WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache: What is the best WordPress caching plugin?
Everybody wants a fast website. When clients come to us, load speed is usually one of their biggest concerns, and rightly so. Consumers expect sites to load quickly; in under 2 seconds to be precise. A fast website is essential for improving SEO and increasing conversions. Low site speed can lead to a high bounce rate and furthermore, a poor user experience, both of which can lead to site visitors never coming back.
Your website is a reflection of your business. Site users need it to be responsive, and ultra-fast. This is where “page caching” comes in. Caching creates these ultra-fast load times that site users desire by improving load times of your web pages, therefore optimising the site for search engines. In order to have your website running as fast as possible, it is also important to mention server spec, as this has a massive impact on speed, especially if you decide to use a dedicated server. Shared servers can be extremely slow and have multiple sites with low bandwidth. Dedicated servers, along with page caching mean optimum site speed. Just a half second difference in load times can cause a 20% reduction in web traffic. That’s a large percentage of traffic you just can’t afford to lose.
“Caching” is temporarily storing data. Caching plugins create and save static HTML versions of your pages beforehand and serve them to browsers directly. That way, they don’t have to build the pages from scratch every time. Cached versions of pages are beneficial for site users as they can get the information they’re looking for quicker. By viewing the cached page instead of the “live” version, server load can be lowered by up to 80%.
There are lots of caching plugins out there, but two that specifically stand out from the rest. The most popular caching plugins for WordPress are W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket. Here, we compare the two.
One of the predominant reasons for installing Rocket, is the fact that it is extremely easy to use. Activated in a single click, Rocket is ready to work. This puts it ahead of its main competitor – W3 Total Cache. It’s simple, fast and intuitive and no previous programming knowledge is required.
WP Rocket starts caching your pages as soon as it is activated. The crawler simulates a visit to pre-load the cache and instantly improves the indexing of your website by search engines. By cleaning up your database by reducing its size, Rocket will boost your sites performance. Regular clean-ups will keep your site running smoothly.
When lazy load is turned on, images are loaded as your visitor travels down the page, meaning that the images are only loaded on request as the user scrolls down. By not pre-loading every image on the page, page speed is improved.
A slight disadvantage to this otherwise excellent plug-in is the fact that it isn’t free. However, this is a premium plugin, therefore well worth the money. WP Rocket has a pricing structure that varies depending on the number of sites you need it for. For one site, it is $39 a year and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. By looking at the reviews, many of which are 4.5 star or above, you can see this plug-in is exceptionally popular, primarily for its ease of use.
W3 Total Cache.
A major benefit of this caching plug-in is the fact that it’s free. For many developers, after spending money on the build of their site, paying for plugins is unappealing. W3 Total Cache was one of the first plugins to offer features and support and the only WordPress Performance Optimisation framework designed to boost user experience and improve load times. This specific caching solution is recommended by some of the top hosting providers in the industry.
One of the most important things to note about this plugin, is perhaps the level of difficulty of the settings. With over 15 pages of settings, it isn’t the most user friendly, especially if the user is an inexperienced developer. However, this does mean that every aspect of the plugin is customisable. With a huge variety of customisation options, W3 Total Cache can suit everyone’s needs.
If it all proves difficult, W3 Total Cache have an extensive FAQ section and online forum on the plugin page. With over 900,000 downloads, W3 Total Cache is the second most downloaded caching plug in on the market. If you’re looking for a free plug in with lots of potential for customisation, this is the one for you.
Summary: So, what is the best WordPress caching plugin?
Overall, for ease of installation and configuration, WP Rocket comes out ahead. The pricing is reasonable for the service and product you receive and the customer service is spot on. Tests undertaken by developers show it beating all other caching plugins when it comes to speed. In fact, it can half load time. W3 Total Cache is still an excellent plugin, but in terms of usability, it fails. However, in comparison with other free plugins, this one comes out on top. WP Rocket is a premium plugin, whereas W3 Total Cache is free, so you are quite literally getting what you pay for.