Caching plugin allows your WordPress website to load much faster. The download speed of the site is a key indicator of the quality for any modern website. A huge number of people expects your site to download within 2 seconds or even faster. Fortunately, the choice of tools for properly caching is quite wide and available to every administrator of the site on the WordPress platform. It remains only to decide which of the existing tools will be best for your site or blog.
Now the most popular caching plugins are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. We will carry out a comparative description of the two plugins, so you can make an informed choice. In addition, in this article we will examine the principle of caching plugin operation. Without this knowledge, it will be hard for you to appreciate the advantages of the tools that we will be talking about here.
How Do Caching Plugins WorkLet us first look at how it works. Caching is the process of storing site data on your hard disk. This data is used to quickly display the site content for a visitor during the second visit. Thus, you do not need to wait each time for the server to transmit all the data elements of the site to your computer and the process of the site download is greatly accelerated.
Caching is performed automatically for HTML pages by means of your web browser functionality. The browser works just with HTML, because this technology is used by most sites on the internet. But WordPress technology is built by means of PHP, not by HTML. Therefore, the request to the WordPress site should be quickly re-encode by the browser to present the data from PHP scripts in the HTML code. This process does not always occur at a rapid rate.
Caching plugins are created in order to facilitate the browser`s work with the translation of PHP scripts to the HTML code. Caching plugins create a ready-to-use HTML version of all pages of your WordPress website or blog for the browser. Thus, the process of transcoding is omitted and the acceleration of the content download happens.
The result of the caching plugins` work may seem insignificant for inexperienced users. It would seem not a big difference in a few seconds to load. In fact, every second is fraught with large losses of potential audience. It is even more true for the mobile segment of the audience where users want to get even faster download speed of your site. For more information about how to optimize internet speed of your project read our article 8 Simple Tricks to Speed Up WordPress Site. And now we will focus on one aspect of this work – the choice of caching plugins.
Comparing W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache
Both plugins (W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache) have excellent ratings and reviews from users. The number of installations for each of our contestants exceeded one million. W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache have a user rating of 4.5 to 5 stars on WordPress.org. However, WP Super Cache loses a little due to the smaller number of users who rated the plugin.
The issue about prices is always of interest for nearly every admin of the WordPress site. We hasten to reassure you – both plugins are free for use. However, it should be mentioned that the W3 Total Cache has the premium version, which you can purchase and use the advanced feature set for the plugin.
W3 Total Cache offers a one-year subscription to the premium version for $99. Plugin developers promise even faster operation of your site and a set of extensions for Genesis, automatic translations and more. Premium support can also be purchased for an additional fee. In addition to answers to questions from users, premium support offers the setting of the plugin and the decision of any problems encountered by qualified specialists without your intervention.
WP Super Cache offers its full functionality for free. This has its advantages and disadvantages. The benefits include the absence of tangible investments, and the disadvantages – the inability to expand the features of the plugin.
Setup and Tuning
As W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are free to use, you can install them directly through your WordPress admin panel. Visit Plugins section and press the Add New button. You should search the plugin by name and the installation will be hold automatically. Then you proceed to the activation step. And here is where the major difference between our competitors comes out.
W3 Total Cache is a prominent tool, but it has a lot of settings, which should be done before you can actually use it in your WordPress project. To be straight, there are 16 pages of preferences you should go through. And unfortunately there is no activation wizard or stuff like that. You should make all the tuning manually. Sure, there is a FAQ and support section, but anyway you will spend a lot of time tuning this tool.
WP Super Cache, in the other hand, is pretty user-friendly and simple. You should switch only one preference in the main tuning panel of the plugin and push the Update Status button to save changes. There also are a lot of other preferences and tabs to tune, but it is not required to visit all of them. If you are not an advanced WordPress administrator, you can come along with them gradually. And while you are learning, WP Super Cache will already work for your site visitors` comfort.
The main features of W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are similar. Both tools offer support for different ways of caching, content delivery network support (the automatic search and connection to the closest servers for your users), importing and exporting your settings, files` compression or minification, and more.
But the devil is in the details. For example, W3 Total Cache offers SSL certificates and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are not available in the WP Super Cache. Also, all the premium features of W3 Total Cache (about which we wrote above) are not available to users of WP Super Cache.
The advantages of WP Super Cache are manifested in the presence of the scheduler for clearing pages due to set up time interval and pre-caching feature.
W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache provide a convenient functionality of support for their users. In the help section one can find answers to frequently asked questions, and detailed instructions for installing, configuring, and using of the plugin. However, W3 Total Cache has more options in this regard, as it has the thematic forums, where users can share information with each other.
We should not forget about the possibility of connecting the premium support from the W3 Total Cache. This feature allows you to completely forget about the worries on the fine-tuning for the plugin for optimal operation of the site. However, such aid from the plugin developer is a paid service.
We have found out that the W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are worthy representatives of the tools of their group. Without such plugins the development of your WordPress site or blog would not be successful. Be sure to include caching plugin to the development strategy of your online project.
As for the choice between the W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache, it must be justified by your knowledge and goals that you set for caching plugin. To sum up all the information, we can draw a conclusion about the feasibility of the use of each of these two instruments for specific group of WordPress admins:
- W3 Total Cache will suit for the experienced WordPress administrators that want to gain access to a large number of features and capabilities of their expansion through the purchase of a premium version of the plugin;
- WP Super Cache is the best solution for beginners in the field of WordPress administration who are not ready to spend a lot of time learning all the nuances in the setting of caching plugin and want to get the result immediately after the installation and activation of the tool.
Which group do you feel closer for yourself? In any case, we wish you success in the development of your internet project and will try to continue to provide you with useful information about all aspects of the work for the sites and blogs on the WordPress platform.