8 Excellent WordPress Caching Plugins to Speed Up Your Site

Aug 10 2011 by Sufyan bin Uzayr | 30 Comments

8 Excellent WordPress Caching Plugins to Speed Up Your Site

If you use WordPress as your publishing platform and are concerned about speeding up your website, caching will help you. The faster a web page loads, the better the user experience is.

This is how WordPress caching works: it generates a copy of your web pages and stores them in your server as static files (i.e. as HTML documents) and/or cached database queries. Afterwards, when a site visitor arrives at a particular page, the server gives them the cached page rather than re-querying your database and dynamically generating it, thus speeding up page response times and potentially reducing the server resources required for generating and serving a web page.

For WordPress users, the easiest and quickest way to implement a caching system is by the use of a WordPress plugin.

There are several WordPress cache plugins out there, and below, you’ll find the most popular, highly recommended ones.

1. DB Cache Reloaded Fix

DB Cache Reloaded Fix

DB Cache Reloaded Fix is a modified version of DB Cache Reloaded, patched for WordPress 3.1 compatibility. DB Cache Reloaded Fix caches the MySQL queries performed on your database to optimize the site’s speed.

While database query caching should suffice for most websites, and the plugin performs fairly well, it’s one of the newer WordPress caching plugins out there, so it hasn’t been field-tested by WordPress users as much as the other older plugins.

2. Hyper Cache Extended

Hyper Cache Extended

Hyper Cache Extended, as its name implies, is an extended version of the popular Hyper Cache WordPress plugin.

This plugin offers numerous features, such as 404-error-page caching, support for mobile devices, and various compression options.

For mobile device support, I tried it on my testing site using a phone running Opera Mini and an iPhone, and the site loaded up in a snap in both mobile devices (almost thrice as fast as before.)

Hyper Cache Extended has a satisfied user base, as evidenced by the ratings at WordPress.org. In addition, the creator, Mapto Lazarov, encourages users of the plugin to email him issues and feedback — a reassuring sign that the plugin is, at present, well maintained by an enthusiastic and helpful web developer.

3. Quick Cache

Quick Cache

Quick Cache is a WordPress caching plugin designed by Primo Themes. It’s lightweight and has user-friendliness as one of its selling points. The admin interface itself outlines each option in fine detail so that you know exactly what each option does.

Quick Cache has an impressive list of useful options, including the ability to disable caching for logged-in users and users who have just posted a comment so they can see new comments right away, which is helpful if your site is very active.

4. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is the most popularly known caching plugin for WordPress. It’s used by several leading WordPress-powered blogs such as Mashable and Smashing Magazine.

W3 Total Cache claims that your blog can load 10 times faster once the plugin is installed. Personally, I’ve seen the plugin drastically improve load times for older posts and static pages.

W3 Total Cache offers a plethora of options and provides you with other site optimization features such as source code minification and integration with your content delivery network (CDN).

If you’re uncomfortable with the admin interface (it can seem confusing for beginners), just leave the settings untouched because the plugin operates well at default settings.

5. WP-Cache

WP-Cache

WP-Cache is one of the first WordPress caching plugins, made available on WordPress.org in 2007 — so it has a relatively long track record. It gives you the ability to specify which posts, pages and files shouldn’t be cached.

The plugin operates well, but its update frequency is comparatively lower than the other plugins.

6. WP File Cache

WP File Cache

WP File Cache has a slightly different approach to WordPress caching: Instead of caching an entire web page, it only caches parts of it (usually parts that remain static for long periods of time).

Naturally, WP File Cache will not improve the performance and page load time of the website as much as the plugins that don’t require dynamic page generation and is best suited for high-traffic sites that frequently update web pages and WordPress users that would like to control which portions of a web page should (and shouldn’t) be cached.

7. WP Simple Cache

WP Simple Cache

WP Simple Cache generates static HTML files of a WordPress site’s content. You can specify the timeout settings for cached pages and the auto-clean frequency of cache files. Other than that, as you can probably surmise from the plugin’s name, there aren’t many other options to tweak.

The plugin’s home page is in Turkish, so, unless you know Turkish, you shouldn’t expect plenty of documentation at your service.

8. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache shows static HTML pages to most of your website’s visitors. The plugin developers claim that if your website gets a large amount of traffic and you’re on an underpowered web server, the plugin works wonders.

WP Super Cache can also cache certain WordPress plugins, which can also aid in improving site performance.

Six Revisions uses WP Super Cache, and recommends it as one of the six recommended plugins you should have installed.

Other WordPress Plugin Collections

If you liked this post, here are other WordPress plugin collections you should read:

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About the Author

Sufyan bin Uzayr is a 20-year old freelance writer, graphic artist, programmer and photographer based in India. He writes for several print magazines as well as technology blogs. He is also the editor of an e-journal named Brave New World. You can visit his website as well as friend him on Facebook and Google+.

30 Comments

Theo

August 10th, 2011

Nice roundup, i did not know about Hyper Cache Extended and DB Cache Reloaded Fix, will check them, thanks.

Garrett Vogenbeck

August 10th, 2011

This list is nice, but if you had a new site that was a bit slow, which of these plugins would you install and activate? Which are your personal favorite? Which ones are essential?

So far, I’ve used WP Super Cache with some success, as well as WP Minify.

Salman Saeed

August 10th, 2011

But what if sometimes the cache doesn’t have the updated pages in the database and the user misses the new content? :(

andrai

August 10th, 2011

How do you decide if you need a cache plugin? I have installed w3 total cache on a small site under 1k/month visitors and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Is it really meant for heavily trafficked sites?

steve

August 10th, 2011

I used to use W3 Total Cache on my clients sites but had issues with the plugin, causing the theme to break.

I now use WP Super Cache with no problems whatsoever.

Steve

Bill

August 10th, 2011

So which one should I use?

Martynas

August 10th, 2011

I use Quick Cache :) I like to see message “Quick Cache updated: … automatically :-)” and that “Clear Cache” button is accessable on every admin page. So, I can clear cache with one click.

Jacob Gube

August 10th, 2011

@Garrett Vogenbeck and @Bill: To truly know which one is best for your particular site and web host, I suggest trying them all and then performing some benchmarks. It doesn’t even have to be an elaborate, scientific process:
(1) Install a performance monitoring tool Like Monit (check out these other free server & website monitoring tools). If you have root/root-like access to your web server (like if you’re on a VPS or dedicated server) then it’s even easier, a simple top command and some logging will suffice.

(2) Monitor your current performance. A couple of days should be fine. If I were the one doing the test, I’d even settle for a couple of hours; however, if your site is just new, your site traffic pattern might not be as regular as a bigger site.

This will be your benchmark.

I would focus on page response times (you can measure this using Chrome at several points of the day or an automated, remote server monitoring tool like mon.itor.us), CPU usage, MySQL database usage, and memory usage. You want them to be as low as possible. You need to measure uncached performance to make sure you’re not actually decreasing performance with the use of a caching plugin (which is not an impossible scenario).

The other thing you should monitor is subjective and instinctive: How fast/slow does the site feel to you?

(3) Install a WordPress caching plugin and do step #2.

(4) Keep doing #2 and #3 for all the caching plugins you want to test.

The reason you have to test is because your site can be different from my site. Different hosts, different server configurations, different traffic loads, different server software, etc.

Personally, I recommend W3 Total Cache if it works on your server. Else, WP Super Cache, which our sites use, works great for our low-CPU, high-bandwidth, distributed setup since our major bottleneck has always been related to DB perf and CPU perf. Using a static/disk caching system for WordPress posts and pages, we shift the burden of serving pages to bandwidth so that the server is, most of the time, only dealing with connections and HTML-document-serving (along with creating the static HTML documents and handling user interaction like comments posting).

I’ve benchmarked page response times while the site was under heavy load for cached and uncached pages for the front page and one asset-heavy article (this is what I do for fun on week nights), and the difference is huge — I think it reduced page response times to 10% of the uncached page response times and significantly reduced CPU activity and memory usage. WP Super Cache has helped us through crazy days where we’ve been Dugg, Reddit’ed and celebrity-tweeted all at the same time.

My $0.02.

@Salman Saeed: That’s a good point. If you’re concerned about this, you should use a caching plugin that allows you to set the frequency of updating the cache and/or exclude your front page from being cached by the plugin. WP Super Cache allows you to do both of these things.

@andrai: A good caching system will help any type of site speed up page response times. I would install one just because you want to give your users the best experience you can afford, and the best caching plugins are free. In other words, the return of investment in spending a few moments installing/configuring a WordPress caching plugin is huge.

Saifu

August 11th, 2011

Really useful..Thanks!

Bill

August 11th, 2011

Thanks for the additional info Jacob!

Paracha

August 11th, 2011

As I Experience W3 Total Cache is the Best.

Sergiu

August 11th, 2011

I hate using plugins when you can actually code everything, especially when is adding some simple stuff. But this babys, most important W3 Total Cage made my day! Cut down loading time too 3 seconds, can I ask for more? Good collection!

Henry Louis

August 12th, 2011

I have been using quick cache in my blog & I did notice a significant impact.

Koozai Mike

August 12th, 2011

I can definately vouch for WP Super Cache. We use that on the Koozai blog and it does the job well.

Brian P

August 12th, 2011

This is awesome because we all know how important it is for speed when we are on the internet!

Helen

August 12th, 2011

I’ll be trying some of these out. Currently use WP Super Cache – but it will be interesting to see which of them performs better.

veztek

August 12th, 2011

Great information regarding Hyper Cache Extended which is actually new for me.

Kent Mauresmo

August 13th, 2011

I had some problems with W3 Total Cache , but I will try the other ones out. I also use Gzip which is supposed to speed up your website as well.

Thanks for the info. This was definitely needed.

LeeB

August 13th, 2011

I’ve used Hyper Cache on all of my sites for a while and have no complaints. Had heard of a few of the others but never knew that many cache plugins existed!

Jacob Gube

August 13th, 2011

@Sergiu: I follow the exact same philosophy, that’s why at most we use 6 plugins (planning on reducing this to 3-4 when the site gets redesigned). Things like social media integration, thumbnail auto-genration, navigation, etc. can be written in the template or as a plugin or as a function in functions.php. But caching is tricky to write. And writing something like W3 Total Cache would be a herculean effort.

@Henry Louis: That’s great. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably the person who most visits your own site, so if not for your users, speeding up the site for yourself and your staff is, in itself, a good reason to use a caching plugin.

@Helen: Try W3 Total Cache with minification on. Then experiment which does better: disk cache (which is what WP cache uses) or memory caching.

@Kent Mauresmo: Serving your page assets — HTML document, CSS and JavaScript files, images, etc. — is a best practice for speeding up your website. Also read “Use compression to make the web faster

Shanna

August 13th, 2011

Thanks for the list. WP Super Cache helps, but not enough. I’ll try setting up benchmarks.

John C. Lee

August 14th, 2011

I’ve used Quick Cache and W3 Total Cache in the past and now I’m using Hyper Cache. I don’t know yet about Hyper Cache Extended but since you mention it in this post I will try it soon. How does it compare to Hyper Cache?

David

August 20th, 2011

How does caching handle comments?

Chad Cantrell

August 20th, 2011

wow that’s great. Concrete5 has full page as well as block specific caching built in. Look into it. :-)

Flint

August 21st, 2011

Thank you for the useful information. I went with W3 Total Cache and I am loving it. Have a great weekend!

Imraan

September 10th, 2011

i was using w3 tc for a long time. But now after i have upgraded wordpress to the latest version, i am facing problems with it. It always says “Preview mode is active: Changed settings will not take effect until preview mode is or . any changed settings (without deploying), or make additional changes.” inspite of the fact that i have clicked deploy button. This msg still shows up.

Please help.

Justin Germino

October 17th, 2011

My problem is that the caching works on my static pages but my feed takes too long to pull and times out often. I need some way to improve the speed of my RSS from my site.

Revax Shane

November 9th, 2011

WP Super Cache – Great tool we tried other plugins but nothing can compete with WP Super Cache – Highly vouched for us.

iTehnology Planet

August 31st, 2012

it is mind blowing post. here is put very useful wordpress caching plugin… thanks admin

VAS

October 7th, 2012

W3 total cache is horrible, breaks the theme and makes the site run slow.

WP super cache is good.

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