WP Super Cache is a solid cache plugin (if you’re going the free route).
I will show you how to setup the WP Super Cache settings including the Advanced, CDN, and Plugin tab. I’ll also cover Cloudflare, StackPath, and show you the difference between the two.
If you’re using an NGINX server, you will need to edit the configuration file to make full use of WP Super Cache, especially to use the disk-base cache. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, I recommend trying a different cache plugin (WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, or even W3 Total Cache), as these cache plugins do not require you to edit your NGINX configuration file.
Cache plugins, CDNs, and hosting are 3 major factors from the WordPress optimization guide. Aside from configuring your cache plugin with optimal settings and Cloudflare/StackPath’s CDN, I recommend joining the WordPress Hosting Facebook Group to see what unbiased people are saying. SiteGround was rated #1 in 26 Facebook polls and is who I use. I’m on their semi-dedicated GoGeek plan which has 4x more server resources than most shared hosting with 100% GTmetrix scores and a .5s load time. They will also migrate you for free.
Here’s how to configure the WP Super Cache settings:
How To Setup WP Super Cache
Caching (Enable) – enables caching, an easy way to improve load times.
Test cache – tests whether the cache is working. If you see errors, go to the Advanced tab and tweak some of the miscellaneous options (try disabling “compress pages” and “cache rebuild”).
Caching (Enable) – enables caching.
Cache delivery method – simple mode is easiest and is recommended for non-programmers. Expert Mode uses Apache’s mod_rewrite feature to serve “supercached” static html files and is faster than simple mode… but if you’re uncomfortable editing PHP files, use simple mode.
Don’t cache pages for known users (Enable) – enabling this doesn’t show cached pages for people who have been on your website before. This is good because regular visitors want to see new content (eg. in your blogroll) that otherwise wouldn’t show up if you disable this.
Don’t cache pages with GET parameters. (?x=y at the end of a url) (Enable) – doesn’t cache pages that are different for each user (unique sales pages if you run Facebook/Google ads, membership profiles, conditional logic on contact forms). GET Params is a great plugin for this.
Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors (Enable) – this is the “Gzip Compression” item in GTmetrix/Pingdom. After enable this, view your homepage and look for noticeable formatting errors. If there are any, disable it. Otherwise, definitely enable this.
Cache HTTP headers with page content (Disable) – makes cached pages faster, but also makes WP Super Cache use PHP file delivery (slower) instead of static file delivery (faster). It’s a trade-off, but if you use plugins that send extra headers, enable it. Otherwise, disable it.
Cache rebuild. Serve a supercache file to anonymous users while a new file is being generated (Enable) – shows the cached page if a new file is in the process of being generated.
304 not modified browser caching. Indicate when a page has not been modified since it was last requested. (Enable) – prevents updating the cache on ‘tag’ pages (saves server resources).
Make known users anonymous so they’re served supercached static files – counters the earlier setting “don’t cache pages for known users” and instead, it caches for everyone.
Enable dynamic caching – (Enable) – enables caching for dynamic content (content that is changing) like ads, a publicly displayed visitor count, or even Amazon’s recommendations.
Remove UTF8/blog charset support from .htaccess file. Only necessary if you see odd characters or punctuation looks incorrect. Requires rewrite rules update – (Disable) – if you see weird characters on your website (Â â €™ ¢), this should fix it. Otherwise, leave it disabled.
Clear all cache files when a post or page is published or updated – Enable) – if you publish a post, and you also have a blogroll (eg. on your homepage) and want to make sure it’s updated with the newest post, this will clear the cache and make sure the new content is being shown.
Extra homepage checks. (Very occasionally stops homepage caching) (Enable) – similar to the previous setting, this makes sure your newest blog posts are being shown on the homepage (if you have a blogroll). This is also applicable to dynamic content on the homepage.
Only refresh current page when comments made – enable this if you have lots of comments, as readers want to see the latest content (you don’t want to refresh all the cache to do this).
List the newest cached pages on this page (Disable) – shows which pages have been cached.
Coarse file locking. You do not need this as it will slow down your website (Disable).
Late init. Display cached files after WordPress has loaded (Enable) – allows content to stay dynamic. If you see the error “super cache dynamic page detected but late init not set” fixes it.
Cache location – Don’t Change – don’t change the path, the default path is fine.
Cache Timeout – 3,600 is good for most websites, high traffic websites can lower this to 1,800. This is the frequency cached pages expire and will be thrown away. If you set it too slow, users will never see cached version. If too fast, it can consume lots of server resources.
Accepted filenames & rejected URIs – specify pages you don’t want to be cached. The most common use for this is excluding eCommerce pages or pages that are updated very frequently.
Rejected user agents – prevents user agents from caching pages. The most common ones are search engines like Googlebot and Bingbot, but here is a complete list of user agents you can view. If using WPtouch, you will also want to add their entire list of mobile user agents here.
Lock down – prepares your server for an expected spike in traffic (during lock down, new comments on a post will not refresh the cached static files). This will save on server resources and help prevent your site from crashing. Only enable this if you notice traffic skyrocketing.
Directly cached files – if you know a specific page will get a high spike in traffic, add them here.
Fix configuration – restores the default WP Super Cache settings.
A CDN (content delivery network) hosts your heavy website files on multiple data centers around the country/world, which reduces the geographic distance between your server and visitor. This reduces load times and is recommended in the WordPress optimization guide.
StackPath is one of the most popular CDNs and is what I use on my site . They have 31 data centers heavily located in the US and amazing support who helped improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%. KeyCDN is also good, but I’ve been very happy with MaxCDN/StackPath.
StackPath vs. Cloudflare – Cloudflare is free, StackPath starts at $10/month with a free 30-day trial. Cloudflare has it’s own data centers, StackPath has their own data centers. Generally the more data centers, the better, and the more resources you can offload to them (making your site load even faster). StackPath comes with a support team who will help you configure it (there is no support with Cloudflare’s free plan). StackPath support was able to significantly improve load times and improve my GTmetrix YSlow score by 8%, which was totally worth it.
Step 2: In the StackPath dashboard, click the CDN tab, and create a StackPath CDN Site…
Copy your server IP address – it is needed in step 6 of this section.
Step 3: Paste your CDN URL in WP Super Cache’s CDN tab under “Off-Site URL” and “Additional CNAMES.” If using SSL, also check “skip https URLs to avoid mixed content” errors.
Step 4: In StackPath go to CDN → Cache Settings, then click “Purge Everything”…
Step 5: Copy your server’s IP address from step 2 (you can also find it in your hosting account). Then whitelist your server IP address in StackPath by creating a WAF site (WAF → Firewall).
Step 6: Run your site in GTmetrix and “content delivery network” should be green in YSlow.
Be sure to contact StackPath’s support as they were able to tweak my settings to further improve grades. They have one of the greatest support teams – I would definitely utilize it.
As long as your “cache timeout” is set appropriately in the Advanced settings, your expired cached pages will be deleted and they won’t put stress on your server. When working on site, you may also be making changing to CSS/JS (eg. background images) and see a cached version (or you may not see that your CDN is working). In this case, deleting the cache should fix this.
Delete cache – refreshes the cache in case you see old cached versions of your pages.
Preload is a refresh when the cached pages are all cleared out and refreshed in one go. I would enable it since this improves both website/indexing speed. However, preload consumes a lot of server resources which puts stress on your server and can make your website slow. By default, it set to refresh preloaded cache files every 600 minutes. But you should increase this number if it’s putting stress on your server, especially if you’re on shared hosting. You can also leave it to 0 if you do not want static files to expire ever unless you manually refresh the cache.
WP Super Cache does not have a direct way to setup Cloudflare, but this is very easy and I definitely recommend using Cloudflare’s free CDN. Many hosts (including SiteGround) have an option to activate Cloudflare in their cPanel with 1 click. This is by far the easiest method.
If your host doesn’t have this option, follow the steps below…
1. Sign up for Cloudflare and you will be prompted to add your website then begin a scan.
2. Once the scan is complete, select the free plan, then Cloudflare will take you through a set of pages. You will eventually be taken to a page where Cloudflare assign you 2 name servers…
3. 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…
5. Cloudflare says “we recommend that 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.”
Add these 2 page rules in your page rules settings…
6. Finally, go to your Cloudflare caching settings and purge individual files…
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 pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG(Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. 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…
Did it work?
Let me know in the comments!