Ah, WordPress caching. One of those necessary evils of any website. But why? The complexity, caching is complex, even the easiest to use caching plugins aren’t always as straightforward as they look.
But using a plugin to speed up WordPress? It doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t have to take hours upon hours.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best WordPress caching plugins for 2021 and how they can help speed up your website.
- Why Should You Use a Caching Plugin?
- How Did We Test the Speed of Caching Plugins?
- The Best Plugins to Speed Up WordPress
- Wrapping Up
Why Should You Use a Caching Plugin?
Simply put, caching makes your site faster, it’d be very rare when caching slows down your site.
If you want to know more about why you should use caching on your WordPress website and how it can help, take a look at our ultimate guide to WordPress caching.
How Did We Test the Speed of Caching Plugins?
A bit about the test website. It’s set up using PHP 7.3 on a Linode server with WordPress 5.3, WP Rocket 220.127.116.11.
The theme I’m using for these tests is our very own Astra, a blazingly fast lightweight WordPress theme. And I’m also using one of our Astra starter site templates allowing you to build a full site in minutes.
Our load times before we tested the speed after enabling caching plugins was a page load time of 3.1 seconds, a page size of 916KB, and 69 requests.
The Best Plugins to Speed Up WordPress
We’ve tested countless WordPress caching plugins and have compiled the 15 speed up plugins that are, in our opinion, the best for increasing the speed of your WordPress website.
All the below plugins are fully compatible with Astra, which just so happens to be one of the fastest themes for WordPress and is astonishingly lightweight weighing in at just 50KB!
First though here’s a comparison of load times, features and pricing between all the plugins mentioned in this post.
|Plugin||Page Caching||Browser Caching||Database Optimization||Load Times||Pricing|
|WP Rocket||Yes||Yes||Yes||2.5 seconds||From $49|
|WP Super Cache||Yes||Yes||No||2.7 seconds||Free|
|W3 Total Cache||Yes||No||No||1.8 seconds||$99|
|WP Fastest Cache||Yes||Yes||No||2.4 seconds||From $49.99|
|Hummingbird||Yes||Yes||No||2.9 seconds||From $5|
|Hyper Cache||Yes||No||No||2.8 seconds||Free|
|LiteSpeed Cache||Yes||Yes||Yes||3.0 seconds||Free|
|Swift Performance||Yes||Yes||Yes||2.5 seconds||From $39.99|
|Comet Cache||Yes||Yes||No||3.0 seconds||From $39|
|Cache Enabler||Yes||No||No||2.7 seconds||Free|
|WP-Optimize||Yes||Yes||Yes||2.7 seconds||From £30|
|SpeedUp Browser Caching||No||Yes||No||3.6 seconds||Free|
1. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the most popular premium caching plugin for WordPress. Trusted by over 900,000+ websites, including popular names in the WordPress space such as Beaver Builder.
Famous for its one-click no-hassle configuration, it’s the go-to choice for both novices and advanced users.
WP Rocket Speed Test
Here are our site speed results after activating WP Rocket and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 2.5 seconds, a total page size of 830KB and 25 requests.
What’s Good About WP Rocket?
The best thing about WP Rocket is without a doubt it’s a beautiful user interface, just look at this:
But it’s not just the UI that makes WP Rocket stand out from the crowd. There’s also:
- 1 Click configuration. Install and activate the plugin, caching is automatically activated.
- WooCommerce compatibility built-in. Out the box support for WooCommerce with no additional configuration needed.
- Built-in lazy loading. Only load images as needed rather than loading them all on each page request.
Any Things Not so Good About WP Rocket?
It’s a premium only plugin, so unlike nearly every other WordPress caching plugin we mention in this list, there’s no free or limited version to try before you buy. However, WP Rocket does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
WP Rocket Pricing
Like we mentioned above, WP Rocket is premium only and is priced like so:
- $49 for 1 site.
- $99 for 3 sites.
- $249 for unlimited websites.
Conclusion About WP Rocket
An all-around great caching plugin that offers a wealth of features and is by far the easiest to use caching plugin currently on the market.
While a premium only solution may well put off some people, it’s well worth the price of entry.
WP Super Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress, with more than 2 million installs. Maintained and developed by Automattic (WordPress.com fame), your site is definitely in good hands.
WP Super Cache Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after we enabled WP Super Cache and set up a basic configuration.
A load time of 2.7 seconds, 69 requests and a total page size of 917KB.
What’s Good About WP Super Cache?
Being maintained by Automattic, you can be confident that the development is top-notch, plus it comes with everything you need in a caching plugin and nothing that you don’t need.
Keeping it straightforward and straightforward, although the user interface isn’t as beautiful as WP Rocket, it’s still a great plugin and has a solid reputation.
Anything Not so Good About WP Super Cache?
As far as WordPress speed up plugins go, the main thing against WP Super Cache is the lack of support.
While the plugin is maintained and actively developed, there’s no official support for it. So if you have a question or get stuck with setting it up while you can ask in the plugin forums, you’ll generally be on a path to nowhere.
This is in stark contrast to most other WordPress caching plugins that actively encourage users to signup for premium support.
WP Super Cache Pricing
Entirely free! There’s no paid add-on or option. Just install, activate, and use on as many websites as you want for zero cost.
While that’s a good thing in most people’s books as mentioned above, it may be a negative depending on if you actively need support with the plugins you use.
Conclusion About WP Super Cache
A tremendous all-around caching plugin that works well with the majority of WordPress website configurations.
W3 Total Cache was one of the most popular speed up plugins for WordPress. With over a million active installs today it still is, however, there was some bad press when it wasn’t updated for months on end, and premium support requests went unanswered.
BoldGrid (a specialist WordPress company) acquired W3 Total Cache in 2019, and since then, things have undoubtedly improved.
W3 Total Cache Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after we enabled W3 Total Cache and set up a basic configuration:
A load time of 1.8 seconds, a page size of 842KB and 34 total requests.
What’s Good About W3 Total Cache?
Offers a plethora of features and is a known name in the WordPress caching world, with the new investment by BoldGrid it’s only going to keep improving.
Anything Not so Good About W3 Total Cache?
There are still question marks surrounding the plugin since so many users lost trust in it, but we’re confident BoldGrid has got it back on track.
The pro version is confusing and only available from within the WordPress admin, not ideal if you don’t want to install something to find out the cost.
W3 Total Cache pricing
Free version is available on WordPress.org.
W3 Total Cache premium is only available from within the admin interface of the plugin and costs $99/year with no multiple site licenses available.
W3 Total Cache Conclusion
An excellent plugin that went through a sticky patch and has come out the other side in a better place. Well worth a look to help speed up your WordPress website.
One of the most well known caching plugins for WordPress, WP Fastest Cache is actually one of my favorite free speed up plugins, it’s simple to use and doesn’t offer fancy thrills, but what it does it does well.
WP Fastest Cache Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after enabling WP Fastest Cache and setting up a basic configuration
A page load time of 2.4 seconds, a total page size of 907KB and 56 total requests.
What’s Good About WP Fastest Cache?
WP Fastest Cache is a no-thrills caching plugin. It doesn’t incorporate things that you don’t need or that are more encompassing of an entire performance plugin. Instead, it does caching incredibly well and works out the box with minimal hassle.
Anything Not so Good About WP Fastest Cache?
The user interface isn’t as intuitive as some other plugins like WP Rocket, but we’re being picky here.
WP Fastest Cache Pricing
There’s a free version of WP Fastest Cache available on WordPress.org, and the premium license can be purchased from the WP Fastest Cache website.
The premium licensing is:
- $49.99 for 1 site.
- $125 for 3 websites.
- $175 for 5 websites.
Unlike most premium pricing though, WP Fastest Cache is a one-time payment. So rather than costly annual renewals, just pay once and continue using it for life!
WP Fastest Cache Conclusion
A great no-thrills caching plugin that does exactly what it says on the tin.
By WPMU DEV, Hummingbird is a newer player to the WordPress caching market. However, this doesn’t mean it’s lacking in functionality.
In fact, it’s one of the most feature-packed plugins here!
Hummingbird Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after enabling Hummingbird and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 2.9 seconds, total page size of 916KB and 69 requests.
What’s Good About Hummingbird?
Hummingbird is backed by one of the best teams in the business. With expert support available 24/7 and consistent updates, by using Hummingbird, you’re using a reliable, dependable caching plugin.
One of the standout features is the scan and fix capability. With one click Hummingbird will scan your site for performance issues and then attempt to fix them automatically.
Anything Not so Good About Hummingbird?
Not really a criticism, but there is a lot of stuff in Hummingbird, and it can be a lot to take in for a beginner, while everything is well mapped out and explained, it’s not immediately clear what you need to use and not use upon first installing the plugin.
The free version of Hummingbird is feature-packed and available on WordPress.org.
Hummingbird Pro costs from $5 per month for a single site up to $82.50 per month for full WPMU DEV Membership and use of all their products across unlimited websites.
Conclusion About Hummingbird
Hummingbird may well be the new kid on the block, but it’s feature-packed and backed by an experienced development team, undoubtedly worth a look.
6. Hyper Cache
Hyper Cache is perhaps one of the lesser-known WordPress speed up plugins, it offers an abundance of features. It includes the ability to change your active theme based on if the user is visiting your website on a mobile device.
Hyper Cache Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after enabling Hyper Cache and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 2.8 seconds, a page size of 916KB and a total of 69 requests.
What’s Good About Hyper Cache?
Hyper Cache has a range of features and doesn’t require a complicated setup; it’s entirely bbPress compatible, meaning it can automatically clear the cache when new topics and replies are posted.
Plus, of course, it has all the usual caching plugin features.
Anything Not so Good About Hyper Cache?
There’s no option to minify or combine your files like most caching plugins offer. While this is good in one sense (the plugin focuses on one thing, caching).
If you asked most experts about speed, they would recommend combining files to speed up your site, and so, in this case, you’d have to install an additional plugin.
Hyper Cache Pricing
Hyper Cache is an entirely free plugin, there’s no paid version or paid support.
Conclusion About Hyper Cache
Hyper Cache is a reliable all-around caching plugin that does what it says, while the interface is a bit outdated, it more than makes up for it with its unique approach to mobile caching.
LiteSpeed Cache is a bit different from all the other plugins we feature on the list, as while it works in the standard way across all different web hosts, it also offers LiteSpeed exclusive features to supercharge your website.
LiteSpeed is a server-side technology, and unless you’re super geeky or happen to be on hosting that makes use of LiteSpeed, you likely won’t use the LiteSpeed features, if you are though they’ll make your site sing.
LiteSpeed Cache Speed Test
Here are the results of site speed after enabling LiteSpeed Cache and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 3.0 seconds, page size of 967KB and 32 requests in total.
What’s Good About LiteSpeed Cache?
A wide gamut of features plus the LiteSpeed exclusive features make this a unique proposition, along with control over the WordPress heartbeat, and direct Cloudflare integration makes this a caching plugin you should strongly consider.
Anything Not so Good About LiteSpeed Cache?
While there’s nothing negative on the plugin side of thing, trying to understand why you have to certain server specifications to make use of the plugin can prove confusing to some users.
LiteSpeed Cache Pricing
LiteSpeed cache is an entirely free plugin with no paid-for version.
While the interface is modern, there are so many options, it’s not exactly beginner-friendly.
Conclusion About LiteSpeed Cache
One of our favorite caching plugins of 2021 that we can only see getting more popular heading into 2021, definitely one to watch!
Swift Performance made quite the splash when it was first released. It quickly became loved by users in various speed up WordPress Facebook groups and was almost everywhere you looked.
Not everything was rosy in paradise though, the first negative reviews came in, and for a short time, the plugin had been removed from the WordPress.org repository.
That’s in the past, though, as now Swift Performance is a stable WordPress caching plugin.
Swift Performance Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after enabling Swift Performance and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 2.5 seconds, total page size of 849KB and 27 total requests.
What’s Good About Swift Performance
Swift Performance offers an option called “Plugin Organizer,” what does it do? It allows you to disable plugins on individual pages and only run them when required.
We should note that plugin developers should only ever load their plugin when needed, unfortunately, though this isn’t always the case, even with popular plugins such as Contact Form.
With Swift Performance, though you can disable Contact Form 7 on all pages apart from your Contact Form page, problem solved!
Anything Not so Good About Swift Performance?
The support is generally hit and miss from various reviews, and a glance at the support forums on WordPress.org will show you that sometimes users get the answers they need; other times, they are left hanging for months and, in other cases, are just told to buy pro.
Swift Performance Pricing
The free version “Swift Performance Lite” is available on WordPress.org for free.
The paid version is priced like so:
- $39.99 for 1 site.
- $99.99 for 4 sites.
- $199.99 for unlimited sites.
All licenses are renewed on an annual recurring basis.
Conclusion About Swift Performance
Swift Performance is definitely worth considering for your site; however, if you’re a beginner, then we’d recommend Hummingbird or WP Rocket due to the support provided by those solutions.
9. Comet Cache
Comet Cache is the successor to the popular ZenCache plugin, improved with a raft of new features and functionality.
And a bit geeky here, but it’s compatible with the WordPress command-line interface (WP CLI), and if you’re a WordPress developer, you’re sure to love that!
Comet Cache Speed Test
Here are our site speed results after enabling Comet Cache and setting up a basic configuration:
A load time of 3.0 seconds, a total page size of 976KB and 69 requests.
What’s Good About Comet Cache?
Comet cache has a one-click setup process and then comes with a range of advanced functionality. The Pro version brings even more advanced functionality such as a cache rebuild that automatically builds and fetches the cache every 15 minutes to ensure content stays relevant.
Comet Cache pro also includes the possibility of automatically clearing the cache after you publish content and comes with advanced WooCommerce caching capabilities.
Anything Not so Good About Comet Cache?
While we find the plugin straightforward to use and it has been developed with the intention of being kept simple, the interface with its use of text-heavy explanations that are all expanded everywhere can feel overwhelming at times.
Comet Cache Pricing
The free version of Comet Cache is available on WordPress.org, with the paid version available from the Comet Cache website.
Like WP Fastest Cache, pricing is a one-time non-recurring payment. For your money, you get lifetime updates and 3 years of support from the Comet Cache team.
Comet Cache pricing is:
- $39 for a single site.
- $99 for three sites.
- $139 for unlimited sites.
Conclusion About Comet Cache
Comet Cache is an easy to use plugin to speed up your WordPress website. While it can look intimidating at first with its text-heavy admin settings, it’s easier to use than it first seems.
10. Cache Enabler
Cache Enabler is a WordPress caching plugin by the KeyCDN team. KeyCDN is one of the most popular CDN solutions. If you want to know more about what a CDN is, check out our ultimate guide to WordPress caching here.
Cache Enabler Speed Test
Here are our site speed results after enabling Cache Enabler and setting up a basic configuration:
A load time of 2.7 seconds, a page size of 976KB and 69 total requests.
What’s Good About Cache Enabler?
One of the best features of cache enabler you actually need an additional plugin for called “Optimus” with Optimus and Cache enabler both enabled your .png, and .jpg images will be served in the webP format without needing conversion!
WebP is a new image format that’s recommended by Google and is designed to load blazingly fast across mobile and desktop.
Anything Not so Good About Cache Enabler?
A big one, there’s no browser caching! Most users would want browser caching capabilities, however, even without this, it’s still a great plugin just something to be aware of.
Support is also minimal due to their being no paid plugin option, and as cache enabler isn’t the main focus of KeyCDN’s business and brings in no money, how effective will they be at solving issues?
Cache Enabler Pricing
Cache Enabler is entirely free on WordPress.org, and there’s no paid plugin version available.
Conclusion About Cache Enabler
Cache Enabler is an excellent caching solution for WordPress with some drawbacks, such as no browser caching. Despite this, it’s still a useful plugin and well worth a look.
WP-Optimize started off initially as a tool to clean and optimize your WordPress database, since then it’s gone onto become an all-encompassing WordPress performance plugin.
While it hasn’t been popular with everyone the new direction that the plugin has taken, we feel it’s been a success and added a vast amount of features that make it one of the best caching plugins available for WordPress.
WP-Optimize Speed Test
Here are our site speed results after enabling WP-Optimize and setting up a basic configuration:
A total page load time of 2.7 seconds, 0.96MB page size and 69 total requests.
What’s Good About WP-Optimize?
WP-Optimize offers everything you need in a WordPress performance plugin, including the ability to cache your website, optimize your site, and compress your images.
While there are other plugins such as WP Rocket that offer this usually, they require the installation of an additional plugin. With WP-Optimize, you just need the one plugin.
Anything Not so Good About WP-Optimize?
Out of the box, the plugin works great, the only slight drawback is that Multisite support is locked off to the premium version of the pricing.
The free version of WP-Optimize is available on WordPress.org, and the paid version has the following pricing structure:
- £30 year for a 2 site license.
- £45 year for a 5 site license.
- £113 year for an unlimited site license.
Conclusion About WP-Optimize
WP-Optimize is a fantastic performance plugin for WordPress that is far more than just another caching plugin, it can speed up your WordPress website, compress your images, and optimize your database. Definitely worth a look!
We’ve broken our own rules here and included Autoptimize on our list even though it’s not actually a caching plugin ? so just what is it?
Well, Autoptimize is a plugin for optimizing, minifying, and aggregate scripts on your WordPress website. It’s also possible to perform other optimizations, such as disabling the WordPress emoji script.
Why is it on our list then? Well, it’s closely related to caching plugins, and various caching plugins even mention it on their websites for use alongside page caching.
Autoptimize Speed Test
Here is our site speed after enabling Autoptimize and setting up a basic configuration:
A total page load time of 3.9 seconds, a page size of 882KB and 52 requests in total.
What’s Good About Autoptimize?
Autoptimize focuses on one thing (optimizing scripts) and does it well. It’s easy to use and simple enough for both beginners to use and advanced users to find enough power in it to make its install worthwhile.
Anything Not so Good About Autoptimize?
Only that you’ll also need to install a caching plugin alongside Autoptimize to get your WordPress website running at warp speed.
Autoptimize has a rather unique pricing structure where the plugin itself is free. Then you can pay €159 on a per-site basis for the developers to set it up and configure it individually for your website.
Conclusion About Autoptimize
Autoptimize is one of the best plugins for optimizing the assets of your website, and even though you’ll need an additional plugin alongside it, we’d still recommend checking it out.
Breeze is a WordPress caching plugin by the folks over at Cloudways hosting. It works across all hosting providers, you don’t need to be using Cloudways hosting to use Breeze.
Breeze Speed Test
Here are the results of our site speed after installing Breeze and setting up a basic configuration:
A page load time of 2.8 seconds, total page size of 961KB and 38 requests in total.
What’s Good About Breeze?
Breeze is a simple and easy to use caching plugin that makes setting everything up well… a breeze! There’s no real standout or unique functionality, but what it does, it does well.
Anything Not so Good About Breeze?
Support isn’t the best, questions are often misread or overlooked on the WordPress.org support forums, and there’s no paid version of the plugin to get premium support.
Breeze is a 100% free WordPress caching plugin available on WordPress.org, there is no premium version.
Conclusion About Breeze
Breeze is a no-thrills caching plugin that works well out the box and does what most people need if you’re looking for something with a bit more wow factor, then we’d recommend WP Rocket.
A simple, lightweight caching plugin for WordPress. The plugin itself weighs in at less than 10KB. It’s one of the lesser well-known plugins on the list with just over 1,000 active installs at the time of writing.
Speed Up – Browser Caching Speed Test
Here are our site speed test results after enabling Speed Up – Browser Cache, and with no configuration, it’s as simple as activating and done!
A page load time of 3.6 seconds, a total page size of 0.96MB and 69 requests in total.
What’s Good About Speed Up – Browser Caching?
In the days of the ultra-complex all singing all dancing caching plugins, it’s a breath of fresh air, if you just want simple caching features with no bells and whistles, this is the plugin for you.
There’s no configuration, just install and activate.
Anything Not so Good About Speed Up – Browser Caching?
Given the simplicity it may not be for everywhere, you should also note it only works on Apache-based hosting configuration, so it won’t work if you use Nginx.
Speed Up – Browser Caching Pricing
There’s no premium version of this plugin, the free version is available from WordPress.org.
Conclusion About Speed Up – Browser Caching
Overall a great lightweight plugin that works well out the box, it’s lack of features may be a turn off for some, but if you are looking for a simple plugin that doesn’t have a ton of features, this is the plugin for you!
Cachify is a WordPress caching plugin with a difference, rather than being run by a specific company; it’s run by something known as the PluginKolletiv.
The PluginKolletiv is a group of WordPress developers who work to keep various plugins on WordPress.org maintained and available for the community, a pretty fresh spin on the usual way of doing things if you ask us!
Cachify Speed Test
Here are our results are installing Cachify and setting up a basic configuration: =
A total page load time of 3.1 seconds, a page size of 976KB and a total of 69 requests.
What’s Good About Cachify?
Apart from working great as a caching plugin and supporting all server-types and various caching methods, we love the community approach taken to the plugin development.
Anything Not so Good About Cachify?
As it’s by the community for the community, the releases are further apart than a “for-profit” solution would be. However, the plugin is always stable, and the developers reply quickly to support requests.
Cachify is available for free from WordPress.org, and there’s no premium version available.
Conclusion About Cachify
Cachify is a great community-spirited plugin that works well out the box, is well supported by the community, and is free! If it isn’t already, it should definitely be on your radar.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the list of the best caching plugins for WordPress in 2021 ! If you aren’t sure which one you should use, our favorites are WP Rocket, WP-Optimize, Cachify, and WP Fastest Cache.
What’s your favorite caching plugin for WordPress? Have you used any of the plugins on our list? Let us know in the comments below.