Reviewed – W3 Total Cache Plugin

Posted on Sep 9 2013 - 6:04pm by Karan Chopra

Introduction

What will be the perfect solution to increase the speed of your WordPress website or a blog? The answer is simple to have WordPress cache plugin on board. While there are two main cache plugins you did heard loud and clear often – WP Super Cache (WPSC) and W3 Total Cache (W3TC) – but for this article, I have been reviewing W3 Total Cache plugin.

W3 Total Cache

Before giving brief introduction about the plugin, will likely to share that for our publication JustWP.org we are using W3 Total Cache plugin and in our experience, it is the BEST as it works the same way as we want to. The plugin is easy to use as well as easy to configure. If in case, you still thinking what cache plugin actually do? Then the answer is the plugin convert dynamic pages from your WordPress blogs into static HTML files.

W3 Total Cache by W3 EDGE is the popular plugin that most of the WordPress uses to make their site load faster & reduce the site load. The plugin includes the features such as page caching, minify, database cache, object cache, browser cache and CDN support which it’s rival WP Super Cache miss out.

Overall, the plugin improves the user experience of your site by increasing server performance, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. This means that about 99% of your visitors will be served static html files, while those 1% who don’t see the static files, they will see the different cached files which too are not different and are just better than uncached.

Suggested ReadingWP Super Cache Vs W3 Total Cache – Which One You Choose?

Benefits

  • At least 10x improvement in overall site performance (Grade A in YSlow or significant Google Page Speed improvements) when fully configured
  • Improved conversion rates and “site performance” which affect your site’s rank on Google.com
  • “Instant” subsequent page views: browser caching
  • Optimized progressive render: pages start rendering quickly
  • Reduced page load time: increased visitor time on site; visitors view more pages
  • Improved web server performance; sustain high traffic periods
  • Up to 80% bandwidth savings via minify and HTTP compression of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and feeds

Features

  • Compatible with shared hosting, virtual private / dedicated servers and dedicated servers / clusters
  • Transparent content delivery network (CDN) management with Media Library, theme files and WordPress itself
  • Mobile support: respective caching of pages by referrer or groups of user agents including theme switching for groups of referrers or user agents
  • Caching of (minified and compressed) pages and posts in memory or on disk or on CDN (mirror only)
  • Caching of (minified and compressed) CSS and JavaScript in memory, on disk or on CDN
  • Caching of feeds (site, categories, tags, comments, search results) in memory or on disk or on CDN (mirror only)
  • Caching of search results pages (i.e. URIs with query string variables) in memory or on disk
  • Caching of database objects in memory or on disk
  • Caching of objects in memory or on disk
  • Minification of posts and pages and feeds
  • Minification of inline, embedded or 3rd party JavaScript (with automated updates)
  • Minification of inline, embedded or 3rd party CSS (with automated updates)
  • Browser caching using cache-control, future expire headers and entity tags (ETag) with “cache-busting”
  • JavaScript grouping by template (home page, post page etc) with embed location control
  • Non-blocking JavaScript embedding
  • Import post attachments directly into the Media Library (and CDN)
  • WP-CLI support for cache purging, query string updating and more

Download, Installation & Configuration

Preparation

  1. Deactivate and uninstall any other caching plugin you may be using.
  2. Pay special attention if you have customized the rewrite rules for fancy permalinks, have previously installed a caching plugin or have any browser caching rules as W3TC will automate management of all best practices.
  3. Also make sure wp-content/ and wp-content/uploads/ (temporarily) have 777 permissions before proceeding.

Download & Installation

  1. Login as an administrator to your WordPress Admin account.
  2. Using the “Add New” menu option under the “Plugins” section of the navigation, you can either search for: w3 total cache or if you’ve downloaded the plugin already, click the “Upload” link, find the .zip file you download and then click “Install Now”.
  3. You can also unzip and FTP upload the plugin to your plugins directory (wp-content/plugins/). In either case, when done wp-content/plugins/w3-total-cache/ should exist.
  4. Locate and activate the plugin on the “Plugins” page.

Configuration

  1. On installation and activation, you will find Page caching will automatically be running in basic mode. Set the permissions of wp-content and wp-content/uploads back to 755, e.g. in the terminal: # chmod 755 /var/www/vhosts/domain.com/httpdocs/wp-content/.
  2. Now click the “Settings” link to proceed to the “General Settings” tab; in most cases, “disk enhanced” mode for page cache is a “good” starting point.
  3. The “Compatibility Mode” option found in the advanced section of the “Page Cache Settings” tab will enable functionality that optimizes the interoperablity of caching with WordPress, is disabled by default, but highly recommended.
  4. Recommended: On the “Minify Settings” tab, all of the recommended settings are preset.
  5. Recommended: On the “Browser Cache” tab, HTTP compression is enabled by default. Make sure to enable other options to suit your goals.
  6. Recommended: If you already have a content delivery network (CDN) provider, proceed to the “Content Delivery Network” tab and populate the fields and set your preferences.
  7. If you do not use the Media Library, you will need to import your images etc into the default locations. Use the Media Library Import Tool on the “Content Delivery Network” tab to perform this task.
  8. If you do not have a CDN provider, you can still improve your site’s performance using the “Self-hosted” method. On your own server, create a subdomain and matching DNS Zone record; e.g. static.domain.com and configure FTP options on the “Content Delivery Network” tab accordingly. Be sure to FTP upload the appropriate files, using the available upload buttons.

Recommended Settings

  1. Page Cache: Enable
  2. Page Cache Method: Disk (Enhanced)
  3. Database Cache: Disabled
  4. Object Cache: Disabled

Summary & Review

Using and experimenting the plugin in various ways to make a fit on our own blog, we always felt love for W3 Total Cache as it is one of the powerful cache tool which one really want to use it for their WordPress blog or website. At first, it might the site owner thinks in dazzling way as there are numerous features (and options) available out there, but at last this will be the best tool to help out with. I highly recommend on using W3 Total Cache plugin to all WordPress blogs or websites owners.

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Karan Chopra

Karan Chopra, CEO at G2One Network An Internet Media Company), Founder at 99DollarWebsite and Editor/Writer at I2Mag, JustWP.org, CodeAndMe.net, TechEXplained.org, JustInfo.Graphics, HowToWebDesign.org, NextBigProduct and WPLove.co. Karan is an internet enthusiast, who loves to explore every second thing in both technology and business. You can find him on Facebook , Twitter and Google+.