I would not get into much technical aspect of WordPress caching and what you should know here is: Having a cache plugin on your WordPress blog is essential. Now there are various cache plugins out there (Free and paid) and picking the right one is important, as it will save you form headache of configuration, it will make your WordPress blog highly optimised for speed and performance.
Unlike old days, now WordPress is a big commercial market and all plugin developers are in a race to convert their free plugins into a product. For example, one of the most popular cache plugin W3Total cache started offering Pro features/support which unlocks many advance features and recently (One year back) another paid cache plugin call WP-Rocket entered into the market and this was probably first WordPress cache plugin in the market to be released as a premium plugin.
When it comes to WordPress cache plugins, there are many free options out there such as:
- W3 Total cache
- WP Super cache
- Quick cache
- Hyper cache
- WP Fastest cache
Above list is curated from this awesome post by Kevin. Survival of a paid plugin becomes difficult when there are a humungous amount of similar free stuffs in the market. It becomes really difficult for a paid plugin to create its niche in the market. I have always been an ardent user of W3Total cache and WP Super cache plugin.
From past few months ,I have been hearing good reviews about Wp-Rocket plugin and I decided to give it a try myself and see how effective it is. I contacted the WP-Rocket team to ask for a review license so that I could do a neck-to-neck battle between W3 Total cache and WP-Rocket plugin, and find out if this premium cache plugin is really worth your money or not?
Preparing for W3 Total Cache Vs. WP-Rocket plugin:
ShoutMeLoud is already highly optimised and the loading time is even less than a sec ( Thanks to Cloudways hosting, Thesis WordPress Theme, Cloudflare and W3Total cache). I don’t see much point of doing this test on ShoutMeLoud. For this, I picked one of my blog which is poorly optimised and takes a little time to load. One of our blog in the network is “Letstalkrelations.com” which is quite outdated in terms of theme, optimisation and we were using W3 total cache plugin.
As you can see from the above results:
Page size was more than 1.31+ MB and overall performance is not that great. This is exactly why I needed to test WP-Rocket else it won’t be a decent comparison.
After testing the load time of the site, I uninstalled W3 Total cache completely. ( Guide to uninstall W3 Total cache plugin)
- Deleted cache
- Disabled all cache option.
- Disabled and uninstalled plugin
- Remove W3 Total config files via FTP
- Removed entries from .htaccess file
- Also used clean options plugin to delete orphan tables created by W3 total cache
The idea was to remove all files related to W3 Total cache and test the site performance with WP-Rocket cache plugin.
Configuring the WP-Rocket plugin:
After using WordPress cache plugins like W3 Total cache and WP super cache for years, I thought configuring this plugin will take time but I was taken aback, as WP-Rocket is probably the most simplest WordPress cache plugin for anyone to configure. If you are someone without any tech-skills you can configure the plugin within seconds of time. You will be accessing the configuration dashboard via settings> WP Rocket
The very first screen is the basic setup and I ignored the minification and concatenation option for this test.
The only options which I enabled from the above screen was enable Lazy loading images, mobile caching and increased the clear cache lifespan to 96 hours. As soon as you activate the Wp-Rocket plugin it takes care of most of the optimisation and caching options. Here is the Pingdom and gtmetrix result after enabling the basic settings. Just to make sure pages are cached, I opened the site in another browser and browsed 10-12 pages to ensure caching of the pages.
So far the result was satisfactory and I decided to enable the files optimisation feature to see how it improves my loading time. I just enabled all the three options for files optimisation:
And this time the performance report was even better than the last time and I could see a considerable amount of difference in terms of loading time and total number of requests. Here is final loading time of the site:
Note: I have not yet touched the advance settings which offers few features such as “prefetch DNS requests” “CDN” and few others. One thing which I find very interesting after comparing both the plugin is, WP-Rocket fixed most of the performance grade issues which a cache plugin is suppose to take care of.
Here is a test result by WP-Seer team, where they compared WP-Rocket with WP Super cache and here is the result difference in loading time:
Conclusion of W3 Total Cache Vs. WP Rocket:
When I started doing this test, I was not hoping to see such huge difference as W3 Total cache plugin is loaded with excellent features, but the results of the test proved me completely wrong.
In my testing I find WP-Rocket performance to be better than W3 Total cache and what I liked most about WP-Rocket is it’s easy to configure.
WP-Rocket plugin personal license costs only $39 and you can set it up within 3-4 minutes. You will also be getting support from their team and most important the loading time of your WordPress blog will be faster.
In the latest version of WP Rocket, they have added features to optimize your database. This is a smart move as a bloated database can slow down your WordPress blog.
Last but not the least, you can always get a refund within 30 days if you are not satisfied with the plugin.
To end with, I would like to know which cache plugin you are using on your blog? At the same time, I would suggest you to get a single site license of WP-Rocket plugin and try it on your blog and notice the difference. Do test your site loading time with tools.pingdom.com with current configuration and later follow my procedure and notice the difference with WP-Rocket. If you don’t like it, you still have 30 days to claim your refund. Anyhow, it’s a win-win situation for you.