One picture (or meme, more appropriately) sums up everything about WordPress Cache plugins and why the heck does everyone go nerdy about it:
Yes. That's basically what caching plugins do.
They keep a little copy of the ENTIRE website so that the server knows what exactly to do when somebody is searching for the website - very quickly.
Today you’re going to see the best WordPress caching plugins to use in 2019. I have compared the top 4 WordPress Caching plugins based on
- And the level of customization possible
I have also added a bonus plugin which can be used in combination to any of the these 4 cache plugins WITHOUT any clashes.
Here, you'll find out:
- Which free plugins give you greater bang for your buck
- Which cache plugin to use for sites targeting mobile users
- And, of course, which ones must you choose.
So, the first WordPress Caching plugin I’m gonna review is WP Rocket. It is a premium plugin available at $49.
I’ll right away start with the great features since we’re here to compare.
Good things about WP Rocket
The main reason why I loved WP Rocket is that it is so so simple to configure.
This is the GTmetrix result of a site before activation of WP Rocket.
After activation, the test site’s performance score was
How WP Rocket does this is like this:
The moment the plugin is activated, it automatically does page caching, browser caching and more.
After adding further customization like cache preloading
- And lazy loading
- The site’s performance just got better!
Now, the latest update gives you greater control over your site’s performance. The advanced customization features include database optimization and never-cache-URLs.
The plugin’s interface is crystal clear. It's not a headache, trying to get the settings right.
It also gives you an option to concatenate your HTML, CSS AND JS files. You can combine google fonts and fix the render blocking issues for CSS and JS.
You also get Lazy Loading for images and iframes. WP-Rocket can also sync your Cloudflare and Sucuri cache.
Downsides of WP Rocket
On the downside, if you have a tight budget, you may not want to invest $49/year on this. You can always install a bunch of other free plugins to do the job.
Next up is the W3 Total Cache plugin.
This is a free plugin, available in WordPress.org.
Some of the features W3 Total Cache provides are
- Browser caching
- Page and object caching
- Minify database
- And CDN support included.
Good things about W3 Total Cache
How W3 Total Cache increases your site’s performance is by reducing download times using your CDN.
One feature worth mentioning is that this plugin improves performance no matter which hosting service you use. This is great, since hosting is a major reason why your sites probably doesn’t load fast.
Use this plugin if your site is mostly for mobile users. The AMP feature helps a lot.
Downsides of W3 Total Cache
On the downsides, the settings are rather a headache. It takes a lot of time for you to figure out the perfect cache settings.
Another nasty point to note if you don’t have a CDN, you won’t see much of a difference.
Since it’s a free plugin, you need to spend a lot of time looking up on how to configure the settings. The premium support charges $250 - $350, which is frankly, too much.
Let’s review WP super cache now.
WP Super Cache was created by the makers of WordPress itself, and is one of the top caching plugins available out there.
Good things about WP Super Cache
One point worth noting is that this plugin takes care of legacy caching – which means that even logged-in users can expect a faster site.
Super Cache has 3 levels of customization:
- Simple method
- Expert method
- And WP cache-caching or legacy caching.
The simple method isn’t as fast as the Expert one, but serve dynamic sections only. The expert method is the fastest of all – and performs well under high traffic.
Now, unlike W3 Total Cache, Super Cache doesn’t make a CDN mandatory.
Downsides of Super Cache
On the downsides, Super Cache’s settings are a real pain in the neck.
Now comes the final contender for this list: WP Fastest Cache.
WP fastest Cache is another free plugin available. Let’s compare the results of a site using both Super Cache and Fastest Cache.
WP Fastest vs WP Super Cache
Before any cache was present, the performance scores and loading time were 74 and 6 seconds respectively.
After Super Cache was activated, the load time considerably improved to 635 ms.
With the free version of fastest Cache, however,
The load time was amazing. – 528 ms.
Why is there a difference in the results?
In the premium version of Fastest Cache, you get even more customization options like-
- Mobile cache
- Widget Cache
- Lazy Load
- And Image optimization.
The price is just $39 and can be used for a lifetime. You can refill credits for image optimization.
Another bonus plugin which can be used in combination with any of the previous plugins and works like a charm!
It doesn't matter which cache plugin you are using. We recommend you to use Autoptimize for minification and concatenation of your HTML, CSS and JS.
Autoptimize is a slightly less well-known caching plugin which has a little below 1 million active users.
- It is available for free and does a great job of improving performance.
- It optimizes images, page speed and minifies all the bulky scripts.
It helps you fix render blocking issues of CSS and JS files by using critical CSS for the above the fold content.
If your server is hosted on GoDaddy, WP Engine or anyone who blacklists cache plugins. That’s where Autoptimize comes into play. It fixes HTML/CSS/JS issues.
Autoptimize can be used in addition to previous mentioned plugins. It will not clash with each other – just be sure to disable the common functions.
Recommended Cache Plugins?
So which caching plugins do we recommend?
We recommend WP Rocket in the paid section and W3 Total Cache in the free section.
It’s true, that you can supplement other free plugins instead of WP Rocket, but trust me: too many plugins ruin the performance.
W3 Total cache gives you the most bang for your (free) buck and is also a great choice for businesses targeting mobile users. Besides, Total Cache works great on all hosting platforms.
These are the top 5 WordPress Cache plugins which increase your performance score in 2019. Have you tried any on these plugins? Or do you think I have missed some in the list? Do let me know in the comments below!