In this article, we will highlight how to setup W3 Total Cache plugin and how it can be used to enhance the speed of your website W3TC is one of the most amazing plugins however some bloggers find it quite difficult and tedious to configure as compared to other optimization plug-ins. However while configuring W3TC one has to be very careful because the right configuration will boost your blog or a slight mistake in configuration will destroy your blogs to pieces. Before we move on to the detailed procedure of this it is better if we first familiarize ourselves with the basic concepts regarding W3TC and the reason why it is considered to be the best optimization plug-in in the market.
W3TC is a powerful optimization plug-in that not only enhances the speed of your blog but also helps to save your bandwidth. The benefit of the increased blog speed is that your website will achieve higher ranking in the search engines and lesser bounce rates. Other than that your blog will lead to higher conversion rate and greater customer satisfaction.
Features of W3TC Plug-in:
Many big web hosting companies such as Studio Press, DreamHost, John Chow are using W3TC as their optimization plug-in and recommend it further.
So let’s move forward with steps on how to setup W3 Total Cache plugin. I will consider only main points required to setup this plugin.
The first step towards the proper installation of W3TC on your blog is to make sure that you are not using any other Cache plug-in as W3TC is not compatible with cache plugins like SuperCache and HyperCache.
You can install W3TC on your blog either through FTP or directly from the dashboard. For the sake of convenience, we will be using dashboard for installing this plug-in.
Go to WordPress admin panel dashboard and under Plugins section, click on Add New. Now search W3 Total Cache in the Search Plugins text box and install it. See image below for quick view.
Activate the plugin after its installation. All you need is click on the Activate Plugin once it has been installed.
After the plugin is activated, it prompts you a message to enable edge mode. Now, What this edge mode is?, It means, If you want to use pre-release features which are still in development. I strictly recommend it not to enable. Simply click on “Hide this message” button. See image below to get more idea.
General: Go to Performance Menu and click on General Setting Tab. Click on Preview mode to test check W3TC plug-in on your blog.
Page Cache: Enable page cache on your blog which will help in reducing the response time on your blog. Under the Page cache Method tab, select Disk: Enhanced.
Minify: Enable Minify on your website which will help in decreasing the size of CSS, HTML and JS files on your blog. Use auto method if some of your files are breaking after minification. This is the tricky part of the configuration of W3TC.
Enable DataBase Cache, Browser cache, and Object Cache. They will help to reduce the post, feed creation time, improve site’s performance and reduce server load.
CDN: Enable CDN only if you are using CDN like Amazon, MAxCDN etc.
See image below to get it more clearly.
Click on Page Cache sub menu of Performance menu to enable page cache settings.
Cache front page: Home/Front/Landing page is the most visited page of our blog or website. It must loads fast to every visitors because the first impression is the last impression. If your page loads slowly then your visitors will not wait for your site to load and they simply leave your website. Enable this check box to cache front page.
Cache Feeds: This is not an important option but enabling this is recommended.
Cache SSL (https) requests: Cache SSL(https) requests to improve performance.
Cache 404 (not found) pages: 404 page is a static page, no dynamic content display on that page so enabling it is recommended.
Cache requests only for localhost[varying on your website url] site address: If you want W3 Total Cache plugin will cache request only from your website and not external request then enable this. Enabling this is not recommended in my opinion.
Don’t cache pages for logged in users: Enabling this will not cache pages for logged in users. If you are running an eCommerce website or product selling website then this is not recommended. Your visitors may see last authenticated/logged in users data. Recommended only for bloggers or the sites without registrations features.
Don’t cache pages for following user roles: If you want W3 Total Cache plugin not to cache pages for specific user roles then this option is for you. Select the role you want not to cache pages for. I recommend “Administrator” role because administrator continuously works on the website and he/she have to delete cache every time if caching is enable. So select Administrator.
Enable automatically prime the page cache that enables you to reduce the page load times
Set Update interval as 907 seconds
Set Pages Per Interval as 15 otherwise your website may take unreasonable time to load
Enter your sitemap URL in sitemap section
Check “Preload the post cache upon publish events.”
By clicking on the Performance > Minify submenu you will see minify settings.
Rewrite URL structure: Check Rewrite URL Structure in order to give your website a professional appearance
Disable minify for logged in users” in order to prevent the authenticated users from using minified pages. Not recommended by me.
Minify error notification: Select “Both Admin & email Notification” option. You’ll receive an email every time an error occurs during the process of minification.
HTML & XML:
HTML minify settings: Check this option to enable HTML caching. This is recommended to be enabled because it will reduce the size of a page and helps us to loads our page extremely fast.
Inline CSS Minification: Same as above option, Enable Inline CSS minification to reduce the number of line of code. Minification will make it one line code.
Line Break Removal: Enable Line break removal if you want to remove comments from HTML, CSS, js. It will also reduce the size of the page.
Operations in areas: Select Minify from Before </head> option and select Non-blocking using “async” (I am not sure why but selecting this will fix unexpected issues with js minification).
CSS Minification Settings: Enable: Enabling this option make our style sheet files into one single line and remove all lines so that page size will be reduced and performance will be increased.
Combine Only: Enable this if your style sheet is messed up with minification. Not required in most cases.
Import Handling: Select “Process” option from the drop down menu and then save it.
NOTE: It is indispensable to mention here that all of the minify settings that are mentioned above are for the purpose of speeding up the initial load times of your website that happens to be a requirement for most if not all of the users. Specifically, if you are making use of multiple different plugins on your website, it is essential to use the minify settings as mentioned above in order to prevent the other plugins from taking unreasonably longer times to load.
We don’t need to do anything with this settings so leave them as it is.
In browser settings, there are four sections. General, CSS & JS, HTML & XML, Media and other files. All these sections have same setting options and we also have to select/check same options for all sections.
Below are the options you need to set for all four sections.
End: Checking whether the W3TC plugin is working properly on the blog: First off, clear all browser cookies. Then right-click on the web page and click on “view source code”. If W3TC is working properly then at the end of your file your file you will see few automatically generated lines by the W3TC.
That’s it! You have successfully installed and configured the best speed optimization plugin on your site. Enjoy!