WP Rocket Review: WordPress Caching That Promises Fast Speeds and Delivers
We all want fast websites, right? No one like waiting around for pages to load. Caching ensures that visitors can access web pages at far higher speeds, thus improving engagement metrics and making the world a better place.
That’s the simple reality, folks. Something like that, anyway.
However, caching can be confusing to the point of overwhelming. I say that from personal experience – epic settings screens jam-packed with jargon make me cry inside (and sometimes outside).
With the above in mind, in this article we’re going to evaluate the performance of one popular premium caching plugin, WP Rocket, which promises to make your caching life so much easier (not to mention the positive effects on your site speed). We’re also going to compare it with the two most popular free caching plugins available for WordPress to see whether it truly is the best solution.
But before we crack on with that, let’s take a quick look at WP Rocket’s history.
WP Rocket: A Brief History
WP Rocket celebrated its second birthday a few months ago. The French company started out in France and made its transformative journey to San Francisco around this time last year. WP Rocket is a project of the WP Media startup founded by Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, Jonathan Buttigieg and Julio Potier.
The company prides itself on practicing a transparency policy by which it shares more about its insights, successes, and failures. As part of this endeavor, the company releases a transparency report every month, including business insights.
WP Rocket’s transparency report includes everything from the latest updates shipped to revenue numbers. July’s Transparency Report even offered a limited time deal on renewals. The company also released its salary grid (a sheet that has detailed earnings of the WP Rocket team) along with the formula used to calculate salaries. Pretty progressive stuff!
I wrote Promoting a Young Premium Plugin: The Challenges and Decisions Facing WP Rocket last year before the company moved to the States. Since then, the company has made tremendous progress considering that it was initially a team of three guys trying to sell a WordPress plugin, turning their business into a startup of 11 people.
With that little history lesson out of the way…
Do You Need a Caching Plugin?
In simple terms, WordPress sites get slower as they get ‘older’, more complicated, and more bloated with trucs (that’s French for ‘stuff’ – just wanted to get that in there).
In a nutshell, caching plugins recycle previously generated and commonly accessed data instead of re-loading every single PHP script every time a site is accessed. It can have a hugely beneficial impact on your site.
Yet the question remains: Which plugin provides the best caching solution for WordPress?
Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it’ll get you a decent caching plugin – and, hey, that sure as hell makes me happy. WP Rocket is generally considered one of the top caching plugins for WordPress, yet it is 100% premium (unlikely its competitors). Is it worth the money?
You can buy a WP Rocket with one of three licenses:
All licenses are subject to a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy. I have a feeling you will be, though.
Aside from the technical bits, WP Rocket is extremely user-friendly and doesn’t require you to mess with any advanced configuration settings (unless of course you absolutely want to). The plugin starts functioning as soon as you activate it.
- Super fast caching technology.
- Remarkable support and documentation.
- User-friendly interface that takes minutes to set up and is simple enough even for beginners to use.
- It aint free like popular competitors (W3 Total Cache, (WP Super Cache). But it is good value for a premium option.
- Advanced options are somewhat limited for those who want to have control over the nitty gritty of their caching settings.
I performed tests on my website, Leaving Work Behind, which didn’t have any caching plugins installed for this experiment. The site gets an average of ~20,000 unique visitors per month.
These are the settings I applied during its configuration process:
According to the developers, to make sure the plugin is activated you have to view your site’s source code and find the following line written in green towards the end of it: “This website is like a Rocket, isn’t it?”
So that’s the setup done. Let’s now take a look at the results.
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Test 1: GTMetrix
GTMetrix is an online speed testing tool based on Yahoo’s performance guidelines.
To see if WP Rocket lives up to its name, I first tested my website for its loading time sans WP Rocket. The total page size was 330kb and it loaded in 2.0 seconds:
I then went back and activated the WP Rocket plugin, and sure enough, the page loaded much faster. The total page size reduced to 233kb and it loaded in just 0.7 seconds:
To get a better idea of how fast the page loaded with WP Rocket, let’s look at the page load times history graph that GTMetrix provided:
Test 2: Pingdom
Now call me paranoid, but I like to double check my test results.
My go-to speed testing site is Pingdom – a server monitoring and online testing service. Same as before, I deactivated WP Rocket on my site and checked its speed.
According to Pingdom, the total page size was 337.3kb and it loaded in 2.17 seconds.
I logged back into my site and activated WP Rocket. This time, when I checked the site’s speed on Pingdom, the page size was 242.4kb and it loaded in 0.787 seconds.
Based on the results I got, it’s evident that WP Rocket is a fantastic caching solution for WordPress. The cached page size decreased in both tests and the page loaded in less than half the time. Très bon!
WP Rocket Vs Competing Caching Plugins
Those of you who’ve read my post The Top 3 WordPress Caching Plugins Compared already have a fair idea of the other two caching plugins that I’m going to discuss here: WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
How would you know which caching solution is best for you? There isn’t a perfect solution out there for anything, and tradeoffs are inevitable. You’ll have to decide which criterion are more important to you (as the user) and your site.
Here are are the criteria I went with:
“Freemium or premium” is the age old question when you’re choosing a plugin. While most of the free plugins out there work superbly, there are certain scenarios where you would want to go with a premium plugin. The reason is simple – price tends to reflect the product’s features and reliability, and how much support you’ll get from the developers.
This depends entirely on how well acquainted you are with WordPress plugins. If you’re a developer then a plugin with configuration screens galore won’t necessarily bother you much. But if you prefer something a little more intuitive, you’ll have a smaller pool of plugins to pick from.
If you’ve got a really big site with a lot of traffic then you’re going to want your caching plugin to have a lot of features built-in to handle things. Luckily enough, there are plugins out there that work just as well for bigger sites as they do for smaller ones.
If support from the developers is imperative, then you’ll want to go with a plugin that is properly documented and has easy-to-access forums.
WP Rocket vs. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is in head to head competition with WP Rocket. Let’s see which one trumps our criteria and emerges as the winner.
Cost: WP Rocket is a premium plugin that costs from $39 to $199 depending upon the number of licenses you wish to purchase. W3 Total Cache is a free caching plugin. Winner: W3 Total Cache
Usability: WP Rocket is very user-friendly and requires the user to apply just a few configuration settings to get it to work, whereas W3 Total Cache has 16 pages of configuration settings for users who want full control over its functionality and a simpler one-click setup for those who don’t. Winner: Tie
Support: WP Rocket licenses come with one year of support. Its support staff respond to queries very quickly and are always available to show you how much value their product holds. W3 Total Cache developers have an FAQ section on their site and a forum exclusively for their caching plugin. Winner: WP Rocket
WP Rocket vs. WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is the most downloaded caching plugin in the market. Let’s see how it compares to WP Rocket based on the criteria.
Price: WP Rocket is priced at $39 for one, $99 for three and $199 for unlimited licenses. WP Super Cache is available for download free of cost. Winner: WP Super Cache
Usability: WP Rocket is an easy-to-use caching plugin with minimal configuration settings to mess around with. WP Super Cache also requires little to no configuration, but setting it up isn’t as easy as WP Rocket. Users have reported compatibility issues from time to time. Winner: WP Rocket
Support. WP Rocket has a remarkable support staff that’s always ready to help you out. WP Super Cache? It’s got a forum you can ask questions on and an FAQ section. The thing with forums is that you never know how long you’ll be waiting for an answer. Winner: WP Rocket
WP Rocket: A Clear Winner?
WP Rocket is one of the best caching solutions out there, but I’m not going to tell you that it’s the “best,” because it really does come down to your individual needs. However, I would heartily recommend it to anyone who wants a simple and highly effective caching solution packaged with top notch support.
At the end of the day, all that really matters is what you’re looking for in a caching plugin. If you don’t mind spending some money then WP Rocket would be my personal recommendation. However, if you’d rather go for a free plugin with the potential for headaches and potentially less-than-super-attentive support, WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache are great alternatives as well.
Do you use WP Rocket? What do you use for caching on your site? Let us know what you think in the comments below.