I wrote a post about WP Super Cache a while ago, this is an update to that.
My site has always been slow at loading, and I thought that was because of my server. After a while, I switched to NGINX, which although it greatly decreased the RAM usage, didn’t improve the speed that much. When using WP Super cache, I didn’t see that big of an effect on website speed tools such as pingdom. I decided to try out W3 Total Cache, and I was surprised by its performance boost.
W3 Total Cache has way more options that WP Super Cache, meaning you can bend it more to what you need. W3 Total Cache has options such as a Database Cache, Browser Cache, Extensions, and more. WP Super Cache is simpler to use, but that comes at the price of performance. W3 Total Cache can, for example, tell CloudFlare to purge the cache when my site undergoes a theme change, which WP Super Cache doesn’t have the option to do.
My site went from taking nearly 12 seconds to fully load with no caching plugin, to just under 2 seconds with W3 Total Cache, which is a nearly 10 second difference! I also believe that W3 Total Cache works best with NGINX, because NGINX is blazing fast at serving static files, but slows down when passing PHP to an external program. W3 Total Cache creates static files, meaning NGINX has to wait less to send out the page. The less time your server spends on each request, the more in can handle in a set amount of time.
If you don’t want to mess with all of the advanced features, they do have a general settings page, which simplifies everything a lot. As you become more comfortable with the plugin, you can start to edit the more advanced settings and fine tune your performance.
Overall, if you need to speed up your WordPress site, W3 Total Cache is unbeatable, in my opinion at least.
Let me know your favorite caching plugin in the comments.