WP Rocket – Best WordPress Cache Plugin
Do you remember the good old days of the internet when everything took forever to load but we still used to wait although it was frustrating.
Back then there were no guidelines around page speed or performance as the web was evolving. However, a decade later things have completely changed. Page speed is now a ranking factor and plays an important role in improving user experience and conversion rate.
This means visitors prefer fast loading websites. And also, if your site is slow loading then chances are high that you may not rank well on search engines.
Now, some of you may be thinking, when page speed is so vital then
What are the factors that contribute to it?
Below I have listed some of the basic factors that impact page speed
- Good web hosting
- Light weight and well coded WordPress theme
- Compressed media files
- Clean database
- Robust Caching
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
When you start a blog or website, during the set up phase it always recommended that you install a good cache plugin from the beginning as it helps improve performance.
There are quite a lot of free and premium cache plugins available in the WordPress marketplace which makes it difficult to decide which one to go for.
And I complete understand this.
Over the time, I have tried and tested some of the popular WordPress cache plugins. However, I was never satisfied because either these plugins had to be paired with a third party service to make the needle move or at times enabling certain settings would give errors.
That is why some of the best web hosting companies like WP Engine have added these plugins on the disallowed list.
See the complete list of disallowed plugins by WP Engine.
After looking at all these compelling reasons and doing some research, I decided to invest in WP Rocket and have never looked back.
What is WP Rocket plugin
WP Rocket is a premium WP cache plugin created by the developer duo Jonathan Buttigieg and Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier in 2013. The parent company behind the plugin is WP Media and it was established a year after the launch of WP Rocket.
WP Media is also home to 2 other products
Imagify is a very popular image compression plugin that can compress all images on your website in just one click. And as mentioned above, the lighter the images better the loading times. In case you have some images on your site that needs to be compressed then you must use this plugin.
CDN is also known as content delivery network and WP Media has its very own premium CDN using which you can reduce the loading times significantly. And the best part is, it is automatically configured and powered by StackPath.
All of the products offered by WP Media completely compliment each other and created to improve a WordPress site’s performance.
This was also one of the reasons that influenced my decision in going with WP Rocket as I was buying a product from a company that has all the products focused on one single factor and that is performance. And for me this meant they know what they are doing and are pretty good at it.
Also, WP Rocket was created because its authors felt
- Page speed was an important factor that contributed to user experience.
- None of the plugins available gave satisfactory results.
- The configuration process was complex for beginners and time consuming.
Honestly, I agree with all the reasons listed as I have tried using some of the other popular cache plugins available and found the settings very confusing.
It was like watching a boring movie. Never ending. However, when I moved to WP Rocket the experience was exactly the opposite.
The dashboard was very intuitive, vibrant and in case you came across an unfamiliar setting, the WP Rocket knowledge base was easily accessible through WordPress dashboard.
And when it comes to results as I have mentioned before, to see some improvement I had to pair the cache plugin with another service or plugin.
But, with WP Rocket, I saw a significant improvement. You can see the screenshot below for site speed after using WP Rocket. Also, I have shared a small case study a little later in this article.
The reason behind such an improvement is, WP Rocket is just not a cache plugin it does a lot more than that. With most cache plugins you will find yourself using other plugins for jobs like database cleanup, lazyload, CDN compatibility and more.
However, if you are using WP Rocket you don’t need any other plugin. This plugin takes care of everything.
Having said that,
WP Rocket was the first only premium WordPress cache plugin. Before it, most cache plugins were either free or offered an upgrade to use advanced caching features.
But still WP Rocket was able to compete and establish itself in the WordPress universe. And this was possible due to the fact that the plugin was packed with features and delivered results.
At the time of writing this article, WP Rocket has optimized over 1159000 sites with 138000+ happy customers.
Also, WP Rocket has 4.8 out 5 stars on TrustPilot with over 750 reviews.
Before we move forward and discuss its features, it is important to know WP Rocket can only be used on sites that are running on WordPress.org or in other words are self hosted because you cannot add plugins in WordPress.com. And also, the platform has its own caching solution.
WP Rocket Features
As mentioned above, WP Rocket is often categorized or referred to as just a cache plugin. However, that is not the case. It is packed with features that not just limited to caching and it also helps you optimize media, database and other elements of your WordPress site.
In this section, I will be discussing some of the WP Rocket features.
User Friendly Interface
When you install WP Rocket and compare it with other cache plugins, the first difference you will notice is its user friendly interface.
WP Rocket has a vibrant interface and when you enter the dashboard you are welcomed with a message saying WP Rocket is activated and already working on making your site faster.
After this message, the next thing you see is your Account Information. You can see the plan you have purchased and the expiration date.
If you are using RocketCDN, its subscription information will be displayed just below. In case you want to buy RocketCDN, you can click Get RocketCDN and purchase it directly from the WP Rocket dashboard.
Below My Account you will find the links to all the tutorials and documentation to help you get started with WP Rocket
In case you are unable to find a solution to your problem in the documentation then you can contact WP Rocket support by clicking Help or Ask Support buttons.
And your query will be resolved quickly.
On the right of My Account, you will see Quick Actions where you will find options to
- Remove all cached files
- Start preloading cache
- Purge Opcache
- Regenerate Critical CSS
On the left of My Account are all the WP Rocket settings that you need to configure to speed up your WordPress website.
As you can see all the settings are clearly defined, the design of interface is very clean and is also very easy to navigate for a beginner. And this is what takes WP Rocket a step ahead of the rest of the cache plugins.
Easy to configure
When you visit WP Rocket website, you will notice a common theme which is “Simplicity and Speed”.
- Simplicity stands for the ease of setting up even if you are non technical.
- Speed stands for immediate improvement that you will notice after using the plugin.
And that is the mission statement of WP Rocket plugin and the team behind it.
Also, as mentioned before when you install the plugin, the welcome message states when you activate WP Rocket, it starts working. And that is absolutely true.
After activating when you enter WP Rocket’s dashboard, you will see a notification about preloading just like the screenshot below.
This means WP Rocket starts working in the background as soon as you activate it. Now, other cache plugin’s might not start working automatically and for them to work you will have to complete the configuration process.
Speaking about configuring, as you know all the setting in WP Rocket are well laid out on the left and below each setting you will see the elements that will be optimized or the settings included in tab.
And this makes the setup process easy for people who are just starting out and have no prior experience. On top of this, each section has a help button for in case you might face difficulties.
This is something that I have seen missing in other WordPress cache plugins and it gives WP Rocket an edge.
Web Hosting Compatibility
As we have discussed before, several popular web hosting companies have their own built-in cache solution and do not allow the use of third party cache plugins.
Because enabling certain features can cause conflicts. But if you are using WP Rocket, some of the features and functionalities are automatically disabled for the plugin to be compatible with your web hosting.
For example, the only cache plugin allowed on WP Engine is WP Rocket and when you install it, the page caching feature is auto disabled to ensure compatibility. Rest all of the features work just fine.
It is important to know WP Rocket is compatible with 99% of the web hosting providers including
- WP Engine
Also, in case the hosting service you are using does not allow you to use WP Rocket due to compatibility issues then you can contact WP Rocket directly and WP Rocket team will contact them to become compatible.
Currently, I m using WP Rocket on Siteground and was using SG Optimizer and WP Optimize for cache and database optimization. But I have switched now as WP Rocket offers more features in comparison to both. I have covered more on this a bit later in the article
Over the years, the number of people using mobile devices to access the internet have increased. And this led to mobile page speed becoming a ranking factor. With website’s competing with application these days, having a fast loading website is a massive plus.
To take care of performance optimization of this aspect of your website WP Rocket has a dedicated mobile cache feature.
As you know just by activating WP Rocket, it starts caching and using this feature you can take the performance of a WordPress website to next level.
When you enable caching for mobile devices, you will see it has an additional setting which is Separate cache files for mobile devices.
How is it different from mobile cache?
As the name suggests, when you enable this setting WP Rocket will create dedicated cache files for mobile devices. And this setting is for websites that offer additional features or have resources that load on mobile devices only.
When you enable this feature WP Rocket creates 2 version of cache files for each desktop and mobile. And when anyone visits your site from a mobile device, the mobile cache files are served instead of desktop version.
Personally speaking, I have enabled this option for Blogging Unplugged and I will suggest doing so because this setting will make sure that your visitors will get a seamless experience when visiting your blog or website using mobile devices.
Made for E-commerce
If you are running an e-commerce website then you already know that these sites have cart, checkout and account pages and these pages should not be cached.
When you install WP Rocket, it automatically detects and excludes these pages from your website’s cache making sure your customers get the best experience.
Also WP Rocket is compatible with E-commerce WordPress plugins such as
- Easy Digital Download
- WP eStore
See the complete list of Ecomerce plugins compatible with WP Rocket
When it comes to page speed optimization, the size of your website related files play an important role. Lesser the file size, lower the bandwidth it will consume and faster the site will be.
When you enable this feature, WP Rocket automatically removes white-spaces, comments, line breaks and unnecessary characters from the code without altering or impacting its function.
However, at times there are chances that when you start configuring these settings some features may not work as you expect them to. And that is why it is recommended that you check your website after using this feature.
Also, WP Rocket being a beginner friendly plugin will display a subtle caution message, letting you know enabling which setting might cause a slight malfunction.
Before we move forward it is important to keep in mind, seeing the above message does not mean enabling this will break your site. I have rarely seen these settings cause problems.
However, if it does then you can disable a specific setting that you think may have caused it and the problem will resolve.
Also, in case you are unable to figure out these settings or want to know more about it before configuring then you can click Need Help button and it will show you the tutorials and using this you can also get in touch with the WP Rocket customer support.
Do you know every time you save a blog post or a page in WordPress, the previous version is saved as a revision and it adds to the size of database.
And this is not just limited to posts and pages, there are other elements that contribute to increasing the size of the database such as.
- Spam comments
- Trashed comments
- Trashed posts and pages
- Temporary plugin files or transients
Most of the items on this list are useless and contribute to database bloat. In case your site is running slow or WordPress admin is acting then this can be the reason.
Often I have seen many website owners using separate plugins for database cleanup and cache because not every cache plugin offers this feature. Also, I was using a database cleanup plugin with SG Optimizer before making the switch to WP Rocket.
Having said that,
WP Rocket has a built-in database optimization feature using which you can get rid of the unnecessary with just a click of a button.
Also, it is important to know WP Rocket allows you to schedule automatic cleanups. Using this setting, you can schedule cleaning on daily, weekly or monthly basis and WP Rocket will do it for you.
When it comes to media optimization, we generally think about compressing images, using correct sizes, dimensions, types and more.
But even after using these techniques you might find your site is loading slow. And this is due to the fact that text is lighter than the images and when a web page tries to load and display all the images simultaneously, it slows the site down down as it increases the overall download size.
To solve this problem, WP Rocket has a feature called LazyLoading for both images and videos. And when you enable this feature, it will only display the image or video that is going to be visible on the screen rather than every media file on the page.
This reduces the size of the page making it load fast.
As you can see in the screenshot above, this feature is available for both images and YouTube embeds
Also, in media optimization you will get access to features like Disable embeds and Emojis. These settings help keep the number of requests to a minimum, saving bandwidth and speeding up the site.
Before we move forward, it is important to keep in mind that optimizing images is still vital even if you are using this setting and if you are looking for a plugin to compress images then I will suggest using Imagify.
This is a very interesting feature by WP Rocket that is by default enabled when you activate the plugin.
Generally, a cache plugin works by creating and storing a copy of your pages when a user visits it. This means the first person that visits a page after below listed activities occur won’t have the same experience as the person visiting after.
- New page published
- Cache clear
- Cache expiration
With cache preloading enabled, WP Rocket preloads all the pages so that every visitor has the same experience.
When you activate preloading, it gives you an option to Activate sitemap based preloading. If you select this option it will automatically detect sitemap generated by the SEO plugin you are using, be it Yoast SEO, Rank Math, All in One SEO, SEOPress and more.
And on selecting, it will automatically preload cache based on links found in your website’s sitemap.
If you are not using plugins to generate sitemap and want to use this feature then you will have to specify the sitemap by entering the sitemap URL in the Sitemap for Preloading box.
Once you have entered the URL of the sitemap, you will see there are 2 other settings in Preload.
Prefetch DNS Request
Website’s at times use content or elements from external sources such as YouTube, Gravatar, Google Fonts and more. With DNS Prefetching, you speed up the time of DNS lookup which in turn boosts your site speed.
WP Rocket allows you to specify hosts of these external sources so that it can be prefetched.
Here is the complete list of domains to prefetch in WP Rocket. Also, keep in mind if you are specifying multiple hosts, you will have to add one per line as shown in the screenshot above.
This is a new feature that was released in WP Rocket 3.6.
Often while testing page speed of your website you may have encountered an optimization opportunity named “Preload Key Requests”.
This occurs because your browser recognizes the resources after your page is downloaded or executed. And this causes a slow page speed.
With the introduction of Preload Fonts feature in WP Rocket 3.6, you can easily tell the browser to prioritize the download of these resources, making the page load fast.
As discussed earlier in this article, one of the techniques to improve page speed is using CDN. If you are not familiar with CDN then let me tell you CDN is also known as content delivery network and it comprises of a network of servers across the globe.
When you add your website to a CDN network, it stores a copy of your web pages on its network of servers and when a request is made, it completes it from the nearest location improving the page speed.
If you are not using a CDN currently then I will suggest doing it now as you will definitely see an improvement in site speed.
Having said that,
As we know, WP Rocket has its own CDN service known as RocketCDN. This service being a WP Media product is already compatible with WP Rocket.
Is WP Rocket compatible with other CDN providers?
Simple answer is yes, WP Rocket is compatible with most CDN providers including
- Amazon Cloudfront
What if you are using Cloudflare?
In case you are using Cloudflare then these CDN settings are not for you and you don’t have to enable CDN settings here.
Now, this does not mean WP Rocket is not Cloudflare. Compatibility with these services are taken care of in the Addons section which we are going to discuss next.
WP Rocket Addons
WP Rocket addons comprises of other services that WP Rocket is compatible with and elements that the plugin can optimize
These addons are divided in 2 sections
- One click addons that are configured automatically when you enable them.
- Rocket addons that need a bit of configuration after you activate them.
After you add Google Analytics to your WordPress site and you test it for page speed at times you may encounter optimization opportunities like Leverage Browser Caching and under that you may find the Google Analytics script.
To satisfy this condition, you need to just enable the WP Rocket Google Analytics addon and it will take care of the rest.
What this does is, it will host your Google Analytics script locally improving the page speed. In case you haven’t installed Google Analytics then I will recommend following our detailed guide on How to add Google Analytics to WordPress
Also, it is important to know if you are using MonsterInsights for Google Analytics and thinking about compatibility the let me tell you it is fully compatible with WP Rocket.
If you want to run ads on Facebook and looking to target users visiting your website from different sources then you need to install Facebook Pixel.
Once you are done adding the tracking code on your website, the Facebook Pixel script may show up under leverage browser caching when you test your site’s page speed.
To help with this, WP Rocket has a Facebook Pixel addon enabling which will host the script locally taking care of the optimization opportunity.
Once enabled you will see your page speed score increase.
You will need this addon only if your web hosting company uses Varnish cache.
And if your site is on Siteground, Kinsta and Pressable you don’t have to enable this option as WP Rocket is already in sync with their server cache.
Now, when you enable this addon, Varnish cache will be automatically purged every time you clear WP Rocket cache making sure the content is always updated.
As mentioned above, if you are using Cloudflare CDN then you have to configure this addon and not the CDN settings in WP Rocket.
If you want to make WP Rocket work in-sync with Cloudflare CDN then you need to connect both of these services. And for that the first step is to enable the Cloudflare addon by WP Rocket. When you activate it, a Modify Option button will appear. See the below screenshot for reference.
On clicking the button, it will ask for the Cloudflare credentials.
All of this information is available in your Cloudflare dashboard. And that’s all you have to do to connect WP Rocket with Cloudflare.
Also, it is important to know, after configuring this add on you will no longer have to use the Cloudflare WordPress plugin. Also, you will be able to purge Cloudflare cache directly from your WordPress dashboard using WP Rocket.
If you are using Sucuri website firewall and caching then to sync both the caches you need to enable the Sucuri addon by WP Rocket.
When you enable this addon, every time you clear WP Rocket cache, Sucuri cache will be purged automatically making sure your site is updated with latest content.
Now to connect Sucuri with WP Rocket, the first step is to enable the Sucuri addon by WP Rocket and you will see a Modify Options button.
When you click it, it will ask for the Firewall API key
Enter the API key in the box and Save the changes. And that’s it you have connected Sucuri cache with WordPress.
Heartbeat is a WordPress API which connects real time data transfer between the server and the browser by sending periodic requests. For example when you write a blog post and preview, the editor uses Heartbeat API to communicate changes.
As this API executes several tasks on regular intervals, at times it can cause overload or high CPU usage. And this can lead to slow speed, performance issues or even account suspensions. And you don’t want that.
To stay away from any such issues, you need to enable Control Heartbeat and then select Reduce Activity in
- Behavior in backend
- Post editor
- Behavior in front end
I personally use this setting and will suggest using it.
With that said,
This completes our tour of the WP Rocket dashboard and introduction to its features. WP Rocket is the best cache plugin that I have come across because it gives results and is available at pocket friendly price. Also, this plugin is on our list of recommend WordPress tools.
WP Rocket Pricing and Plans
Often I have seen a common question revolving around WP Rocket’s pricing and that is “Is WP Rocket free?”
It is important to understand that WP Rocket is very different from other cache plugins as it does the work of multiple plugins and offers much more features.
Also, as mentioned before WP Rocket is a premium plugin. This means there is no free version available.
If you are looking to purchase WP Rocket, there are 3 plans to choose from.
- Single– This plan is available for $49 and you get 1 year of support and updates for 1 website only.
- Plus– You can buy this plan for $99 and you get 1 year of support and updates for 3 websites.
- Infinite– This plan is available for $249 for 1 year of support and updates for unlimited websites.
Every plan includes
- Quick Setup
- Page Caching
- Cache Preloading
- Sitemap Preloading
- GZIP Compression
- Mobile Detection
- Multisite Compatibility
- Developer Friendly
- Browser Caching
- Database Optimization
- Google Fonts Optimization
- eCommerce Friendly
- Multilingual Compatibility
- Font Preloading
- Minification/ Concatenation
- Defer JS Loading
- CloudFlare Compatibility
- Users Import/Export
- Connected Users
Is WP Rocket worth
Before buying any plugin, I m sure all of us like to do a bit of research on the product to see if it is worth the investment or not. And same is the case here.
Till now we have established that WP Rocket is offers incredible features, it is available at pocket friendly price and has good reviews.
Does WP Rocket work?
To check this, I recorded my site’s migration from SG Optimizer to WP Rocket and recorded the results. There were 3 scenarios where I tested my website’s page speed.
- Using SG Optimizer and WP Optimize
- Without any cache plugin
- After installing and configuring WP Rocket
It is important to keep in mind, the blog is using GeneratePress theme, Elementors page builder and Cloudflare CDN. Any time a plugin was installed or removed Cloudflare cache was purged. After removing SG Optimizer database was cleaned using WP Optimize and then it was removed as well and Cloudflare cache was purged again.
Also, all of these test were done on the same day and tools we are using to measure site speed are GTMetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Having said that, the first scenario we are going to discuss is
Using both SG Optimizer and WP Optimize
To start the comparison lets first look at the page speed results.
- PageSpeed Score- 97%
- YSlow Score- 91%
- Fully loaded- 3.4s
- Total page size- 1.76 MB
- Request- 49
PageSpeed Insights (Desktop)
- Desktop Score- 75
- Speed Index- 2.0 s
PageSpeed Insights (Mobile)
- Score- 31
- Speed Index- 9.0 s
You can clearly see in the above results, the website’s speed was not up to the standard when using SG Optimizer and WP Optimizer. However, on desktop it was average.
As I was migrating from SG Optimizer to WP Rocket, I decided to run the speed test again and this time the site has no cache or database optimization plugins installed.
Also, Cloudflare cache was purged and database was cleaned using WP Optimize and then it was removed.
Without SG Optimizer and WP Optimize
Again we did the page speed tests in the same sequence.
- PageSpeed Score- 75%
- YSlow Score- 77%
- Fully loaded time- 4.4 s
- Total Page Size- 1.92 MB
- Requests- 102
PageSpeed Insights (Desktop)
- Desktop Score- 63
- Speed- 3.7 s
PageSpeed Insights (Mobile)
- Mobile Score- 33
- Speed Index- 11.7 s
These loading times will give you a baseline of when a site is using no cache or optimization plugins. Later on this data will be used to be compared with other 2 instances we are discussing in this case study.
It will give you an idea on which plugin you should go for from the start.
Having said that,
As my blog was not using any cache or optimization plugins at this point of time, so I just went ahead and purged the Cloudflare cache one more time then I installed and configured WP Rocket.
After installing and setting up WP Rocket
The page speed tests were carried out in the same sequence
- PageSpeed Score- 99%
- YSlow- 93%
- Fully Loaded time- 1.7 s
- Page size- 793 kb
- Requests- 26
PageSpeed Insights (Desktop)
- Desktop Score- 93
- Speed Index 0.8 s
PageSpeed Insights (Mobile)
- Mobile Score- 66
- Speed- 3.2 s
You can clearly see, there is a significant improvements in site speed from no cache plugin to using SG Optimizer to migrating to WP Rocket.
And here is the reason
Why WP Rocket performed better in our tests as compared to SG Optimizer
First things first, there are a lot of features that are common in WP Rocket and SG Optimizer. However, there is a long list of features that are only available in WP Rocket.
Below is the list of all of these features.
- Separate cache for mobile devices
- Logged-in user cache
- Cache Lifespan Expiration
- Optimize CSS delivery
- Lazyload for iframes and video
- Replace YouTube iframe with preview image
- Disable WordPress embeds
- Cache Preloading
- Prefetching of DNS Requests
- Database Optimization
- CDN integration
- Heartbeat Control
- Add-ons: Google Tracking, Sucuri, Facebook
- We have also automatic compatibilities with various themes and plugins
And gives WP Rocket an edge over SG Optimizer.
- When the website had no cache plugins installed, the site speed was 4.4 secs on GTMetrix, 3.7 secs on PageSpeed Insights (desktop) and 11.7 secs on mobile.
- When the website was using SG Cache + WP Optimize, the loading time on GTMetrix was 3.4 secs, on PageSpeed desktop was 2.0 secs and 9.0 secs on PageSpeed Insights mobile.
You can see there was a clear improvement as I was able to shave 1.0 secs according to GTMetrix, 1.7 secs on PageSpeed desktop and 2.7 secs on PageSpeed mobile.
- After installing WP Rocket, I was able to see drastic changes. Now, the site speed on GTMetrix was 1.7 secs with a significant reduction in the number of requests and page size.
In case you are a PageSpeed score fanatic then I was able to achieve 99% on that metric.
- On PageSpeed Insights (desktop), the site speed was 0.8 secs and on mobile the loading time was down to 3.2 secs which was quite significant.
It is important to keep in mind when I installed WP Rocket, according GTmetrix reports
- The number of request decreased by 50% as compared to when the site was using SG Optimizer. Also, it took 50% less time to load the site with a reduction in page size by more than 55%.
Also according to PageSpeed Insights
- The site saw a 60% improvement in page speed when accessed from Desktop and approximately 65% on mobile devices.
I also went ahead and compared the site speed when the website was using no cache plugin to the page speed after installation.
- According to GTMetrix the site speed improved by more than 61%, requests were reduced by over 74% and page size was reduced by approximately 59%
- According to Page Speed Insights reports the desktop version saw an improvement of more than 78% in loading time and for mobile version it was over 72%.
Having said that,
In this comparison WP Rocket was the clear winner. By looking at these results you can gauge how effective this plugin is as it improves the site speed significantly. And I think when you start a WordPress blog or a website, WP Rocket needs to be on your list of must have plugins so that you don’t have to think about page speed ever again.
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