Understanding caching and the way it works is vital for your WordPress site’s performance. This implies that it is directly related to the success of your website as your site speed is the primary factor responsible for your traffic and search engine rankings. The best thing about caching is that it is extremely effective yet simple to understand and implement. Hence, we have compiled everything that you need to know about WordPress caching in this blog. We will begin by understanding what caching is first and then move to the important details related to its use.
What is Caching?
Caching is the process of storing data in a temporary storage area called cache. The primary purpose of the cache memory is to store your posts and pages for short durations of time. Moreover, it stores only that data as static files which is frequently requested by a user or software while working. This enables to retrieve these program instructions faster whenever they are requested and leads to the increase in the overall speed of your WordPress website and reduces the processing load on your server.
To understand WordPress caching in detail, you need to understand the process of site loading first. The process begins with a user requesting a particular page via URL on his computer’s browser. The browser then sends a request to your web server which is situated at a remote location somewhere in the world. After this, your WordPress installation contacts the specific database where it is installed and fetches your site data. This data is then compiled as an HTML page by the same web server to display it to the user as a web page.
The above procedure implies that your website’s data must go to at least 3 different places before reaching your user. Hence, to speed up all these transfer activities, your site data is saved on the local hard drive of the user. This process is called caching.
Importance of Caching
Since most websites need people to access the same posts and pages over and over again, caching is a powerful and essential tool for every WordPress site. Not only this but caching has other advantages too that makes it important for your site. Take a look.
- Improves speed and performance of your site via faster and better loading of static cached files.
- Reduces the load of your hosting server and saves server memory and input-output operations.
- Enhances your website SEO and improves search engine ranking.
- Leads to user satisfaction by enabling a better overall user experience.
Types of Caching
Now, that you know caching and its importance, let us understand the types of caching that help to improve the speed and user experience your website. Essentially, there are two types of cache. One is the Client-Side Caching by the user’s browser and the other is the Server-Side Caching by the Server. Both have been explained in detail below.
This type of cache is extremely helpful to prevent data redundancy and reduces the load on the server exponentially. Since client-side caching saves a lot of data, it is recommended for users to clear the browser cache memory from time to time as this speeds up your browser.
Server-Side Caching is the caching undertaken by your server. It is a more elaborate process than client-side caching and includes several protocols that help in loading the different elements on your site faster. These protocols are:
- Page caching
The simplest of all server-side caching protocols, Page caching is the process of saving dynamic HTML files in the hard disk or RAM of the server. Every web page has important components like header, footer, body content and sidebar. So, anytime a website is reloaded, these elements are served from the previously saved data saving space for executing PHP and MySQL queries.
- Database query caching
A database is the heart of every website. A database consumes more resources than any element of your website as it stores, updates and delivers data for the complete website. In simple words, whenever you make a request for a website, all the data on the website is accessed via database queries which takes time. Hence, to reduce pressure on your database and server, these queries are saved just like static data. This, in turn, saves time and resources by reducing the number of queries greatly. Database query caching is one of the primary components of WordPress caching.
- Object-based caching
CMSs like WordPress are equipped with an internal caching system that supports subsystems including Caching API, Object Cache, and Transient API. Called object-based caching, this caching system caches several programmatic objects and reuses them between requests to reduce database calls and optimize the API.
- Opcode caching
Every PHP page on your website is compiled into a PHP code for a computer to execute. This compiled code is needed for every request made. Hence, to improve the loading speeds and reduce server load, opcode caching saves this data and generates the required executable code for the server.
How to Enable Caching on WordPress
Since now you are aware of the basics of caching, let us dive straight into its implementation on your WordPress site. Like most things, enabling caching on your WordPress site can also be done with some simple plugins. Hence, we have compiled a list of the best Cache Plugins for your WordPress site below. Note that these impressive WordPress plugins have been tested with the help of GTmetrix, Pingdom, and Google PageSpeed Insights tools to enable you to make a better choice. Take a look.
WP Super Cache
Designed by Automattic, WP Super Cache is the most used and trusted cache plugin that generates static HTML files for dynamic WordPress websites. It serves these cached files effectively in three ways namely simple, expert and WP-Cache caching. Simple is the best for beginners as it does not demand you to do anything and takes care of everything on its own. Expert, on the other hand, needs you to modify .htaccess files but is the fastest caching method out of these three. The WP-Cache caching method is the most flexible and user-specific caching method from these but is slower than the other two.
With different options to effectively keep your server optimized, WP Super Cache is certainly one of the best choices for site caching whether you are a beginner or an expert in the field.
W3 Total Cache
One of the best and the most popular cache plugins on WordPress, W3 Total Cache takes the load off your server by caching almost every aspect of your WordPress site. Offering CDN integrations, it has over a million installs and is used worldwide by big brands like AT&T and Mashable.com. Even if your website is hosted on a shared hosting network and not a dedicated one, this plugin will exponentially reduce page loading time and improve server performance by leaps and bounds. Not only this but it also offers exclusive support for Google AMP and SSL.
The best thing about this plugin is that it is the only plugin that can optimize all practical hosting environments and offer bandwidth savings of up to 60% surely without any loss.
The most popular paid caching plugin for WordPress, WP Rocket is an easy to configure and simple cache plugin that optimizes site caching as soon as it is activated. This is what sets it apart from other plugins on WordPress. Not only for caching, but WP Rocket also plays an important role to enhance search engine indexing and page load time. It also helps you to enable lazy loading on your page and is equipped with a good number of hooks for developers who look to extend its functionality.
One of the most powerful caching plugins on WordPress, WP Rocket is certainly a good choice for businesses that get high traffic on their website and are looking for advanced features within a caching plugin.
WP Fastest Cache
If you are a beginner, WP Fastest Cache is one of the best choices for you as it has lesser configuration settings for caching on WordPress. One of the easiest to use caching plugins, the simple plugin creates static HTML and CSS files and minifies them to reduce their size and enable a faster WordPress site. You can also disable emojis with this plugin if you don’t like them on your site. All these features are available for free.
WP Fastest Cache also has a premium version which offers unique features like image optimization, mobile caching and database cleanup to enhance page loading speed even more.
Comet Cache: WordPress Caching plugin
The successor of the popular cache plugin ZenCache, the Comet plugin is a complete plug and play caching plugin ideal sites that offer user registration like membership and eCommerce sites. This is because it comes with a built-in functionality that allows you to cache logged-in users. Supporting almost all CDN networks such as CloudFront and MaxCDN, it also allows you to serve all cached files on your site via these CDNs. Not only this but it also has a feature that disables cache expiration in case if excessive server load.
One of the recent yet reliable caching plugins, Comet Cache is a simple plugin that allows you to take care of your site cache without many efforts and enables a free-flowing site view to your users.
We hope that by now you must have understood what caching is and how can it be used effectively to enhance the speed of your website. Remember, caching is an extremely simple process that comes with great results. However, ignoring this aspect for your WordPress website can lead to huge losses in traffic and even customer dissatisfaction. Hence, do not miss this easy yet effective website technique on your WordPress site and see the magic happen yourself.