W3 Total Cache

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W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress plugin that will allow us various functionalities related to optimization of the load time of the website. The main features include:

  • Cache pages
  • Function minification (CSS, JS, feed and html).
  • Cache database
  • Object Cache
  • Browser Cache
  • Integration of CDN (Content delivery network)
  • Monitoring functions

 

Most of these functions are related to cache functions, which, based on Wikipedia, consist of the following:

“When you first access to data, a copy is cached; users later on access through that copy of a website, reducing the average time necessary to access the data. When the processor needs to read or write to a location in main memory, it first checks whether a copy of the data is in the cache. If so, the processor immediately reads or writes to the cache, which is much faster than reading from or writing to main memory.”

https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/

 

Guidelines

– W3 Total Cache is a complex plugin and it requires some technical knowledge, so if you have any doubts, we recommend consulting with a specialist consultant or webmaster.

– Some settings of this plugin rely on scripts at the server level, so some features might not be implemented properly if you do not have them installed.

– We must take into account the specific casuistry of WordPress installation that we have installed, as some modules may be incompatible with the plugins and themes that you have installed on your website. In our case, we do not install for example the “Minify” and “Object caching” since the modules are incompatible with the template we use.

– If we use a CDN, as we suggest, some features of this plugin may be redundant. In this case we choose if we have a duplicate functionality at the level of plugin or server.

 

Instructions

– The first step, as always is to install and activate the plugin. Go to the plugin menu, new plugin, look for w3 Total cache, install and activate.

– A new menu called “Performance” will appear. We go to “General settings” and there you can activate the modules you want.

w3-total-cacheThis is the configuration we use:



Toggle all types caching on or off: No (We only use some of the modules.)

Page cache: Yes

Page cache method: Disk enhanced

Minify: No (It creates incompatibilities with our template, this might not be your case. Besides, we perform this function on CDN level.)

Database cache: Yes

Database cache method: Disk

Object cache (It creates incompatibilities with our template, this might not be your case.)

Browser cache: Yes

CDN: No (This option is only for Maxcdn. we suggest Cloudflare, which is configured differently as we will see later.)

Reverse proxy: No

Monitoring: No

Miscellaneous: No

Debug mode: No


As in our case we use CloudFflare, we should install the appropriate extension. To do this go to the “Extensions” option in the “Performance” menu and activate.

cloudflareAfter installing this extension, some new options appear in the main menu, on Cloudflare. These are the ones that we use:


Cloudflare: Yes

Email: Our email

APi key: The API that provides Cloudflare

Domain: The name of our domain

Security level: Medium

Rocket loader: Automatic

Minification: CSS, Javascript and HTML

Development mode: No


– The next step is to configure the details of the modules you have enabled. We will use the options in the side menu.

w3-total-cache-optionsLet’s look at the configuration we use:


Page Cache

Cache front page: Yes

Cache feeds: Yes

Cache SSL: No

Cache URLs: No

404 Cache: Yes

Cache requests only for www: No

Do not cache pages for logged in users: Yes

Do not cache pages for using following roles: Yes to all



Database Cache

Do not cache queries for logged in users: Yes

Maximum lifetime of cache objects: 180

Garbage collection interval: 3600

We leave the other fields with the “default” option



Browser cache

General

September last-modified header: Yes

September expires header: Yes

Control set cache header: Yes

September entity tag: Yes

September w3 Total cache header: Yes

Enable HTTP (gzip): YES

Prevent caching of objects after settings change: No

Do not set cookies for static files: No

Do not process 404 errors: No



CSS & JS

September last-modified header: Yes

September expires header: Yes

Expires header lifetime: 31536000

Set cache header: Yes

Cache Control policy: Cache with max age (“public, maz-age = Expires_seconds”)

September entity tag: Yes

September w3 Total cache header: Yes

Enable HTTP (gzip) compression: Yes

Prevent caching of objects after settings change: No

Disable cookies for static files: No



HTML & XML

September last-modified header: Yes

September expires header: Yes

Expires header lifetime: 3600

Control set cache header: Yes

Cache Control policy: Cache with max age (“public, maz-age = Expires_seconds”)

September entity tag: Yes

September w3 Total cache header: Yes

Enable HTTP (gzip) compression: Yes



MEDIA & OTHER FILES

September last-modified header: Yes

September expires header: Yes

Expires header lifetime: 31536000

Set cache header: Yes

Cache Control policy: Cache with max age (“public, maz-age = Expires_seconds”)

September entity tag: Yes

September w3 Total cache header: Yes

Enable HTTP (gzip) compression: Yes

Prevent caching of objects after settings change: No

Disable cookies for static files: No


After you have gone through the above settings, the plugin is installed. The last feature that remains to be explained is the “dashboard” option.

w3-total-cache-dashboardHere we have two important options:

– Perform a compatibility check with this plugin settings and our web server.

– Empty cache, when for example, we do not want to store the older versions of the files and we want to display our new releases.

 

Additional Resources

To resolve possible doubts you can use the following links:

http://wordpress.org/support/plugin/w3-Total-cache


http://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-full-cache/faq/
If you prefer to see the setup instructions in a video, you may find this video interesting:

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