WP Super Cache Versus W3 Total Cache

I have been dealing with a WordPress site that was consuming a lot of resources on the server on which it is installed. In the course of discussing the problems I was seeing with the web host’s support team, the support representative suggested that I try W3 Total Cache instead of WP Super Cache to see if it improved the site’s loading time and reduced the resource usage for the site.

I have used W3 Total Cache in the past, and what I remember most about it was that I had one text widget which simply would not update on the front end until I deactivated the plugin and activated it once more, but I had already done everything I could think of to optimize this problem site, so I was game. And he got me thinking, which of these caching plugins really works the best?

First, I ran GoDaddy’s P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) on the site several times to obtain a baseline measure of its performance with WP Super Cache installed and configured as I have described in a previous post on optimizing WordPress. WP Super Cache was set up to use mod_rewrite.

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Optimizing WordPress

P3 Results Stacked

I am very impressed with WordPress, and over the past several years it has become my web platform of choice, but the fact is, more and more I find myself in the position of trying to find ways to make it more efficient. I don’t think this has anything to do with WordPress itself. Installed alone (no plugins) with a basic theme, it’s pretty efficient, but who wants to use it that way? Not my clients. They want as many bells and whistles as they can get, and that means a customized theme, plenty of jQuery and javascript, lots of images, and all kinds of plugins. Overloading an unoptimized WordPress site can lead to a suspended account on a shared hosting service, sluggish site loading, and users abandoning the site because it responds too slow.

My purpose today is to share some of the methods I’ve found that really work to optimize WordPress, reduce the load on the server, increase the performance of a site, and improve the user experience.

Before you get started, you may want to install GoDaddy’s P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) and run a baseline test so you can see the benefits of each optimization step.

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