Building a website takes hard work. But the one thing that can kill its performance is speed.

According to Akamai, 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load. Search engines like Google have officially announced that loading speed is taken as a ranking factor.

So loading speed is important for search engines as well as user experience.

Fortunately, those using WordPress needn’t be too tech savvy to improve load time. There are great selections of WordPress plugins that are designed to help you speed up your website with minimal effort.

Below are some of our favorite WordPress speed optimization plugins that can make amazing speed tweaks in no time!

Free speed optimization WordPress plugins

1. WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is one of the fastest free cache plugins available. The plugin creates static HTML files for your dynamic WordPress website and keeps them in your visitor’s cache. You can also set cache expiration times for certain URL strings.

It is also quite easy to install – you just have to download, activate, go through the settings, and then save. You don’t even have to make any alterations to the .htaccess configuration file.

Features

  • Mod Rewrite to create static HTML files
  • Cache file is automatically deleted when a new page or post is published
  • Supports CDN and SSL
  • Option to block cache for specific posts through shortcodes
  • Minify CSS and HTML

Plugin information

  • Active installations – 1+ million
  • Last updated – March 2021
  • Requires WordPress version 3.3
  • Average ratings – 4.9/5 based on 3,411 reviews

2. WP Super Cache

Wp Super Cache
WP Super Cache is a popular free caching plugin that has over 1 million downloads. The plugin is maintained by Automatic, which is the team behind WordPress.com. During large traffic spikes, it works effectively at keeping the server from slowing down. This plugin also generates static HTML files for dynamic WordPress pages.

Once it processes the WordPress PHP scripts, the plugin serves the static HTML file to the visitors of your website.

Features

  • Supports page compression and dynamic caching
  • Offers support for content delivery networks (CDN)
  • Caching option for mobile devices
  • Includes scheduler to handle deletion and re-caching
  • Uses Mod_rewrite and legacy caching mode

Plugin information

  • Active installations – 2+ million
  • Last updated – March 2021
  • Requires WordPress Version 3.1
  • Average ratings 4.3/5 based on 1,267 reviews

3. Speed Booster Pack

speed boster pack
Speed Booster Pack is a popular plugin that is apt for website owners who are looking for an easy way to make their website fast.

By loading JavaScript files from Google libraries, the plugin eliminates latency, improves caching and parallelism. It moves the scripts that affect your loading time to the footer and eliminates external Javascript and CSS in the above-the-fold content. Additionally, the plugin takes advantage of image lazily loading to further decrease load time.

Features

  • Removes additional font awesome stylesheet
  • Removes junk header tags, RSD link, and RSS feed links
  • Shows the executed SQL queries
  • Displays peak memory usage
  • Allows to change the image compression level

Plugin information

  • Active installations – 30,000+
  • Last updated – March 2021
  • Requires WordPress version 4.6
  • Average ratings – 4/5 based on 131 reviews

4. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total cache
W3 Total Cache is the only speed optimization plugin that is designed to improve both user experience and page load time. This plugin comes highly recommended by leading hosting providers like Page.ly, Flywheel, and SiteGround. It is also used by major publications such as Smashing Magazine, Mashable, Web Designer Depot and more.

The settings section of the plugin contains a whopping 16 pages which can be quite overwhelming. But the good thing is, you don’t need to manually configure it, the default settings do a pretty good job.

Features

  • Concatenation and minification of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files
  • Compatible with CloudFlare
  • Supports Content Delivery Networks
  • Easy customization

Plugin information

  • Active installations – 1+ million
  • Last updated – March 2021
  • Requires WordPress Version 3.8
  • Average ratings 4.4/5 based on 4,742 reviews

Paid speed optimization WordPress plugins

5. WP Rocket

Wp Rocket
WP Rocket is the fastest option and the most popular premium WordPress caching plugin. It is extremely user-friendly and a perfect fit for those who find technical terms and programming perplexing.

Once the plugin is installed, it starts working immediately. You needn’t rack your head to figure out the configuration part. If you have some technical knowledge, you can explore the advanced options to set up a custom configuration.

Learn more about our in-depth review of WP Rocket

Features

  • Lazy loading for specific elements
  • Plugin uses jQuery
  • Responsive design for scaled-down images
  • Developer friendly
  • Reduces the weight of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files
  • Multilingual compatibility
  • GZIP compression
  • Compatible with CloudFlare and CDN

Plugin information

  • 1,496,000 installations
  • 1-year support for a single website – $49
  • 1-year support for 3 websites – $99
  • 1-year support for unlimited websites – $249

 

And the Winner is…

Information comparison

WP Fastest Cache WP Super Cache Speed Booster Pack W3 Total Cache WP Rocket
Active Installations 1+ million 2+ million 30,000+ 1+ million 1,496,000
Last updated March 2021 March 2021 March 2021 March 2021 2 weeks ago
Ratings 4.9/5 based on 3,411 reviews 4.3/5 based on 1,267 reviews 4/5 based on 131 reviews 4.4/5 based on 4,742 reviews 92% based on 2,311 ratings
Requires WordPress version 3.3 3.1 4.6 3.8 4.7
Price Free Free Free Free Starts from $49

Features comparison

Features Speed Booster WP Fastest Cache WP Super Cache W3 Total Cache WP Rocket (Paid)
Page cache Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minify HTML&CSS Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Minify JS Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Render Blocking JS Yes No No No Yes
GZIP No Yes No Yes Yes
Browser Caching No Yes No Yes Yes
Image optimization No No No No No
Lazy Load No No No No Yes
Compatible CDN No Cloudflare OSSDL CDN off-linker Amazon CloudFront, Cloudflare Amazon Cloudfront, MaxCDN, KeyCDN, Cloudflare and others
Remove query strings from static resources Yes No No No Yes
Database optimization No No No Yes Yes
Google font optimization No No No No Yes
DNS prefetching No No No No Yes

If you’re looking for a free option, W3 Total Cache is your best option because most of the optimization features are covered in the free version. But if you want a premium plugin that goes above and beyond the free plugin options, one that is developer-friendly and offers more advanced features like GZIP compression, browser caching, database optimization, lazy load etc, WP Rocket is likely your best bet. Click here to learn more about the features you get in WP Rocket when compared to the other free plugins.

When compared to free plugins, premium plugins will have better updates, security, quality, and support. If your budget permits, WP Rocket is worth every penny.

Note – All the plugin information mentioned in our blog was collected at the time of writing.

Final thoughts

The above plugins are some of the best speed optimization WordPress plugins available. However, it is difficult to determine the best one as every website is different and it may need a different range of caching.

So simply install the plugins you are considering and test how they affect the speed of your website using all these tools – GTmetrix, Webpagetest, Pingdom, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Think With Google Mobile Speed Test. Additionally, do read the documentation guide for each plugin to get a better understanding of all the features at your disposal.

Sometimes a major reason for slow loading websites is because of hosts. So make sure you choose a good one. Remember, you usually get what you pay for. If you want to learn more about some of the top WordPress hosts, click here.

Hosting providers like WPEngine do not support speed enhancing plugins such as WP Super Cache, WP File Cache, W3 Total Cache and WordFence as they do not work together with their custom caching environment. WPEngine’s official page states that they take care of speed-related issues and that users of their hosting service needn’t worry about it. But WP Rocket is compatible with WP Engine. It is now part of WP Engine’s preferred marketing program.

Whichever plugin you choose, make sure that the settings are supported by your web host, and don’t make any changes without backing up. To find out more about how to optimize your website, take a look at our article on Website Speed Optimization Hacks for WordPress

Which speed-enhancing plugin are you using for your WordPress website? Why did you choose it? What are some pros and cons of using it for your WP site? Please share in the comments section below.

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