So you finished your website got it completely done and then someone told you about speed test for websites. So you run a speed test and you website is loading so slow that it feels like the internet of the 90s. How do you fix a slow moving website, with caching but pick carefully they are not all equal.
What is the fastest cache plugin WordPress? The fastest caching plugin for us during our testing on a shared hosting environment was Swift Performance, not only did it reduce the page size, but it also reduced requests and overall gave better scores. We tested many of the popular caching plugins and Swift Performance was the one that gave best bang for your buck.
For someone who does not know what a caching plugin is or even what it does, this article will help you out. We will talk about why someone need caching, how to check if your web host has caching and much more.
What is a cache and why do I need it?
When someone accesses your WordPress website, they are served information that is stored on a database and pulled using PHP that information is then transmitted to your computer where you are served the information. This process can sometimes slow down when large amounts of people are accessing your website at the same time.
Because of this caching plugins were created so that visitors viewing your website are not waiting for the information to reach their computer. Google only compounded the effort to speed up websites when they started forcing people to have faster websites or get left behind in the rankings.
Caching is important not only for your website but for the servers that your website is housed on. Websites that use a cache use fewer resources when someone requests your website information which can save you money and save the host itself some resources.
A cache is a copy of your more static website resources which are stored and then served without having to be pulled every time someone requests to see your website. For websites that get few visitors this might not be tons of savings but for a website that has massive amounts of traffic this can save more money than you can image.
It has become so important that some hosting companies will offer their own caching plugin that works with their servers to speed up your website. One of the more famous caching plugins is Lightspeed but you need to have a server capable of using that technology and not all servers can.
What is the Fastest Cache Plugin WordPress
When you search on WordPress for caching, it will bring up pages of results. When you ask on forums or Facebook posts, you are likely to hear many arguments take place over the best. Well, we put the caching plugins to the test, and the results were amazing.
We took a website that has some content, three posts to be exact and tried different caching plugins on them. We used two very specific test to get the results, Google PageSpeed Insights and Gtmetrix. Both tests are some of the more respected tests that you can run for your website.
If you want to learn more about how speed test work for websites check out our post.
So in our testing we tested four of the biggest competitors on the WordPress repository.
To be fair, we probably could have added another two or three big names but the results speak for themselves. We tested this website on a shared hosting environment and each one had only the caching plugins turned on when the testing begin.
Here are the results we got from the tests.
|Swift Performance||A 100%||A 98%||2.7s||540kb||15|
|WPRocket||A 98%||B 86%||3.0s||733kb||36|
|W3 Total Cache||A 98%||B 86%||4.1s||602kb||39|
|Auto Optimize||A 96%||B 88%||5.2s||795kb||29|
|Google PageSpeed Insight|
|Mobile Score||Desktop Score|
|W3 Total Cache||50||83|
Fastest Caching plugin
The fastest caching plugin for us was Swift Performance which gave the best results. We got those results from the free version of the plugin. Which is important to note because WPRocket is paid, they do not offer a free version of their plugin which is disappointing.
W3 Total Cache reduced the pages but increased the requests and total load time by 1s which was enough to drop it into third place. Auto Optimize was so bad that response time increased, load time increased but requests were lower than normal.
Still when you compare these plugins on Google PageSpeed Insights, it’s night and day. Swift Performance passed the Google test with flying colors while the rest of these just failed miserably. 50s for mobile is mediocre but certainly not the worst it could be.
How can I test my website?
The easiest way to test your website is to download a few of these caching plugins turn them on one by one and test your speeds. You should notice a difference right away once you turn them on. Many of them have default settings which will automatically start saving your website from slow speeds.
Many of these caching plugins are free but require either a subscription or paid yearly service to have advanced functionality. W3 Total Cache, Auto Optimize and Swift Performance have free versions. WPRocket is paid only.
What shocked me the most is that WPRocket was probably the easiest to set up and the one with the biggest reputation for caching plugins but yet it didn’t perform that great out of the box.
There is one huge thing to note when you are testing these. I didn’t tweak these and each of these can be tweaked to get better results, surprising enough Swift Performance was the one that required the least amount of tweaking and gave instant results where the others just fell short on the Google PageSpeed Insight test.
Results may vary
I want people to keep in mind, results will vary this is a test I ran and from my testing, I had success with Swift Performance. Other people may run their own test and find another caching plugin is better out of the box but I wanted to pit these plugins against one another and see who would come out on top.
The most surprising and disappointing part of WPRocket was the fact that it didn’t reduce the page size nor the requests by nearly as much as I would’ve expected. Swift Performance reduced the requests down to 15 while the second best was Auto Optimize with 29 requests.
Still, I recommend that you put these caching plugins to the test, it’s not uncommon to find better solutions that might also be free.
Why didn’t you mention anything about the score? Chasing a score is not a good thing but reducing the time that your page loads is. Know what metric you need to chase because some are a waste of time. I included them in the test just to show the variance between them, in fact most of them scored decent enough. But that is just part of the test and it’s not part of that makes a difference to your visitors, they don’t care about scores.
Would you purchase the pro version of these tools? The one I liked, yes. I would purchase the pro version if I didn’t have the knowledge of how to improve my website speed, their support can be very helpful when you are starting out.
I hope this article makes you really think about the plugins you are using and put them to the test. While it’s great to install something for free, just know that sometimes paid plugins are the way to go. To be fair, most of the free plugins did excellent, they are free, so they didn’t cost a thing. But if you needed speed, I think it’s good to pay for something that will give you that speed be it plugin or hosting.
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