For now i want to concentrate on what i believe to be the best WordPress plugin to help speed up your site and its called WP Rocket. This is a paid plugin and while there are plenty of free plugins out there like W3 Total cache, WP Super Cache and Hyper Cache, none of these compare the WP Rocket.
WP Rocket has three plans available to purchase the first is a single license at $39 per year for 1 site, a plus license at $99 per year for 3 sites and the infinite license which allows you to install on as many websites as you want for $199 per year.
The features WP Rockets boasts compared to the other 3 mentioned cache plugins are as follows
As you can see compared to other plugins WP rocket offers a more extensive list by offering what 3 plugins can do and merging it into 1 plugin.
What makes WP Rocket such a brilliant tool is the easy of use and the tool tips they provide for each option you can change.
Once you install the plugin and visit the dashboard you are greeted with a well designed UI. WP Rocket will automatically apply 80% of the proven speed recommendation by default so even if you never change any settings you will automatically get additional speed benefits.
The dashboard include your License details, ability to turn on beta functions (if you are part of the beta testing program), Frequently asked question links with a button to easily contact the WP Rocket support team. Links to the plugin documentation and quick access button for clearing all cached files and for pre loading cache files.
The first setting to tweak is the cache.
This page allows you to
- Setup mobile cache with the ability to make a separate cache file for mobile devices.
- Enable user based cache for logged-in users
- SSL cache for pages with HTTPS://
- Ability to set the cache lifespan in minutes, hours and days
Each section has a handy “need help” button which opens a popup with detailed documentation explaining each section. This is common on all settings
File Optimization Settings
File Optimization is the next section which allows you to optimize the CSS and JSS
Basic settings include Minify HTML, Combine Google Fonts and Remove query strings from static resources. Additionally you can Mainify the CSS and JS files, combine and deferrer loading of these files.
Its important to mention that changing the settings in this section can break your theme. I would highly suggest turning each feature on by one by and testing the result to ensure your website displays correctly. Remember to test on mobile and different browsers as well.
For example on this site if i tick (Optimize CSS delivery) the header section becomes miss aligned from this
The media section is a really helpful addition that allows you to
- Lazy load images, iframe and videos so they dont load until they come into view, increasing the the sites load time
- Removal of the WP Emoji icons
- Disable embeds which stops other sites embedding content from your site. This helps stop other sites stealing your bandwidth
The Preload section allows you to pre load the cache resources without needing to actually visit the URLS on your site to start generating the cache.
This is done via the Sitemap Preloading and Preload bot features
You can also setup DNS prefetching for example URLS. This allows visitors to get a resource they may need in the future on the first page visit so subsequent page visits on your site will load faster as they wont need to load those external resources again.
Advanced Rules Options
Advanced Rules is used to control what you dont want cached, usually for sensitive pages such as a login or log out area of your site. Other settings allow you to control cache of useragents, cookies, query strings and to always purge URLS.
The Database section is like a spring cleaning tool for your database. It allows you to see redundent entries in your database that may be slowing your site down, These include
- Post Revisions
- Post Auto Drafs
- Trashed Posts
- Spam Comments
- Trashed Comments
- Expired Transients
- All Transients
- Optimize Tables
You can also schedule WP Robot to perform this clean up based on settings either daily, weekly or monthly.
CDN Setup Options
WP Rocket has the ability to use a CDN to server cached files. If there is one negative here is that its not clear in the UI what services are supported however clicking the “need help” button gives a clear explanation.
All you need to do is enter your CNAME entry that your CDN provides and WP Rocket will do a “pull” request to retrieve these files.
Its worth noting that WP Rocket cannot do a “push” request, which is pushing files from the server to the CDN storage, This will require the use of additional plugins.
MaxCDN and KeyCDN both provide instructions on how to setup their services with WP Rocket
WP Rocket has the ability to link in with Cloudflare via the Add-ons section. This would work well in conjunction with my Cloudflare speed guide for WordPress so its worth checking this out to further increase the speed of your site.
In this section you can also turn on Varnish. If you dont know what Varnish is its best to check out the official site here
I would speak to your web host before turning this on, and if you dont know what it is, its best to leave it alone.
WP Rocket Tools
Finally we have the tools section which allows you to Export and import settings and to roll back the version of WP Rocket.
SO seeing as this is a review i guess you want to know what this awesome tool can do.
Since i already slightly optimized this site using this plugin i will provide GTMetric results with the plugin turned off and then turned on again so you can see the impact this has. I want to point out tho that i do use CloudFlare however i have not got any Cache option setup on my account there, so it wont effect the page speed result.
First Test is from the Australia with the plugin turned off
Now when i turn the plugin on
Next test will be from the default US location on GTMetric
and the result with the plugin on
Finally the test from the UK server
And with the plugin on
So if we drill down into the data this is what we can see
- Full Load Time reduced from 12.6s to 3.2s which is a reduction of 9.4s or 75% load times
- The page size reduced by 397KB or 31.3%
- The Total request reduced from 58 to 29 which is a massive 50% reduction
- Full Load Time reduced from 6.1s to 2.9s which is a reduction of 3.2s or 53% in load times
- The page size reduced by 444KB or 35%
- The Total request reduced from 58 to 28 which is a huge 50% reduction
- Full Load Time increased from 1.6s to 1.9s which is a increase of .3s
- The page size reduced by 6590KB or 44%
- The Total request reduced from 57 to 27 which is also a 50% reduction
The UK server was the anomaly here as it was the only one to show an increase in page speed. I wanted to check this further seeing as i am in the UK and could test the real world speed on my connection
With my browser cache cleared i run the site using Chrome and can confirm the site loaded in under 1 second as shown here.
What do i think of WP Rocket?
Well i think you can see that the result are pretty awesome. With such a massive reduction in the important areas of load times, the ease of use and the clear documentation i think WP Rocket is the must have cache plugin if you want to speed up your site. The UI is very clear and all sections are documented well making it easy for even the most novice of WP users to tinker with the settings. Just remember to test your sites speed after each change and to also check your site functions correctly on multiple devices.