WordPress Caching is what I have been working on today and this is a huge topic. What brought this whole thing about was the fact that a mate has just ventured into hosting his own personal blog (He is not new to blogging as he reviews for some well known sites but its his first move into his own). While answering some of his questions as someone that has had a WordPress Blog for many years now albeit now master at it in the slightest but I know enough to get by I noticed caching and the fact that I didn’t do it.
The web hosting provider that I use as some CloudFlare stuff built into the CPanel and that was where I first noticed it yesterday due to the fact that I tend just log into my WordPress installation and don’t really deal with the back end of my hosting package now that everything is set up. This addition had looking into the service and I quickly realised ok my site isn’t visited by loads of people as of the time of this post but this could be something worth looking into.
So while setting up CloudFlare I have admit I ended up removing and adding my site multiple times because although I followed the instructions, the speed test sites kept telling me that I wasn’t running CDN which it should of said I was. So last night I thought never mind, I’ll look into caching plugins and forget about CloudFlare and so that is what I did.
WP Super Cache
Having given up on Cloudflare just not working right and to be fair to the service not giving them the full 24 hours to propagate my DNS settings for my site I went into using WP Super Cache. While not really understanding which settings would work best for me I did some Googling and furious YouTube video watching to find out what would work for me. I activated it and took the settings I thought that would benefit my server and site and ran with it. To be honest I saw little difference in my personal browsing of the site and run some tests and although there was a little improvement not enough to warrant really keeping the plugin. On further reflection though I do think that due to the lack of traffic to my site it could have caused the problem of which I would say that maybe you don’t want the cache expiring so quickly, especially as my site is updated 3 times a week at the moment.
W3 Total Cache
Not completely happy with the speed improvement that WP Super Cache gave me and to be honest with you the niggling feel that I should be using Cloudflare, I found myself browsing the WordPress Plugins and another caching plugin that was high up was W3 Total Cache and I thought why not lets give this ago. Before installing it however I decided to YouTube it and found in actually fact one of the Tech Channels that I used to watch did a whole video on this plugin. I was amazed with the amount of features it had and although WP Super Cache probably had them in there somewhere this was better laid out and while the guy was going through the plugin he admitted to being no expert but this was just what I was looking for. The reason for this because the plugin has extensions where as WP Super Cache didn’t and one of those extensions supports CloudFlare. With all this in mind though it does have some minimum requirements and you can check that your server is compatible with the features and it turns out although mine will running it won’t run in the most efficient way. No biggy I thought lets give it ago what’s the worst that can happen, after watching this video I went through the plugin with ease and set it all up.
I’ve only had the caching system enabled and configured properly for about an hour so the jury is out on whether it will make a difference but I am hopeful after running some initial tests have shown the caching to work, having taken a whole 5 seconds off load and also shown the CDN being active. This huge because manually setting up CloudFlare hadn’t shown that and Super Cache didn’t have the option to use it. Be warned though both these can/do edit your HTAcces file so it might be worth backing up a copy before installation of the plugins just so you can repair it if necessary. So if you’re looking for a caching Plugin I would say W3 Total Cache is the way to go.
As always feel free to comment and share your thoughts and experiences with these plugins or anything related to WordPress Caching.
I will probably update you on the reports from CloudFlare once I have been using it for 24 hours.
Here is the video that I used to configure the plugin with some changes due to my server specification.