results. 

The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress

Since site speed is so important, there are many caching plugins available on the market today, making it nearly impossible to tell which is the fastest. 

So, how can you be sure you’re making the right decision for your website? 

Will you benefit by installing any caching plugin? Certainly, not, which is why we’ll take a look at the best caching plugins for WordPress, and show you exactly how you can benefit from each one. 

Just a quick note before we begin: Although we have our favorites and we’ll discuss why in great detail, we can’t and should not label any plugin as the fastest on the market. Some of them are more feature-packed and user-friendly than others, but it’s up to you to test them and see which one performs better on your website. This is because your server, configuration, resources, and even physical location affects the performance of the caching plugin. 

On top of that, caching plugins are incredibly complicated and there are dozens of settings that affect the speed positively or negatively. What works best for you, might not be the best option for someone else. We recommend trying out and testing a few different caching plugins first, to see which one delivers the best results for you.

WP Rocket (Premium)

WP Rocket's landing page

WP Rocket was founded in 2013 by Jonathan Buttigieg and Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, two web developers who got frustrated by the existing plugins because of their complexity. According to them, plugins weren’t optimized for user experience, as they had way too many features, and set up was time-consuming even for experts. So, it was upon these two problems that they based their own plugin, WP Rocket – a simple solution for everyone. 

WP Rocket was developed by rigorously following WordPress’s philosophy. Simplicity was their top priority, making it easy for beginners and non-tech-savvy users to install and use the plugin. 

And, it seems like their idea was a winning combo. Since 2014, WP Rocket has optimized more than 1,212,000 websites and made more than 144,000 customers happy. The plugin gained popularity quickly, as it was recommended by leading WordPress Experts soon after its release, and positive customer reviews have been piling up ever since. 

WP Rocket is our favorite caching plugin for a number of reasons, but we really love the simple user interface and quick setup. Although we do believe beginners should spend some time learning about the settings and how they can optimize the plugin, WP Rocket has the power to make your website blazing fast without you having to spend hours on it or be an expert on the subject. 

Why We Chose WP Rocket As One Of The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?

  • Developer friendly. Optimized to fit both worlds, WP Rocket delivers a great experience to developers by being clean and easy-to-use, as well as flexible and fully customizable.
  • Cloudflare compatibility. WP Rocket integrates with Cloudflare so you can manage everything from the WordPress dashboard.
  • Cache preloading. The indexing of your website by search engines is improved as the WP Rocket crawler simulates a visit to preload the cache. 
  • Database optimization. The plugin will clean your WordPress database and reduce the number of resources used. 
  • Static file compression. WP Rocket reduces the weight of your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files, and you know that lighter means faster. 
  • Images on request. Lazyload is a technique used by major websites like YouTube and Facebook, where the images on your websites are loaded only when the visitor scrolls down the page. This furthermore improves the load time of your website. 
  • Google Fonts optimization. The ability to optimize Google Fonts is one of the most advanced and unique features that are very hard, if not impossible to find in other caching plugins.
  • Browser caching. The ability to store static components of the website in the browser, so when the visitor goes on another page of your website, the static components do not need to be loaded again. 

Final Thoughts

WP Rocket is one of the best email WordPress caching plugins currently on the market that’s especially appealing to the less tech-savvy users, beginners, or DIY-ers. However, we believe professionals and bigger businesses would also be satisfied with it. 

Being a premium caching plugin, unfortunately, there’s no free option for anyone who wants to try WP Rocket for a limited time. However, the team behind WP Rocket guarantees that you can get a refund if you request it within 14 days of purchase. That being said, there are three payment plans you can choose from, based on the number of websites you want to optimize. At this time, the one website plan costs $49 for one year of support and updates, the three website plan costs $99, while the infinite website plan costs $249.

Wondering why you would spend money on a premium caching plugin, with so many great, free options available? WP Rockets stands out from its competitors because it’s incredibly feature-packed and provides a lot of options that many free caching plugins lack, like browser caching, lazyload, and so on. 

Anyone with a WordPress website can use WP Rocket, although a minimum of PHP 5.6 is required. Whether your website is a simple blog or an online store, WP Rocket will speed up the loading time remarkably. If you’re an expert or a long-time professional, you’ll be glad to know that WP Rocket is very flexible and you can customize it to your liking.  

W3 Total Cache (Free + Premium)

W3 Total Cache's landing page

If you’ve been looking for a WordPress speed optimization plugin, chances are you’ve come across W3TC (W3 Total Cache), as it’s one of the oldest caching plugins for WordPress and presumably the most well-known. 

W3 Total Cache was first launched back in 2009 and through the years it has gone from being the most popular caching plugin to being in the hotspot because of a problem in developer support. Fortunately, BoldGrid bought the plugin in 2019, and from there on, we’ve witnessed the efforts to restore W3TC to its former glory.

Today, W3TC has more than 11 million downloads, with over 1 million active installs. The vast majority of the reviews gave the plugin five stars, although there is a significant portion of one-star reviews due to the rough patch this plugin went through before it was bought by BoldGrid. This needn’t worry you, as it’s all in the past and we’ll show you why W3TC deserves your attention. 

We love that W3TC has the ability to integrate with CDNs, and its focus on delivering the best results for mobile and websites that use SSL certificates (eCommerce), where fast loading pages are crucial for making sales. In fact, there’s a lot that W3TC offers, and we’re going to take a look at the best features in more detail. Just, keep in mind that some of these features require the PRO version. 

Why We Chose W3 Total Cache As One Of The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?

  • Transparent integration with most CDNs. CDNs included are Cloudflare, Amazon Cloudfront, Rackspace, and many more, which improve SEO rankings, the time visitors spend on your site, and conversions. 
  • Compatibility with most hosting options. W3CT is compatible with shared hosting, virtual private/dedicated servers, and dedicated servers/clusters. 
  • W3TC offers mobile support and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) support.
  • Fragment Caching (PRO version). The ability to control the caching times for comments, eCommerce, and other interactive elements.
  • Caching Statistics (PRO version). The ability to use advanced metrics that can help you diagnose and identify previously unknown performance issues that might be key to fixing your slow WordPress website. 
  • Minification and compression. W3TC makes JS & CBS files a lot lighter and with that, it increases loading speed.  
  • Lazy Load for Google Maps (PRO version). W3TC optimizes Google Maps so it can speed up loading times. 
  • Support for Object Caching. 
  • Purge Log feature. You’ll get information when your cache is being cleared and why.

Final Thoughts

We believe W3 Total Cache is the best email WordPress caching plugins for SEO experts, developers, and other professionals, as it’s very technical to configure and might be overwhelming for beginners in this field. You might easily break your page, so be careful. 

Another advantage of W3TC is that it comes as a free tool that you can upgrade to a PRO version. The free version is available directly from WordPress, while the PRO version is only available in-app within the free plugin interface. Unfortunately, there’s no multi-site discount, so regardless of how many sites you have, you still need to pay $8.25 a month (billed annually – $99) for the PRO version. This is very expensive when compared to WP Rocket, for example. 

It’s not our favorite caching plugin, but it’s here because we do recognize its potential to make your website load at a dazzling speed. BoldGrid claims at least a 10x improvement in overall site performance once the plugin is fully configured. Plus, at the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference and W3CT might just be the right tool for your website. If you’re an experienced developer, we encourage you to try the free version and test it for yourself. 

Swift Performance (Free + Premium)

Swift Performance's landing page

Swift Performance is relatively new on the market but many developers and professionals are already convinced that it leaves the competition lagging with its powerful performance and lightning-fast loading times. Is it really the best value-for-money plugin you can find today? 

Considering the fierce competition, we wouldn’t say it’s the fastest or the best value, but it’s definitely one of the best. Keep reading to find out our favorite features and what makes this plugin truly valuable, so you can make an informed decision on whether it might be the best for your specific needs. 

The first benefit of Swift Performance comes from the fact that it’s much more than a caching plugin, as it offers a lot more features that classify it as a full WordPress speed optimization tool.

With this tool, you’ll be able to improve perceived load time, reduce server response time (TTFB), improve loading times for returning visitors, improve site efficiency, and offer advanced granular control.

Why We Chose Swift Performance As One Of The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?

  • Compatibility with other plugins. Swift Performance is compatible with WooCommerce, WPML, bbPress, Cloudflare, Varnish, and more. 
  • Lazyloading Feature. The ability to only load images and other elements when the visitor scrolls down the page. 
  • Smart Caching System. The intelligent caching system allows users to cache AJAX requests and dynamic pages. It also means that users can create rules about which files they want to be cached.
  • CSS and Javascript Optimization. The ability to minify the CSS files and Javascript, as well as generate CSS for every page automatically.
  • Image Optimizer. Optimizing the images can make them lighter without sacrificing image quality.   
  • Google Analytics Bypass. The ability to host Google Analytics locally, which eliminates the external call (HTTP request) to Google servers.
  • Database Optimizer. This feature deletes unneeded revisions, expired transients, trashed posts, orphan, post meta, and other elements that might be slowing your performance. 
  • Plugin Organizer. Once you install a plugin, it becomes active on all of your pages automatically, so Swift Performance allows you to create rules on how you want your plugins to work and where. 

Final Thoughts

This powerful all-in-one WordPress speed tool is designed to fit the needs of both beginners and experienced professionals. However, we believe that to fully optimize the plugin, you still need some “expert” touch as it’s somewhat difficult to set it up. That being said, Swift Performance offers a guided setup wizard and autoconfiguration, so even if you doubt your skills, we encourage you to give it a chance. 

Swift Performance is a premium caching tool that offers three pricing plans and a 14-day money-back guarantee, just like WP Rocket. The pricing plans are dirt cheap considering you can choose a plan depending on how many websites you need to optimize. If you have one website, you can purchase the “single” plan that costs only $39 a year. The “multi” plan costs $99 a year and allows you to optimize up to four websites, while with the “developer” plan you can optimize an unlimited number of sites for $199 a year. 

On top of this, Swift Performance comes in two variations:

  • Swift Performance Lite
  • Swift Performance PRO

The Lite version is free and you can find it in the WordPress repository.

Swift Performance goes beyond your caching needs, which is why it’s perfect when you need much more than caching to fix your slow WordPress site, so you don’t have to pay or look for a variety of different tools. It’s the ultimate multi-use tool that offers the functionalities of five different plugins.

Comet Cache (Free + Premium)

Comet Cache's landing page

Comet Cache is the second cache plugin from the developers that first created ZenCache, a cache plugin that also enjoyed a large following. In 2016 they launched Comet Cache, which received many positive reviews from developers. And, even now, after almost 2 million downloads and over 60,000+ active installs, this caching plugin manages to hold on to its five-star rating. 

We love Comet Cache because of its easy installation process and user-friendly dashboard that will appeal to many users who aren’t professionals in the field but still want to optimize their page by themselves. On the other hand, if you’re a developer, you can configure the plugin with its advanced features and the PRO version functionalities even more. 

Nonetheless, the documentation department is what truly sets Comet Cache apart from its competition. Installing or buying this plugin means you’ll get incredible support and a massive library of learning resources that will help you understand caching in-depth.

Why We Chose Comet Cache As One Of The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?

  • Two-Minute Setup. Comet Cache is really famous for its easy and well-documented set-up that doesn’t take more than two minutes. 
  • Post/Page/Category/Tag Caching. The ability to speed up load times by optimizing the caching settings for all WordPress components.
  • Automatic & Intelligent Cache Clearing (PRO version). The ability to set the caching preferences upon installation and then forget about it as the feature will automatically detect any changes and clear the cache.
  • Client-Side Browser Caching. The ability to allow the browser to cache the cache for extra speed (double-caching), which is not the same as “Leverage Browser Caching”.
  • WP-CLI Compatibility. It means you can install, activate, deactivate, and delete all from the WP-CLI.
  • GZIP Compression. The ability to improve compression rates (up to 70-90%).
  • Debugging Mode. The ability to see what exactly Comet Cache is doing by enabling debug notes in HTML “View Source” mode.
  • Mobile-Adaptive Mode. The ability to create multiple variations of your cache based on OS, device type, browser name, and browser version. This is perfect if you’re using different themes for your desktop and mobile site.

Final Thoughts

Comet Cache is one of the most efficient and user-friendly caching plugins you can find on the market. It’s the perfect option for most beginners and amateurs who want to see lightning fast results without putting way too much effort into the configuration process. Although, if you’re a developer, Comet Cache is flexible and offers some advanced features, so it’s still a good option for you.

When it comes to the pricing options, you can choose between a Lite (free of charge) and two PRO (paid) versions. The good thing is that the pricing is just a one-time fee that will get you a lifetime of software updates and three years of support. The first paid version costs $39 for a single site and $99 for three sites. The second paid version offers unlimited sites for $139. 

Comet Cache also offers the possibility of buying a developer license with some added benefits and a 14-day money-back guarantee. 

The main reason why you might want to upgrade from the free to its paid version is the reduced workload. Having the paid version means that all the features will be automated and you can basically “set it and forget it”, while on the free version you’ll have to do a lot of things manually. 

WP Fastest Cache (Free + Premium)

WP Fastest Cache's landing page

Simple and highly effective, WP Fastest Cache is yet another popular and loved caching plugin that you can find in the WordPress repository. It’s very similar to our previously mentioned plugins, as it also claims to be the fastest and simplest. However, WP Fastest Cache also offers some unique features which give it a spot among the best caching plugins for WordPress. 

WP Fastest Cache has more than 1 million downloads and over 100,000 active installs, with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5, which is pretty impressive. One reason for its popularity is that WP Fastest Cache’s free version comes packed with a lot of great features and functionalities which are more than enough for the average user. For example, the free version features desktop caching, minification of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

We love it because the developers are fully committed to this plugin and they update it regularly. Plus, customer support is top-notch, so you won’t need to worry if something is not clear. 

Why We Chose WP Fastest Cache As One Of The Best Caching Plugins for WordPress?

  • Several minification features. The ability to combine and minify CSS and JavaScript.
  • Leverage Browser Caching. The ability to store static components in the user’s browser, so the page doesn’t need to be reloaded when the user moves from one page to another.
  • Image Optimization. The ability to optimize images and make them lighter, which speeds up the load time of your page. 
  • Cache Statistics. The ability to diagnose and identify performance problems by looking at advanced metrics that show how your page is performing.
  • Database Cleanup. The ability to clean your WordPress database in order to save resources and make your page lighter. 
  • Lazy Load. The technique of loading images only if and when the visitors scroll further down the page. 

Final Thoughts

WP Fastest Cache is one of the best email WordPress caching plugins for the average user as it doesn’t allow for too much customization, and it’s very easy to navigate. The plugin can speed your site and do it for free as long as you don’t need any advanced functionalities. 

You can find the free version in the WordPress repository, while you can only buy the paid versions directly from the WP Fastest Cache website. There are three premium plans offered: bronze, silver, and gold. The bronze plan costs $49 and includes one license, the silver plan costs $125 and includes three licenses, while the gold plan costs $175 and includes 5 licenses. WP Fastest Cache promises a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the results. There are also some other possibilities when it comes to the payment options but you have to sign up and contact the team to get specific information.

How Do Caching Plugins Work?

The first thing you need to know is that WordPress generates content dynamically. In other words, every time someone requests to access your website, WordPress processes all the information (files, elements) to provide an up-to-date version of your website to the user’s browsers. However, this process takes some time, especially if your page is larger and contains a lot of elements. This is where caching plugins come into play. 

Caching plugins were created as a solution for the slow process of loading the page dynamically. Caching plugins create a static HTML version of your page by memorizing all the information and then simply show the visitor a cached version, as opposed to the heavy PHP scripts.

It works because once you update your website and publish posts, you won’t make day-to-day changes in the content. But, even then, the best caching plugins are developed to “refresh” if you make a change to your page.

And the visitor won’t even be able to tell the difference between a dynamically processed and a cached version of your page. Users will only notice how fast your website loads, which contributes to a more positive browsing experience.

How Loading Times Impact Your Website

Does a time variation of one second really make a difference? You might think not, but according to Amazon, one second costs $1,6 billion in sales yearly. Google, on the other hand, has calculated that they’ll lose 8 million searches per day if their search results were only four-tenths of a second slower. These shocking findings speak a lot about the lack of tolerance for slow loading websites among web users and give reason to why so much effort is invested in finding faster ways of displaying websites and search results. 

These findings also explain why Google will punish you by not showing your website high in their search results if it loads slow – they want to make sure the user is satisfied with its search. 

So, by having a slow loading page, you’re losing traffic in two ways. First, Google will rank you much lower, which will decrease your visibility. Second, half of the users that found your page will leave before your page loads, thus lowering your viewability. 

Fortunately, an easy solution is to install a caching plugin that will help you increase conversion rates and search engine rankings.

Summary

Since site speed and performance is crucial for website traffic, installing a caching plugin becomes an indispensable task. Hopefully, our article will help you decide on the best caching plugin for your WordPress site. 

After going through dozens of potential options available on the market today, we made a final selection of what we believe are the best five caching plugins – and, the fastest, too. Our list includes WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, Swift Performance, Comet Cache, and WP Fastest Cache. 

Every website is different as it uses different themes and elements, so try to think about your site, and which of our recommendations can serve you best. However, don’t forget that caching plugins are just one piece of the whole puzzle. To find out what more you can do, check out our article on the best WordPress speed optimization plugins, tools & resources

Before leaving, the final thing we want to mention is that you should be particularly careful whether you already have a caching plugin. Some WordPress hosts have built-in caching or their own caching plugin. Make sure you do your research before installing a new plugin. The reason for this is because having two plugins is worse for site speed than having no caching at all. 

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