What is WP Super Cache?
WP Super Cache is a popular caching plugin that creates cached versions of the static files of a WordPress site and stores them for a predefined timeframe. When a visitor requests the site, the cached files are served to ensure that the website loads faster.
WP Super Cache is not a true server-side caching as LiteSpeed Cache that works best in conjunction with OpenLiteSpeed or LiteSpeed Enterprise web server. Using WP Super Cache is as simple as installing the plugin and configuring it the right way to see measurable speed improvements.
As with every other caching plugin, WP Super Cache also requires proper configuration to give the best performance. In this WP Super Cache review I am going to walk you through its features and configuration. I will conclude this WP Super Cache review with answers to some frequently asked questions.
How to Get WP Super Cache?
You can download and install WP Super Cache directly from inside your WordPress website’s dashboard. Head over to Dashboard >> Plugins >> Add New.
Now search for WP Super Cache and click on Install and then on Activate. That’s all! WP Super Cache will now be installed and active on your website, ready for configuration.
How to Configure WP Super Cache?
Now is the most important part – the configuration of WP Super Cache. Incorrect configuration will not only not give you the desired results, but might also break your site. So, it is essential that you configure the plugin properly.
Once you activate the plugin, after installation, you need to visit the settings segment of the plugin to configure it. Post installation, you will see the list of all plugins installed on your website. You will see the link to the Settings page of WP Super Cache there.
Clicking on the link will take you to the settings page. You can also access the settings page from Dashboard >> Settings >> WP Super Cache.
Once you click on the Settings link, you will reach the page where you need to first enable caching for your website. This is what you will see by default:
You need to select ‘Caching On,’ and then hit the ‘Update Status’ button. That’s it! You have enabled caching for your website. Now, you have to go through the other settings. Let’s go through all of them one-by-one.
But before that, here is a quick look at the speed with caching turned OFF.
Mobile Speed (Google PageSpeed Insights)
Desktop Speed (Google PageSpeed Insights)
Okay, now that we know how the website performs without caching, it is time to go through the settings and then test the speed results. Sounds good?
WP Super Cache Settings
The Advanced Tab
Once you have enabled caching, move on to the ‘Advanced’ tab. Make sure that you know what you are doing if you want to fiddle around with advanced stuff. I will suggest that you enable only the options that have ‘Recommended’ tag attached to them.
This is what you will notice when you go the Advanced tab:
You will notice that WP Super Cache has the option of enabling dynamic caching. I will suggest you enable this only if the only dynamic segment of your website’s page is the comment section.
Also, there are a few plugins that will stop working if you are enabling this option. For instance, if you are using the plugin called ‘Popularity Contest,’ the plugin will stop working if you enable dynamic caching.
For the rest of the settings, use the ones that are shown in the image above. In case you want, you can always work with other options, but make sure that you are thoroughly testing your website after enabling them.
Once you are done with those settings, hit the Update Status button and scroll further down and use the following settings:
The ‘Cache Timeout’ is the time when the current cache is cleared and new cache is generated. If you update your website once daily, you can set it to 86400 seconds (24 hours). You need to set this time depending on how frequently you update your site. You should not clear cache unnecessarily.
For the rest of the settings in the Advanced tab, do not change anything. Everything is as they should be.
The CDN Tab
This is where WP Super Cache makes it confusing. I didn’t like the approach. A much simpler approach would be to allow quick integration using API. With WP Super Cache, you need to add a different CDN URL (using an Origin Pull CDN) to make things work.
I will suggest that you opt for CloudFlare and directly add the website to CloudFlare and update the nameservers through the domain management segment of your domain registrar.
I will highly recommend that you ignore the CDN tab. In case you want to enable CDN support, you need to configure your CDN properly.
For instance, if you want to use CloudFlare, first enable CloudFlare and then install WP Super Cache and leave the CDN segment untouched.
WP Super Cache will automatically integrate with CloudFlare and serve static files accordingly.
In case you are using StackPath CDN, you need to first install WP Super Cache, and then setup your site with StackPath to get the CDN URL. Once you have the CDN URL, come back to your WordPress dashboard and enable CDN support from Super Cache settings. Put the CDN URL there.
Once you add the CDN URL and save changes, make sure that you purge everything from CDN and even purge all cache files generated by WP Super Cache. Now, everything should work properly.
The Contents Tab
This is the tab where you can see some cache stats. You can delete expired cache or delete the entire cache from here.
I will recommend that you do not delete the entire cache. As far as the expired cache is concerned, you can ignore it because the garbage collection feature will anyway get rid of the expired cache files.
The Preload Tab
Be careful! If you are on a shared server, it is necessary that you disable this feature. It will create a lot of cached files, and that can adversely impact your storage space.
If you have only a few posts on your websites, you can enable it. Enabling Preload will ensure that every webpage of your blog is cached and a static file is created for each page. So, even if bots are visiting (not just real visitors), all they will see is a cached page.
Using the preload feature will improve your website’s speed significantly because the cache will not be created after a page has been requested. Instead, cache files will already exist and whenever a request is made, only cached files will be served.
The Plugins Tab
Everything in this segment is what it should be. Enable the options only if you are using the following plugins:
If you don’t have any of these plugins installed, don’t bother to do anything on this tab. If you have any or all plugins on your site, enable the options.
The Debug Tab
This tab is for advanced users and developers. Do not touch anything here unless you want to debug problems caused by WP Super Cache.
That’s pretty much everything about the plugin setup.
Speed Improvement with WP Super Cache
Look, you need to understand that a caching plugin will not give you a super-fast website. Yes, a standalone caching plugin will improve the speed slightly. If you need more speed, you will need to use a CDN, you need to make sure that your images are well-optimized, and that you are efficiently carrying out minification of codes, etc.
The problem with WP Super Cache is that it doesn’t give you the options of minification, combination, and deferring of CSS, JS, and HTML files. It doesn’t even allow stuff like prefetching DNS, or a mechanism of dealing with Google fonts.
Anyway, with whatever options you get with WP Super Cache, here is are the test results after enabling cache (without a CDN):
Mobile Speed (Google PageSpeed Insights)
Desktop Speed (Google PageSpeed Insights)
That’s a four-point improvement for mobile and one-point improvement for desktop. You can further improve the speed if you are using a CDN, and if you are using a method for minifying, combining, and deferring CSS, JS, and HTML files.
For that, you can use Autoptimize.
Also, do not forget that WP Super Cache will work out of the box with Apache web server. If you are using Nginx, you to edit the configuration file.
Do I Recommend WP Super Cache?
Not really! I have already told you the small shortcomings of WP Super Cache. It is better that you use some other caching plugin to achieve better results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need a caching plugin?
The WordPress CMS is a beast and it requires a decently powerful server to work properly. However, the problem comes when people start using plugins, images, scripts, etc. All these are necessary, and they cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, adding plugins, images, scripts, web fonts, etc. can significantly slow down a site.
A caching plugin can help to speed up a website by creating cached HTML versions of the static resources of a website. When a visitor requests a web page, the static HTML versions are served instead of dynamically building a page using database queries.
Static HTML files are not served through database queries, and hence, they are displayed quickly, while at the same time, saving some valuable server resources. This allows more concurrent visitors to view the website at the same time.
That’s the reason why you need a caching plugin!
What exactly does a caching plugin caches?
There are certain caching plugins that can cache even the static parts of a highly dynamic page. Yes, even if a page is highly dynamic, it will still have certain static parts. Unfortunately, that’s a highly complex feature and not all caching plugins can do that. WP Super Cache is incapable of doing that.
Do I need a CDN if I am using a caching plugin?
A caching plugin is never a replacement of a CDN. You should use a CDN along with a caching plugin to speed up your website even further.
The caching plugin that you are using will create cached files and store them on the server where your website is sitting. Though the caching plugin will ensure that the cached files are served when someone requests a web page from your site, it will serve all those static files directly from your server irrespective of the location of the visitor.
This is where a CDN pitches in. The CDN will take those static files and save copies in different servers across the world. This will ensure that multiple copies of your website’s static files are saved at different locations.
When a visitor requests your website, the CDN will take the static files from the server that is closest to the visitor and serve the files. So, the files will not be served from your server.
Since the website files are served from a location close to the visitor, the delivery of the files become fast. Additionally, since they are served from different servers, your server’s resources are not consumed, leaving your server with more resources to process additional requests.
Will WP Super Cache optimize images?
No, it will not optimize your images. While some caching plugins do have this feature, WP Super Cache doesn’t have this option. That’s a bummer. LiteSpeed Cache, for instance, has its very own image optimization features, and it is capable of serving WebP images on browsers that support the WebP version.
WP-Optimize is another such caching plugin that has provisions for image optimization (though it uses a third-party service). WP Super Cache doesn’t offer any such service. This means that if you want to optimize your images, you need to do that manually or you have to use another plugin. I have a complete guide on image optimization just in case you want to read.
Is WP Super Cache free to use?
Yes, WP Super Cache is completely free. There is no premium version available. You can use it on as many websites as you want.
Can I use WP Super Cache with another caching plugin?
Never do that! It is not just about using WP Super Cache with another cache plugin. The rule of thumb is to ensure that you are not using two cache plugins together. Doing so will increase the likelihood of errors on your website. Please avoid doing that.
Is WP Super Cache better than other caching plugins?
That’s difficult to say. In my tests, I found LiteSpeed Cache to give the best performance followed by WP-Optimize. This might not be the case with others. Some people have reported same results with WP Rocket, while others have hailed WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
The performance of a caching plugin is dependent on various factors including (but not limited to) the server you are using, the themes and plugins in use, and so much more! So, WP Super Cache can work for you, and possibly, under the right set of conditions, it could be the best cache plugin for your website.
When it comes to websites and caching, there is no such thing called ‘One Size Fits All.’