WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache are the two popular WordPress caching plugins. Both of these cache plugins are popular among beginners and advanced users.
Today we will do a test and see which one is going to win over the other.
If you are reading this comparison, you might already have an idea about caching.
For those of you who are new to caching word, I will give you a quick intro.
1. What is Caching?
If I ask you what is 2+2, you’ll immediately say 4. Becasue, you have already done this calculation a lot of times before.
If I ask you what is 134*13 some of you might take their time to calculate it because they might not have it before (calculated).
For this, if you visit a website for the first time, it’s not in your browser’s history. And, your browser has to download the complete website that it wants to serve you.
If you visit the same website a second time, it might feel a bit faster this time because the browser has cached some of its files before.
2. Now let’s Get to our Comparison
W3 Total Cache has the free lite version, whereas WP Rocket is a premium caching plugin.
That was a bit about the plugins, and let’s talk a bit about our test process.
How do I test the Caching Plugins?
First, I will run the GT Metrix test and Pingdom Speed test on a website without any caching.
And, then we will run the test on the website with caching enabled.
3. GT Metrix Report for the Website Without Caching
Let’s test the website without caching enabled. I will run the test three times to get a benchmark to compare.
And, here’s the test result for the website.
Yup, we do need some work to improve the performance.
Now we have the benchmark. I’m going to test caching plugins one by one and compare their results to find the best cache plugin.
4. WP Rocket (Premium Cache Plugin)
WP Rocket is pretty famous among website owners. And, many of my friends have been using it for quite a long time now.
It’s a premium caching plugin, and it has no lite version.
What we’re going to do with this plugin is we will first test our website with its default cache settings. Then I will apply some more advanced caching settings and see how our cached website performs this time.
GT Metrix Report for the Website With Default Caching Settings
First of all, I bought WP Rocket from the website and installed it on my website.
After activating the plugin, you will see a welcome message for the plugin.
And, you will see a new WP Rocket option in the Settings tab.
From the cache, I will enable the caching for my website and click on save changes.
These are what I call the default settings, and this is what most of us would be using.
Now, I will test my website with GT Metrix and see how much we improved with caching.
Here’s the three times average report for the website on GT Metrix.
So, overall we did improve a lot. The LCP has reduced significantly.
Let’s enable some advanced cache settings or the WP Rocket optimal settings and see if we improve any.
WP Rocket Optimal Settings
Now, I will enable some advanced settings of the plugin.
First, in the cache section, enable the cache for mobile devices. For some other caching options, once done, click on save changes.
Then, from the File Optimization section, I will minify the CSS, Java, and HTML.
Note: Minifying the CSS or Java can break your site. So, make sure you only trigger one setting at a time and check your site’s frontend to see if everything is working.
Before you enable any caching on your website, make sure you backup your website first.
Once done, click on save changes. Then from the Media section, I will enable the lazy load for the images. And, don’t forget to click on save changes every time.
Now, let’s test the website with the advanced caching settings and see where we are standing.
Here is the GT Metrix report for the cached website.
Pretty cool, I will say.
So, now we have the results of WP Rocket. Let’s take the readings for W3 Total Cache, and compare them quickly.
5- W3 Total Cache (Free Lite Version is Available)
W3 Total Cache has been one of my favorite caching plugins for a while now. It is because of the power it offers to its users, even in the free version.
We’re going to test this plugin now and see if it makes up to the WP Rocket.
As before, I will first test the website with the default caching settings of the plugin. Then, I will apply some of the advanced caching settings and retest the site to see any improvement.
GT Metrix Report for the Website With Default Cache Settings
Search for W3 Total Cache, activate the plugin and go to its dashboard.
And, from its dashboard, you can see that its caching is disabled by default.
So, go to the cache section, and enable the caching.
Once done, click on save changes.
Now, we will test the site with GT Metrix and see where we’re standing.
It is the GT Metrix report for the website with the default caching settings.
Now, we did improve a lot. The LCP has reduced significantly.
I’m in the mood of seeing more than that, and we’ll apply some advanced caching settings.
W3 Total Cache Advanced Caching Settings
To apply the advanced caching settings, head over to Page Cache.
I will enable the Page Cache and Minify settings for HTML, CSS, and Java. And click on save changes.
Then, in the minify section, I will enable the minify settings for HTML, CSS, and Java.
And once done, click on save changes.
Let’s retest the website with advanced caching settings and see if we improve the score.
And, this is what I got on restest for the website.
Now, honestly, we did see a lot of improvement. Being a free plugin gives you a lot of power and a free hand over your site.
6. Comparing the Results of WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache
First, comparing the results of the default cache settings, we can see W3 Total Cache lags behind WP Rocket.
WP Rocket, has successfully reduced the LCP by 500 MS, whereas W3 Total Cache reduced it by 300 MS. So, WP Rocket got a lead here with 200 MS, and so with the Grades.
And, with the advanced caching enabled, WP Rocket is still ahead of W3 Total Cache by 100 MS.
So, as a result I can say that, WP Rocket wins over W3 Total Cache in terms of performance improvement.
7. Covering Up
We have tested both the plugins, their basic settings, and their advanced settings. And, from the results, I can say that WP Rocket is the winner of this Comparison.
But on the other W3 Total Cache, being free really surprised me with its overall performance against a competitive premium caching plugin. And, the winning gap is not really high.
So, I will say choosing over both the caching plugins, is completely a user’s choice. I personally found both of them powerful enough to supercharge your website’s performance.
I recently did a comparison of the top 6 caching plugins, make sure you read it too. As it will make it more understandable for you.