If you’re using the WP Fastest Cache Plugin to make your WordPress site load faster, you made a solid choice.
It was the #1 rated free cache plugin in this Facebook Poll and I was able to get .5s load times in my Pingdom report with 97% Page Speed and 98% YSlow scores. Out of all WordPress cache plugins, the WP Fastest Cache settings are also the EASIEST to setup (by far). And if you’re willing to drop a few bucks, the MaxCDN integration and aggressive settings that come with WP Fastest Cache premium make your website that much faster. The WP Fastest Cache + premium version + MaxCDN (and #1 rated SiteGround hosting) is a powerful combination.
Go ahead, click through my pages and test it out.
I will show you how to configure the ideal WP Fastest Cache settings, MaxCDN (including settings in the MaxCDN dashboard), and also show you what upgrading to WP Fastest Cache Premium did for my site. If you want to Cloudflare instead, I have instructions for those too.
WP Fastest Cache does NOT work with iThemes Security, multisite, and you can only use Cloudflare or MaxCDN with WP Fastest Cache, not both. Finally, make sure your permalink settings aren’t set to the default (I use post name) which is found under Settings → Permalinks.
Table Of Contents
- Cache Plugin Comparison
- WP Fastest Cache Settings
- Delete Cache And Retest Pingdom
- WordPress Speed Optimizations
- Still Slow? It’s Probably Your Hosting
- Get Help From My WordPress Developer
1. Cache Plugin Comparison
In a recent Facebook Poll, WP Fastest Cache was rated the #1 FREE caching plugin, trailing behind the premium WP Rocket which is $39 – $199 (anually if you want updates). This was followed by W3 Total Cache which I wrote an extensive tutorial on (in short it’s pretty difficult to setup but if you take the time to go through settings or simply upload my pre-configured zip file from that tutorial, W3TC can also work very well on some sites). And the rest is history…
Cache Plugin Test – here’s a test I did of 3 most popular (free) cache plugins. I ran the exact same page through Pingdom which had minimal content so the results would be accurate. And yes, I configured each plugin with the best settings which both had Cloudflare + MaxCDN.
WP Rocket (.406)
WP Fastest Cache (.527)
W3 Total Cache (.619)
After configuring WP Fastest Cache on my site (the one you’re on), here’s my report…
From my experience, some cache plugins work better on some websites than others…if you have the time I suggest testing a couple to see which one gives you the best Pingdom report. If you want to see my WP Rocket tutorial, there it is. It has instructions for Cloudflare/MaxCDN.
2. WP Fastest Cache Settings
MaxCDN vs. Cloudflare – both work very well for improving load times, but MaxCDN gives you access to their support team who actually logged into my account and reduced my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%. Cloudflare is free while MaxCDN is $90/year with my 25% off coupon. Cloudflare’s free plan does not include this kind of support. With that said, I would say MaxCDN is better and you can try out the 30 day free trial, but Cloudflare is of course free. Remember you should ONLY use MaxCDN or Cloudflare with WP Fastest Cache, not both.
If you plan on using MaxCDN, see my MaxCDN section which has it’s own WP Fastest Cache settings (you would disable the logged-in users, mobile, and browser caching options) which is shown in MaxCDN’s tutorial. The instructions in my MaxCDN section also show you how to tweak the settings in the actual MaxCDN dashboard – so definitely make sure you go there.
If you plan on using Cloudflare, use the settings below but disable Auto Minify and Rocket Loader in the “speed” tab of your Cloudflare settings (SG Railgun should be enabled). This is what the WP Fastest Cache plugin developer recommends in his Cloudflare tutorial. My Cloudflare section shows you how to sign up for Cloudflare, change nameservers in your hosting cPanel, set page rules for optimal performance, and purge the cache once you’re done.
If you plan on using neither, use the settings below. The only thing you would change is in the Preload tab (pages per minute). If you’re on shared hosting use 4-6, VPS should use 10-12.
- Cache System – enable
- Preload – create cache of entire site automatically (shared hosting should use 4-6, VPS is 10-12. Creates caching delay for first user who views the page. Learn more)
- Logged-in Users – don’t show the cached version for logged-in users (if it’s just you running your website, leave this checked. But if multiple users can be logged in, each user should have their own cached version, so it would be unchecked)
- Mobile – don’t show the cached version for desktop to mobile devices
- Mobile Theme – caches mobile theme (premium feature)
- New Post – clear cache files when a post or page is published
- Update Post – clear cache files when a post or page is updated (Learn more)
- Minify HTML – decrease size of page (high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
- Minify HTML Plus – more powerful minify html (premium feature)
- Minify Css – decrease size of css files (high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
- Minify Css Plus – more powerful minify css (premium feature)
- Minify Js – decrease size of js files (premium feature)
- Combine Js – reduce HTTP requests by combining js files
- Combine Js Plus – minify combined js files (premium feature)
- Gzip – reduce size of files sent from your server (reduces transfer time between server and browser, and is a high priority Pingdom item. Learn more)
- Browser Caching – reduce load time for repeat visitors (Learn more)
Nearly every item in WP Fastest Cache can found in Pingdom and other speed testing tools…
Delete Cache – clear the cache when you’re done configuring all WP Fastest Cache settings.
Cache Timeout – if it’s not in the default, add a new rule to cache your homepage once a day.
Image Optimization – premium feature which losslessly compresses images (an item in GTmetrix). This can also be done using the Imagify or Kraken plugin. I would not use any other plugins since these might break your site or have bugs – I have done tons of research on this.
Losslessly compressing images fixes the “optimize images” item in GTmetrix…
Premium – see the difference below which shows 2 GTmetrix reports (it’s worth it). If you decide to upgrade for $39.99, they will send you a download link via email which you will manually upload in your plugins menu. Keep both the free and premium version activated.
Exclude – exclude pages from being cached. Leave this as-is.
CDN – a CDN (content delivery network) makes your site faster by hosting it on multiple servers around the country and world, as oppose to 1 origin server (it reduces the geographical distance it takes your content to reach your visitors). I show you how to set this up in the MaxCDN section but I would definitely recommend at least testing MaxCDN’s free trial as this improved my YSlow score by 8% with the help of their awesome support team.
3. Delete Cache And Retest Pingdom
In the WP Fastest Cache settings, go to the “Delete Cache” tab and “Delete Cache And Minifed CSS/JS.” Now rerun your site through Pingdom to view your updated scores and load time…
Ideally the following Page Speed items are green:
- Minify CSS
- Minify HTML
- Leverage Browser Caching
- Specify a Cache Validator
- Enable gzip Compression
Ideally the following YSlow items are also green:
- Reduce cookie size
- Add Expires headers
- Reduce DNS lookups
- Use cookie-free domains
- Make fewer HTTP requests
- Configure entity tags (ETags)
- Compress components with gzip
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
4. Configure MaxCDN ($90/Year Or Do A Free Trial)
What Is MaxCDN – it mirrors your site on over 15 servers around the world which reduces the geographical distance it takes for your content to travel to your visitor. This can reduce your load time especially for visitors who (used to) be far away from your 1 origin server…
I’ll show you how to configure WP Fastest Cache to work with MaxCDN, then we’ll log into the MaxCDN dashboard and configure those settings too. Afterwards I would contact their support to make sure everything is configured optimially… they were able to improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%. That’s one of the main reasons you’re paying for MaxCDN, their support is super helpful in making sure their product works – which it does. I would do the free 30 day trial. MaxCDN also has their own tutorial but I have instructions that are easy to follow.
1. Configure WP Fastest Cache with these settings:
2. Sign up for MaxCDN using the button in WP Fastest Cache, do a free trial, or use my 25% off coupon. Using the button in WP Fastest Cache earns the plugin developer a commission, which is a small ‘thank you’ for creating this awesome plugin. So use his affiliate link, not mine.
Fill out the order form…
3. Once signed up, go to your MaxCDN dashboard and go to Zones → Create Pull Zone:
4. Fill in your pull zone details. Name and label can be anything, origin server URL should be your homepage. Then click “create.”
5. Still in MaxCDN, go to Settings then enable “Strip All Cookies” (ignore cookies in requests) in the Edge Settings. Here’s a full screenshot if you want to look through all my settings…
6. Now go to SEO → enable “Canonical Header.”
7. Go to the Summary settings. Copy your CDN and Original URL, then paste those in the WP Fastest Cache CDN tab:
Here’s where to paste them:
8. Click next, leave all file types selected, then keep clicking next until it’s ready…
9. Go back to MaxCDN and go to Manage Cache then click “Purge All Files.”
10. Run your site through GTmetrix and look at the YSlow tab to make sure it’s working…
Ok, NOW you’re done.
5. Cloudflare: Improves Speed And Security (Free)
WP Fastest Cache doesn’t have any settings for Cloudflare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to make your website load faster (and make it more secure). Here’s how to do it…
1. Sign up for Cloudflare and will be prompted to add your website then begin a scan…
2. Once the scan is complete click ‘continue setup’ then scroll down and can click continue. Choose the free website option then continue again. Cloudflare will give you 2 nameservers…
3. Do a Google search for “how to change nameservers on SiteGround” (only search for your host), then follow their instructions. You will be copying the 2 nameservers provided by Cloudflare and pasting them into a custom nameservers option in your hosting cPanel…
4. Go back to Cloudflare and click I’ve added all missing records, continue…
6. Now go to your Cloudflare page rules. There are 3 page rules you should create:
7. Finally, go to your Cloudflare caching settings and purge individual files…
6. WordPress Speed Optimizations: More Goodies
I cover these in my WordPress speed optimization guide which has step-by-step instructions for each one, but I’ll go over these briefly. Some items you can find in your Pingdom report.
Serve Scaled Images – means you need to resize large images. Run any page through GTmetrix and it will tell you which images need to be resized and their correct dimensions. Start with your logo, widget, and footer images since fixing these will reduce load times for multiple pages. Since GTmetrix only shows images for the single page you test, so you’ll need to test multiple pages. It’s a good idea to create a cheat sheet so you know what dimensions your slider, widget, and other “universal” images need to be resized to (before uploading them).
Specify Image Dimensions – means you need to add a width/height in an image’s HTML or CSS. GTmetrix will tell you which images need this and their correct dimensions (just expand this GTmetrix item). Most images will be outside the visual editor, like in your widgets…
AMP Pages – accelerated mobile pages are a project by Google that adds an “AMP” stamp to your mobile snippets and makes your mobile site load faster. Instructions are below…
- Install the AMP Plugin by Automattic
- Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP Plugin if using Yoast
- Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
- Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
- Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results
- Visit the “Accelerated Mobile Pages” section in Google Search Console to see errors
Light Youtube Embeds – embeds a thumbnail image instead of the video, then only plays the video when the image is clicked. I used this tutorial for my site or you can use the WP YouTube Lyte plugin. Videos are one of the heaviest elements on a page… and I did this with 2 videos on a long post and the load time dropped from 4.5 to 1.5s. Well are you gonna click it or what?
Minimize Redirects – you probably changed the www or http version of your website, but now all your links/images are showing the wrong version, so you need to switch them.
Heartbeat Control – if you leave your dashboard up for long periods of time, this consumes server resources and makes your website slow. Enabling the Heartbeat Control plugin helps prevent this and is especially helpful if you have multiple people logged into your website at once. Install it then go to Settings → Heartbeat Control and change ‘Override heartbeat frequency’ to 60 seconds. This also cuts down on server resources which prevents you from going over hosting CPU limits and your site shutting down (so you can stay on a cheaper plan).
Slow WordPress Hosting – if you run your site through Google Page Speed Insights and see this, it means your hosting is slow and is another indication you should probably switch…
7. WP Fastest Cache FAQs
Here’s the FAQ page if you still have questions…
8. Still Slow? It’s Probably Your Hosting
Check this Facebook Poll to see if you’re currently with a slow host (HostGator, Bluehost, etc). SiteGround’s WordPress hosting was rated #1 and is who I use. They’re the only host listed on all 3 WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal official hosting pages and they will migrate you for free. Fast hosting is the #1 thing WordPress recommendations in their optimization guide so if you tried everything and still didn’t succeed (in your Pingdom report), maybe it’s about that time.
Here’s the poll…
Average load time on SiteGround is 1.3s…
What other people are saying…
The higher the plan, the more server resources you get (which makes your site faster). That’s why I would at least use their GrowBig plan which gives you about 1.5x more server resources, can host unlimited websites, and comes with priority support. You can see this on the StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek comparison chart under ‘we allocate the resources you need’ section.
Here’s my SiteGround hosting review if you care to read, but if you decide to switch try to do the GrowBig or GoGeek plan since they come with more server resources (GoGeek is 4x faster than regular shared hosting). If it’s a choice between paying $7/month for MaxCDN or SiteGround’s GrowBig Plan, do the hosting. Migrating can shave seconds off your load time.
9. Get Help From My WordPress Developer
Didn’t get the Pingdom scores you want? Pronaya is a WordPress developer I found on freelancer.com who lives in Bangladesh and specializes in WordPress speed optimization. I have worked with over 20 overseas freelancers and he’s the one I always turn to for advanced WordPress speed and development. He helped me optimize my site to load in .3s and multiple other sites to load 500% faster. He’s $25/hour (projects usually run $150 – $250) and I’ve been working with Pronaya for 5 years, and have invested more than $20,000 in his services for both myself and clients. His email is email@example.com if you want to reach out, or you can view his perfect 5 star profile by joining freelancer.com and searching for user bdkamol.
Reviews of his WordPress speed services…
Nice job, you did it.
See Also: WordPress Speed Optimization Guide (20+ Ways To Make Your Site Load Faster)
If your website loads faster feel free to leave your new page load time in the comments! Or if you have any questions I’m glad to help with that too. As you can see I’m a pretty big nerd when it comes to WordPress speed so if you follow these recommendations, there’s no reason your website shouldn’t load in under 3s. And if you found this tutorial helpful, please share :)