One of the most important thing is setting up caching, which I will discuss now in more length.
You should use your browser’s caching! – beckons Google PageSpeed. But what exactly is caching and why is it important?
What is WordPress Caching and Why is it Important?
With caching, you can set which elements of the website that are not constantly changing (static), and how long you would like to store them in the browser’s caching.
Caching is important, because all the stored elements do not have to be loaded again, every single time you check the given website, so it becomes much faster. Caching concerns the websites own files, so it’s worth to use the least amount external source files.
Google services use external source files (Google Analytics, Google Adsense, Google Font), certain plugins (e.g.: Jetpack,), and the buttons and plugins of social network sites (Facebook box, Like button, etc.).
To set up caching you have to install a cache plugin. I tried many of the WordPress cache extensions, until I finally found WP Fastest Cache.
I collected the 6 most popular plugins, from which you can chose.
The 6 best cache plugins
This extensions has over 1 million active installation, and has been updated by the developers 7 months ago. The average rating is 4.3 which isn’t bad, but it could be better.
It’s a smart plugin filled with many functions, but it might put of beginner users, because with many functions comes many settings. Using this, the loading time can be effectively reduced, however despite this, in my experience, the time to first byte increases, which isn’t a good thing.
The other issue I have noticed, is that it doesn’t really “catch” the WordPress admin interface, it becomes slower. I always noticed the admin interface becoming quicker, when I turned off and deleted the extension,
It is currently installed by over 2 million users, and the last update was 4 months ago. The average rating is 4.3, but it is obvious that the ratings it is getting are either, by exaggeration or it is really that good (5), or really bad (1), or the good (4) is the most average. For me this is a bit discouraging.
The army of current installers of WP Fastest Cache is smaller then the previously mentioned other two plugins, but it still has a whopping 800,000 of it, and the 4.8 average rating makes it the best rated among the popular cache extensions.
It is regularly updated, and the last update was uploaded less then a day ago by the developers.
Its popularity isn’t baseless, and I’m happy to see, that more and more people use it, as it provides an outstanding performance, doesn’t slow down the admin interface, doesn’t increase the time to the first byte, and last but not least it is very quick and easy to set it up.
For the average user, who manages a simple WordPress site or blog, this extension will be more than enough, however, if you have a MultiSite (you run more than one WordPress sites from one admin interface), you can forget about this plugin, as it doesn’t currently support MultiSites.
This plugin has a premium version too, which enriches this already amazing extension with many useful extra functions!
This less known Cache plugin has over 60,000 active installation and a remarkable 4.6 average rating. It was last updated 10 months ago, which isn’t great.
The interface is really simple, which you can get to know even without installing, as all the functions are portrayed on images on the WP Comet Cache WordPress extension’s site.
I left Hyper Cache for last, as at the moment it has 30,000 active installation, and the average rating is 4.4. It was last updated 3 months ago, this isn’t great.
The interface is pretty simple, and if you would like to get to know its settings before installing it, you can do so at the plugins profile page, which shows screenshots of the extension.
6. WP Rocket
The WP Rocket is a premium plugin, and is the odd one out on this list, as it isn’t used only for caching, but it can optimize other speed related tasks as well.
You can optimize your JS and CSS files, and it contains a Lazy Load function, which you can use to optimize your database and Google Fonts, just to mention a few things.
Thanks to the various functions the WP Rocket can replace the WP Fastest Cache, Autoptimize and the A3 Lazy load image optimizer I like so much, by itself.
On the extensions website you can find detailed information, the documentation helps you set up the plugin, and you can always ask help from the support, if you have any trouble of course.
This plugin isn’t free, however for the various functions and the effective speed increase, you only have to pay $39 yearly.
How to install and configure WP Fastest Cache?
After introducing you to the more known cache plugins, I will show you how to install and setup WP Fastest Cache.
You have two ways to install this plugin:
- The first is downloading the installation file from the Plugins Library, and then uploading it in the Plugins–>Add New menu by clicking Upload extension.
- The other option is going to the Plugins–>Add New menu, write in the search bar WP Fastest Cache, and install then activate the plugin from here.
After turning on the plugin, on the left hand-side and on the top of the icon you can notice the icon with the gepard on it.
By clicking on the icon on the sidebar you can bring up the plugin’s settings, and by hovering over the top icon, the options to delete the cache (Delete cache), and the reduced sized css/js files (Delete Cache and Minified CSS/JS) will appear.
Configure WP Fastest Cache
From the settings, the light greyed options are only available in the paid version, so you can’t activate these. From the available functions tick these:
- Cache System (enable): enable caching
- Preload: the websites caching will happen automatically, not when it pops up for a visitor for the first time (the data in the pop up window is fine, you don’t have to edit this)
- New Post: the cache is deleted, when there is a new post or the site is shared (in the pop up window, tick Clear All Cache)
- Update Post: the cache is deleted when a post or page is updated (in the pop up window tick Clear All Cache)
- Gzip: it turns on the compaction of Gzip, so the application on the server compacts all files, therefore reducing their sizes
- Browser Caching: it turns on the browser’s caching, so for returning visitors the website will run smoother
If you are planning on using this cache plugin, you should also install Autoptimize for these tasks:
- Minify HTML: reduces the website’s size
- Minify CSS: reduces the sizes of the CSS files
- Combine CSS: it merges all the CSS files into one, decreasing the number of downloads
- Combine JS: it merges all the JS files into one, decreasing the number of downloads
On the Delete Cache tab you can manually delete the cache, the same options are available here as to what the gepard icon provides at the top of the page at the WPFC title. The next 3 tabs are only available with the paid version.
On the Exclude tab you can set up exclusions, e.g.: the js and css files that you don’t want the plugin to cache. I don’t use this option, just like the CDN (Content Delivery Network) tab’s options as well.
The essence of CDN is, that the static content is served by a server that was specifically optimized for this, the CloudFlare, or the MaxCDN provides services like this.
One part of the downloads are done by this server, and the rest by the hosting provider server, so the loading of the website becomes quicker.
When you finish setting everything up, there is nothing else left, then clicking on Submit and that’s it. I manually delete the cache, when I’m making serious changes, like the look of the website. So after clearing the cache, I can see the new version.