The Top 3 WordPress Caching Plugins Compared and Choosing the Best One for Your Site

Have you ever pushed the Back button on your browser because a page took more than 5 seconds to load? There’s no need to be bashful – we’ve all done it.

If you run a WordPress site, excessive load times can limit your traffic, lower your Google search rank and lessen your website’s overall potential. However, a free or low cost caching plugin can easily prevent this lag and the problems that accompany it. What’s more, they don’t have to be a hassle to set up and they’ll make visitors more likely to stay on your site.

In this post, we’ll provide a breakdown of the top three most popular caching plugins on the market and score them in four important categories.

How do you pronounce cache? Do you say kaysh or kashay? It’s actually pronounced cash, but you probably already knew that!

What is Caching?

In a computing context, a cache is a place to temporarily store data.

Active data is often cached in order to reduce load times. When you return to a frequently accessed website, chances are that your browser will have a good portion of the site’s files stored within its cache. This means that the browser needs to receive less ‘fresh’ information from the site, resulting in a faster load time.

The way caching plugins work is by saving the dynamically generated HTML files and serving them from the cache (i.e. reusing previously generated data) whenever a request is made, rather than loading all of the PHP scripts from WordPress every time you hit refresh.

The result is that your site loads far quicker for all its visitors.

How to Select the Best Caching Plugin for You

The first step is to identify what you expect from your caching plugin and create criteria accordingly. Criteria could include:

  • Cost. Like a lot of plugins, the price of caching solutions can range from free to a few hundred dollars, but the price does tend to reflect how feature-rich and reliable the end product will be.
  • Complexity and intuitiveness. This will depend on your own experience with plugins – are you happy to dive in and get it sorted without much help, or do you need a simple, step-by-step procedure to get you up and running?
  • Power and functionality. Some plugins come with extra features such as integration with content delivery networks, GZIP compression (file compression essentially), and minification (removing all unnecessary characters from source code). These all enable your site to run even faster but are really only necessary for large sites.
  • Support. Some plugins have support lines, forums, documentation – the full shebang. Others may have very little support or even none at all. How much support do you feel comfortable having?

So now that we have our basic criteria sorted out, let’s have a look at the top three most popular caching plugins:


Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.30.26



The Good

  • Easy to install and configure.
  • Support for Content Delivery Networks.
  • It's free!

The Bad

  • A few issues with compatibility (themes, other plugins etc) have been reported by some users.
  • If a user is logged in, they won't experience supercaching.

WP Super Cache

  • Cost: 5/5
  • Complexity: 4/5
  • Power and Functionality: 4/5
  • Support: 3.5/5
  • Overall: 4.15/5

The Bottom Line

WP Super Cache is most helpful if your server isn’t all that powerful or if you are experiencing a lot of unexpected traffic.

WP Super Cache

At the top of the list is WP Super Cache: the most downloaded caching plugin on the market. According to the official WP Super Cache page, it has been installed over a million times. Also, it’s free, easy to use and requires little to no configuration.

WP Super Cache can deliver static pages with mod_rewrite (which is faster than the usual PHP generated HTML caching) or PHP, depending on your preference, meaning that each visitor doesn’t need to load all of the WordPress PHP files – they simply receive a static HTML page. However, there is the ‘legacy caching mode’, meaning that if you’re logged in, you won’t experience the supercached HTML files. WP Super Cache also enables you to change the order in which plugins load, so if you need certain plugins to load with lighting speed, you’re in luck.

For convenience in maintenance, WP Super Cache comes with a scheduler that clears cached pages at a time that you can designate in advance. It also supports Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and can export your customized settings so that you can import them into your future sites.

If you hit any snags, WP Super Cache has a support forum – though you may find yourself waiting for an answer for a fair amount of time – along with a reasonably detailed FAQ section.


Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 16.32.38



The Good

  • Supports CDNs, minification and GZIP.
  • Vast customization options – 16 pages worth!

The Bad

  • So many customization options could be a little daunting for some.

W3 Total Cache

  • Cost: 4/5
  • Complexity: 3.5/5
  • Power and Functionality: 4.5/5
  • Support: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4.15/5

The Bottom Line

With a plethora of customization options, W3 Total Cache really does suit everyone's needs. However, if you're not so hot on caching plugins, this one might be a little daunting.

W3 Total Cache

With more than 900,000 downloads, W3 Total Cache is the second most downloaded caching plugin on the market. If you’re looking for a free caching plugin that offers a boatload of customization options, you’ve found it.

With 16 pages of configuration options, you’ll be able to tailor a caching solution to your precise specifications. If complete customization sounds like a headache, don’t worry – W3 Total Cache also comes with a simple one-click setup (see instructions below).

To cut a tremendous amount of loading time, W3 Total Cache utilizes file minification and GZIP compression. Like WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache also supports Content Delivery Networks and allows you to export your settings for future use.

Four premium extensions are also available to further extend the plugin’s functionality, along with a whole host of support options. Not only is there an FAQ section and forum on the plugin page, but w3-edge also have their own support forums, articles and contacts if you ever need any help.


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The Good

  • The fastest on the market.
  • Excellent tech support available.

The Bad

  • Does cost between $39-$199 to install.
  • Limited advanced options.

WP Rocket

  • Cost: 2.5/5
  • Complexity: 4.5/5
  • Power and Functionality: 4/5
  • Support: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.75/5

The Bottom Line

While this is the only premium plugin featured, the simplicity and proven speed of WP Rocket make it a good choice for pretty much any site.

WP Rocket

Unlike the previous two plugins mentioned, WP Rocket requires you to purchase a license. The cost is $39-$199, depending upon how many sites you’d like to install it on. While you might be thinking of free alternatives, you should know that WP Rocket might be a wise investment.

First off, this benchmarking test done by Swedish Marketing expert Philip Blomsterberg suggests that WP Rocket is the fastest option on the market. And while WP Rocket has few advanced options, its incredibly user-friendly interface and efficient design offer awesome caching results with minimal effort. In addition, WP Rocket tech support is quick to respond and eager to show you the depth and quality of their product.

WP Rocket features lazy image loading (which prevents unloaded pictures from being stored), cache preloading and GZIP Compression. In the plugin’s settings, there’s a separate tab for minification and excluding pages from caching. Content Delivery Networks are supported and customized settings can be exported and used down the road.

Due to this being a premium plugin, there isn’t the usual question/answer forums on the WP Rocket site, but you do get technical support through a ticket system once you buy a license. There is also an FAQ on their website.

The initial setup for this plugin is quite simple, but check out this short tutorial on how to enable additional options:


Which Plugin is Right For You?

Still not sure which one of the plugins above you’d prefer?

While I’ve ranked the above plugins by the number of downloads, it’s good to consider what is most important to you as the user:

  • If you’re looking for a free, easy to install caching option, WP Super Cache is one of the best options out there. However, some users have experienced compatibility issues with themes and other plugins.
  • With its mountain of customization options, W3 Total Cache is great if you crave total control over your plugin. If you’re new to plugins, however, this option may be a little too in-depth.
  • If you want things simple but effective, WP Rocket is a great option, as long as you don’t mind spending a little money for a quick and efficient caching solution.

Whichever you choose, make sure that any advanced settings you intend to implement are supported by your web host and don’t do anything without backing up first!

Which is your favorite caching plugin and why? Let us know in the comments section below.

36 Responses


    Thanks for a great explanation of the top 3 caching plugins.
    I have to agree that wp-super cache is the best
    I did ask the question in the support forum has support stopped for this plugin and noticed that there was few resolved support threads. this is the exact answer I received
    “It hasn’t stopped per se, but scaled back. Donncha has basically been taking care of the plugin solo for nearly a decade. I’ve stepped up to help some, but I admit, support for WPSC is pretty low on the priority list.
    The immediate goal is bug fixes, so issues that seem to be new (like the conflict with compression caching on some hosts with WordPress 4.2 that was resolved in 4.2.2) tend to get first priority.
    We have some dreams for the future, but not there yet.”
    This was a month ago I received this reply. Its a shame that someone else has not taken it over for Donncha and not put on the back burner. But facts are facts and the facts show that it is still number one even through support suffers.
    I have also used W3 Total Cache and it is much better in handling Cloudfront CDN. But as you said it might be a little too in-depth


    Hey Tom, Nice rundown. Although I have a serious love/hate relationship with all cache plugins the one I’ve had the most success with is W3 Total Cache. Yes it’s a bit technical, but for the time invested you’re seriously rewarded with a top notch responsive website.


      We have used each of these plugins on various projects over time. Our preferred plugins due to configuration simplicity and resultant performance are WP Rocket and ZenCache.

      Zencache is very good with excellent support and is certainly worthy of serious consideration.


    This was spot on. I’ve played with all of these, and this felt like a fair evaluation to me.

    I was just lamenting, on an article on a different site talking about all the potential for future sites which truly personalize themselves to users, that it’s not going to happen until WordPress makes some changes to prevent the slooooooooowdowns. I mean, personalization is cool, but the only way we get by with the loads we’re currently running (most of us) is caching plugins. Someday the Fiber will spread across the Land, and the people shall Rejoice. . . until then we’ve got W3 and we just have to share our websites.

    Lucy Beer

    Hey Tom
    Thanks for including WP Rocket in your post. I do support for them and I’m curious why we receive the lowest support rating of the three, even though I imagine our response time is most likely the fastest (within a couple of hours in most cases), and we go above and beyond to help our customers.
    Have you ever used our support system, and if so did you encounter some issues? Feedback is greatly appreciated!
    I’d love to know why you chose to rate us the lowest even though Super Cache’s support forum has plenty of threads that go unresolved for days. While this is to be expected with a free plugin, I’m not sure how that’s better than a personal response within hours, to every ticket that we receive?

      Tom Ewer

      Hey Lucy,

      The support rating is an aggregation of support availability, knowledge base, FAQs, etc. I believe it’s important that users can resolve issues themselves without having to resort to contacting support if possible.

      That said, I took your comments on board (as well as others regarding WP Super Cache) and have adjusted the support ratings :-)



        Lucy Beer

        Thanks Tom!
        We do have a knowledge base as well:
        Which I think is more extensive than other plugins.
        As our sales and number of customers increase, the number of support tickets has actually remained flat, suggesting that customers are either having less issues, or are able to solve them without our help, using the information we provide :)


          No forums means a cop out. No forums means something to hide. No forums means no help from fellow users.

          No forums is often where successful software goes to die. Every time I’ve seen someone kill his or her forums, code quality has gone downhill, prices have gone up. No forums shows a real attitude problem in GPL and open source community.


            I do also like me so good forums… however, I’ve got stand up here and say that I have been endlessly impressed with WP-Rocket =)

            Check this out:

            WP Super Cache uses code from to enable CDN support… as of my last testing this does NOT work with Mapped Domains!

            This factor alone, in the context of a WPMUDEV review, should knock off almost a whole star, in my opinion.

            WP-Rocket on the other hand has developed their own code to achieve these functions and it works flawlessly with Mapped Domains!

            Further, every support issue I have come up with has been answered with extreme alacrity, genuine enthusiasm and technical expertise. I have never felt like I knew more than the support staff (except some arcane details about .htaccess).

            In fact have often found myself communicating with the co-founder Jonathan B. directly and have rarely felt so cared for in a relationship with a software vendor.

            In long, I literally cannot recommend WP-Rocket highly enough =)

            Kind Regards, Max


            Not necessarily, I’m using “WP-Rocket” and I can say that I have rarely needed support (about 3 times) and other functions but only to suggest the plugin, they responded very quickly and very friendly, It is not good to criticize without first having tried.

            For the cost, quality and service, all have a cost, not everything is free in the life.

            So far I have felt very comfortable with this plugin and support, ami standpoint, I think the rate is incorrect.

            Kind Regards :)


    Hi. Many thanks for the insights. A little surprised you did not mention the excellent caching features within both the free and paid for versions of the Wordfence security plugin. I find the caching features in Wordfence brilliant. Perhaps it was because it is not exclusively a caching plugin?

      SRH Design

      Varnish is often difficult to configure “correctly” with WordPress and especially WooCommerce…there are other server side compression/cache tools you can use that work better with WordPress.

      I’ve never heard of WP Fastest Cache, I will have to check that out.


    While All these Caching (we emphasise the a’ in the land Down Under) Plugins are great – price, performance, and support – they are used mainly to improve webpage speed and sometimes no matter how optimised the page is with caching or wot not, you can’t beat quality hosting!

    For $39 USD a year I’m sure there would be some awesome hosting providers that would easily speed up a website, and even have some change left over.

    So while WP Rocked has outstanding reviews, I would spend my hard earned cash (not emphasising the a’) towards a fast host before splashing out on it – imho


    Varnish is not that hard to configure correctly to work with WooCommerce so that cart, my account and checkout are not cached. Even with the best VPS or dedicated server it is always worth caching objects, database and content with different method, be it Redis and Varnish.

    Z Harriet Yoder

    WP Rocket has excellent tech support. I’ve contacted them several times for help. The response time is always faster than I expect! Great tech support!!


    A lot of managed WP hosting uses a modified version of Varnish as well. They will normally add in a purge cache plugin as well so your Varnish cache will be purged.


    We’ve done a lot of hard core speed tests on caching plugins over the years. Generally Hyper Cache 2 (been replaced by the less good Hyper Cache 3 but the core code of which runs Hyper Cache Extended) won our tests. WP Rocket tied Hyper Cache in our latest tests but with some issues with the mobile caching we require (plus a price tag).

    W3 Total Cache is rarely the fastest except in a hyper-optimised environment. And if you are going that far with your server side optimisation, you probably don’t need W3 Total Cache (you’d build almost all the caching straight into your environment). W3 Total Cache has broken a lot of websites over the years during WP upgrades. It’s probably the worst choice for a beginning WordPress developer or any end user (a great way to teach journeyman server admins about caching though).

    A dark secret of WordPress caching: if a visitor has left a comment, s/he won’t get cached comments. If you have a really busy site with a lot of comments, uncached pages for visitors who have left a comment can create quite a bit of load. We’ve written a free comment caching plugin which can boost your performance, regardless of which main caching plugin you choose.


    I have struggled with W3 Total Cache for a while, decided to replace its Minify functionality by another plugin, Autoptimize, replace cache priming by a cron job…
    The result was quite good: my posts are loaded usually in less than 1 sec (usually around 0.5 sec), the initial html is served under 0.2 sec almost always, and I have been able to achieve PageSpeed 100.
    I have posted the detailed explanations and directions:


    I have used wp super cache and w3 total cache. Do not remember if i used wp rocket. But i have tried more than i should. I am sure based on a number of different themes and using both super cache and w3 total cache that wp super cache is far more stable. I removed w3 total from all but one site and it needs to go from that one. Most of the configurations for minifying etc are not consistent. I would play with that plugin and eventually get to a point where it would be a few points faster than wp super cache. Come back to the site in a day or a week and site broken, elements missing. deactivate w3 total cache and fixed. I did this far to many times. Super cache is always stable, never breaks my site and always comes out the winner. I stick with it from here on out. Lately it seems to be speeding my sites up even more.



    Interesting read. I would like to mention another plugin, called WP Superformance (one of the new kids on the block). I needed speed and performance without any hassle, and this was it. Plug in, done! Zero configurations and no learning curve. Weighs less than 50KB and does its job well. Has a load of features, such as lazyloading, HTML, CSS, JS minification, hotlink protection, browser caching, etc. This one is well-worth a try.

    I believe this may be of great benefit to WordPress users. Unlike 99% of other plugins out there, WP Superformance really is a ‘plug-play’ solution, without any configuration or learning curve. I absolutely love this plugin. Well worth a go. See


    It is too bad that when caching plugins are talked about no one does a comparison with the caching code available in the Bulletproof Security plugin. Code goes in the head of the htaccess file and does a very credible job of speeding up load times. When my host is working properly, I have gotten load times on a 1 mb page under 1 second with this code.


    I hate all cache plugins and especially W3 Total Cache because it is not compatible with my theme. It was easy to install it and I adjusted the settings but it didn’t work for me, so my next step was W3 Total Cache, yep, so hard to set it but then, voila, all things fine. Fine till I set up a CDN and changed some things on the setting and the site went blanck. Hhhhhh I had to delete W3 and now I need to do all those tech stuff again. I need though an advice. What should I do? My theme is Extend….would there be another cach plugin? My site is