Search engines love fast websites and when using wordpress, there are plug-ins available to help speed up your site. The 2 most popular plug-ins are W3 Total Cache and Super Cache. But which one is better?
W3 Total Cache
This plug-in boasts many great features. Not only can you cache pages (reducing database calls to speed up pages) but you can also adjust settings for image caching, use a CDN and MUCH more.
The plug-in can be slightly overwhelming as there are so many options and settings to choose from. Some can actually slow your site down so you need to know which ones to enable, and which ones to turn off. The options available to you will often depend on your hosting as some can be resource hungry or your server may not have the required components enabled to allow you to use them.
This plug-in may be suited to a more advanced user because of its complex options.
Super cache is primarily (and only) used for caching pages, which for most users will suffice. The options aren’t overwhelming and quite easy to understand.
Performance of your caching plugin may vary depending on your hosting environment and your WordPress setup. You can also run your own speed tests after setting up both plugins to see which one makes your site faster. We use W3 Total Cache on all our websites and have often found it faster than WP Super Cache.
Which plugin is better?
I had been using W3 Total Cache on this and another site, but found the sites quite sluggish despite reading articles online to try find the best settings to speed the site up. One reason I tried Super Cache was because W3 Total Cache was causing me issues with sitemaps. They worked while I was logged in to wordpress, but didn’t otherwise.
I disabled W3 and installed Super Cache which fixed my sitemap issues. But I also noticed that the sites were much faster. I had been attributing the slower site to my coding, but turns out that W3 Total Cache was actually slowing my site down.
If you are the kind of person who likes simplicity, I would say use Super Cache. Its much easier out of the box and doesn’t have too many settings to confuse you. For those with knowledge of .htaccess a lot of what W3 Total Cache adds to the file, you can do yourself.