In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to completely configure W3 Total Cache settings step by step.
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 You Should Do Before Configuring W3 Total Cache
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 the W3 Total Cache
- 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
Go to the “General settings” page to make these changes.
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.
Enabling page cache will make your site considerably faster. So, 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.
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 file size of JS, 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 “I understand the Risk” button.
Keep other settings to “Auto” then click on the “Save Settings & Purge Caches” button. It will enable basic minification.
Enabling database cache will improve the speed of database queries. So, it will make your 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.
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. So, if that’s the case then keep it disabled.
Enable Object Cache by clicking on the checkbox. Make sure to select “object cache method” to Disk. Test in the preview mode then deploy.
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)
If you are using a CDN already then you can enable this feature. However, you have to contact your CDN provider to ask 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.
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 in page cache are bit advanced and I would recommend keeping them as is for now.
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.
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, 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.
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