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Battle of the WordPress Optimization Plugins: Autoptimize, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache

When it comes to website optimization for WordPress, we truly live in a golden age. There are now so many choices that it can be hard to know which one to go with. This post will go over the most popular options that are available to you as a WordPress user.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare deserves a special mention here, because of how powerful its features are. Cloudflare isn’t just an optimization plugin, but actually a Content Distribution Network (CDN), which, as you know if you read our post on CDNs can really speed up your site by serving certain parts of it not from your central server (which is in one location) but rather via the CDN’s widely distributed server system. Because there’s usually a nearby server your content can be loaded from, performance improves.

But that isn’t all Cloudflare can do. Once logged in, the user will see tabs for Speed, Caching, Firewall, Crypto, Analytics, and more. All this effectively serves as a second website control panel, allowing you to modify all these features to get your site dialed in exactly how you want it. CanSpace is a CloudFlare premium partner, so our clients get access to all these features free of charge.

Autoptimize

Autoptimize stands apart from the rest of the plugins in this post because it’s not strictly-speaking a caching plugin. It does caching, yes, but it really focuses on things like minifying scripts and async non-aggregated JavaScript. It also includes powerful image optimization features like lazy-loading and can even mass-convert all the images on your site to next generation formats like WebP. Autoptimize itself recommends that users use their tool in conjunction with a more traditional page caching plugin.

WP Super Cache

With over 2 million active installations, WP Super Cache is definitely one of the most popular caching plugins out there. How does it work? Every time a browser visits your website, your server needs to digest the CSS and PHP code and serve up HTML to that browser. A caching plugin makes one important assumption: your site is not that dynamic, and it’s not really necessary to be doing this processing in real time. Instead, the site takes a “snapshot” and then serves that HTML straight to users without the need to process all the underlying code in real time. There are several different caching options available, from simple to expert. For true beginners, the plugin does come with recommended settings that anyone can turn on and use as a starting point in a set it and forget it-type fashion.

W3 Total Cache

Coming in with over a million active installations, W3 Total Cache is slightly less popular than the competition but still in the top 5% of all WordPress plugins. W3 Total Cache has some features that set it apart from the competition. For one, it splits the difference between the three option options we discussed, by offering CDN integration, script minification, and page caching all under one roof. The plugin goes so far as to assert that when fully configured, it will lead to improvements in SEO and at least 10x improvement in overall site performance based n conventional testing by WebPagetest and Google Page Speed.

WP Rocket

The only paid plugin on our list, WP Rocket does deserve your consideration as a caching option. The tool offers several features not found in the other caching plugins that might make it more valuable for larger websites and/or power users. For example,

  • Database optimization
  • Google fonts optimization
  • Remove Query Strings from Static Resources
  • Various lazy loading options
  • Deferred JavaScript Loading
  • DNS prefetching
  • eCommerce-specific caching features

While it may be hard to choose from so many good options, it is really wonderful that so many options are available to modern website owners.

Remember all CanSpace hosting accounts come with free one-click installation of WordPress, meaning you can get your WordPress up and running in just minutes!

The CanSpace Team

CanSpace is Canada's leading domain name registrar and hosting provider. Keep an eye on our blog for expert information around websites and running a business online.

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