I’ve always considered myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to WordPress installations and setups. I have my own standard configuration of plugins that I install whenever launching a new blog or setting things up for a client and probably have been using the same basic list of files for the last 12 – 18 months. One of my newer customers came to me and complained of a slow loading blog that he asked me to take a look at to see if there was anything I could do to improve the loading times without moving to a new host.
Examining the setup I found that his VPS hosting account was excellent and it shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally there weren’t a lot of issues with outside calls to other feeds or resources such as as serving services or Twitter. Overall, the main issues came with the way the theme was setup, the fact that the blog had a large page count with a high volume of individual posts picking up consistent search engine traffic and a visitor count that most people would be impressed with. What he didn’t have currently running was a caching plugin to assist in improving the loading times of his popular website.
When I began looking at the project, I used WebWait to gauge the loading times utilizing a 20 call method with updates every 10 seconds. His average load time was a very frustrating 12.61 seconds. I have always used WP Super Cache as my caching plugin of choice and after getting that setup the way I wanted it, the average load time came down slightly to 9.83 seconds using the same test parameters. Unfortunately this loading time was still completely unacceptable so I started investigating further to look for a better solution.
Upon the recommendation of a fellow freelance, I installed and played around with a two plugin configuration. The first plugin I installed was Hyper Cache Extended. This plugin is very easy to install and configure, with only a few minor settings that I had to adjust in order to suit the client’s specs. This was followed by an even easier installed plugin called DB Cache Reloaded Fix, which caches database queries to improve the overall loading times.
Testing the site from another machine the site came up much quicker so I headed back to WebWait and ran another test. The overall load time using the 20 query test was reduced to 2.39 seconds, a massive improvement and well within the “3 to 4 second range” the client was looking for. There was no significant change in his overall server load (as monitored by the top utility in SSH) but there are other blogs on the same account. I plan on configuring all the same way to see if these plugins have an overall affect on his server load.
Bolstered by these results I tested a couple other blogs on behalf of my clients and while nothing was as dramatic as this particular case, all experienced an overall improvement in load times. So if you’re looking for the best WordPress caching programs, my experience has been to use these two powerful plugins to help lower your speed times.
Do you have a positive or negative experience with these plugins or utilize a different WordPress cache program you’d like me to test out? Leave a comment down below, as I would definitely be interested in hearing about other people’s experiences!