W3 Total Cache Guide

HOW TO MAKE YOUR WORDPRESS SITE FASTER

At WPX, we recommend W3 Total Cache for the best performance on our hosting platform..

In this article, we will guide you through the process of installing and configuring W3 Total Cache step by step.

WHAT IS W3 TOTAL CACHE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

This caching plugin is one of the best of its kind and is designed to improve website performance and user experience. It comes with an array of features, including Page Cache, Database Cache, Browser Cache, Object cache, CDN integration and more.

Essentially, caching is the fast, temporary storage of recently or frequently used information. Storing this information in the cache allows for much faster data retrieval.

HOW DO I INSTALL W3 TOTAL CACHE?

Before we start the installation, please make sure you have disabled and uninstalled any other caching plugin in order to avoid any potential errors or problems after activating W3TC.

W3 Total Cache can be found in the WordPress directory and can be installed simply. 

Or, inside WP Admin, you can go to Plugins → Add New and enter “W3 Total Cache” into the search bar, as seen below:

Click on Install Now, wait one moment, and then click Activate Plugin.

Your W3 Total Cache plugin is now installed. The next step is to configure it.

We have a set of recommended settings that you can import automatically, which you can download from our website.

To download these recommended settings, firstly log in to your WPX account, go to Support → Knowledgebase and at the top of the screen you will see the Downloads tab:

After you have downloaded the recommended settings file to your computer, return to your WordPress dashboard. 

From there, hover over the Performance (1) tab at the top of your screen and select General Settings.

On the menu below, you will see the Import and Export settings section. Upload the unzipped file (with the recommended settings that you downloaded from WPX) into the Import (2) section:

W3 Total Cache should now be enabled.

While these are the settings that we recommend, there is no guarantee that they will be the best settings for your particular website. For this reason, we suggest examining the settings yourself and tweaking them as you see fit.

For example, the ‘minify’ option can sometimes break your theme’s CSS (code). This is why we have disabled the ‘minify’ option in our recommended settings. There is a chance that the ‘minify’ option may improve your website’s performance slightly, so you can experiment and enable it, then clear the cache (press F5), and check if your website looks (and works) as normal. If everything works fine, then you can leave ‘minify’ enabled. Otherwise, disable it as we have done.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH W3 TOTAL CACHE NOW?

There are a number of things you can do with W3TC now, including:

Empty Cache – Whenever you make any changes on your website and want to refresh the cache, you can do so by going to Performance → Empty All Caches:

This option is very useful and it is sure to come in handy.

Page Cache – This is one of the most important features in W3TC. 

Here is how it works:

When a visitor arrives on your page, the content is generated and saved as full static HTML pages. These visitors access this HTML file withoutgoing throught all the PHP processing and MySQL queries needed to generate the content. 

Accessing this file decreases load time and makes your site faster for your visitors. It also saves our server a lot of calculating, speeding up the server even more.

Minify – This removes the extra lines and empty spaces from your CSS and Javascript files and combines them into one file! It effectively ‘shrinks’ your site, causing it to load faster by reducing the number of requests for loading a page. The downside is that, if changes are made to your site too often, the Minify file will be updating constantly, slowing down the website overall. We usually do not recommend enabling this option.

Database Cache – This option caches the SQL queries specifically however, the Database cache option doesn’t work properly for not only this plugin but many all others to and should always be DISABLED!

Object Cache – Never use this option on your website, it does not work properly! Disable this option.

Browser Cache – When a visitor opens your website, the web browser (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc) caches some of the content in a temporary folder in order to speed up loading it a second time. The Browser Cache option here sets a time limit for the cached files, after which time they are downloaded again. We recommend having this option enabled!

CDN – A Content Delivery Network is essentially a server that is located in a more geographically convenient location to benefit your website’s visitors. Using a CDN makes it easier (and faster) for your visitors to load your website by connecting to the closest local server – our own custom CDN is included free for all WPX customers.

Apart from our own, W3 Total Cache can also work with multiple CDN services, like Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, Amazon S3, and Rackspace Cloud too.

This option is only intended for websites that use a CDN. 

If you get stuck with any function discussed here, please contact WPX Support via live chat (use the bottom right hand widget!) and they will usually respond and help within 30 seconds or less.