500 Internal Server Error with W# Total Cache install

I installed the much-applauded W3 Total Cache plugin and went into a tailspin of panic after getting the 500 Internal Server error on my public site and being locked out of my admin panel with the same error. I took out the W3TC bit in htaccess(thanks wpbeginner.com) and was able to login in and remove the files. The site is working again (yea!), but I'm still desirous of that plugin, or one like it, to decrease my load times. What did I do wrong?