How to Configure W3 Total Cache Settings? (Step by Step Tutorial)

How to Configure W3 Total Cache Settings? (Step by Step Tutorial)

Do you know you can easily speed up your WordPress website by using this free plugin W3 Total Cache? In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to configure W3 Total cache settings step-by-step.

Why You Should Use W3 Total Cache?

W3 Total Cache improves SEO and your website performance. It reduces load times by using features like CDN integration, code minification, etc.

  • Improvements in search engine result page rankings.
  • At least 10 times improvement in overall site performance.
  • Reduced page load time: increased visitor time on site; visitors view more pages.
  • Up to 80% bandwidth savings when you minify HTML, minify CSS and minify JS files.

W3 Total Cache is one of the best WordPress caching plugins. It is easy to configure and with the help of this tutorial anyone can set up this plugin. It will help you reduce server response time as well as boost overall site performance.

Things To-do Before Configuring W3 Total Cache Settings

1. Check your existing page load speed using tools like Pingdom or WebPageTest. Take a screenshot or download the results if possible.

2. If you are using any other caching mechanism then you need to turn it off before installing W3 Total Cache.

3. Set up a staging site to test your changes. Please don’t try this tutorial on a live website.

Step 1: Download and Install W3 Total Cache Plugin

  • Login to your WordPress admin area. Go to Plugins > Add New.
  • Search for “W3 Total Cache” in the plugins directory.
  • Click on the “Install Now” button and wait for a moment.
  • Once, the plugin is installed, click on the Activate button.

Step 2: How to Configure Basic Settings in W3 Total Cache

General Settings page in W3 Total Cache plugin

Go to the “General settings” page to make these changes.

Preview Mode

Preview mode in W3 Total Cache settings

Enabling Preview mode will help you test the changes on the website before making them live.

I would recommend using the preview mode to test the configuration. Once you are certain that your website is working fine then you can deploy those changes.

Page Cache

Enable page cache in W3 Total Cache

Enabling page cache will make your site considerably faster. If you don’t have technical skills then using only “Page Cache” is enough to speed up the site.

Check the box in front of Page Cache to enable this feature. Make sure that under the “Page Cache Method” the Disk Enhanced method is selected.


Enable Minify from the General settings in W3 Total Cache

Important: I would strongly recommend to enable “Preview Mode” before fiddling with Minify if you are testing it on the live website.

Enabling the Minify option will improve your site speed by at least 10%. It will reduce the size of JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files on your site.

Click on the Enable check box to turn on Minify. It might show you a warning, if that’s the case then click on the “I understand the Risk” button.

Keep other settings to “Auto” then click on the Save Settings & Purge Caches button. It will enable basic minification.

Database Cache

Database cache from general settings in W3 Total Cache

Enabling database cache will improve the speed of database queries. It will make the site’s backend load much faster. However, If you are using shared hosting then best keep it disabled.

By keeping default settings, you can enable this feature. Test it in the preview mode then Deploy.

Object Cache

Object cache from general settings in W3 total cache

This feature will further enhance the speed of database common operations. However, like the Database cache, enabling it on a shared server might slow down your site. If that’s the case then keep it disabled.

Enable Object Cache by clicking on the checkbox. Select “object cache method” to Disk. Test in the preview mode then deploy.

Browser Cache

Enable browser cache from general settings

Reduce server load and response in a user’s web browser. What it will do is save a copy of a page in the user’s browsers. Next time when the user visits a page, this copied version will be shown.

Enable by clicking on the checkbox. Click on the “Save Settings and Purge Cache” button.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Consult your CDN provider to configure this tab

If you are using a CDN already then you can enable this feature. However, you have to contact your CDN provider or check their knowledge base for instructions to configure this feature correctly.

In case, if you are not using any CDN service at the moment then you can skip this option for now.

Step 3: How to Configure Advanced Settings in W3 Total Cache

By using the above general settings, your site speed will be improved. However, if you want to further improve your site’s performance then you can enable more features in W3 Total Cache.

Page Cache

Enable these features in advanced settings of page cache

Under the Performance menu in your WordPress sidebar select Page Cache.

From the General tab, turn on these settings:

  • Cache Front Page
  • Cache feeds: site, categories, tags, comments
  • Cache SSL (HTTPS) requests
  • Don’t cache pages for logged in users
  • Don’t cache pages for following user roles (Select All the options)

Rest of the options on page cache are a bit advanced and I would recommend keeping them as-is for now.


Configure Minify advanced settings in W3 Total Cache

On this page, you will find all the advanced settings to minify JS, CSS, and HTML further.

Since we have selected the “Auto” minification in the general settings we need to change it to “Manual” first. The plugin author recommends to use auto option but if you want you can further minify. Here’s how:

  • Under HTML & XML tab, select all the options except “Don’t Minify Feeds”.
  • Enable JS Minify settings from the JS tab.
  • Enable CSS Minify Settings from the CSS tab.
Browser Cache

Enable browser cache advanced settings in W3 Total Cache

Now, let’s see how we can enable more options in the browser cache page.

This page comes pre-configured if you enable this feature from the general settings page. Make sure that these settings are selected under all the tabs:

  • Set Last-Modified Header
  • Gzip Compression
  • Prevent caching of objects after settings change

After applying settings in W3 Total Cache, you can use tools like Pingdom and WebPageTest to test your page load time. Most websites load incredibly faster when they use W3 Total Cache. Let me know in the comments if you find any issues.

If you need help with SEO or reputation management then please feel free to send me a message.

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