W3 Total Cache has countless complaints about it breaking people’s website. There was also a time the plugin wasn’t updated for almost 3 years and everyone thought it was abandoned. And good luck trying to configure the W3 Total Cache settings (luckily I have a tutorial for that) but it’s still pretty complicated. You get zero support and your question will not get answered in the plugin’s support forum. Bottom line – the plugin developer (Frederick Townes) has other things going on and does not take it as seriously as the team behind WP Rocket.
WP Rocket is $49/year but it is reliable, user-friendly, and more effective than W3 Total Cache. I run WP Rocket on my own website and have a <1s load time in Pingdom + GTmetrix with nearly 100% scores in both. They have tons of documentation, fantastic support, and they release new plugin updates about 2-3 times each month. This is extremely important as nearly all cache plugins aren’t updated often or provide support. Cache plugins should be reliable!
WP Rocket is a premium plugin but is easier to configure and more reliable than W3 Total Cache (it won’t break your site). It also has excellent support, documentation, and speed features W3 Total Cache does not: database cleanup, lazy loading photos/videos/iframes, hosting Google Analytics locally, and preloading options all come with WP Rocket, while you would need to install 2-3 extra plugins if you wanted to use these features with W3 Total Cache. WP Rocket is also usually rated the #1 cache plugin in Facebook polls. Caching is a key factor in the WordPress optimization guide and WP Rocket is totally worth $49/year. I use it (here’s my GTmetrix report).
WP Rocket vs. W3 Total Cache
- WP Rocket vs. W3 Total Cache (Facebook Poll Comparison)
- Pingdom Test
- W3 Total Cache Can Break Your Website
- W3 Total Cache Is Hard To Configure
- W3 Total Cache Is Rarely Updated (With No Support)
- WP Rocket Is Reliable With Great Support/Documentation
- WP Rocket Is Updated With Bug Fixes/Enhancements
- WP Rocket Has Extra Features
- How To Configure WP Rocket
- Both Plugins Support Multiple CDNs
- Conclusion: WP Rocket Is Worth $49/Year
If you decide to buy WP Rocket, I would appreciate it if you used my affiliate link. I donate a good chunk of my affiliate income to charity – last year I donated $3,000 to American Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey – this year will go to something similar. Your support would help and I genuinely appreciate it. Thank you so much in advance :)
1. WP Rocket vs. W3 Total Cache (Facebook Poll Comparison)
Since WP Rocket recently announced their affiliate program, you’re going to start seeing more and more biased reviews. So I found a few unbiased Facebook polls on “the best cache plugins.”
Many people consider WP Rocket a must-have plugin…
2. Pingdom Test
I tested a few popular cache plugins to see which one gave me the best results. Being the WordPress speed nerd I am, I made sure all the settings were configured optimally and that I tested the same page (my homepage) using from the same location in Pingdom. I understand network latency can vary the results, but it’s the best I could do. WP Rocket won the test.
For many websites you will see even better results, but still… 100ms x (2,000 visitors/day) x (30 days in a month) = 1.7 hours my visitors don’t have to wait for my site to load each month!
WP Rocket (.406)
WP Fastest Cache (.527)
W3 Total Cache (.619)
My Pingdom report with WP Rocket…
3. W3 Total Cache Can Break Your Website
There are tons of reports about W3 Total Cache breaking websites, and there was a high-risk XSS vulnerability. It’s a risky cache plugin to install on your website. It can work fantastic on some, but you never know until you actually install it. If you do, take a backup beforehand.
Most of the 1 star reviews are about it breaking people’s website…
4. W3 Total Cache Is Hard To Configure
I have a great tutorial on configuring the W3 Total Cache settings, but there are so many options that may be confusing if you’re not already savvy with configuring cache plugins.
Here are the W3 Total Cache tabs…
This is just the first part (“General Settings”)…
There are additional steps for the page cache settings, browser cache settings, activating extensions, and configuring Cloudflare/StackPath. It’s not the easiest plugin to configure.
5. W3 Total Cache Is Rarely Updated (With No Support)
Not too long ago, W3 Total Cache hadn’t been updated for so long that people thought the plugin was dead. Yoast said “when you need to explain to other people you haven’t abandoned your plugin, the clock has already struck midnight.” Cache plugins are already notorious for causing errors, the developer needs to be on top of their plugin and updates need to be made!
You will also get zero support from W3 Total Cache. Even if you purchase their configuration service, there have been many reports of the developer taking your $ and not doing anything.
6. WP Rocket Is Reliable With Great Support/Documentation
- Reliable – it should NOT break your website
- Great Support – you can contact them and they will actually help you
- Documentation – they have tons of documentation if you have questions
7. WP Rocket Is Updated With Bug Fixes/Enhancements
WP Rocket releases new updates about 2-3 times each month… see this in their changelog. This is very important since most cache plugin developers don’t do this. The updates include bug fixes AND enhancements, so you can expect new features and the plugin to run smoothly.
8. WP Rocket’s Extra Features
W3 Total Cache does not have options for lazy loading or database cleanup – 2 things that can significantly improve load times. WP Rocket has both of these built-in, otherwise you would have to use a whopping 3 extra plugins to have these features (Lazy Load For Videos, BJ Lazy load for lazy loading images/iframes, and WP-Optimize for cleaning your database). I prefer just to have 1 single plugin and let WP Rocket handle all of these… I really don’t want 4 plugins.
WP Rocket’s lazy load makes videos/iframes/images load faster…
WP Rocket’s database cleanup makes your site faster…
Their Google Tracking can also fix multiple GA items in GTmetrix/Pingdom…
9. How To Configure WP Rocket
Ready to use WP Rocket? Buy the plugin here then download it in your account page. Upload it under Plugins → Add New → Upload. If you’re having issues on Safari see their instructions. In your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings → WP Rocket and you will see these settings…
- Caching for mobile devices
- Cache for logged in users
File Optimization Tab
- Combines Google Fonts
- Removes Query strings from static resources
- Minifies CSS/JS files
- Combines CSS/JS Files
- Optimizes CSS Delivery
- Check site for errors, if there are any, exclude problematic files in “Advanced Rules”
- Lazy loads images/iframes/videos
- Disables Emojis
- Disables WordPress embeds
- Enables preload bot
- Detects Yoast XML sitemap for preloading
- Prefetches DNS requests (add files below)
- My CNAME from StackPath
Advanced Rules Tab
- Add advanced rules for specific files
- Schedule WordPress database cleanups to keep your site loading fast
- I use StackPath
- Create a CDN site
- In StackPath, go to the CDN tab, then find your CDN URL
- Paste your CDN URL in WP Rocket’s “replace site’s hostname” field
- In StackPath, go to CDN → Cache Settings, then purge all files
- Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow
- Sign up for Cloudflare
- In the top right in your Cloudflare account, click my profile. Scroll down and you will see your global API key, then paste this into WP Rocket
- Clear all Cloudflare’s cache files
- Export/import WP Rocket settings to use on multiple websites
10. Both Plugins Support Multiple CDNs
Both WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache support Cloudflare AND additional CDNs. Using multiple CDNs is great for high-traffic websites as it makes it more reliable, and faster as you are able to leverage each CDN’s data centers. Most other cache plugins only support 1 CDN (eg. WP Fastest Cache), so I will give it to W3TC for supporting 2. But so does WP Rocket :)
11. Conclusion: WP Rocket Is Worth $49/Year
Just to review:
- W3 Total Cache is unreliable with higher chance of bugs
- WP Rocket is much more well-maintained
- WP Rocket is highly rated in Facebook polls
- WP Rocket is much easier to configure
- WP Rocket has a way less chance of causing errors
- WP Rocket has awesome documentation and support
- WP Rocket has lazy load + database cleanup + hosting Google Analytics locally built-in
And If You Want The Best Hosting…
SiteGround was rated #1 in multiple Facebook polls. I recommend joining the WordPress Hosting and WordPress Speed Up Facebook Groups and see what real people are saying. They’re pretty much always #1, I use them, and they do free migrations for GrowBig/GoGeek.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache better?
WP Rocket was rated higher in Facebook polls, is easier to configure, and has more speed features than W3 Total Cache. The only downfall is it costs money.
Why is WP Rocket better?
WP Rocket has more speed optimization features than W3 Total Cache (database cleanup, hosting Google Analytics locally, heartbeat control, prefetching fonts, etc). That's why it usually yields better results in GTmetrix.
Which one is easy to configure?
WP Rocket is much easiest to configure than W3 Total Cache and they have documentation if you need help setting it up.
How can I get 10% off WP Rocket?
WP Rocket has a Coupons page on their website where you can get 10% off by signing up for their email list.
What is the best way to configure these cache plugins?
I have tutorials for both WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache. Just make sure you are minifying and combining files, setting up CDNs, and testing your settings for optimal load times and to avoid breaking your site.
Hope this was helpful :)