Did you know that your website can be considerably accelerated, if you implement caching? Millions of WordPress based websites run on W3 total cache, WordPress Super Cache, Quick Cache, Hyper Cache and other similar plugins. There are many tests with results published online, but most of them were performed on shared hosting basis. What about VPS servers? Since this is a different platform, speed and other metrics can greatly vary. Let’s look at productivity of the above mentioned plugins to find out which one will give better results.
To run the test we used a standard VPS server with 2x Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5675 @ 3.07GHz, more than 2300 Mb RAM, and OS CENTOS 5.8 x86_64. In every case, test was executed for 10 times, and average results are present. We used pages with size 245-250 Kb. Without caching, average loading speed on Gtmetrix was 1.014s, and on Pingdom – 0.835s. This is quite fast already, but can plugins available for WordPress change the situation to the better?
Hyper Cache Plugin
The plugin can run on WordPress versions from 2.5 to 3.5. Although it’s not the most popular plugin over there (it was downloaded about 322 hundred thousand times by the moment of testing), installation is pretty simple and intuitive. You just need to type Hyper Cache in the plugins manager using your admin panel in WordPress. Install and activate buttons should be pressed then. As soon as you activate it, open settings, Hyper Cache. Keep in mind that you will need to edit WP configuration and add define(‘WP_CACHE’, true). Some users find the need to edit important files inconvenient, but it will take a few seconds, though.
The results appeared to be curious: average loading time on Gtmetrics appeared to be 0.823s, which is 0.191s faster than in the initial test. However, Pingdom showed increase and appeared to be 1.0747s. Contradictory benefit.
Quick Cache Plugin
The plugin is compatible with WordPress versions from 3.2 to 3.3.2 and was downloaded a bit more than 370,000 times. In this case, you don’t have to change any important files: just type Quick Cache in the plugins manager using your admin panel in WordPress, click install and activate. Then you should go to plugin menu and activate caching: you may not change default settings.
Quick Cache Test has indicated decrease of loading time in both cases. 0.862s on Gtmetrics and 0.7616s on Pingdom (minus 0.152s and 0.0734s correspondingly).
WP Super Cache Plugin
The plugin is compatible with version 3.0 and higher (up to 3.5) and is one of the most popular plugins (was downloaded almost 4 mln times). Installation process is a piece of cake. Type WP Super Cache in the plugins manager of your WP admin panel, select install and activate options. As soon as the plugin is activated, you will need to open its menu using settings > WP Super Cache. Click Enable and proceed to advanced settings. Here you should enable all recommended options, scroll the page down and update Mod rewrite rules.
The results of WP Super Cache analysis also appeared to be brilliant: 0.19s decrease in Gtmetrix, and 0.2657s difference in Pingdom!
W3 Total Cache Plugin
This is another well-known plugin for WP websites that was downloaded 1,4 mln times. It is compatible with versions starting from 2.8 and up to 3.2.1. Installation doesn’t require specific technical knowledge: just type W3 Total Cache in the plugins manager using admin panel in WordPress, select install and then activate the plugin. Then go to W3 Total Cache menu that is called Performance and deactivate preview mode. You should enable browser caching and page caching. In Browser Caching section you should enable Set expires header and Set cache control header.
This plugin has appeared to be the most effective for website acceleration. Loading on Gtmetrix reduced to 0.838s (which is 0.176s faster), and Pingdom has shown the speed of 0.5027s (0.3323s difference).
Now we can perform side by side comparison of test results to define the differences. WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache appeared to be the most efficient plugins, especially when being tested via Pingdom. However, the difference between these plugins for caching is not dramatic. If you don’t know what to choose, look at these plugins from convenience standpoint. W3 Total Cache is the leader of our chart, because it gives a VPS user the opportunity to benefit from Alternative PHP Cache (APC) – a memory based caching option for PHP. Besides, users can simply implement a content delivery network (CDN). These key advantages make W3 Total Cache a total winner.