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Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins

There are a tons of ways to improve performance in WordPress. I had made several articles on how to improve performance but there are times when you just want good performance with minimal overhead, that is, the least amount of plugins and a safe method that can be easily recreated to other blogs and sites you own. In this article I’m going to show you the best and safest method to implement a very good caching and optimization for WordPress with minimal overhead. That is, with just 2 plugins. 

This optimization will give you an active HTML caching plus CSS, JS minification and Google Fonts optimization. Those two plugins are WP SuperCache and Autoptimize. This guide will effectively increase your WordPress performance with a method that is the most compatible with a wide array of plugins and themes on the market.

Any additional caching mechanism you may implement afterwards will increase complexity and decrease compatibility, which is something you don’t want when you need to handle several blogs at the same time.

WP SuperCache

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - WP Super Cache

WP Supercache has always been my favorite. This is no coincidence, it’s not that I’m fond of Super Cache or that I didn’t tried other mechanisms, it’s that WP Super Cache has proven time and time again that it’s one of the safest and most stable caching plugins on the market. While there are tons of good caching plugins like WP Rocket, Fastest Cache, Comet Cache and so on, each and every one of them has proven to be incompatible with some theme or plugin in some way. WP SuperCache is the best caching plugin when compatibility is your main objective.

One thing is to make a plugin work, another thing entirely different is to keep it functional for long. Updates in WordPress, plugins and themes are the main reasons why caching plugins stop working. They need help from their developers to keep being functional, which is something Automattic has done all these years.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - WP Super Cache settings

Once the plugin is installed, here is how we are going to configure it:

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - WP Super Cache settings 2

The first thing we are going to do is to enable/disable this checkboxes. We would want to uncheck the Don’t cache pages for known users as this method will improve backend (Dashboard) performance several times. If you experience weird behavior, this is the only checkbox option you should enable.

The Cache HTTP headers with page content is also necessary for optimal performance. The 304 Not Modified option will enable browser caching. We are not going to use the “supercached static files for known users” though as that could break dashboard funcionality on some themes.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - WP Super Cache settings 3

There are times when WP Supercache could break functionality because of caching but we are making sure this does not happen. As we will want the most compatible caching implemented we will check the Clear all cache files when a post or page is published or updated.

This will complete the setup for WP SuperCache. Once you’ve done it you can set and forget, this configuration is guaranteed to work without you having to touch a thing afterwards.

Autoptimize

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Autoptimize

For HTML optimization, CSS, JS minification and Google Fonts we are going to use Autoptimize.

Before installing this plugin, a word of warning:  Although this guide is teaching you how to implement a safe caching and optimization mechanism to implement on all your blogs, Autoptimize is not a beginner’s plugin.

If you use the options strictly set in this article you won’t find any problems whatsoever, but messing with it could lead to several problems and even render your site unresponsive. Handle this plugin with care, setting anything outside of the configuration provided here is done under your own responsibility.

The good thing about Autoptimize is that if you know how to properly configure it, you won’t find anything better. The configurations explained here are set and forget and a guarantee that you’ll have a much faster site with minimal overhead.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Autoptimize settings

For the best compatible optimization you need to enable the checkboxes as shown here. It is not recommended to enable the Also aggregate inline JS or the Force Javascript in <head>, as those 2 options are guaranteed to make a mess on several themes on the market, rendering the whole site wrong or having missing content due to JS errors. Try to leave those options disabled.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Autoptimize settings 2

Enabling the Optimize CSS Code is the only option you need. The Also aggregate inline CSS, Inline and Defer CSS and Inline all CSS options are also a guarantee to fail on several themes. Try to leave those disabled. You can, of course, get a little push in performance if you aggregate and inline those, but there is a high chance of abnormal behavior if you do. Please keep reading to find out why I suggest you do not play with it.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Autoptimize settings 3

Under the Misc Options, keep those 2 enabled as converting those scripts into static files will surely make your site faster with no negative impacts on compatibility.

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Autoptimize settings 4

Now, under the Extra options you will want to remove emojis (if you don’t use them) as that will speed up loading. The removal of query strings will also have a nice speed boost without affecting functionality.

Now onto Google Fonts. Combining all of them with webfonts is one of the best techniques to reduce queries and will make a difference, specially if you like to play with the fonts on your designs. There are no problems that I know of by using webfonts.js and is a wonderful method that will remove several queries and will make your site load faster, for sure.

Why I keep inline JS, CSS and Combine Files disabled

There is a reason to keep those options disabled. Autoptimize likes to play with JS and CSS minification by doing what is called “an inline and combine” of files. Autoptimize will then add each JS and CSS file into a “chain” that will later be rendered as single files. This will save at least 4 to 8 queries to your site, depending on the complexity of your theme by combining all separate files into fewer JS and CSS files, but there is a catch…

If you have a dynamic site like a news magazine, this technique could possibly bring your hosting storage to its knees. Autoptimize is not known for auto-deleting old static files and dynamic sites tend to modify its contents very often. Each time you change contents on a magazine site, there is a high probability chance that your CSS and JS files get modified too. When that happens, Autoptimize will create a new set of chains for those files and new copies of minified/combined files. The situation is then worsened by visits from your readers. If your site is visited frequently, the internal cache for Autoptimize could grow from 1 or 2Mb up to 2GB in less than 24hours with as much as 64.000 static files or more, as Autoptimize will not delete new copies of combined files.

Because each time content is modified there is a slight chance that JS/CSS files be modified, Autoptimize will create new copies to play safe and not break the site. Because each reader could be reading a different version of the site, Autoptimize will also create new copies for each, just to be sure… you can begin to see why this could have serious consequences.

For a real static website that will not receive new content, it is generally safe to enable combining, but there is too much of a risk of having abnormal caching behavior with those options enabled for me to even suggest you enable them, hence, I recommend that you do not play around with combining on this plugin at all.

Results

Now, with those plugins properly configured, let’s see the differences in performance. The following results are gathered from a Plesk server running under nginx, but it’s also safe to say that you’ll get similar performance increases regardless of the service you use.

Pingdom Tools

In the before and after screenshots you can see how the already fast site turned from a score of 91 up to 97. The total weight of the site has also decreased slightly from 1.9MB down to 1.8MB and the load time has also decreased from 1.83s down to 1.27s.

 

GTMetrix

Let’s see the situation on GTMetrix…

This particular test is also showing up great improvements. If we see the total load time there is a big difference, going from 7.3s total load time down to 3.2s. The size of the site has also decresased from 1.85Mb down to 1.81MB. Of course we could improve performance further, but it is not the purpose of this article. With just 2 plugins and minimal configuration, you should be able to reduce load time by half!

In Detail

Let’s see what Autoptimize did to the site…

Easy Caching for WordPress with 2 plugins - Results 5

The first line loads webfonts.js, optimized with a single call that weights no more than 5.9kb. After that you can see the autoptimize css minification of files along with those js files. Because we didn’t inline and combined them, there are several files loaded at start. We could reduce this static CSS & JS loading down to 2 or 3 files but as I explained before, it is not worth the hassle.

The result of this is a much faster site that will not only cache content to your readers but to your backend too. You will experience a faster frontend performance and a much faster dashboard operation with only 2 plugins and a minimal configuration in less than 2 minutes.

Wrapping Up

Having an optimized site is something we all want, but there are times you just want a fast site without all the hassle of having to manually check performance all the time. Plugins tend to break, specially after upgrades, but with this guide you can safely implement a set and forget configuration, without having to worry about it anymore.

I hope this guide is useful to you, tell us what you think and if you have any doubts, please, do not hesitate to write them down in the comments below.

 

Alex Vojacek

Alex Vojacek is a full-time sysadmin for ESH, his own hosting company, a veteran in WordPress Design and a speed freak. He is also the founder of TecnoGaming, a Gaming & Tech magazine in Latin America. When he is not managing or designing something, he loves to write about technology.

Latest posts by Alex Vojacek (see all)

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49 Comments

  1. Thanks for Your review.
    I was using both of the plugins but replaced them with a new one: Swift Performance Lite.
    It required to delete #define (wp_cache,true) from wp-config.php.
    I want to go back to Super Cache because the new plugin loads my RAM way too much.The Pro version has an API and it doesn’t but I’m short on cash.
    According to the WP Super Cache instructions I have to make wp- content folder’s permission temporarily to 777 and to define something more which I don’t understand .
    Would You enlighten me, please?

  2. Does this work with Dreampress managed wordpress hosting which has Varnish caching?

  3. Cmon man If you want easy caching there is no competition with cache enabler one click and it start caching no setting at all and with their advanced snippet you can easily bypass php completely

  4. Good tools to detect the WordPress website theme. We always recommend these tool to detect the unknown WordPress website’s theme.

  5. WpSuperCache & AutoOptimize both plugins are really helpful,

    Great post to detect the WordPress website theme.

    The best thing about the blog is that you have explained such a complicated topic with such simplicity

    Those who don’t have in-depth knowledge of the IT field will also be able to understand your post with utmost ease.

    Keep posting such engaging stuff.! Cheers.!

  6. Thanks but I have a question. If I have a blog than can I use inline CSS and JS option?
    And I also want to listen about JCH optimize plugin from you. Tell me for the same.

  7. Hi Alex,

    Awesome article. Sie loading speed is a predominant factor for any website’s performance. Thanks for helping us with a detailed guide to WordPress Cache Plug-ins. Moreover, I have not been using GTMetrics for analysis. Let me try.

  8. Thank you for sharing this great article I will use these plugins to my website

  9. WP Fastest Cache Plugin – very popular plugin for WordPress.

    Also wp fastest cache is a very good WordPress cache plugins.

  10. Thanks for sharing great information im just try this Plugin but getting problem in CSS and JS any way its good

  11. Outstanding post Alex. Loading speed will soon become a ranking factor so it is really important to add caching plugins in order to improve the performance of your website.

  12. hank you for sharing this great article I will use these plugins to my all websites

  13. Hello
    I think the combination of these plugins is great.
    The improvement of the load of the web is considerable

  14. After using WP Super Cache I am now moved to W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress and it works like a charm on my govt jobs and career website Resultwa.

    Please write a post on comparison between W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and Autoptimize plugin.

  15. The above two plugins which you discussed are indeed great but I guess you have missed the most effective and important one which is W3 Total Cache .. I have used my premium plugins but w3 total cache free version (if configured properly) is best than any caching plugin made for wordpress ever!

  16. Hello Alex,

    Great post about caching plugins. Would give a try and share the results soon

    Thanks.

  17. You have written a useful piece of content for the WordPress users, Alex. I have been using both the plugins for my WordPress blogs to improve the page loading speed. However, when I have moved to Cloudways hosting, I have started using their own cache plugin Breeze, and it is much helpful. Keep doing your great work.

  18. I’m using second one and will also use the first one, because my site is little bit slow.

  19. Thanks for this great tip of using Autopmize. I have enabled and installed in on my website and it has greatly increased the speed and performance of the site. I use it with WP Fastest Cache although. Thanks

  20. Google uses page speed as a factor when determining where to rank your content in its search engine results pages. So, if you want greater search engine visibility and more traffic from sites like Google, you need to speed up your website.

  21. Thanks for this fast caching plugins. im just try this Plugin but getting problem in CSS and JS any way its good

  22. hello,

    Great caching plugins
    Thanks for a well written and informative post.

  23. WpSuperCache is one of my favourite plugin! Nice tutorial.

  24. I like to use WP SuperCache. Easy to use, its make me comfortable with this plugin.

    Thank you so much for a good review.

  25. Thanks for sharing this information I am looking for reliable plugin for chaching. This article is helpful

  26. Wp fastest cache is working perfect for me

  27. This plugin(autoptimize) is breaking some of the elements on my website earlier. But after reading this guide it worked good and now everything is fine. Thanks for this.

    • yeah you got it right. i also fave the same problem.

  28. wp total cache is best for me as wp super cache just broke my all site !

  29. i am also using wp total cache it is best plugin.

  30. i have personally not tried this but i see excellent reviews of this plugin. I have installed wp rocket plugin.Its doing good for my site.

  31. Very Helpful to optimize website loading speed and get the best results.

  32. First to thanks Alex for sharing this amazing blog post with us and make us part of it. Really it was so informative blog post for me and i really appreciate it. There is no doubt that wp total cache it is best plugin. Thanks again, keep it.

  33. I like to use WP SuperCache plugins. simple to use, its make me easy with this plugin. Thank you so much. Add more post like this.

  34. This plugin(autoptimize) is breaking a portion of the components on my site prior. However, in the wake of perusing this guide it worked great and now all is well. A debt of gratitude is in order for this.

  35. That’s really impresive. My website has some issues regarding speed and after reading this guide i have to say it will get resolved. These two are best wordpress plugins and i was using one of them. Now decided to use both.
    Thanks for the awesome content.

  36. Previously, i was using one of them and don’t know about the other that it can work better. But now it’s really awesome.

  37. I am a fond of WP Super Cache.
    It’s working nice!!

  38. HI…

    SIR

    I like to use WP SuperCache. Easy to use, its make me comfortable with this plugin.

    Thank you

  39. Great caching plugins
    Thanks for a well written and informative post.

  40. It is very nice post and provide some information on easy word press 2 plugin related knowledge thank you so much share with us

  41. Outstanding post Alex. Loading speed can before long become a ranking issue therefore it’s very necessary to feature caching plugins so as to enhance the performance of your web site.

  42. You have written a useful piece of content for the WordPress users, Alex. I have been using both the plugins for my WordPress blogs to improve the page loading speed. However, when I have moved to Cloudways hosting, I have started using their own cache plugin Breeze, and it is much helpful. Keep doing your great work.

  43. For a real static website that will not receive new content, it is generally safe to enable combining, but there is too much of a risk of having abnormal caching behavior with those options enabled for me to even suggest you enable them, hence, I recommend that you do not play around with combining on this plugin at all.

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