WordPress Plugins & Tools - September 7, 2016

WordPress Caching: What It Is and the Best Plugins to Work With

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WordPress is one of the most sophisticated pieces of web software. But it has to stay within the boundries of the programming systems and languages that it’s written with. PHP and MySQL is two of them, and they require delicate components to remain high-performance.

Caching is one of those delicate components. In this article, I’m going to talk about caching in WordPress and review some of the most popular WordPress caching plugins.

What is WordPress Caching?

Imagine that you’re chilling with your best friend, and (somehow) you decide to do a sing-along to a Justin Bieber song. (Hey, we don’t judge.) You need to open a lyrics website, but you notice that your friend knows all the lyrics of Baby. (Okay, now we judge.)

This simple, weird example is almost exactly how caches work. The lyrics of Baby isn’t cached in your memory, but your friend cached the lyrics before.

This is called “server caching” and it involves taking the content from the database and storing it in the memory (either the RAM or the harddisk) of the server. There’s also “browser caching”, which is basically your browser saving static files (like images, CSS and JavaScript files). Your browser does this to use them in other pages and not download them over and over again.

Let’s go back to the example. If the lyrics website you visit to see the Justin Bieber lyrics is powered by WordPress and uses a caching plugin, the website won’t connect to the database to fetch the lyrics each time you (or another visitor) requests them. If the lyrics are in the cache, WordPress will skip the trip to the database and show you those lyrics way faster. And your browser will remember the static files. So, if you search for a One Direction song within the website (Seriously?), the browser won’t bother downloading those files again. This also speeds up the process of showing the web page.

Most Popular Caching Plugins for WordPress

Now that I’ve finished explaining how caching works (in a very unusual way with very weird examples), it’s time to review some plugins!

WP Super Cache: The most popular caching plugin for WordPress, and one of the most popular WordPress plugins in general. It has a familiar settings interface with easy controls, but allows fine-tuning for advanced users as well.

WP Fastest Cache: An advanced and easy-to-use caching plugin with some innovative features that none of the other caching plugins have. Definitely worth trying.

W3 Total Cache: I have mixed feelings about this plugin’s over-complicated settings and potentially website-breaking features. Though, I have to say that it’s the most advanced free caching plugin available for WordPress websites.

WP-Rocket: The most professional premium WordPress caching plugin, hands down. It’s definitely worth paying its yearly price, especially if you’re running a large, popular website.

There are more plugins like these, and many more caching systems that you can run server-wide. But since this is a basic tutorial and the plugins above will suffice for even large websites, I’m not going to drown you with details.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading! If you liked the article, don’t forget to share it with your friends so they’ll know the importance of caching in WordPress.

Bye!

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