The two best cache plug-ins for WordPress, as evidenced by their huge popularity, are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. I have extensive experience with both plug-ins and both will give the page loading speeds of your blog a significant boost.
Using a good cache plug-in for your WordPress powered site will improve visitor experience and improve the click-through rate on your site. It will also reduce load on your server significantly, allowing you to host more sites and pages with fewer hosting resources.
I’m going to give you a taste of both of these plug-ins that you can decide which will best suit your needs. In a nutshell, WP Super Cache is much easier to set up and has fewer complicated settings and options. It will work well on shared hosting environments, but is not as optimal for VPS or dedicated servers. I currently use W3 even though I am on shared hosting because I find that it performs better, and I’m not bothered by the increased complexity of the software.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is one of the most popular caching plug-ins for WordPress. It performs quite well, and it is quick and simple to get it up and running. The interface and options are easy to understand, and intermediate users of WordPress shouldn’t have any problems getting it to work.
WP Super Cache allows you the option of pre-caching your web pages, although I wouldn’t recommend doing so. This is especially true on shared hosting because the process is resource intensive and will strain your server. Preloading pages will, however, ensure that all bots and visitors will be served a quick loading cached page. There are options for preloading only the most recent pages on your blog, if you would prefer that.
Setting up WP Super Cache to minify is more complicated than in the W3 plug-in. It requires uploading a file to the Super Cash folder on your server. Minifying increases page loading speed by about 10 percent, but may cause conflicts with some plug-ins.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is the crown jewel of free WordPress caching plug-ins. It offers the fastest performance and also the widest array of options and tweaks. Some WordPress neophytes may be a bit intimidated by all of the options, however.
I currently use W3 Total Cache on this blog and my page loading speeds are consistently in the 1 to 2 second range, even on shared hosting. This is compared to the usual 5 to 6 second range that I was averaging prior to using any caching plug-in. This is what a huge difference a caching plug-in makes.
I have done quite a bit of testing with the options of W3 Total Cache, and if you are in shared hosting I recommend enabling only page caching, minify, and browser caching. Object caching, etc., tended to slow down my page load speeds. I don’t have any experience with using this plug-in on VPS or dedicated servers, so I can’t offer advice on those.
I would recommend that you turn caching off on your blog feed page, and your homepage if you use it to display your latest posts. This will ensure that Google and any other search engines are served fresh pages and are able to crawl and index your new posts quickly. Other than that, the default option settings should be adequate for most users.
I recommend the W3 Total Cache plug-in because it has the best performance in my opinion and experience. The setup process and complicated options can be a bit daunting for some, however. If you would prefer a simple setup process and less tweaking of options and settings, then opt for WP Total Cache. Both will give you significant improvements in your page load speeds.