If you want to improve the loading speed of your WordPress website, opting for a caching plugin can bring you the results you are looking for. Caching is one of the proven methods that can help you improve the performance of your website and enhance page speed. That’s why it is essential to take a close look at caching plugins and understand how they can help you to speed up your website and get ahead of your competition, especially when it comes to Google ranking. 

With today’s article, our goal is to give you an ultimate guide that will help you understand what caching is, how caching plugins work, and why you need them. We will also discuss the benefits of caching plugins and the aspects you should consider when choosing one for your website. With all that said, let’s dig deeper!

What is caching?

Before we give you the definition of caching plugins, first let’s discuss what caching really is. Simply said, caching involves the storage of all types of data you have on your website for later use. If we still want to simplify, caching stands for storing. This includes web pages, images, text, etc. Caching happens when a user first visits a page and the data of that page is cached or stored. This is essential for the next time when the user requests the same content or data. What happens is that the cache will immediately serve a copy of the requested page. This way, downloading the data from the original server won’t be necessary so the user can access the requested content much faster.    

What is a caching plugin?

By using a caching plugin, you ensure that the visitors returning to your website can have swift access to content. A caching plugin eliminates the numerous steps that lead to dynamically generating pages (downloading data). These plugins are developed to store the data, retrieve them fast upon request and prevent the overloading of the origin server. As a direct result (and that is why using a caching plugin is a must), your website pages will load faster. Basically, a caching plugin will minimize unnecessary requests to the database and save the data as HTML files. Also, keep in mind that each cached file is stored in a designated folder that you can access typically by following the “/cache/nameoftheplugin/yourdomain.com/’ path. 

What else a caching plugin will do?

A common question regarding caching plugins touches on the topic of site and page updates. What happens when you update a page? What are your visitors going to see? Will the old or the new version be displayed? With caching plugins, things happen more smoothly than you would think. Let’s take an example. You decide to make one tiny change by replacing an image on your home page. Once you do that, the caching plugin will immediately erase the cached version of a certain page and replace it with a new one. This means that when your returning visitors will request the homepage of your newly updated home page, the updated page will display, yet the rest of the pages will remain the same in the cache. 

What are the key benefits of a caching plugin, and why should you use it for WordPress?

You might already know that the most important advantages caching plugins offer include boosting the performance of your website and improving the loading speed of your pages, enhancing your conversion rates, and last, but not least, creating a much better user experience for your website visitors. 

The top 3 benefits of a caching plugin

Below, we are going to dive deeper into each benefit, so you can fully understand why it is so essential to use a caching plugin for your WordPress website.

  1. Boosting the performance and loading speed of your pages

As we have already mentioned, the moment a user clicks on your website, a cached version of the visited page is created. Every time, a lot is going on in the background, as numerous processes start automatically that prepare the content to be displayed for the user. These include reading the CSS file, executing JavaScript, accessing the database, and so on. Completing all these background tasks is necessary, but also, takes time, thus it requires a certain waiting period from users. To shorten the waiting period, Google PageSpeed Insights recommends a great solution: caching plugins. As you already learned, cache plugins minimize the loading time, which also means boosting your SEO (your ranking on Google becomes better) and improving the user experience. 

  1. Enhancing the conversion rates

Once your page loads faster, you have higher chances to boost your conversation rates, too. Page speed and conversion go hand in hand, as the loading speed of your pages has a significant influence on the conversion rate. And it is based on pure logic. If your pages load quickly and visitors have a top-notch user experience, they are more likely to like your business and make a purchase. On the contrary, in case the loading speed of your website is slow, people will leave your website in a split second and take their business elsewhere, thus, your competitors. 

  1. Improving the user experience and your position on Google’s results page

We have already slightly touched this subject, but now let’s take a closer look. We guess it is not surprising to hear that most users use their mobile devices to browse the internet and access your pages. If you monitor the performance of your website for example by using Google Analytics, this is most likely true for you as well. Recent studies show that mobile users anticipate pages to load within 4 seconds. Once you can fulfill these expectations, the Core Web Vitals of your website will also improve and your Google ranking position will also look better. 

What to consider when choosing a caching plugin for your WordPress website?

Unquestionably, there are lots of caching plugins you can choose to boost the performance and improve the loading speed of your WordPress website. At first glance, after seeing so many options, it might seem a difficult task to find the right one. Without any doubt, you might want to take some time and do some research to get familiar with your choice. Understanding which caching plugin will suit your website the best starts with understanding what your website needs. Do you need to boost the performance? Is your website slow and you want to speed up the loading time of the pages? Do you want to optimize the images on your pages? Yes, there’s a lot to think about.

To help you with this question, we created a list of the most important aspects you should also consider when opting for a caching plugin. Let’s take a look at them:

  1. Check speed: Before you install the caching plugin, do not forget to check the loading time of your pages. Then activate the plugin, measure again, and see if the difference is satisfying.
  2. Check CDN support: The caching plugin you choose for your website must support the CDN you are using. Otherwise, it will create compatibility issues.
  3. Compatibility: Speaking of compatibility, now, this is key. Make sure that the caching plugin is compatible with your web host, your WordPress theme, and the other plugins you use. 
  4. User-friendly: Pick a plugin that is easy to use. This includes a simple interface that you can easily understand and manage.
  5. Exclude pages from being cached feature: Even after you install a caching plugin, you want to stay in control. Make sure to choose a plugin that allows you to select which pages you want cached and which pages you don’t. 
  6. Minification feature: Caching should also allow you to compress certain files such as static files like images. This helps you save up some precious space on your server, so make sure the plugin you choose has this feature.
  7. Pick an up-to-date plugin: You should never choose a caching plugin that has not been updated for years. Believe it or not, you can easily come across some. Pick one that has frequent updates and it is clear that there is a team consistently improving it.
  8. Support system: Needless to say, you should always prioritize caching plugins that come with a professional support system. Chances are, at some point, you will need technical support, so before installing anything, make sure that there is reliable and professional technical support offered. 
  9. Price: Last, but not least, you might want to consider the price tag as well. There are free and premium caching plugins for WordPress. Depending on your (or your client’s) needs and budget, you can decide whether or not it is worth investing in a premium caching plugin that offers advanced performance features.

The best free and premium caching plugins

Below, we are going to take a close look at 6 different caching plugins. To give you the whole picture, we will discuss both their free and premium features, list their advantages, and last, but not least see how much the premium version costs. Ready? Let’s get into it! 

Swift Performance AI

Swift Performance AI is a groundbreaking cache plugin that sets itself apart from the competition. Developed by a highly reputable team, it stands as the first and only AI-powered cache plugin available in the market. 

One of its key advantages lies in its seamless installation process and user-friendly interface, making it accessible to users of all levels. With its AI capabilities, Swift Performance AI is capable of configuring itself to optimize website performance and deliver the best achievable results. By leveraging its intelligent algorithms, it efficiently enhances website loading times, allowing for a smoother user experience. 

However, it’s worth noting that while Swift Performance AI excels in self-configuration and achieving optimal results, it may have limitations in addressing certain specific PageSpeed recommendations. Nonetheless, its innovative AI technology positions it as a frontrunner in the realm of cache plugins, offering an unparalleled solution for website optimization.

Key features

  • Critical CSS
  • REAL Javascript Optimization (offload main thread)
  • REAL Font Optimization (Critical Fonts)
  • Advanced Page Caching (intelligent expiry and cache validation)
  • Intelligent preload
  • Built-in, unlimited, advanced image optimization
  • Advanced Lazyload
  • Automated CLS optimization

How much does it cost?

Swift Performance AI starts at $49.99/year, bigger yearly plans ($99.99 for 5 sites, $249.99 for 100 sites) are also available, but also available an unlimited lifetime plan for $999.99 

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a popular caching plugin known for its efficient optimization techniques. Its aggressive marketing campaigns have contributed to its widespread recognition. The plugin offers basic features like easy installation, one-click caching setup, GZIP compression, browser caching, and file minification for improved website performance. 

It also provides advanced options such as lazy loading, database optimization, and CDN integration for fine-tuning. However, some critics argue that WP Rocket’s reliance on traditional page caching may limit its effectiveness with dynamic content. Despite this, WP Rocket remains a compelling choice for many website owners seeking enhanced performance.

Key features

  • Critical CSS
  • Basic Javascript Optimization (only delays JS)
  • Basic Iframe Optimization
  • Basic Lazyload

How much does it cost?

WP Rocket is competitively priced in the market, offering plans that fall within the middle range. Their pricing structure revolves around yearly plans, with options available for different usage needs. The single site plan is priced at $59 per year, the 3-site plan at $119 per year, and the unlimited sites plan at $299 per year.

WP Rocket vs. Swift Performance AI


Hummingbird was developed by a very well-known team of developers, WPMUDEV. The most important advantage of Hummingbird is that it is easy to install and use, it efficiently speeds up your website loading page and comes with excellent performance controls. However, it is less effective when it comes to addressing some essential PageSpeed recommendations. 

Key features – Hummingbird both free and premium version

  • Scan and repair functionality: With just a single click, the plugin scans your website to identify any performance issues and attempts to automatically resolve them.
  • Comprehensive caching suite: This includes caching capabilities for full-page content, browser caching, and Gravatar caching.
  • Database cleanupGzip compression
  • Combine and minify files 
  • Critical CSS 
  • CDN with 45 worldwide locations and Cloudflare integration
  • Uptime monitor
  • Lazy load script on images
  • Performance reports (integrated with PageSpeed Insights)
  • Defer/inline assets
  • Google fonts optimization

How much does it cost?

The price of the  Pro version of Hummingbird starts at $7.5/month. This gives you access to all pro plugins of WPMUDEV, plus ticket support. 

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache ensures improved server performance. Caching every aspect of your website pages enhances your website’s loading speed, thus offering a much better user experience for your visitors. Knowing all this, it is unsurprising that W3 Total Cache is considered one of the most popular free cache plugins among WordPress users.

Key features – W3 Total Cache free version (no support included)

  • Mobile support: All pages are cached separately by the referrer or groups of user agents; support for accelerated mobile pages (AMP)
  • Caching of pages, posts, CSS, and JS (minified and compressed)
  • Caching of feeds such as site, categories, tags, comments, and search results in memory, on disk, or CDN
  • Search results pages including URIs with query string variables cached in memory or on disk
  • Various caching methods available: APC, APCu, eAccelerator, local Disk, Memcached, Redis, XCache, and WinCache
  • CSS, JavaScript, and HTML can be minified with fine-grained control
  • Non-critical CSS and JavaScript can be deferred
  • Uses Lazy Load to defer offscreen images
  • Implemented browser caching; uses cache control, future expire headers, and entity tags (ETag) with “cache-busting” functionality
  • Multiple CDN integrations are leveraged to optimize images
  • Provides caching statistics for performance insights
  • The Image Service API extension providesWebP image format conversion during upload and on demand

Key features – W3 Total Cache premium version (support included)

  • Full Site Delivery via CDN
  • Google Maps Lazy Loading
  • Fragment Caching
  • Caching for WordPress REST API
  • Eliminate Render Blocking CSS

How much does it cost?

The premium version of W3 Total Cache costs $99/year for one website.

WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache is owned by Automattic, which company is the creator of WordPress.com and WooCommerce. Thanks to this and its great features (for example it allows users to manage caching directly from the WordPress Dashboard), WP Super Cache is also among the most popular cache plugins used for WordPress. It has over 2 million installs. Also, a huge advantage is that WP Super Cache is totally free, it has no premium version. A disadvantage might be that being a free cache plugin, it does not have a dedicated support team.

Key features – WP Super Cache (no support)

  • Dynamic caching
  • Expiry time control and garbage collection which automatically removes outdated cached data
  • It allows you to exclude specific pages from being cached
  • Provides static HTML files for most users that are not logged in, have not left a comment, or have not viewed a password-protected post
  • Offers 3 different methods for serving cached files, ranked by speed, such as:
  • Expert: uses Apache mod_rewrite or similar web server modules to serve highly optimized static HTML files
  • Simple: PHP is used to serve cached static files efficiently
  • WP-Cache: Primarily used to cache pages for known users, URLs with parameters, and feeds

How much does it cost?

WP Super Cache is 100% free.

WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache is another good example of a WordPress caching plugin. This plugin is easy to install, but if you are not an advanced user, chances are you will find it difficult to figure out the less user-friendly interface. 

Key features – WP Fastest Cache free version

  • Browser caching
  • ​​GZIP compression
  • Option to exclude pages from being cached
  • Shortcode to block cache for specific pages or posts
  • Clean-up feature that automatically deletes all cached files when a page or post is published
  • Cache Timeout: all cached files are deleted at a previously determined time 
  • Preload cache
  • CDN + Cloudflare support
  • Minify HTML and CSS
  • Combine CSS/JS
  • Enable and disable the cache option for logged-in users and mobile devices
  • Admin has control to delete all cached files 

Key features – WP Fastest Cache premium version

  • Cache statistics
  • Widget cache
  • Mobile cache
  • Image optimization
  • Database Cleanup
  • Delete cache logs
  • Lazy load script
  • Convert WebP conversion
  • Google fonts async

How much does it cost?

The price of WP Fastest Cache varies based on the number of licenses you need. The starting price is $49.99 for 1 license and goes up to $300.00 for which you get 10 licenses. Keep in mind, either version of WP Fastest Cache includes customer support.

WP Fastest Cache vs. Swift Performance AI


The LiteSpeed all-in-one cache plugin comes with a group of optimization features. It is important to understand that LiteSpeed was developed with the intention to serve as a server-level caching plugin, so all its benefits are limited and available to LiteSpeed server users.

Key features – LiteSpeed free version

  • Built-in page cache (LSCache)
  • Free QUIC.cloud CDN Cache
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Minify inline & external CSS/JS
  • Combine CSS/JS
  • Automatically generate Critical CSS
  • Lossless/Lossy Image Optimization
  • Lazy-load images/iframes
  • Load CSS Asynchronously
  • Defer/delay JS loading
  • Database Cleaner and Optimizer
  • DNS Prefetch
  • Cloudflare API integration
  • Single Site and Multisite (Network) support
  • Lean interface
  • WebP image format support

How much does it cost?

LiteSpeed is a free cache plugin. However, in order to use it a LiteSpeed server is required, so there is an associated fee. 

LiteSpeed vs Swift Performance AI


NitroPack offers performance features such as caching, pre-configured CDN, and image optimization. However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain features may require technical expertise to ensure their proper implementation on your website.

Key features – Nitropack free version

  • Built-in global CDN
  • Device and cookie-aware caching
  • Browser and session-aware caching
  • Smart cache
  • GZIP and Brotli compression
  • Automatic cache warmup
  • Advanced image optimization, including WebP support, lossy, and lossless image compression, and preemptive image sizing
  • Lazy loading 
  • HTML, CSS, and JS minification & compression
  • Deferred JS  Loading
  • Critical CSS, DNS prefetching, and preloading
  • Deferred loading of fonts 

How much does it cost?

The free version of NitroPack allows you to create an account for one website with a limit of 5,000 page views and 1.00GB CDN bandwidth per month. The cost of the premium version starts at $17,50 per month for one website, which is available for 50,000 pageviews, and 25GB CDN bandwidth. Also, the premium version offers customer support.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, as you could see above, caching plugins for WordPress plays a crucial role in optimizing website performance and speeding up the loading time of your pages. These plugins offer a wide variety of excellent features such as page caching, browser caching, and image optimization, all aimed at improving site speed and providing an enhanced user experience. By choosing the right caching plugin, WordPress users can significantly improve their website’s performance and achieve faster load times. The options above are all considered the most popular and professional cache plugging for WordPress, so feel free to install any of them if they match your needs!