WordPress Caching Plugin Face-off

I’ve been looking into the ways to speed up my blog, WordPress by default is pretty heavy on servers and I’m on about as cheap of hosting you can find at Dreamhost. The first place to turn is caching which will help reduce the load on the server significantly when loading pages. The top favored WordPress caching plugins are W3 Total Cache  and WP Super Cache. Different reviews say different things, and on the surface without digging too deep it’s really hard to tell which one is better. So, I thought I’d do a little test to see which one works best for my setup.

To test this out, I installed each plugin for a 24 hour period and used Pingdom Monitoring to track the site’s response time from before and during each plugin’s active period. To view the full Pingdom results, you can see them on here – Alexphelps.me Status September 2012.

The proof is the in pudding folks. WP Super Cache was able to optimize my blog to be faster than W3 Total Cache.  On a side note, W3 Total Cache also broke some javascript used for optimizing the main navigation menu on a mobile, where with WP Super Cache it works as expected. W3 Total Cache breaking my theme menu javascript leads me to believe that it will be less compatible with Plugins that add their own javascript to the page header which makes me pretty concerned about this plugin’s ability to play nice.

Both plugins made drastic improvements on my site speed though, going from 1,700ms response time to under 500ms is cutting it by more than 2/3, and in website optimization terms that’s enormous. From here on out after this initial gain most of the configurations made will probably on see minor improvements and it’ll be a battle of inches.

There could be lots of arguments made about which one is better, but for the time I feel like investing in setup and configuration, WP Super Cache is the clear winner for me. Next thing on the list for Website Optimization is setting up a CDN to deliver static files, I’ll let you know how it goes.