W3 Total Cache plugin for your WordPress website.
It’s main purpose is to increase the speed of your website and decrease the page load time.
Everyone wants to know the secret behind a fast loading WordPress site.
Aside from good web hosting and well-coded plugins, you have to make sure that you’re using proper caching and have a CDN (content delivery network).
In this article, we will show you how to install W3 Total Cache and set it up properly to maximize the benefits.
This will give you a before and after comparison.
Below is the screenshot of our Pingdom results:
Lets get started with our setup of W3 Total Cache.
What is W3 Total Cache?
W3 Total Cache is the fastest and most complete WordPress performance optimization plugin.
Trusted by many popular sites including: AT&T, Mashable, Smashing Magazine, WPBeginner, and millions others.
W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.
Installing W3 Total Cache
Before you install W3 Total Cache, you need to make sure that you uninstall all other caching plugins (for example WP Super Cache).
If you do not do this prior to installing, the plugin will have issues upon activation.
Go to your WordPress admin panel and click on Plugins » Add New. Search for “W3 Total Cache” and you should see results like the image below:
Click on the Install Now button and then activate the plugin.
Settings and Configuration of W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a very powerful plugin, so it has tons of options.
For most beginners, these options could be quite tricky and confusing.
We will visit each of these options in detail, so you can properly set up W3 Total Cache.
Lets start with general settings.
You can go to the General Settings page by clicking on the Performance menu button in your WordPress admin panel.
This is where you will set up the plugin by configuring basic settings.
Make sure that you’re on the general settings page and not the promotional Dashboard page that this plugin has.
What is Page Cache?
The first option that you see on this page is Page Cache.
It is responsible for creating static cache pages for each page that is loaded, so it is not being dynamically loaded upon each page load.
By having this enabled, you will significantly decrease your load time.
For shared hosting which most beginners use, the Disk:Enhanced method is highly recommended.
You should check the Enable Page Cache box, and save all settings.
Next option you will see is Browser Cache.
What is Browser Cache?
This way when the same user goes to the next page, it will load much faster because all the static files are in their browser cache.
Browser Cache option in W3 Total Cache sets a time limit on the Browser Cache.
Considering you don’t change your logo every day, having static files like that cached for 24 hours does not hurt you.
Simply check the Enable under Browser Cache option and click Save all settings button.
Once you have done that, then lets visit the Performance » Browser Cache page for more settings.
What is a CDN?
CDN stands for Content Delivery Network which allows you to serve your static content from multiple cloud servers rather than just one hosting server.
This enables you to reduce server load and speed up your website.
We have written a very nice article on Why you Need a CDN for your WordPress site.
We highly recommend that you check it out, so you can make an educated decision.
Minify simply reduce the size of your static files to save you every single kilobyte that you can.
However, sometimes generating that minified file can be more resource intensive then the resource it will save.
Database caching reduces the server load by caching SQL queries.
This eliminates the processing time of querying the database (which may not be a lot for smaller sites).
If you have a highly dynamic site, then using the Object Caching will help.
This is mainly used if you have complex database queries that are expensive to regenerate.
Beginners might wanna ignore it.
We hope that you found this article useful.
If you have any questions, then please feel free to ask in the comments below.