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Demystifying WordPress Caching: A Comprehensive Guide

Ever felt that maybe WordPress caching plugins are overrated? Or maybe, could you be scratching your head wondering how many caching plugins would be too many?

Whether you’re a seasoned WordPress aficionado or just getting started, caching is one of those technical WordPress subjects with a lot of grey areas.

Well, I say it’s high time we got to the bottom of the whole conundrum. So, join me as we explore what WordPress caching entails, how it works, plus what to expect from various WordPress caching plugins and techniques.

WordPress Caching.

What is caching?

Caching is a performance optimization technique in computing that boosts data retrieval speed. It involves storing a subset of data in a high-speed cache for quick access in the future. This lays the groundwork for the efficient reuse of previously retrieved data, which then drives improved application performance.

At its core, caching is all about duplicating data to a temporary storage location – with the main goal being to provide apps with faster and more convenient access than the primary source.

The system itself is utilized in a wide range of computing contexts – including web browsers, operating systems, and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

For instance, databases may implement caching to store frequently retrieved query results and updated data. This reduces the need for making repetitive queries to the underlying data source.

Operating systems, on the other hand, may enable caching on commonly accessed files – to make access easy and quicker for the CPU.

The same applies to CDNs, which save and distribute frequently accessed content across servers that are geographically proximate to end users. Caching here reduces the data transmission distance, thereby minimizing latency and enhancing user experience.

What is WordPress caching?

best WordPress caching plugin.

WordPress caching is basically caching in the context of WordPress-based websites. Data from such sites is temporarily held and retrieved from temporary storage points, with the main objective being to boost website performance and speed.

The process of WordPress caching is centered around dynamically generated web pages. Caches are engineered to generate and store static versions of the web pages, which are then accessed by site users without the need for regeneration at every content request.

Once the original version of a web page is delivered after its initial request, copies are retained on temporary storage locations in the form of static HTML pages.

You can otherwise think of them as snapshots of the original page. This is what is served to end users whenever subsequent requests arise.

What are the benefits of WordPress caching?

  1. Increases page loading speeds and website performance
  2. Reduces server load
  3. Minimizes bandwidth usage
  4. Boosts traffic handling and resource scalability
  5. Enhances user experience

1. Increases page loading speeds and website performance 📈

Upon a user’s request for a WordPress web page, the hosting server undergoes a dynamic generation process. It’s supposed to execute the code and then retrieve data from databases, before finally transmitting it to the requester.

This entire process can be lengthy and resource-intensive, particularly for WordPress websites with high traffic or heavy content. Every single page would take fairly long to load, as each request would be subjected to the full processing cycle.

Thankfully, WordPress caching mitigates the issue by storing frequently-accessed resources in a cache. This is a temporary storage location that’s positioned closer to the end user than the original hosting server.

So, whenever requests arise, the proximity of the WordPress cache gives users convenient and quick access to static files. That leads to better website loading speeds.

2. Reduces server load 💻️

By the mere virtue of serving resources directly from the cache, WordPress caching saves primary servers the burden of processing every request. So, instead of having one server handling everything, the resource-heavy tasks are distributed between multiple access points.

And with the server load reduced, server performance is bound to improve – which then leads to faster site loading speeds and better response times.

3. Minimizes bandwidth usage 📉

Once data is held in a local cache, it could be served directly without being transmitted over the entire network. That means less bandwidth is used – which then minimizes network traffic, reduces network congestion, lowers latency, and optimizes page loading speeds.

This is especially beneficial for users with slow internet connections or limited data plans. WordPress caching allows them to process resources from their local networks, instead of repeatedly sending out external requests that would eat into their limited bandwidth.

4. Boosts traffic handling and resource scalability 🔋

By serving cached content, the server’s workload is reduced and response times are optimized. This means that even during peak periods when traffic volumes are high, your website can continue to deliver fast-loading pages without overburdening its WordPress hosting server.

Delivering content from the cache further promotes efficient resource utilization. This can prevent performance degradation or, even worse, potential downtime. Your WordPress site will still be accessible and responsive even during unexpected traffic spikes.

5. Enhances user experience 🧑‍💻

When you combine improved page loading speeds, better traffic handling, reduced server load, and efficient resource utilization, you get much superior user experience on your WordPress site.

That means visitors will be hanging around your website for longer – which then leads to deeper engagements, more conversions, and increased profitability.

Consumers themselves admit that they’re heavily influenced by website performance. Nearly 70% of them say that page speeds affect their willingness to buy from an ecommerce store [1]. And in terms of loading time, it turns out that every second increase could potentially drop your conversion rates by a whopping 17% [2].

Types of WordPress caching

There are many different types, techniques, and methods of WordPress caching. But, they all fall under these two groups:

#1. Client-side caching

Client-side caching entails storing site data locally on your own computer.

A good example of such a caching mechanism is the browser cache, which is also known as the HTTP cache. Its job is to store any downloaded website content directly on your local machine.

When you revisit a website you have previously accessed, your browser checks its cache to determine if a saved version exists. And if found, the browser proceeds to load the saved version from the cache, instead of sending out additional requests to the server. This alone should save you significant loading time and bandwidth usage.

#2. Server-side caching

Server-side caching refers to the practice of storing data on the server rather than on the client’s device.

In this WordPress caching method, the server saves a generated version of webpages in its memory for quick access. The files are meant to accelerate responses to user requests, thereby eliminating the need for extended data processing.

The whole technique is commonly used in web servers, databases, and other server-side applications. It’s from these vantage points that it manages to optimize performance, reduce server load, and improve the scalability of your WordPress site.

Your server-side caching capabilities are, however, dependent on your choice of web host. Some WordPress hosting providers offer built-in server-side caching solutions, while others only provide the feature through external plugins or tools. For more, you can check out the feature specifics from our recommended WordPress hosting solutions.

That said, there are four types of server-side caching that you’ll possibly encounter when managing a WordPress site.

CDN caching

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of proxy servers that work together to optimize website performance. Such servers collaborate to accelerate page loading speeds by delivering content from the server closest to the end user.

In order to attain the highest possible speed and reliability of content, CDNs cache various types of media – including images, videos, and web pages.

Object caching

Object caching boosts WordPress performance by caching the results of database queries. So, instead of querying the database every time a result is needed, cached data is retrieved to save time and resources.

This technique is particularly instrumental to high-traffic WordPress sites that attract many database queries. With object caching enabled, they should be able to reduce the load on their database and server, execute queries more efficiently, as well as raise website performance.

Some popular examples of object caching solutions for WordPress sites include Redis and Memcached.

Memcached, in particular, is a powerful, open-source, distributed memory caching system used to speed up dynamic database-driven websites.

Page caching

Page caching optimizes website performance by storing static HTML pages and serving them directly to users.

By delivering cached HTML versions of web pages, WordPress servers manage to reduce the processing overhead and server load associated with dynamic content generation.

Such a WordPress caching technique is particularly effective for infrequently changing content, as it allows web servers to serve pre-generated pages quickly and efficiently. This could lead to faster load times and improved server resource management – two components that are necessary for a smoother and more responsive user experience.

Opcode caching

Your WordPress site runs on, among other things, a PHP script. This code is supposed to be compiled at runtime before it’s executed.

The role of opcode caching is to save your site the hassle of repeatedly compiling the same PHP script whenever requests are raised. The compiled opcode of PHP scripts is held in a cache, allowing the system to bypass the compilation of subsequent scripts.

Any request that comes in is handled directly by the cached opcode. The result is a faster implementation of PHP scripts, reduced server load, and improved WordPress site performance.

How to enable caching on your WordPress site

One thing that might overwhelm you on WordPress is the extensive collection of caching plugins. Some of the most popular options include WP Super Cache, SiteGround Optimizer, Breeze, LiteSpeed Cache, WP-Optimize, and W3 Total Cache.

If you ask me, though, I’d recommend something like WP Fastest Cache. And the reason is, it’s an easy-to-use, all-in-one WordPress caching plugin.

That means you don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of switching between multiple WordPress caching plugins – WP Fastest Cache supports the core caching technologies offered by all those popular solutions.

Now, to use it for caching on your WordPress site:

  • Navigate to the Plugins tab in your WordPress dashboard, and then select Add New. In the search bar, enter “WP Fastest Cache” and hit enter. Click on Install Now and then Activate to enable the plugin.
  • Next, find WP Fastest Cache on the menu bar of your WordPress dashboard. Click on it to access a range of checkboxes for configuration.
  • Simply choose the WordPress caching options you wish to activate by checking their corresponding boxes. You should then click Submit to complete the setup process. That’s all it takes to enable caching on your WordPress website.
WordPress caching with WP Fastest Cache.

If you’d otherwise want an alternative WordPress caching solution, here are some of the top plugins to try out:

  • WP Rocket
  • Hummingbird
  • Comet cache

You can go ahead and check how they compare from our in-depth WordPress Caching Plugin Review.

Parting shot 🙋‍♂️

When properly understood and implemented, WordPress caching techniques can indeed supercharge your website’s performance and user experience by increasing page load speeds, reducing server load, optimizing bandwidth use, enhancing traffic handling, and scaling resources.

From client-side caching methods like browser caching to server-side caching resources such as CDN caching, object caching, page caching, and opcode caching, each serves a unique purpose in creating a fluid web experience for the user.

The keys to unlocking all this potential lie with your (fast) web hosting provider and WordPress caching plugins. So, take your time and choose them strategically, and you’ll probably get just the blend of racehorses to zoom past your competition.

👉 Remember, don’t be cache-ual about it! Google is watching. Otherwise, for more on website speed optimization, check out these other guides:

Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. Learn more below:

Yay! 🎉 You made it to the end of the article!
Davis Porter

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