WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache

When it comes to speeding up your WordPress site, using a good WordPress caching plugin is often a central element.

A caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Rocket, 2 of the most popular caching plugins will almost always make a huge difference, especially on cheap WordPress hosting.

However, you probably have questions like:

  • Do I have to pay for a premium caching plugin, or are WordPress.org’s free caching plugins as good?
  • What is the real impact of caching?
  • Can cache make sites hosted on cheap shared WordPress hosting as fast as sites hosted on much more expensive managed WordPress hosting?
WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache
WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache

WP Rocket is much better than W3 Total Cache: Here’s why …

Total Cache W3 has countless complaints about people’s website breaking. There was also a time when the plugin was not updated for almost 3 years and everyone thought it was abandoned. And good luck trying to configure the W3 Total Cache settings (luckily I have a tutorial for that) but it’s still quite complicated. You are not getting any support and your question will not be answered in the plugin support forum. The bottom line, the plugin developer (Frederick Townes) has other things going on and doesn’t take it as seriously as the team behind WP Rocket.

WP Rocket is user-friendly and more efficient than W3 Total Cache. I run WP Rocket on my own website and have <1s load time in Pingdom + GTmetrix with almost 100% scores in both. They have tons of documentation, fantastic support, and release new plugin updates about 2-3 times a month. This is extremely important because almost all cache plugins don’t update often or provide support. Cache plugins must be reliable!

Summary

WP Rocket is a premium plugin but it’s easier to configure and more reliable than W3 Total Cache (it won’t break your site). It also has some great support, documentation, and speed features that W3 Total Cache does not have: database cleanup, lazy loading of photos/videos/iframes, hosting of Google Analytics locally and preloading options are all come with WP Rocket, while you will need to install 2-3 additional plugins if you want to use these features with W3 Total Cache. WP Rocket is also generally ranked as the # 1 cache plugin in Facebook polls. Caching is a key factor in the WordPress optimization guide and WP Rocket is worth it.

1. W3 total cache is difficult to configure

I have a great tutorial on how to configure W3 Total Cache settings, but there are so many options that can be confusing if you are not already savvy with configuring cache plugins. Here are the W3 Total Cache tabs…

This is only the first part (“General settings”)…

There are additional steps for page cache settings, browser cache settings, enabling extensions, and configuring Cloudflare / StackPath. It’s not the easiest plugin to configure.

2. W3 total cache is rarely updated (unsupported)

It wasn’t that long ago that W3 Total Cache hadn’t been updated for so long that people thought the plugin was dead. Yoast said “When you need to explain to other people that you haven’t given up on your plugin, the clock has already struck midnight.

Cache plugins are already known to cause errors, the developer needs to be on top of their plugin and updates need to be made! You will also not get any support from W3 Total Cache. Even if you buy their setup service, there are plenty of reports that the developer takes your money and does nothing.

3. WP Rocket is reliable with great support/documentation

  • Reliable – it should NOT break your website
  • Great support – you can contact them and they will actually help you
  • Documentation – they have tons of documentation if you have any questions

4. WP Rocket is updated with bug fixes/improvements

WP Rocket releases new updates about 2-3 times a month… see this in their changelog. This is very important because most cache plugin developers don’t. Updates include bug fixes AND enhancements, so you can expect new features and functionality from the plugin.

5. Additional features of WP Rocket

W3 Total Cache doesn’t have options for lazy loading or database cleanup – two things that can dramatically improve load times. WP Rocket has these two built-in elements, otherwise, you will have to use 3 additional plugins to have these features (Lazy Load For Videos, BJ Lazy load for lazy loading of images/iframes, and WP-Optimize to clean your database). I’d rather have only one plugin and let WP Rocket handle it all… I really don’t want 4 plugins. WP Rocket lazy load speeds up the loading of videos/iframes/images…

WP Rocket’s database cleanup speeds up your site …

Their Google tracking can also correct several GA elements in GTmetrix / Pingdom …

6. How to configure WP Rocket

Ready to use WP Rocket? Buy the plugin here then upload it to your account page. Download it under Plugins → Add New → Download. If you’re having trouble with Safari, check out their instructions. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings → WP Rocket and you will see these settings …

Cache tab

  • Caching for mobile devices
  • Cache for logged in users

File Optimization tab

  • Combine Google Fonts
  • Removes query strings from static resources
  • Minimize CSS / JS files
  • Combine CSS / JS files
  • Optimizes CSS delivery
  • Check the site for errors, if applicable, exclude problematic files in “Advanced rules”

Media tab

  • Lazy loads images / iframes / videos
  • Disable emoticons
  • Disable WordPress integrations

Preload tab

  • Activate the preload bot
  • Detects Yoast XML sitemap for preloading
  • Pre-fetch DNS queries (add files below)
  • //fonts.googleapis.com
  • //ajax.googleapis.com
  • //connect.facebook.net
  • //www.google-analytics.com
  • //www.googletagmanager.com
  • //maps.google.com
  • My CNAME from StackPath

Advanced Rules tab

  • Add advanced rules for specific files

Database tab

  • Schedule WordPress database cleanups to get your site loaded quickly

CDN tab

  • I am using StackPath
  • Create a CDN site
  • In StackPath, go to the CDN tab, then find your CDN URL
  • Paste your CDN URL in the “Replace site hostname” field of WP Rocket
  • In StackPath, go to CDN → Cache Settings, then purge all files
  • Run your site in GTmetrix and the “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow

Add-ons (Cloudflare)

  • Sign up for Cloudflare
  • At the top right of your Cloudflare account, click on my profile. Scroll down and you will see your Global API Key, then paste it into WP Rocket
  • Clear all Cloudflare cache files

Tools

  • Export/import WP Rocket settings to use on multiple websites

7. Both plugins support multiple CDNs

WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache support Cloudflare AND additional CDNs. Using multiple CDNs is great for high-traffic websites because it makes them more reliable and faster as you can leverage the data centers of each CDN. Most other cache plugins only support CDN (eg WP Fastest Cache) so I will give it to W3TC for support 2. But WP Rocket also.

8. Conclusion: WP Rocket

Just to review:

  • W3 total cache is unreliable with a higher risk of bugs
  • WP Rocket is much more well maintained
  • WP Rocket is highly rated in Facebook polls
  • WP Rocket is much easier to configure
  • WP Rocket is much less likely to cause errors
  • WP Rocket has impressive documentation and support
  • WP Rocket a lazy load + database cleaning + locally integrated Google Analytics hosting

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Frequently Asked Questions

WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache, which is better?

WP Rocket has been rated higher in Facebook polls, is easier to set up, and has more speed features than W3 Total Cache. The only downside is that it costs money.

Why is WP Rocket better?

WP Rocket offers more speed optimization features than W3 Total Cache (database cleanup, Google Analytics local hosting, heartbeat control, font preloading, etc.). This is why it generally gives better results in GTmetrix.

Which one is easy to configure?

WP Rocket is much easier to set up than W3 Total Cache and they have some documentation if you need help setting it up.

How can I get 10% off WP Rocket?

WP Rocket has a Coupons page on their website where you can get 10% off by signing up to their mailing list.

What’s the best way to configure these cache plugins?

I have tutorials for WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache. Just make sure to minimize and combine files, configure CDNs, and test your settings for optimal load times and to avoid breaking your site.

Conclusion: is WP Rocket worth it?

When I started doing this comparison I didn’t expect to see such a big difference as the W3 Total cache plugin is loaded with great features, but the test results proved me dead wrong.

In my testing I found WP-Rocket to perform better than W3 Total cache and what I liked the most about WP-Rocket is that it’s easy to configure. In fact, it is better than the super cache and Auto-Optimize WP plugin.

Overall WP-Rocket is worth paying for.

 

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