In this article, we’re going to look at three very popular caching plugins; Swift Performance, WP-Rocket, and WP Super Cache. One is new on the scene, another has seen massive growth the past couple of years and the final plugin is a long-time favorite for WordPress users.
When choosing a caching plugin I like to ask myself a number of important questions, so that’s how I’ve structured this article. Click on any question below to jump straight to that section:
- Do you need a caching plugin?
- Will it get results?
- Is it easy to use?
- Does it have good support?
- Can I find guides and “how-to” material?
- Does it have other optimization settings?
- How much does it cost?
If you want a high performing caching plugin with a full range of additional optimization features, excellent support, and detailed documentation then WP-Rocket is the best choice. It’s one of our favorite plugins here at Load Labz.
Do you need a caching plugin?
While caching plugins are a great way to speed up your website, you may not need to use one. If you use a managed WordPress hosting provider like SiteGround, Kinsta or Cloudways you will get built-in server-side caching. Check out our comprehensive article on choosing the right hosting provider for your business.
We use Cloudways and SiteGround for all our sites and also recommend our clients do the same.
WP-Rocket and Swift Performance come with all the optimization features you will ever need. This means you won’t need any additional optimization plugins, although I do suggest using a separate image optimization plugin.
Will it get results?
We have used many different caching plugins over the years. WP-Rocket, Swift Performance, and WP Super Cache are the best performing plugins available. Of the three, WP-Rocket gets slightly better results.
We’re not the only optimizers who have achieved excellent results with it, check out some of these polls:
Is it easy to use?
Most caching plugins are complicated to set up. Most people end up watch videos and reading how-to guides and end up copying the author’s settings. This is not ideal.
This was noticed by the developers of Swift Performance and WP-Rocket. Both apply basic automatic settings once activated. This makes things A LOT easier if you just want the plugin to work out of the box.
Swift Performance has a setup wizard that scans your website before applying the best settings. WP-Rocket applies basic settings without any input. WP Super Cache is a bit more complicated to set up and doesn’t come with the same automation.
Does it have good support?
If you want to get the most out of your caching plugin or require some help troubleshooting, having good support is really useful. Of the three plugins, WP-Rocket has really good support. Support staff are highly trained and usually respond fast.
Swift Performance also offers support, but it took these guys a little bit of time to develop top tier support. I have tested the support system with a common issue, CSS optimization throwing styling off, and they responded the following day asking for access to my website to resolve the issue. From online reviews, people seem satisfied with the level of support with a few exceptions.
I do use the plugin but have never needed to contact support. I have heard they are slow to respond and not the easiest to deal with. However, the official Facebook group is always active with people offering help.
WP Super Cache offers no support so keep that in mind before you install it. But it’s a free plugin with over two million downloads so it would be very difficult for the developer to answer every query. If you do ask a question on the plugin’s WordPress.org page another community member might be able to help you.
Can I find guides and “how-to” material?
WordPress users tend to enjoy learning new skills and fixing stuff themselves. Page speed optimization is no exception. It’s always great when WordPress users create content to show others how they use a plugin. It’s even better when the plugin developer puts videos and articles out there too.
Swift Performance has some pretty good guides out there made by other users. The developers themselves have some documentation out there but it’s VERY light. There are only a couple of articles written by the developers out there. Hopefully, this will change in the future. If it does I’ll let you know via our Twitter or Facebook page.
WP Super Cache users have created an ocean of content and tutorials covering everything about the caching plugin. The content generally highlights the particular settings they like to use. Few go into any real detail and explain what each setting actually does.
WP-Rocket has the best of both worlds; guides created by the community and guides created by WP-Rocket. The documentation section of the website is incredibly thorough and the WP-Rocket YouTube channel has a nice range of videos. Their blog is also very active.
Does it have other optimization settings?
While caching will definitely speed up your WordPress site, you will probably want to apply other settings too. Gzip, lazyloading, minification and countless other settings will help get your website running lightning fast.
Not all plugins offer these extra settings. For example, WP Super Cache is good at caching but light on additional optimization settings. Both WP-Rocket and Swift Performance offer a full range of settings. I’m a big fan of WP-Rocket but prefer the range of settings on Swift Performance. There are one or two good ones in there for power users.
Power users who want access to some more advanced features will need to download and install custom made plugins. I know WP-Rocket do this to prevent the settings menu from becoming cluttered but I would prefer an advanced tab or something more integrated.
How much does it cost?
This is the all-important question for many of you out there. How much will I have to spend to get excellent caching set up on my site? Let’s take a look:
WP-Rocket is the overall winner of this contest but access to this service will cost money. Compared to other premium plugins it’s actually very reasonable and well worth it for the results, support, and documentation.
Swift Performance is a little less expensive than WP-Rocket. Swift Performance can achieve the same results as WP-Rocket but you will not have the same support or documentation to rely on. If you are an advanced user then Swift Performance makes sense, if you are still learning then WP-Rocket might be the best choice.
Bonus: Swift Performance also offers a free Lite version. They do not advertise it on their website but it’s a great way to figure out if this plugin is for you.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache is free and that’s probably why it has over 2 million active installations. The interface is not pretty and you might have to follow a guide when setting it up but it gets the job done, albeit without absolutely no frills whatsoever.
The only downside is the lack of additional optimization options. WP Super Super Cache is a straight-up caching plugin without all the other settings you will need to get your website loading lightning fast. We recommend using it in combination with Autoptimize and Imagify.
If you have zero budget and don’t mind spending a little time reading and learning then there’s nothing wrong with using this plugin. It will give you results.
We picked three of the best caching plugins for this article. Each offering a slightly better service with free and paid plans to choose from. There is something for everyone but for us, WP-Rocket is the clear winner.
Just remember, if you’re using a managed hosting plan like SiteGround, Kinsta or Cloudways then you won’t need a caching plugin because you will already have server-side caching in place as part of your plan. And don’t worry about caching conflicts, WP-Rocket and Swift Performance will not cause any conflicts with server-side caching.
However, plugins like WP-Rocket and Swift Performance come with the extra optimization features you will need. So for that reason, it still makes sense to use them. You will get all the extra features, support, and documentation.