I was able to get .5s Pingdom load times (the most accurate tool according to WP Rocket) after configuring the WP Fastest Cache settings. They’re easy to setup and have options to add Cloudflare and StackPath’s CDN which can further improves grades/load times (I use both since more data centers = faster website). Combine this with fast hosting (I use SiteGroundwho was rated #1 in 26 different Facebook polls) and your website should load much faster.
I will show you how to configure the WP Fastest Cache settings, StackPath’s CDN, and what upgrading to WP Fastest Cache Premium did for me. I also have instructions for Cloudflare.
Leave me a comment if you have questions or see their support forum. But there are many complaints about WP Fastest Cache’s support, just to give you a heads up. Remember to retest your site in Pingdom when you’re done and leave your new page load time in the comments 🙂
1. Cache Plugin Comparison
Cache Plugin Test – I ran the same page through Pingdom which had minimal content so results would be accurate. I setup each one with the best settings and Cloudflare/StackPath.
WP Rocket (.406)
WP Fastest Cache (.527)
W3 Total Cache (.619)
WP Rocket vs. WP Fastest Cache – both plugins should give you similar grades and load times, however WP Rocket has quite a few extra features WP Fastest Cache does not (eg. you would also need to install the Lazy Load For Videos, CAOS Analytics, and WP-Optimize plugin to use these with WP Fastest Cache, whereas WP Rocket has these features built-in). If you can drop $49, I’d go with WP Rocket (it’s what I use, and I wrote a WP Rocket setup guide).
WP Rocket has more features than WP Fastest Cache…
- More control over caching/purging
- Option to purge varnish cache automatically
- Option to remove query strings from static resources
- Database cleanup (you would need to use WP-Optimize)
- Hosting Google Analytics tracking code locally (you would need to use CAOS)
- Lazy loading videos/photos/iframes (you would need to use Lazy Load For Videos
- Extensive documentation and tutorials, frequent updates, and outstanding support
StackPath vs. Cloudflare – StackPath is $10/month, Cloudflare is free. Both are CDNs which mirror your site on multiple data centers around the world (reducing the distance between your server and visitor) and is recommended in the WordPress optimization guide. Cloudflare has 160+ data centers, StackPath, has 31 data centers which are heavily focused in the US (more data centers = faster website, that’s why I recommend using both). StackPath comes with a support team who improved my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8% – support is incredible.
Why Use StackPath?
- StackPath’s 31 data centers use faster SSD servers + 10GB connections
- StackPath doesn’t charge for HTTPS traffic, Cloudflare charges pay-per-use
- StackPath’s team helped me configure my CDN and improved my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%, putting the cherry on the cake to make my GTmetrix report nearly perfect
- StackPath has dashboards that provide lots of information about your cached files
- StackPath allows you to protect your account using a two-step authentication process; you can whitelist the IP addresses of people who are permitted to access your account
2. WP Fastest Cache Settings
If you plan on using StackPath, see my StackPath 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 StackPath’s WPFC tutorial.
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 name servers 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.
Breakdown Of WP Fastest Cache Settings:
- Cache System – enable
- Widget Cache System – caches your widgets (premium feature)
- 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)
- Google Fonts – loads Google Fonts asynchronously (premium feature) but this can also be done using the free WP Disable plugin which I highly recommend
Nearly every item in WP Fastest Cache is found in GTmetrix/Pingdom…
Delete Cache – clear the cache after configuring the WP Fastest Cache settings…
Cache Timeout – if it’s not set as 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 $49.99, 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 (eg. eCommerce checkout pages).
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). See the StackPath section.
Database (DB) – cleaning your database removes unnecessary junk and makes it load faster. You can use the free WP-Optimize plugin to do this, upgrading for this feature isn’t necessary.
3. StackPath CDN ($10/Month With Free 30-Day Trial)
StackPath mirrors your site on 31 data centers, reducing the geographical distance between your server and visitors. This can reduce load times by multiple seconds especially for visitors who used to be far away from your 1 origin server. StackPath also helped me configure my CDN and was able to improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8% (see my report). They have a 30-day trial and their own tutorial on configuring StackPath’s CDN with WP Fastest Cache.
Step 1: Sign up for StackPath.
Step 2: Configure WP Fastest Cache with these settings when using StackPath…
Step 3: In the StackPath dashboard, click the CDN tab, then create a StackPath CDN Site…
Step 4: Click “StackPath” in the CDN area of WP Fastest Cache.
Step 5: Paste your CDN URL into WP Fastest Cache and use your website as the origin URL…
Step 6: Click next, leave all file types selected, then keep clicking next until it’s ready…
Step 7: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click “Purge Everything”…
Step 8: Run your site through GTmetrix and look at the YSlow tab to make sure it’s working…
Ok, NOW you’re done.
Step 1: Sign up for Cloudflare and you will be prompted to add your website and begin a scan…
Step 2: Do a Google search for “how to change name servers on SiteGround” (only search for your host), then follow their instructions. You will be copying the 2 name servers provided by Cloudflare and pasting them into a custom name servers option in your hosting cPanel…
Step 3. Grab your Global API Key from the link in Cloudflare, or in your Cloudflare profile…
Go back to WP Fastest Cache and click the Cloudflare tab. Enter the same email address used in your Cloudflare account, as well as your Global API Key…
Keep clicking next in WP Fastest Cache. They will automatically turn off the minify settings in WP Fastest Cache (since Cloudflare will now do this). They will also turn off Rocket Loader for better compatibility (your website won’t break), and set browser cache expiration to 24 days.
Add these 2 page rules in your page rules settings…
Step 5: Cloudflare says “we recommend you create a Page Rule to exclude the admin section of your website from Cloudflare’s performance features. Features such as Rocket Loader and Auto Minification may inadvertently break backend functions in your admin section.”
Step 6. Finally, go to your Cloudflare caching settings and purge individual files…
5. Delete Cache And Retest In 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)
Remember, it can take Cloudflare up to 24 hours to propagate, so check back then.
6. WP Fastest Cache FAQs
Here’s the FAQ page if you still have questions…
SiteGround (#1 Host In 26 Facebook Polls)
I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my fast loading pages. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and other hosts who pack too many people on the same server. There have been plenty of people who migrated and posted results on Facebook and Twitter. Tweetafter tweet, post after post, poll after poll after poll, faster hosting will fix slow response times. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.
I use SiteGround because…
- My GTmetrix + Pingdom report speak for themselves
- They use PHP 7.3, NGINX, HTTP/2, Cloudflare, fast speed technology
- Average load time is 1.3s, giving most people instant speed improvements
- They’re recommended by WordPress and Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
- Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
- Renewal prices are a price jump, but you can get 3 years of the promo price
- Always been known for great support (tickets usually answered in <10 min)
- I always get 100% uptimes but 99.99% is guaranteed (includes daily backups)
- They do free migrations, have a migrator plugin, and 30-day money back policy
- They’re based in Chicago (my hometown) and have 4 data centers to choose
Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I would genuinely appreciate it. Each year I donate $3,000 to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the homeless, and 2017 was to Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps, and I know there are tons of affiliates out there. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they’re the best host and that your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Google and Facebook groups and you’ll find most people say the same.
They have 3 plans:
Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.
You can see this on their features page…
One of many threads…
36+ WordPress Speed Optimization Tips
Follow my WordPress speed optimization guide which shows you how to…
- Diagnose slow plugins using GTmetrix
- Add AMP (accelerated mobile pages) using the AMP plugin
- Use AWStats to find causes of high CPU (crawlers, images, etc)
- Recommendations for lightweight slider/gallery/social sharing plugins
- Use Complete Analytics Optimization Suite (CAOS) to host Google Analytics locally
- Image optimization (serve scaled images, specify dimensions, lossless compression)
- Use WP Disable to disable unnecessary settings in WordPress core while turning on heartbeat control, loading of Google fonts asynchronously, other speed optimizations
And plenty of others. Read the comments and you’ll see things like “My page speed score on gtmetrix went from 69 to 93” and “this might be one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read.”
Get Help From My WordPress Speed Optimizer
Still need help with your GTmetrix/Pingdom report? I’ve been working with Pronaya for 7 years (he’s the one who helped me get a <1s load time in Pingdom). You can hire him by creating a profile on freelancer.com and searching for username bdkamol. Here is his full WordPress speed portfolio. He’s $40/hour from Bangladesh (so there is a time change) and you can email him at [email protected]. He also has a perfect 5 star review on his profile. Serious inquiries only, and please don’t expect 100% scores if you’re using slow hosting, a bloated theme, and tons of heavy plugins. Please follow my full WordPress speed guide first.
Here are some reviews on his profile…
See Also: How I Got 100% GTmetrix Scores
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 🙂