Any webmaster would love to have the website or blog that is quick loading. For the better user experience and SEO, page loading speed is crucial to optimize. There are plenty of WordPress plugins available to improve the page speed and to optimize the website performance. Among all, the W3 Total Cache plugin would be the most popular cache plugin for every WordPress users. It is exclusively tailored to improve the overall site’s loading speed. In this article, let us discuss in detail about W3 Total Cache settings.
Few Factors that Impact Website Loading Speed
When you think about improving page loading speed or optimizing website performance, there are many factors comes into the picture. It includes hosting server, themes, number of plug-ins used, caching, minification, and content delivery altogether. Among which choosing the best hosting service and the responsive WordPress themes are one-time jobs. If you felt overwhelming to deal with all these peculiars, I have got this guide to you.
W3 Total Cache Plugin not only helps you in optimizing loading speed but it can also reduce the download time, cache site data for fast loading, and content delivery optimization (integrated with MaxCDN).
Most of the bloggers would prefer to use the combination of W3 Total Cache plug + MaxCDN + CloudFlare. To play around all the factors that impact the performance of the website, this set of plugins and features would be efficient.
Max CDN helps you to boosts your site performance by its content delivery optimization feature. Without a CDN, the visitors to your website have to access or download files from your website’s data center. The file transfers and downloads can be made faster. Having the desired data center location based on your target location and target audience.
CloudFlare provides the utmost security to the website. Once, you configured CloudFlare to your domain, all the traffic comes through CloudFlare. It filters and blocks all the spam entries, illegal accesses, and thus securing your website from hacks.
Now, let’s get started with the guide on the W3 Cache plugin installation and setting.
W3 Total Cache Plugin Installation Guide
Similar to other WordPress plugins, installing W3TC is simple too. It does not take more than a few seconds.
- First, Login to your WordPress Admin dashboard.
- Head over to the ‘Plugins’ down the menu and then click ‘Add New’.
- Search for ‘W3 Total Cache’ and install the plugin by Frederick Townes.
- Activate the same once installation completed.
Alternatively, you can also download W3 Total Cache plugin zip file, upload it to your website and install manually.
W3 Total Cache Plugin Configuration Guide
Now, you have successfully installed the W3TC plugin. You can access it clicking on ‘Installed Plugins’ down the plugins menu. Also, you can access it clicking on the new thing ‘Performance’ appearing in the toolbar. In the dashboard, you can perform compatibility tests, emptying cache settings, and more. From the compatibility test results, you can plan what features you can configure and what requires further server configuration.
Then, let move on to its configuration settings for better results in terms of increase in loading speed of your website. I would recommend running a speed analysis test before configuring the WordPress W3 Total Cache settings.
More the time visitors spent on your website, higher the engagement and the conversion possibilities will be. Making the audiences to stay on your website for a long time is a highly peculiar task.
Through the speed test, you will come to know how your website performs currently and what we will have to achieve using W3 Total Cache Plugins.
W3 Total Cache Plugin General Settings
Don’t be scary seeing the huge list of features. You might not require using everything. Let’s get into it and configure essential factors.
Under General settings, enable the Toggle all caching types on or off (at once). This one is rarely used, hence leave it unchecked. Enable the Preview Mode to check or preview any of the settings you changed that affects your website.
Next Page Cache: Enable and select Page Cache Method: Disk enhanced. The Page Cache is the ultimate beneficial feature of W3 Total Cache plugin to improve your website’s performance massively.
Opcode Cache feature is available only for premium W3 Total Cache users. If you are such one using Pro version of W3 TC, then enable it and check the performance. Enabling the Validate timestamps, every file request will update the cache with the latest version. Else, Opcode Cache won’t check. Instead, PHP must be restarted to have the change in settings to reflect on your website. In general, the opcode cache setting is optional to configure. Probably, you don’t require paying more attention.
Then, Database Cache is to cache the results of typical database queries in reducing the post or page creation time. Hence, Enable Database Cache and choose Database Cache Method as Disk. If you are using CDN’s, then it is not necessary to be enabled.
Object Cache caches both common and complex database queries reducing server load. Consider a simple search in your website. It performs a complete search on the entire WordPress database. Object cache caches these types of queries ensuring faster results. Enable it, Object Cache Method: Disk and check the performance. Based on the effect, decide to have it enabled or disabled.
Enable Browser Cache to cache in visitor’s web browser reducing server load time and decreasing response time.
CDN is to host the files on multiple data servers or centers to serve data to the users at a faster rate from the nearby data center. If you use CDN, then Enable and select your CDN type.
Next, if a large volume of audiences visits your site at a time, your server might get stuck in serving multiple queries. There will be a delay. In such cases, Reverse Proxy will be helpful. It is an additional proxy server that acts between the visitor and your server. Receiving a large request at a time, the proxy server will get the data from the cache and serve the visitor leaving your actual server to perform other tasks. The configuration is somehow hard, hence leave it unchecked, if you are a beginner or non-technical.
The very next thing we are going to see is Monitoring. You have to set up a Relic and configure using the API key. Relic is a performance monitoring service through which you will get notified if your website, server or application performance drops.
Then, the Fragment Cache option is only available in Pro versions. Enable it if you are using premium versions of W3 Total Cache plugin.
Then, enter the license key under the category Licensing and verify it, if you are a pro user.
Further, as its name denotes it is Miscellaneous. Optionally, Enable Google Page Speed dashboard widget to display Google page speed results in the WordPress dashboard. Enter the API key to configure it. If you prefer to check the page speed manually, then don’t require. Again, it is optional to check or uncheck Show page rating in the admin bar.
Enable Verify rewrite rules. If your hosting service supports network-based file system, then enable Optimize disk enhanced page and minify disk caching for NFS and keep the Enable file locking feature unchecked.
The next feature under the W3 Total Cache plugin menu is Debug. Do not enable it for any live websites. The detailed information on every cache will be publicly available in the page source code. Hence, it is not recommended to turn on for the live blogs or websites.
Import/Export Settings: You can use this to back up your settings or import new settings for W3 Total Cache plugin.
We are now done with all the sections under general settings. Now, let’s get in-depth into each section and configure in an optimal way. Don’t forget to Save all settings before moving on to the next.
Page Cache Settings
As we discussed earlier, page cache is to cache individual pages. A page can have several elements like header, footer, sidebar, widget, etc. It is not sure that every element will be cached due to some limitations. For which, you can optimally set up every page cache feature.
Under General, refer to the below image and do the necessary.
Then, leave Aliases disabled by default.
Under Cache Preload,
- Enable Automatically prime the page cache
- Enter your sitemap URL
- Enable Preload the post cache upon publishing events
- Save all settings
The features in Purge Policy help you to define which cache to get purged on post creation, edit and if any comments generated. You may follow the below recommendations.
Then, you may check Don’t Cache under REST API & leave everything default under Advanced section.
By default, the Rewrite URL structure is enabled. Indeed, leave it as it is. Then enable Minify error notification if using Minify from W3 Total Cache plugin.
Further, no action required under Advanced. Leave it as default.
Check the box: Don’t cache queries for logged in users.
Then, keep the Advanced section as it is (default).
Have the default settings under Advanced. Enabling caching for the wp-admin request may cause some side effects. Test it and decide based on the impact on your website’s performance.
Refer to the below images to configure every section under Browser Cache.
CSS & JS
HTML & XML
Media & Other files
User Agent Groups
This section helps you to create groups of specific user agents and to personalize the user experience. For example, if your user is browsing for a Mountry theme, you can redirect the users to the themes that are tailored for travel blogs exclusively.
Indeed, Referrer Groups are similar to the User Agent Groups. Here also, you can create groups for particular users based on the referral website that they come from and personalize it for better user experience.
Under Cookie Groups, you can create a different set of cookies and assign it to a particular group of users. Like mobile users, to create a unique cache for every user groups.
These sections are not into caching; hence it does not require much attention.
Enable all the features under General.
Then, configure your CDN, if using.
In Advanced, check the box Disable CDN for the following roles and enabling the only Administrator is enough. Do this only if you are making any changes to your website.
You don’t require paying much attention to Fragment Cache.
You just ignore the Monitoring section as you don’t require configuring it.
The greatest feature of W3 Total Cache Plugin is it supports multiple Extensions. It provides extensions for popular themes and plug-ins which includes Yoast SEO, CloudFlare, etc.
Now, we are done with the complete installation and configuration of the W3 Total Cache settings guide. Compared to other cache plug-ins you will find W3TC better as it is free, easy to configure and offers guaranteed performance results.
W3 Total Cache Optimal Settings
There are multiple versions of W3 Total Cache settings guide available online. By the way, there is no hard rule to configure it. From their own experience, there are variations in most of the areas. But, the primary settings remains stable any W3 Total Cache guide you refer to. For the optimal settings, you may compare two or three tutorials or the official page of W3 Total Cache WordPress plug-in.
It’s Your Turn to configure W3 Total Cache Settings
Indeed, most of the options in the W3 TC plugin are plug-and-play. Along with this ultimate guide on W3 Total Cache settings, you can configure it with no stuck. Using W3 Cache plugin in combination with CloudFlare and CDN can get you better user experience and reduction in loading time of your website.
If you have not used W3 Total Cache plugin it, do it with the highest priority. If you find any problems in installing or configuring, you may interact with me in the comments section.