Site speed is ever so crucial when creating a website. In fact, 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a site. If you want to enhance user experience and make your site load faster to keep visitors browsing, then consider using a WordPress cache plugin.
What is Caching and Why is it Important?
Before we dive into the best cache plugins, let’s take a moment to understand what caching is and why it’s important. Caching is the process of saving and storing static copies of your site’s files in a temporary storage location. By doing this, a web page can be delivered to the visitor’s browser more quickly.
Caching comes into play when some information from your site’s web pages is stored locally on the user’s device. The next time a user visits a page on your website, some of that information is fetched from their computer’s local storage instead of your web server. This retrieval from the cache is much faster than retrieving the data from a distant web server.
Caching is not included within the WordPress core features. Your hosting provider may offer caching however, if you lack the technical skills to set this up a caching plugin is a safe option to consider.
Common Cache Plugin Features
- Page Caching – Page Caching: Imagine you have a book. Instead of rewriting the book every time someone wants to read it, you make copies and store them ready to be handed out. Page caching works in a similar way by creating a copy of your web page and storing it. When someone visits your website, they receive the pre-made copy, which is faster than generating the page from scratch. It helps your website load quickly and reduces the work your server needs to do.
- Object Caching – Think of object caching like a handy drawer where you store frequently used items. In web terms, it’s a memory storage that keeps information, like search results or parts of your website, readily available. Instead of going through a long process every time someone asks for that information, it can be quickly retrieved from the drawer. This speeds up your website and reduces the strain on your server.
- Browser Cache – Browser caching works similarly by storing copies of website resources (like images or stylesheets) on a user’s web browser. When they visit your site again, the browser can use those stored copies, making the page load faster.
- Image Optimisation – Have you ever taken a picture and wanted to make the file smaller so it’s easier to share? Image optimization does just that. It reduces the file size of images on your website without making them look noticeably worse. This process makes your website load faster because smaller image files take less time to download.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) Support – Think of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) as a network of warehouses located in different cities. When someone wants to buy a product, the warehouse nearest to them can quickly ship it. Similarly, a CDN has servers in different locations worldwide. When someone visits your website, the CDN finds the server closest to them to deliver the website’s files. This reduces the distance the data needs to travel, making your website load faster for users no matter where they are.
- Lazy Load – Imagine you’re reading a long article with many pictures. Instead of waiting for all the images to load before you can start reading, lazy loading allows the text to appear first and then loads the images as you scroll down. This technique prioritises the content that’s visible to the user, making the page load faster initially. Images and other non-essential elements are loaded only when they are about to come into view, improving the overall performance of your website.
Installing WordPress Cache Plugins
Most cache plugins can be easily installed and activated without the need to delve into their settings in order to fully utilise their benefits.
To install and activate a WordPress cache plugin, follow these simple steps:
- Navigate to the WordPress plugins library in your WordPress dashboard.
- Search for the cache plugin you wish to use.
- Once you find the desired plugin, click on the “Install” button.
- After the installation is complete, click on the “Activate” button to activate the plugin.
- You may need to configure the plugin settings according to your preferences however, as a beginner it is best to leave settings as default.
- Once the plugin is activated and configured, it will start caching your website’s content, improving its loading speed.
The Best WordPress Cache Plugins
Our list of the best WordPress cache plugins have been tried and tested by us to the point where we feel like they are good enough to recommend. All of these plugins are free to use but come with a premium version if you want to take advantage of extra features.
LiteSpeed Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins available with over 4 million active installations and a 5-star review. Developed by LiteSpeed technologies, it is a server-side cache plugin equipped with a large arsenal to improve your website speed.
LiteSpeed cache comes with a free Quic.cloud CDN to help further secure your site and improve its speed. If you’re a Hostinger customer, LiteSpeed cache comes pre-installed with all of their hosting plans.
- Object Caching
- Browser Cache
- Image Optimization
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- Lazy Load
Cost: Free – $10-16/month for premium packages.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is another popular cache plugin with over 1 million active installations and a 4.4-star user review.
W3 Total Cache is compatible with many popular CDNs such as Cloudfare & Max CDN amongst others.
- Page caching
- Lazy loading
- Fragment caching
- Database caching
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) Support
Cost: Free – $99/year for a pro license.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is another plugin that makes the list of the best WordPress cache plugins. It boasts a user rating average of 4.3/5 and has over 2 million active installs.
The plugin works by generating and serving static HTML files instead of dynamically processing every request to a WordPress website.
Whilst not having a built-in CDN, WP Super Cache is compatible with many popular CDNs such as Cloudflare and Max CDN.
WP Super Cache is a completely free plugin that offers all its features without any paid premiums. You can enjoy all the functionalities and benefits without spending any money. This makes it an excellent choice, especially if you have a limited budget and still want to optimise the performance of your WordPress website.
- Page caching
- Garage collection system
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) Support
Cost: Free (No paid package)
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is a highly popular cache plugin with an impressive user rating of 4.9 and over 1 million active downloads. Founded in 2016, it is a newcomer to the scene. However, it has quickly gained popularity and currently holds a respectable rank of 40 among a staggering 59,957 plugins available.
Although WP Fastest Cache does not include a built-in content delivery network (CDN), it is designed to work seamlessly with several popular CDNs, including Cloudflare and MaxCDN. This compatibility allows you to easily integrate WP Super Cache with your preferred CDN service.
- Page caching
- GZIP compression
- Browser caching
Cost: Free – $49-$300 lifetime (1-10 licenses)
Autoptimize is slightly different from the other options on this list. While it does not have explicit caching capabilities like other cache plugins, it can work alongside cache plugins to further enhance website speed. With a 4.7/5 rating and over 1 million active installs, it can be a useful ally when it comes to making your website quicker.
At Comprehension Digital, we rely on the powerful combination of LiteSpeed Cache and Autoptimize to optimize our website’s performance. By leveraging the benefits of both plugins, we have observed significant improvements in the speed and responsiveness of our site.
- Code Minification
- File combination
- Critical CSS generation
- Image Optimisation
- Lazy load
Cost: Free – $11.99-$31.99 depending on number of sites.
All of the plugins mentioned in this article will improve your website speed no matter which one you choose. However, if you’re struggling to choose here’s our verdict for the plugins we recommend the most.
- Best beginners option – WP Super Cache. All features are free straight out of the box.
- Best advanced users option – LiteSpeed cache. Not as user-friendly, but premium features are powerful and quick.
Now that you’ve got caching taken care of for your website, are you interested in learning how to enhance your site’s SEO even further? Discover the best WordPress SEO plugins that can help you achieve better search engine rankings and optimize your website’s visibility.