12 Best WordPress Cache Plugin (Free): Website Speed Test

12 Best WordPress cache plugin to speed up your website image

Are you looking for the best cache plugin for WordPress sites

You’re lucky to find this post.

Because I’ll show you the best WordPress cache plugins based on the real-world testing results and data.

Also, all the WordPress cache plugins listed here are free to use.

Are you ready to speed up your website with the best WordPress cache plugin?

Here’s the top 12 best WordPress cache plugin to increase your website load speed:

  1. W3 Total Cache
  2. SG SuperCacher
  3. WP Speed of Light
  4. WP Super Cache
  5. WP Fastest Cache
  6. WP-Optimize
  7. Cache Enabler
  8. Powered Cache
  9. Breeze
  10. Fast Velocity Minify
  11. Hummingbird
  12. Autoptimize
 

Click here to skip to how I run the speed test for WordPress plugins.

Click here to skip to WordPress plugins speed test results & comparison.

 

Why Your WordPress Website Need Cache

Want to learn more about cache and why you need to install a cache plugin for your WordPress site?

Read on.

 

What is Cache?

A cache is a temporary copy of frequently accessed data for faster access upon request.

For example, your website home page has texts, images, and colors, these are all data.

So a cache is the copy version (clone) of your home page, which has the same texts, images, and color.

This cached copy will be stored on the server’s RAM, which is temporary memory storage that is much faster than the hard drive storage.

The cached copy will be updated every fixed period, or you can manually flush it after you made changes to the page’s content.

 

Why Caching Is Important for Your Website

When a user visits your website, the server (computer) needs to access the database and run a few processes to show your website’s contents that are stored on its hard drive to the user.

The problem is, if 10 users are visiting your website at the same time, the server needs to run the same processes for 10 times to show the content to all users, which takes a long time and more CPU resources.

The more users you have at the same time, the slower your website loading speed will be.

With cache, the problem can be solved by copying your website’s content and storing it on the server’s RAM in advance, so when 10 users are visiting your website at the same time, the server only needs to serve the cached copy of your website to all the users, which is much quicker.

It’s not just saving the users’ time in waiting for your website content to show up, but also the server’s resources.

The effect is even more obvious for frequently requested data.

In short, caching your website contents makes them served faster for user requests.

You should always use a cache plugin for your WordPress website to improve the performance and make your website load faster.

As I always said, a fast loading website will improve user experiences, and good user experience metrics on your website is important for SEO, which leads to a higher ranking on search engines like Google and increases organic web traffic to your website.

So, to improve your website’s SEO, user experience, conversion rate, traffic, and sales, you’ll need a cache plugin.

 

Why Use a WordPress Caching Plugin?

When your WordPress website is getting bigger, with more content, plugins, designs, and functions, the loading speed will be getting slower.

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve its performance and be fast again, such as getting a faster hosting service, changing to a faster WordPress theme, and, of course, installing the best cache plugin for WordPress.

The cache plugin will make your website work more efficiently by creating and serving static HTML cached files instead of dynamic PHP scripts that are heavy.

 

How WordPress Cache Plugin Help Your Website Load Faster

A cache plugin helps your WordPress site work more efficiently. 

Since WordPress is a dynamic content management system, each time a user visits your web page, the page’s contents are generated dynamically with several backend processes like database queries, API calls, and code executions.

A cache plugin will create a static version of your content (cached copy) after the first load to serve it for future users, skipping a lot of steps for a page to be generated dynamically.

This results in a faster website with shorter load time, and of course, better user experience to the visitors.

By serving the cached copy, your website doesn’t have to re-run the whole process to generate the same page content for each user, instead, it only runs the page generation process once, copies the page’s content to cache, and serves it to all the users.

how wordpress cache work for website

Caching makes the overall page generation process quicker and more efficient, which allows your website to load faster and reduces the load on your hosting server.

By using one of the best WordPress cache plugins, you can improve your WordPress site’s performance and speed significantly.

 

How Loading Time Impact Your Website

Compared to the past, internet users are getting more and more impatient, thanks to the high-speed internet technology which makes people used to fast-loading content.

So, if you want your website to survive in the current technology era and to please them, you have no choice but to make sure your website is loading fast.

In terms of SEO, a website’s loading speed is one of the ranking factors of Google’s SERP algorithm.

Also, Google takes user experience very seriously, and a slow website will cause your audience to leave your site, which makes the bounce rates higher (a bad indication to Google’s SERP ranking).

That means if you want your website to rank high on Google’s search engine to get more organic web traffic, you’ll have to make sure your website loads very fast.

Another important thing is the conversion rate.

The bad user experience caused by a slow website will reduce your site’s conversion rate such as email subscribers, social shares, discussions, signups, leads, and sales.

In short, just one second slower in website load time may cost you a significant drop in search ranking, web traffic, conversion rate, and sales revenue.

The domino effect from a slow website is painful and costly to any kind of business.

 

How I Test the Best Cache Plugin for WordPress

Here’s how I run my test and what metrics are tested in the process.

 

Testing Tools and Performance Metrics

I’ve used 4 reliable page speed testing & benchmarking tools in this test to find out the best WordPress cache plugin, which are GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Here are the Test server locations:

  • Pingdom server – USA, Washington, D.C
  • GT Metrix server – USA, Dallas
  • WebPageTest server – Dulles, VA USA

Here are the 11 metrics that I test to find the fastest cache plugin for a WordPress site:

  • Fully Loaded Time (GTmetrix)
  • PageSpeed Score (GTmetrix)
  • YSlow Score (GTmetrix)
  • Total Page Size (GTmetrix)
  • Requests (GTmetrix)  
  • Load Time (Pingdom)
  • Performance Grade (Pingdom)
  • Load Time (WebPageTest) 
  • Time to First Byte (WebPageTest)
  • Desktop Speed Score (Google’s PageSpeed Insights) 
  • Mobile Speed Score (Google’s PageSpeed Insights)

Then from the above speed performance metrics, I calculate:

  • The average data of each of them based on the two tests
  • The average load time based on the load time data from GTmetrix, Pingdom, and WebPageTest
  • The final average load time based on the average load time from two tests
  • The average performance scores based on the performance scores from GTmetrix, Pingdom, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights
  • The final average performance scores based on the average performance scores from two tests

No worry, I’ll make them easy for you to digest with a simple table and graph format.

 

Test Environment

Here is the test environment setup:

  • Shared hosting by SiteGround (GrowBig plan)
  • Free Astra theme
  • 6 plugins (Complianz, Pretty Links, Social Share, ShortPixel, TablePress, Yoast SEO)
  • Some additional CSS styles for website design

Here are the two pages I used for the speed test:

  • Test 1: A post with 85 images, a lot of texts, and 1 sortable table
  • Test 2: A home page with an opt-in form powered by ConvertKit (email service provider)
 

Test Procedure

Before running the test, I’d made a backup of my site and double-checked the default caching function is in the “off” position.

Then, I tested my two pages using the 4 testing tools and recorded down the speed performance results as the baseline (no cache).

Test 1 results (no cache): Post with 85 images and lot of texts

 

Test 2 results (no cache): Home page with an opt-in form Powered by ConvertKit

Home page speed test result by GTmetrix

Caution: Before you activate and configure any cache plugin, make sure you create a backup first either through your hosting provider or a backup plugin like Duplicator because there’s a slight chance that the cache plugin may crash your site due to misconfiguration.

And here are the steps to test the speed performance of each WordPress cache plugin:

  1. Install one of the WordPress cache plugins (about 20 of them total)
  2. Activate and configure some basic settings (quick one)
  3. Check the 2 testing pages to make sure everything is alright
  4. Run the test with the four testing tools for at least 3 times to ensure data accuracy
  5. Purge all the caches
  6. Uninstall and delete the cache plugin completely (including residual files)
  7. Repeat step 1 to step 6 for the next cache plugin

Initially, I have about 20 WordPress cache plugins under my testing list.

During the testing process, I’ve discarded some of them due to poor performance, not being updated for a long time, inactive development, or without a free plan.

Just to name a few:

  • Simple Cache (last updated 1 year ago)
  • Swift Performance (last updated 4 months ago)
  • Speed Up – Browser Caching (last updated 5 months ago)
  • WP Super Minify (last updated 5 months ago)
  • Cachify (last updated 1 year ago)
  • Comet Cache (last updated 11 months ago)
  • Hyper Cache (last updated 9 months ago)
  • WP Rocket (no free plan)
  • and a few more
 

WordPress Cache Plugin Settings

For each cache plugin, I enabled most of the enhancement features except lazy load because it will affect the outcome significantly due to lots of images, which is unfair to other cache plugins which do not come with the feature.

In case you don’t know, lazy load is a function that only loads the particular image when it’s visible to the user, so the total file size of the test will be much lower due to most of them not being loaded.

The lazy load feature is commonly included in image optimization plugins, so only a few of cache plugins have this feature, so I think it’s appropriate to turn it off for the tests.

 

How I Rank the Best WordPress Cache Plugins

The ranking is prioritized on load time, with performance scores and page details as additional references, because you should always pay more attention to load time and not the performance scores.

Simple, if your website has beautiful performance scores but loads slowly, it makes no sense at all, I rather get a fast loading website with lower performance scores.

So for the ranking, I rank them based on the final average load time based on the two tests.

 

Last Note About My Test

My website is considered fairly light, so if your website is heavier than mine, you’ll see a more significant speed improvement than what I got for my site.

Also, this post is about finding the best WordPress cache plugins and not the speed optimization guide, so the load time and scores I got in the test are not final can be further improved.

I’ll show you how to do it step-by-step in my upcoming post, including exactly how I configure the cache settings and fine-tuning my site manually to reach optimum speed performance.

Want to be the first to know once the post is published? Just sign up for my newsletter to get the latest update to your mailbox.

 

The 12 Best WordPress Cache Plugins (Reviews & Test Results)

How’s your website performing lately? Is it fast? Or slow?

If your website is slowing down, now is the time to make it fast.

If your website is fast, then let’s make it even faster.

But how?

The answer is, with the best WordPress cache plugin.

I’ve used, tested, and compared over 20 plugins to come out the top 12 best cache plugins for WordPress.

It’s a time-consuming process but I’ve done it for you, to save your time and effort in looking for the best WordPress caching plugin to reduce your website’s load time.

Are you ready for the test data?

Here are the 12 fastest cache plugins for your WordPress site, ranked according to the final average load time improvement:

  1. W3 Total Cache
  2. SG SuperCacher
  3. WP Speed of Light
  4. WP Super Cache
  5. WP Fastest Cache
  6. WP-Optimize
  7. Cache Enabler
  8. Powered Cache
  9. Breeze
  10. Fast Velocity Minify
  11. Hummingbird
  12. Autoptimize

And let’s go through the list one by one.

 

1. W3 Total Cache (Review)

Fastest WordPress cache plugin image

If you ever came across WordPress cache plugin, I bet you heard about this name before, it’s one the most popular WordPress cache plugins with over a million active installs, and its speed performance has proven that it deserved the popularity.

It’s not only the most popular cache plugin for WordPress but also the one with the most functionalities (which could be overwhelming for beginners and average users).

Some of the features are:

  • Page cache
  • Minify 
  • Opcode cache
  • Database cache
  • Object cache
  • Browser cache
  • Fragment cache
  • CDN support
  • Lazy load

Because of that, I’ve run two sets of tests for it, first is the official one with the majority of settings enabled, and the second is with just about half of the settings enabled. 

I want to see how the settings affect the test outcomes.

Now, let the data speak.

W3 Total Cache speed test 1 results (majority of settings enabled):

W3 Total Cache speed test 2 results (majority of settings enabled):

 

W3 Total Cache speed test 1 results (half of the settings enabled):

W3 Total Cache speed test 2 results (half of the settings enabled):

As you can see, the results are pretty impressive, even for the one with just half the settings enabled, it still performs better than half of the other WordPress cache plugins.

So the test data clearly showed that the setting does affect the outcome in certain levels, so I’ll advise you to play around with different settings to find the optimum results (of course, make a backup first, always).

If you like more settings so that you can configure accordingly, this is the best cache plugin for you to install on your WordPress site.

As there are too many settings to be configured, I’ll discuss them in detail at a separate post, so stay tuned, and if you want to read it once I publish, remember to sign up my newsletter to get the latest update as well as “insider” advanced speed optimization tips.

Before you move on to the next one, here’s the improvement table of each performance metric, for the official test with majority of settings enabled.

In our GTmetrix test, W3 Total Cache reduces an average of 1.2 seconds from the base loading time (without cache), that’s a 55.81% improvement on page speed. For Pingdom, it’s 226ms or 31.19% speed improvement. For WebPageTest, there’s an improvement for load time (0.372s or 13.04%) and first byte (0.2405s and 60.96%).

On average, W3 Total Cache speed up the page load time by 0.6795s or 33.3%, which is terrific for a fairly light website.

 

2. SG SuperCacher (Review)

The SG SuperCacher is part of the SG Optimizer, an in-house WordPress optimization plugin for SiteGround users, whereas the StartUp plan gets access to level 1 caching (static) and both GrowBig and GoGeek users get access to level 3 caching (static, dynamic, and Memcached).

SG SuperCacher speed test 1 results (level 3):

SG SuperCacher speed test 2 results (level 3):

IMG

If you are using SiteGround hosting, this is good news for you, because the in-house SG SuperCacher performs very well in speeding up your WordPress site.

The speed performance is almost the same as W3 Total Cache with fewer configurations needed. 

Besides, the SG SuperCacher also comes with free image optimization features with no limit unlike other free image optimizer plugins in the market.

I’m eager to test out whether these two can work together for a greater speed improvement on my site, and I will update you guys in my upcoming post.

 

3. WP Speed of Light (Review)

To be honest, I didn’t put much attention on this cache plugin initially because it’s not that famous compared to some of the popular ones.

But to my surprise, it performs very well in reducing website load time and improving performance scores.

WP Speed of Light speed test 1 results:

WP Speed of Light speed test 2 results:

In the speed performance tests, it hit the number 3 spot in the best 12 cache plugin for WordPress, that’s a great achievement to say.

If you yet to decide which cache plugin to use, put this in your consideration list.

 

4. WP Super Cache (Review)

This is the most popular WordPress cache plugin with over 2 million active installs, developed by Automattic (the same company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Akismet, Gravatar, Tumblr, and more).

It’s packed with a handful of features like:

  • Compress
  • Cache rebuild
  • Cache preload
  • Cache HTTP headers with page content
  • 304 browser caching
  • and more

Let’s see how it performs in our speed tests:

WP Super Cache speed test 1 results:

WP Super Cache speed test 2 results:

In terms of speed performance, it’s very close to the top 3 WordPress cache plugins, and there is still a room for further speed improvement with its expert mode and manual configurations.

Note: The expert mode does require a modification of your .htaccess file (which is risky and may put your site down if modified incorrectly), so make a backup before you make any manual configurations.

 

5. WP Fastest Cache (Review)

A leopard cache plugin, let’s see how it performs:

WP Fastest Cache speed test 1 results:

WP Fastest Cache speed test 2 results:

Well, this WP Fastest Cache plugin is really fast like leopards (but not the fastest according to my tests).

Besides, it comes with many useful features like:

  • Browser caching
  • Gzip
  • Preload
  • Minify HTML
  • Minify CSS
  • Combine JS

Another thing I like about this cache plugin is its simple configuration settings, making it a great choice for beginners and most average users who prefer a “plug and play” cache plugin.

For your assurance, It has a high rating with many active users.

 

6. WP-Optimize (Review)

The WP-Optimize is a cache plugin that comes with optimization tools like database clean up and image compressions.

So if you are looking for a beginner-friendly multi-features cache plugin, this is one of the best fits.

It provides a caching feature with simple configuration, along with database cleaning to remove unnecessary files and image compression to reduce the images file size, all under one WordPress plugin.

WP-Optimize speed test 1 results:

WP-Optimize speed test 2 results:

Impressive.

And here’s the compilation of the results with average data:

 

7. Cache Enabler (Review)

Cache Enabler is a lightweight cache plugin that is easy to configure and simple to use, which is suitable for beginners and most average users.

Aside from caching and minification features, it can also support WebP image files with Optimus and work perfectly with Autoptimize for better performance.

Cache Enabler speed test 1 results:

Cache Enabler speed test 2 results:

And here’s the compilation of the results with average data:

 

8. Powered Cache (Review)

Powered Cache is a new player in this caching world, so there are still many rooms for improvement.

It’s simple to configure and use, which is suitable for beginners.

Some of the features are:

  • Page caching
  • Object Caching
  • Support mod_rewrite
  • Mobile support
  • CDN support
  • Cache Preloading
  • Gzip support
  • and more

During the test, I got a 5.5 seconds load time after enabling ‘object caching by Memcached’, it somehow made my social share plugin load very slow, so if you are using this feature, take a note.

Powered Cache speed test 1 results:

Powered Cache speed test 2 results:

And here’s the compilation of the results with average data:

 

9. Breeze (Review)

Breeze is a simple to use cache plugin with great features like Gzip, browser cache, and minification (HTML, CSS, js, inline js, and inline CSS).

Breeze speed test 1 results:

Breeze speed test 2 results:

And here’s the compilation of the results with average data:

 

10. Fast Velocity Minify (Review)

This cache plugin is more like a minify plugin with cache features.

It minifies and merges Javascript & CSS files to reduce HTTP requests and cache them to serve faster on subsequent requests. 

From our test results, the Fast Velocity Minify reduced the most requests compared to the other 11 cache plugins on both tests.

Fast Velocity Minify speed test 1 results:

Fast Velocity Minify speed test 2 results:

While it performs moderately on website load time, it does very well in performance scores improvement.

 

11. Hummingbird (Review)

Hummingbird is another feature-packed plugin for feature lovers.

It has browser caching, gzip compression, gravatar caching, page caching, asset optimization, and more.

Hummingbird speed test 1 results:

Hummingbird speed test 2 results:

As you can see, it performs quite well in getting high-performance scores from various testing tools.

The cons are probably many of the features that are only available in the paid version (like lazy load), while some of the top-performing WordPress cache plugins are giving away these features generously for free.

 

12. Autoptimize (Review)

Autoptimize is more on optimizing scripts and styles instead of caching.

So it’s expected to be the last in the top 12 WordPress cache plugins.

I think it’s also good to show that speed optimization plugins can’t replace cache plugins.

Autoptimize speed test 1 results:

Autoptimize speed test 2 results:

While it can’t speed up your site as a cache plugin does, it can work alongside with your cache plugin to make your site lighter and faster.

 

12 Best WordPress Cache Plugin Test Results (Comparison)

Now, let us compare the speed performance results of the 12 best WordPress cache plugins

 

Speed Performance Results for Test 1 Compared:

Let’s start with the raw data of the 12 best WordPress cache plugin first.

Raw data comparison table:

Next, let us look at each of the performance metrics result charts.

Fully Loaded Time (GTmetrix):

Load Time (Pingdom):

Load Time (WebPageTest):

First Byte (WebPageTest):

Average Load Time (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

Performance Scores & Page Details (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

 

Speed Performance Results for Test 2 Compared:

Now, let’s see speed performance results for test #2.

Again, here’s the raw data comparison table:

Next, let us look at each of the performance metrics result charts.

Fully Loaded Time (GTmetrix):

Load Time (Pingdom):

Load Time (WebPageTest):

First Byte (WebPageTest):

Average Load Time (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

Performance Scores & Page Details (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

 

Final Average Load Time Compared (Test 1 & 2):

Here’s the comparison of the final average load time from both tests, it’s also the main measurement for the best WordPress cache plugin ranking.

Final Average Load Time (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

Final Average Load Time Improvement Percentage (GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest):

 

Summary of the Test Results

After the tough competitions, here are the top 5 performers from the 12 best WordPress cache plugins comparison:

 

First place: W3 Total Cache

After some tough competitions, the W3 Total Cache plugin finally grabbed the top spot from the other 11 best WordPress cache plugins, making it the fastest WordPress cache plugin under this test environment setting.

It scored a total average load time of 2.041s, which is 0.162 seconds faster than the runner-up.

Also, it is worth mentioning that W3 Total Cache has the highest average performance scores (10.01%) from all four testing and benchmarking tools.

 

Second place: SG SuperCacher

Next, we have the in-house cache plugin from SiteGround, which is a close contender for W3 Total Cache.

If you are not using SiteGround hosting, you should seriously consider it because it’s fast and comes with a second fastest cache plugin for WordPress (read my in-depth review here).

Otherwise, you can just skip this option as it’s not available to work with another hosting.

 

Third place: WP Speed of Light

Although it can’t speed up your website to the speed of light, it’s still an excellent choice to boost your website’s speed and performance scores.

It scored the third spot for average load time performance and its average performance score improvement is the second-best (9.02%), just after the W3 Total Cache (10.01%).

 

Fourth place: WP Super Cache

Like I said earlier, WP Super Cache is the most popular WordPress caching plugin, and it won’t be so popular if it performs badly.

As expected, my test results justified my point.

Popularity is just one thing, the real attractiveness lies in its speed performance.

Meanwhile, the test results haven’t shown its max capability, I believe the real potential is in its expert mode with manual configuration, I’ll test and find out, together with other WordPress cache plugins that have more potential.

Of course, I’ll update you about the outcome, but make sure you join my email list to receive the latest update.

 

Fifth place: WP Fastest Cache

Do you like leopards?

I mean, the speed of leopards, if the answer is yes, WP fastest cache is an ideal choice for you.

I’d highly recommend it to beginners and average users who just want to install, activate and use it after a few simple configurations.

 

FAQ

1. What’s the fastest WordPress cache plugin?

It’s W3 Total Cache based on our results.

2. How a WordPress cache plugin reduces website load time?

The WordPress cache plugin will create a static HTML page from the heavy dynamic PHP scripts after the first load, and serve it to the subsequent users to reduce load time.

3. How to find the best cache plugin for my WordPress site?

You may use the above test results as starting points, pick 2 to 3 cache plugins from the 12 best WordPress cache plugins and test it on your WordPress site.

4. Is caching plugin necessary for a WordPress site?

It’s optional but it is highly recommended to install one to speed up your WordPress site.

5. How to improve website’s speed

There are several ways to speed up your website, but one of the effective and easy ways is to use a caching plugin.

6. What testing tools are used in the tests?

I used GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPageTest, and Google’s PageSpeed Insights. You may run your test with these tools.

7. Anything to note before I test the WordPress cache plugins?

Make sure you make a backup for your website before configuring any of the cache plugins because there’s a slight chance that the cache plugin may crash your site.

 

Wrap-Up

Now you have seen the real-world test data of each of the 12 best cache plugins for WordPress, what’s next?

If you yet to install any cache plugin, pick one and install it on your WordPress site.

If you already have one, replace it with the cache plugin that performs better in optimizing your website’s speed.

If you are already using the best WordPress cache plugin, then keep it, and subscribe to my newsletter to get updates for my upcoming speed optimization tips that can further increase your website speed.

To sum up, here are the reasons why I show you the top 12 best WordPress cache plugins:

  1. To give you the options to choose according to your preferences, whether you like the one with simple configuration or with more advanced settings, or what kind of features you need.
  2. To show you the fastest cache plugin for WordPress under my testing environments
  3. Because different WordPress cache plugins may perform differently in different environments like the theme, website design, backend coding, and website’s functionalities, so I show more options for you to try out and see.
  4. To show you that the cache plugins are not equal, some can perform better than the others. So, don’t just simply pick any cache plugin you come across and use it, instead, leverage my test results as a reference to find the best WordPress cache plugin.

If you have the time, I also encourage you to try out 2 to 3 different cache plugins before you decide, because most likely you are not going to change it often, you may use it for years.

 

Now your turn, which cache plugin is your favorite? Let me know in the comment below.

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