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W3 Total Cache – TOP WordPress Performance Plugin For 2019

w3 total cache

According to our extensive experience, W3 Total Cache is an excellent WordPress performance plugin (and we will tell you why in a second) that improve the user experience of your site by improving many important features such as:

  • Your server performance along with its loading
  • Caching every aspect of your site.
  • Reducing the download times.
  • Integration with transparent content delivery network (CDN) and many more…

As the name implies, W3 Total Cache is widely used for caching which can be a significant advantage in the eyes of the big G. Regardless of the size of your blog, this WordPress plugin will make it load a lot faster, and that’s what your visitors and latest Google algorithm updates, love THE MOST!

W3 Total Cache has many advanced options such as a browser, page, object, and database caching, minify and CDN support, which will do a great job of improving your website performance.

It is easy to setup, and we guarantee that this plugin will be a great solution for boosting your WP site speed (if you configure it right!)

Note: Install this plugin ONLY after you are done developing your site!

Before explaining the features of W3 performance plugin and their configuration, just a quick word of caution: Make sure to disable other similar caching plugins if you have previously installed, such as WP Super Cache.

W3 Total Cache Configuration – General Settings

Install the plugin, like any other from the WordPress repository, by going to your WordPress Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New -> Search for W3 Total Cache. Install and activate it.

w3 total cahce

Figure 1. Installing W3 Total Cache

 

Now you are ready to start configuring it.

General Settings

The first feature is Performance -> General Settings.

Page Cache

Next, we have Page Cache. By enabling this option, you will create cache static pages for each page that is loaded, hence decreasing your load time. Enable this and leave: Page cache method: Disk Enhanced.

w3 total cache page cache

Figure 2. Enabling the Page caching

 

Minify

The Minify option serve for decreasing the file size of HTML, CSS, and JS  by approximately 10%. This is the part where the former WP Minify plugin is implemented.

This option will also automatically remove all unnecessary data from CSS, JS, feed, page and post HTML. Also, this option is NOT recommended by many hosting companies since it can cause misbehaviors on your site. Use it at your own risk!

Leave it unchecked for now!

w3 minify uncheck

Figure 3. Using the minify feature in W3TC

 

Opcode Cache

Dedicated or virtual private server users can opt for one of the Opcode cache methods provided by this feature. This feature requires advanced configurations on your server and it’s not really important right now. Usually, it would be “Not available” but either way, leave it as it is.

Figure 4. Opcode cache

Figure 4. Opcode cache

 

Database Cache

The Database Cache option will cache SQL queries and decrease the response time of your site. Note: This option can’t be used together with object caching, and it is risky to use it at all.
So leave it unchecked.

w3 total cache database cache

Figure 5. Database caching – risky to use it!

 

Object Cache

Next option you will see is Object Cache. This option will further reduce execution time for common operations especially if you have highly dynamic sites that use the Object Cache API. Choose this option only if you have such website, otherwise, leave this checkbox unchecked.

w3 total cache object cache

Figure 6. Using cache object feature – not recommended

 

Browser Cache

Next is Browser Cache. Browser Cache a great feature for you to enable it after you’ve done developing your site. We assume that you don’t change your logo every day, so having static files like your logo being cached for 24 hours does not hurt you. Enable it.

w3 total cache browser cache

Figure 7. Browser caching in W3TC – Use it after you’ve finished developing your site

 

CDN – Content Delivery Network

We come to the CDN part. What is a CDN in fact?

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. This network allows you to deliver your static content from multiple cloud servers that are close to the location of the user, rather than using just one hosting server. CDN enables you to reduce server load and speed up your website. Using CDN is useful IF your site is internationally visited, on a massive global scale (like Wikipedia).

Let’s say you have such website on a hosting located in the USA. If someone from Europe tries to reach your site it may be slower. But using the CDN, the servers in Europe that are near him will bring the cached version of your website, and he will access it much faster.

using cdn - content delivery network

Figure 8. Visual representation of the CDN

 

W3 Total Cache supports many CDNs: MaxCDN, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloud, Amazon Cloud Front…
If you ever decide to use CDN, you can MaxCDN or Amazon S3. Their servers are one of the fastest.

w3 total cache CDN

Figure 9. Use CDN only if you have very large website visited on a global scale

 

However, we DON’T recommend using CDN if you have a smaller site. It’s better to use CloudFlare with a combination of Jetpack. When using Jetpack, all of your images will be automatically stored on the WordPress servers and the loading time of your site will be increased DRASTICALLY.

Reverse Proxy

Reverse proxy feature retrieves resources from one or more other servers. This option can have many benefits such as:

  • Distributing the load between multiple servers.
  • Compressing content.
  • Speeding up the serving of dynamic content.

It all depends on the individual configuration of the server. You don’t need this option at this moment, leave it unchecked.

w3 total cache proxy

Figure 10. Reverse proxy feature – not needed

 

Monitoring

New Relic is a third party service with collaboration with W3 Total Cache that provides in-depth performance statistics of your site and server.  You can go ahead and create your free account on New Relic and then put the API key in this field, but unless you don’t have some particular reason to use this feature, we recommend you keep it disabled.

w3 total cache new relic

Figure 11. Using New Relic feature – optional

 

Fragment Cache

For guest users, much of your content will typically be static which makes serving up cached content to these users a pretty good idea. But what if you want part of the page to be dynamic while most of the page is cached? You can use the Fragment caching feature. However it’s an advanced feature that needs additional coding in your theme, and at this point, it’s better to leave by default.

fragment cache

Figure 12. Fragmenting cache mechanism

 

Licensing

If you bought the Pro Version of W3 Total Cache, then this is the place where you can add the license key to enable additional functionality.

w3 total cache licencing

Figure 13. Licensing your W3TC PRO

 

Miscellaneous

We are not big fans of enabling functionalities (such as the Dashboard widgets) that are NOT necessary and can burden our website. We advise you to leave the options as shown in the image below.

miscellaneous-settings-w3-total-cache

Figure 14. Miscellaneous settings – W3 Total Cache

 

Debug

You should only enable this option ONLY when you are trying to troubleshoot an issue because it will increase the size of your page, and create more work for your web server.

w3 total cache debug

Figure 15. Using Debug settings for troubleshooting

 

Advanced Speed Improvements

In this lesson, we’ve described only the basic configuration that you need to know for the proper configuration of the W3TC plugin. There are also a ton more advanced features of the plugin for which we need to write a whole book to explain them all to you.

For the advanced configurations, from Performance -> Browser Cache you need to check the following options:

  • Set expires header – Set the expires header to encourage browser caching of files and improving the speed.
  • Set cache control header – Set pragma and cache-control headers to encourage browser caching of files.
  • Set W3 Total Cache header – Set this header to assist in identifying optimized files.
  • Remove query strings from static resources – Resources with a “?” in the URL are not cached by some proxy caching servers.
browser cache

Figure 16. Advanced configurations from the browser cache

 

Pros and cons of W3TC

PROS CONS
  • A lot of FREE features
  • Easy configuration
  • Import/export settings
  • CDN
  • Database optimizing
  • Compression (minifying)
  • Requires some technical knowledge
  • Can slow down your website if you misconfigure something
  • Won’t integrate well with some hosting companies (HostGator)
  • Expensive PRO version $99/year


Final Words

The settings that we’ve covered above are the same ones that we actually use on our clients’ websites and on many of our own websites. That’s why can claim that they are proven and work extremely well when it comes to boosting the performance of one WordPress site.

If you have some problems configuring the plugin according to our settings, please feel free to ask our support team.  We will be more than willing to help you solve your issue.

With that being said, we’ve eliminated the technical part required for using this plugin and now all you need to do is to install W3 Total Cache today and utilize its power within a few seconds!


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