Do you want to make your site 10 times faster?
Here’s what I’m going to cover in this post, to help you speed up your WordPress site:
- Why site performance and speed is important.
- Why you must use a caching plugin.
- What options are available for WordPress caching plugins.
- Why W3 Total Cache is the best WordPress caching plugin.
- The ideal W3 Total Cache Settings for people on shared hosting, which I’ve run by the W3TC support team.
- A file containing W3 Total Cache Settings, which you can simply import for your website to have everything setup right away.
Nowadays it is imperative that you do whatever is possible to speed up your WordPress website because it provides a better experience for your visitors and Google is using site speed as a factor for search engine rankings. For people on shared hosting, it is especially important, since a small/sudden increase in traffic can choke your site. And none of us want that.
You can increase your site speed and performance quite easily though, by using a good WordPress caching plugin. The most popular options available are:
Itried using WP Super Cache twice but it messed up my site design. Hyper Cache and Quick Cache, I haven’t used, so can’t really comment on them. What I can say, is that I use W3 Total cache on all my sites and it is super. It has the most comprehensive set of features amongst all the caching plugins and is recommended by a number of people I trust, including Yoast (W3 Total Cache and why you should be using it) and Headway Themes (Using W3 Total Cache).
When I first saw all the settings available in W3 Total Cache, I was quite overwhelmed. I didn’t know what most of them meant back then (and still don’t know what many of them mean ).
So I read articles and saw a few videos explaining the best settings for W3 Total Cache and setup the plugin on my websites, based on that.
But I still wasn’t sure if I had setup the plugin correctly and if I could do anything else to make it work better. To close the matter once and for all, I decided to avail of the service provided by W3 Total Cache, where one of their professionals would review and optimise my settings.
After all of that, my setup works quite well now. So let me take you through the settings I’m using for websites using shared hosting (I use Bluehost as my web hosting provider).
Minifying reduces the size of JS and CSS files, which run scripts and style sheets. W3 Total Cache lets you specify which files you want to minify (which would be very useful if I knew which files I should minify).
I tried many permutations and combinations but could not get this to work, without breaking my site. The W3TC support staff made it work for me by selecting just 3-4 files but after a while that didn’t work either (probably due to plugin updates).
When I tested my site speed with and without Minify, there was hardly any difference. So I think it’s not worth the headache and I just leave it off.
Initially I had Database and Object Caching enabled. But the advice I received was that often on shared hosting it is better to keep them off. That turned out to be true for me and my site is faster without them.
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) increases website speed by hosting files on many different servers around the world, which spreads the load and uses servers closest to a particular visitor.
I use MaxCDN and here are the instructions for installing and integrating it with W3TC. It is a paid service though and if you don’t want that, an alternative is to use CloudFlare, which has a free option.
In case you go with CloudFlare, you will need to configure the settings above. Since I’m using MaxCDN I leave them blank.
In many W3 Total Cache configuration tutorials on the web, people have the entity tag (eTag) enabled. I did too, till Frederick Townes (the man behind W3TC) suggested I remove it. Here is our Twitter conversation.
These are the default settings.
These are the default settings.
If you use a CDN, you’ll also need to enter your login details in the CDN settings screen. The rest of the settings can be left as-is.
To make life even easier for you, here is a file with all these W3 Total Cache settings (right click > save link as), that you can simply import (in the end of ‘General’ settings screen) so you have everything setup right away