Website speed of loading is one of the main factors that are key to a successful website. Speed is not only good for your website’s visitors but also counts as a good SEO practice. See, no one will wait for your website to load; there is no time for that. But when visitors hit your site, and it loads as fast as possible, they will stay around and check whatever they were looking for. There are different plugins that you can use to make your website page load faster. Examples of these plugins are WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, and WP Rocket – all caching plugins.
In general, website loading speeds are dependent on different factors. But just installing a caching plugin, your website load speeds will increase immensely without going into the technical details – most people do not love touching code. We know that.
Apart from increasing the website load speeds, caching plugins also prove useful by reducing your site’s bandwidth consumption, reduce the load on your hosting server and also improve your site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So as much as fast website load speeds is good for SEO, it will also save you money on your hosting packages since your database and bandwidth will be optimized well for less usage of resources and storage space.
That is why in this article, we have delved into the three caching plugins to help you decide on the best. This is a long article, but don’t worry, here is a summary to catch up on everything in a few words.
WP Super Cache is a free plugin among the three, while the rest either have an open plan and a premium one or totally premium. WP Super Cache has the necessary features that you would need to have in a caching plugin, and it is all free. The other two plugins, WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache, are paid.
In this comparison article, WP Super Cache is our best free plugin that you should for. If you have a budget and want to get the best of the best, then WP Rocket is the best option available among the three. WP Rocket stands out firmly over the other plugins thanks to the easy setup process, google font and database optimization, defer JS loading, cache preloading, and eCommerce friendliness. Although WP Rocket is not free, you only need to pay a tiny $49 for a full year. If you have an eCommerce store, the only option you have is the WP Rocket caching plugin. WP Rocket is also budget-friendly since you are just paying $49 a year for a single website license.
Still, wish to know more about the same? Then read on our full review of the three plugins below.
WP Super Cache Features
WP Super Cache allows you to create cached files for the posts, categories, and tags for your website for preloading. Preloading posts, categories, or tags reduces the amount of workload on your site, thus cutting down on server workload and resulting in reduced amounts of bandwidth used. This feature is very useful. Perhaps keep in mind that after enabling this feature, the plugin will take some time before it finishes preloading the posts or categories. This is because the preloading will visit every single post on your website one by one, just like what a visitor would do. So the more the number of articles on your WordPress site, the more the time it will take to get the job done. Besides, you also need to garbage collection so that older cache files are not deleted by enabling “Preload Mode.”
Preloading your posts, categories, or even tags can fill up your caching directory, thus taking up space on your server. To get rid of this, you will need to enable garbage collection. That is only useful if space is limited or billed by capacity. Garbage collection can be done on a regular basis, so you do not have to remember doing it by yourself. Some excellent garbage collection features include a scheduler, which allows you to set how often should the garbage be cleared and the Cache timeout feature that lets you specify the period after which files will be regarded as stale.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
WP Super Cache is integrated with OSSDL CDN off-linker to bring native support.
WP Super Cache also has REST API endpoints for accessing the settings of this plugin. Although they have not specified what exactly this does or how it works.
There are also custom caching options available for those who love getting their hands dirty with code. But don’t shy away if you are not into code; you can ask your developer to set up things for you.
W3 Total Cache
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) support
AMP is an open-source framework developed by Google to bring a faster browsing experience on mobile. Websites with AMP support load instantly while using mobile platforms – both Android and iOS, etc. If you have an AMP supported site, W3 Total Cache is here to make things even easier for you.
W3 Total Cache supports several server types. Whether you use shared hosting, virtual private or dedicated servers, and dedicated servers or clusters, you name them. There are all supported by this caching plugin.
Like in WP Super Cache plugin, W3 Total Cache also has a Content Delivery Network for fast loading speeds no matter where your visitor is located. W3 Total Cache includes a content delivery network (CDN) management with Media Library, theme files, and WordPress itself.
W3 Total Cache plugin caching methods include the following local Disk, Redis, Memcached, APC, APCu, eAccelerator, XCache, and WinCache.
In addition to AMP support, this plugin also supports the respective caching of pages by referrer or user agent groups. Theme switching is also available for referrers and user agent groups.
Other features available on W3 Total Cache include; Direct Importation of post attachments to the Media Library and CDN, Caching statistics for performance insights, Extension framework for customization e.g., Cloudflare, Reverse proxy integration via Nginx or Varnish, cache purging, query string updating via WP-CLI support
WP Rocket Features
Lastly, we have WP Rocket. Here are all the features on WP Rocket caching plugin;
Page Caching enables faster loading of website pages. WP Rocket has this handy feature that is activated when you activate the plugin.
This feature is also available in WP Rocket. Cache preloading enables faster page load speeds by caching web pages, posts, and even categories. But unlike in WP Super Cache, WP Rocket crawler simulates a visit to preload the cache, so this makes it easy for indexing of your website in search engines.
In addition to cache preloading, WP Rocket also has sitemap preloading functionality. The plugin preloads all your URLs in your sitemap. Even if you don’t have a sitemap already, this plugin automatically detects Jetpack, All in One SEO and Yoast SEO sitemaps.
Static Files Compression
Images on Request
Images are a good thing since visitors like seeing things visually. You already know a picture can mean a thousand words, and that is why including images on your posts is crucial. However, if you are not keen, images can reduce your website loading time. WP Rocket handles images on posts differently. It only renders images upon request. That is, images are loaded only as your visitor scrolls down the page. This technique is pretty standard, with most websites on the internet. Even the most popular ones like YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo use this technique for improved loading time.
Although WP Super Cache has not included this in their list of features, the plugin has this functionality as well. GZIP compressions result in the faster rending of website pages through optimization of browser rendering, thus saving on bandwidth.
WP Rocket also includes database optimization, which removes bloat, thus improving website load speeds. There is also an option to schedule these cleanups for convenience.
Google Fonts Optimization
Google font optimization ensures fewer HTTP requests, thus providing faster web loading speeds.
Removal of Query Strings from Static Resources
For a better GT Metrix Grade removal of query strings from static resources. What’s good is that cache-busting will still be retained.
Lazyloading is a similar thing to what W3 Total Cache refers to as ‘Images on Request.’ This feature ensures that images only load when a visitor scrolls down a page, thus resulting in faster loading speeds.
Defer JS Loading
WP Rocket is compatible with Cloudflare. The setup process is simple since WP Rocket supports Cloudflare natively. With Cloudflare compatibility, you can manage your Cloudflare cache and even enable development mode directly from your WordPress dashboard.
Like the other caching plugins in this review, WP Rocket also supports the most common CDN platforms like Cloudflare and MaxCDN. Using a Content Delivery Network is a good practice for improving web loading speeds through the reduction of HTTP requests.
DNS prefetching is a handy feature for reducing the time of DNS resolution from external websites.
This feature is available on Wp Super Cache and W3 Total Cache plugins, as well. It makes it easy for you to offer mobile visitors all the website features via a one-click button.
For those with a website sub-directory, subdomain, and domain, you will love the compatibility of the WP Rocket caching plugin.
If you own an eCommerce store, you can also enable faster web speed by using the WP Rocket plugin. It supports eCommerce plugins like Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, JigoShop, iThemes Exchange, or WP Shop. WP Rocket excludes the cart and the checkout pages from caching.
Using multilingual plugins like WPML or qTranslate? WP Rocket has you covered with its multilingual compatibility feature.
While setting up WP Rocket for the first time, you can save time by directly importing the settings. There is also an export option if you want to export the parameters to be used on another website.
Small Comparison Table
Who is this for?
The three caching plugins are applicable to all WordPress site owners. Whether you run an eCommerce store or a simple niche-based news website, it is high time that you leverage caching plugins for better website loading speeds. For eCommerce store owners, your options are limited here. But we do not want to spill the beans here. Read on to find out more.
Pros and Cons
WP Super Cache Pros
- Automatically compress pages.
- It also supports the CDN network.
- Import/ Export options available
WP Super Cache Cons
- Set up process is a bit complicated
- Not eCommerce friendly
- No import or export option available
W3 Total Cache Pros
- Supports browser caching
- Minification available
- Includes CDN support
W3 Total Cache Cons
- Browser Caching
- No minification supported
WP Rocket Pros
- Simple Setup for Beginners
- Cache Preloading
- Includes database and Google Font optimization
WP Rocket Cons
- There is nothing awful to write home about WP Rocket.
WP Rocket has three pricing plans available – Single, Plus, and Infinite. The single plan is the cheapest with support for only one website. All the features available in WP Rocket can be accessed by purchasing any of the plugins’ premium plans. The most affordable plan goes for $49 per year with support for only one website. Included in the plan is a full year of support and updates. The Plus plan goes for $99 a year with a license for up to three websites.
For developers, the Infinite plan is the deal you should be hooking up with. Infinite includes licenses for unlimited websites, with support and updates for a full year.
WP Super Cache, unlike the other two plugins, is a free plugin. No credit cards, no hidden fees, install it from your WordPress dashboard, and you’re good to go.
W3 Total Cache has only one premium plan, which costs $99 per year. In addition to that, there is also a free plan available, but, as you would expect, with limited features. The main features available in the premium plan include Fragment Caching and an extension framework. So if you chose the free plugin, then you will miss out on Social layer, personalization, and e-commerce features. Also, the extension framework in the pro version gives you an opportunity to add extensions/add-ons for improved functionality of the plugin.
Another essential aspect to consider while looking for a caching plugin is user-friendliness. A user-friendly plugin will give you a comfortable time setting up for the first time. WP Rocket is the most user-friendly plugin among the three. The plugin features an easily understandable user interface and is baked in with an easy to setup process that will not give you problems. What is even good is the inclusion of the import/ export feature will let you either import your favorite settings or export your favorite settings to be used on another website. In addition to being user-friendly for beginners, WP Rocket is also developer-friendly, unlike W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
WP Rocket offers support via the legacy email channel. To contact the support team, you can use either English or French. You can reach the team from Monday to Saturday during regular business hours. In addition to email support, WP Rocket also has a well-written knowledge base with tips and tutorials on how to use the plugin to how you can troubleshoot common problems that you may run into if you don’t set up the plugin correctly.
W3 Total Cache offers support via Support forums, articles, and also email. You can also contact the team via social media – only Twitter.
For WP Super Cache, there is also a support forum and detailed FAQ section.
Finally, we have reached the conclusion section. After delving into the three WordPress caching plugins, we are pretty sure there is a premature conclusion at the back of your mind. But before we let that mature, here is our take on the same.
Among the three plugins, it is clear that WP Rocket has the most functionality as a caching plugin. Some features available on WP ROCKET Are not available on the other two plugins. WP Rocket stands out firmly over the other plugins thanks to the easy setup process, google font and database optimization, defer JS loading, cache preloading, and eCommerce friendliness. With these features, WP Rocket is rich in functionality. Developers will also love the plugin with this developer-friendly plugin.
WP Super Cache is another excellent alternative. The plugin is free and is baked in with several functionalities, though not enough. But since the plugin is all free for anyone to use, there are no complaints since some features available have to be paid for anywhere else.
Between the three caching plugins, it will be unfair to compare the three on similar ground. This is because some plugins like WP Super Cache are all free while others are premium. So we will choose a winner based on various factors. Firstly, WP Rocket is the best plugin for those who want to get rich functionality inside a caching plugin. Yes, it has no free plan, but it is worth paying for. On the other hand, WP Super Cache is the best free plugin if you do not have a budget set aside for purchasing a plugin like WP Rocket. You can’t beat free, and WP Super Cache still champions this philosophy.