WP Super Cache is a solid cache plugin (if you’re going the free route).
If you’re using an NGINX server, you will need to edit the configuration file to make full use of WP Super Cache, especially to use the disk-base cache. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, I recommend trying a different cache plugin (WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, or even W3 Total Cache), as these cache plugins do not require you to edit your NGINX configuration file.
And for hosting, I highly recommend Cloudways DO who are miles better (and much faster) than shared hosting companies including SiteGround, WP Engine, GoDaddy and EIG brands.
Here’s how to configure the WP Super Cache settings:
How To Set Up WP Super Cache
Caching (Enable) – enables caching, an easy way to improve load times.
Caching (Enable) – enables caching.
Cache delivery method – simple mode is easiest and is recommended for non-programmers. Expert Mode uses Apache’s mod_rewrite feature to serve “supercached” static html files and is faster than simple mode… but if you’re uncomfortable editing PHP files, use simple mode.
Don’t cache pages for known users (Enable) – enabling this doesn’t show cached pages for people who have been on your website before. This is good because regular visitors want to see new content (eg. in your blogroll) that otherwise wouldn’t show up if you disable this.
Don’t cache pages with GET parameters. (?x=y at the end of a url) (Enable) – doesn’t cache pages that are different for each user (unique sales pages if you run Facebook/Google ads, membership profiles, conditional logic on contact forms). GET Params is a great plugin for this.
Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors (Enable) – this is the “Gzip Compression” item in GTmetrix/Pingdom. After enable this, view your homepage and look for noticeable formatting errors. If there are any, disable it. Otherwise, definitely enable this.
Cache HTTP headers with page content (Disable) – makes cached pages faster, but also makes WP Super Cache use PHP file delivery (slower) instead of static file delivery (faster). It’s a trade-off, but if you use plugins that send extra headers, enable it. Otherwise, disable it.
Cache rebuild. Serve a supercache file to anonymous users while a new file is being generated (Enable) – shows the cached page if a new file is in the process of being generated.
304 not modified browser caching. Indicate when a page has not been modified since it was last requested. (Enable) – prevents updating the cache on ‘tag’ pages (saves server resources).
Make known users anonymous so they’re served supercached static files – counters the earlier setting “don’t cache pages for known users” and instead, it caches for everyone.
Enable dynamic caching – (Enable) – enables caching for dynamic content (content that is changing) like ads, a publicly displayed visitor count, or even Amazon’s recommendations.
Remove UTF8/blog charset support from .htaccess file. Only necessary if you see odd characters or punctuation looks incorrect. Requires rewrite rules update – (Disable) – if you see weird characters on your website (Â â €™ ¢), this should fix it. Otherwise, leave it disabled.
Clear all cache files when a post or page is published or updated – Enable) – if you publish a post, and you also have a blogroll (eg. on your homepage) and want to make sure it’s updated with the newest post, this will clear the cache and make sure the new content is being shown.
Extra homepage checks. (Very occasionally stops homepage caching) (Enable) – similar to the previous setting, this makes sure your newest blog posts are being shown on the homepage (if you have a blogroll). This is also applicable to dynamic content on the homepage.
Only refresh current page when comments made – enable this if you have lots of comments, as readers want to see the latest content (you don’t want to refresh all the cache to do this).
List the newest cached pages on this page (Disable) – shows which pages have been cached.
Coarse file locking. You do not need this as it will slow down your website (Disable).
Late init. Display cached files after WordPress has loaded (Enable) – allows content to stay dynamic. If you see the error “super cache dynamic page detected but late init not set” fixes it.
Cache location – Don’t Change – don’t change the path, the default path is fine.
Cache Timeout – 3,600 is good for most websites, high traffic websites can lower this to 1,800. This is the frequency cached pages expire and will be thrown away. If you set it too slow, users will never see cached version. If too fast, it can consume lots of server resources.
Accepted filenames & rejected URIs – specify pages you don’t want to be cached. The most common use for this is excluding eCommerce pages or pages that are updated very frequently.
Rejected user agents – prevents user agents from caching pages. The most common ones are search engines like Googlebot and Bingbot, but here is a complete list of user agents you can view. If using WPtouch, you will also want to add their entire list of mobile user agents here.
Lock down – prepares your server for an expected spike in traffic (during lock down, new comments on a post will not refresh the cached static files). This will save on server resources and help prevent your site from crashing. Only enable this if you notice traffic skyrocketing.
Fix configuration – restores the default WP Super Cache settings.
A CDN (content delivery network) hosts your heavy website files on multiple data centers around the country/world, which reduces the geographic distance between your server and visitor. This reduces load times and is recommended in the WordPress optimization guide.
- Cloudflare is sufficient for most WordPress sites, but I recommend using their APO for $5/month if you can afford it. This further improves speed by serving your entire site from their edge network. If you decide on Cloudflare, see the Cloudflare section of this tutorial.
- BunnyCDN is what I use, is affordable, and highly rated in Facebook Groups. They have setup instructions but I’ll also show you how to setup BunnyCDN with WP Super Cache.
Step 1: Sign up for BunnyCDN (highly recommended in Facebook Groups).
Step 2: Create a pull zone in BunnyCDN.
Step 3: Copy your CDN URL from BunnyCDN.
Step 4: Paste your CDN URL in WP Super Cache’s CDN tab under “Off-Site URL” and “Additional CNAMES.” If using SSL, also check “skip https URLs to avoid mixed content” errors.
Step 5: Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green.
As long as your “cache timeout” is set appropriately in the Advanced settings, your expired cached pages will be deleted and they won’t put stress on your server. When working on site, you may also be making changing to CSS/JS (eg. background images) and see a cached version (or you may not see that your CDN is working). In this case, deleting the cache should fix this.
Delete cache – refreshes the cache in case you see old cached versions of your pages.
Preload is a refresh when the cached pages are all cleared out and refreshed in one go. I would enable it since this improves both website/indexing speed. However, preload consumes a lot of server resources which puts stress on your server and can make your website slow. By default, it set to refresh preloaded cache files every 600 minutes. But you should increase this number if it’s putting stress on your server, especially if you’re on shared hosting. You can also leave it to 0 if you do not want static files to expire ever unless you manually refresh the cache.
WP Super Cache does not have a direct way to set up Cloudflare, but this is very easy and I definitely recommend using Cloudflare’s free CDN. Many hosts (including SiteGround) have an option to activate Cloudflare in their cPanel with 1 click. This is by far the easiest method.
If your host doesn’t have this option, follow the steps below…
1. Sign up for Cloudflare and you will be prompted to add your website then begin a scan.
2. Once the scan is complete, select the free plan, then Cloudflare will take you through a set of pages. You will eventually be taken to a page where Cloudflare assign you 2 name servers…
3. Do a Google search for “how to change name servers on SiteGround” (only search for your host), then follow their instructions. You will be copying the 2 name servers provided by Cloudflare and pasting them into a custom name servers option in your hosting cPanel…
5. Add these 3 page rules to cache everything and protect the WP admin.
6. Finally, go to your Cloudflare caching settings and purge individual files…
Watch My Video – it’s a 44 minute video, but I cover pretty much everything (timestamps in video description) and you should learn a ton of great information on WordPress site speed:
Cloudways (My Recommended Host)
Most hosting recommendations are honestly garbage.
Join the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to get unbiased feedback from knowledgeable people who’ve been around the block. I won’t tell you to switch hosts if you don’t need to, so run your website through Lighthouse and check for slow server response times (TTFB) over 600ms.
If your TTTFB is slow, many people in Facebook groups (including myself) use Cloudways WordPress Hosting. Specifically their DigitalOcean or Vultr High Frequency plan. Sure, it’s $10-$13/month, but we’re talking about speed, TTFB, and core web vitals – not being cheap.
Take a look at conversations, migration results, and polls posted in some of these Facebook groups. Or look at Backlinko’s PageSpeed Test where he found SiteGround has a slow TTFB. You already know GoDaddy and EIG brands (Bluehost and HostGator) are obviously not good. Hosting affects TTFB, LCP, and other web vitals which will be a ranking factor as of May, 2021.
Here are 22 people who moved to Cloudways and posted their results (click image to enlarge):
Recent Facebook polls taken on “the best hosting” (click image to enlarge):
I use Cloudways DigitalOcean who is #1 in most recent Facebook polls.
Not saying hosting is everything, but it helps.
This is a simple Pingdom test to measure TTFB + load times of 16 WordPress hosts. I installed the same Astra Starter Site on 16 hosting accounts (using separate domains) while measuring Pingdom load times for 1 week at 30 minute check intervals, as well as TTFB in various tools. No caching or CDN (with same plugins) are being used since I’m strictly comparing the server. Some domains are still live (cwdoserver.com is hosted on a $10/month Cloudways DO plan and stgrndserver.com is on SiteGround GrowBig). I cancelled most accounts since it got expensive. Even when browsing through those 2 sites or running your own tests, you’ll see the difference.
I use Cloudways because:
- My TTFB is consistently under 200ms.
- Free migration service made it easy to try them.
- They continuously update their speed technology.
- Multiple caching levels (Redis, memcached, Varnish).
- Support is great as reflected in their Trustpilot reviews.
- Free SSL, staging, bot protection, cron job management.
- Monthly pricing with no long-term contracts or high renewals.
- They have a Cloudways Users Facebook Group to ask questions.
- Choice of 5 cloud providers: DO, Vultr, AWS, Google Cloud, Linode.
- Their community manager answered my questions when signing up.
- Launching a server yourself and using their migrator plugin is also easy.
- Ain’t nobody got time for shared hosting when trying to pass web vitals.
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for Cloudways using my affiliate link, I seriously appreciate it. I try to support my recommendations with real, unbiased evidence. I also make donations ($6,000 to GoFundMe so far) and your support would help. It’s easy to request a free migration and promo code OMM25 gets you 25% off the first 2 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is WP Super Cache a good plugin?
It's usually not the top rated plugin in Facebook polls and I have personally gotten better results with WP Rocket and other cache plugins. Every website is different - you need to configure and compare the results of different cache plugins in GTmetrix one at a time.
How do you set up Cloudflare with WP Super Cache?
Sign up for a free Cloudflare account and change nameservers (in your domain registrar) to the ones Cloudflare provides you with.
Will multiple CDNs further improve speed?
In theory, yes. More CDNs = more data centers = faster delivery of your content and more offloading of resources which should lighten the load on your server. Cloudflare's CDN is sufficient for most websites, but if you're obsessed with speed, try StackPath or KeyCDN.
How does WP Super Cache compare with WP Rocket?
WP Rocket has more speed features than WP Super Cache (database cleanup, optimizing Google Fonts + Analytics, heartbeat control) and is easier to configure, but WP Rocket is also a premium plugin. If speed is very important, give WP Rocket a go.
What other speed plugins do I need besides WP Super Cache?
You will need a plugin for optimizing fonts (OMGF), database cleanup (WP-Optimize), Heartbeat Control, optimizing Google Analytics (CAOS), and selectively disabling plugins (Asset CleanUp or Perfmatters). These features are not built-in to WP Super Cahce.
Did it work?
Let me know in the comments!