Is your website running on the slow side? Learn how to use W3 Total Cache correctly to speed up your website. W3 Total Cache is one of the most powerful speed boosting plugin for WordPress sites. While it’s worth noting that the plugin can be a bit tricky to use especially for those not too familiar with terms like caching, minify, CDN, and code combination, it does offer great functionalities if configured correctly.
Before starting, back up your website’s directory and database before starting with each of these steps if you need to revert the site to it’s previous state. If you are using the latest cPanel version, you may simply “Copy” the directory in your ftp server without having to download the files to your local environment and export the current .mysql file out of your database in phpmyadmin.
A web cache is a mechanism for the temporary storage (caching) of web documents, such as HTML pages and images, to reduce bandwidth usage, server load, and perceived lag. A web cache stores copies of documents passing through it; subsequent requests may be satisfied from the cache if certain conditions are met.
W3 offers a number of caching options including page cache, database cache, object cache, and browser cache). If you are suggested to “Remove query strings from static resources” by speed testing sites like Pingdom, then you will want to uncheck the “prevent caching of objects after settings change” option in the Browser Cache settings panel.
Minify in the context of programing languages refers to the process of removing all unnecessary characters from source code without changing its functionality. These unnecessary characters usually include white space characters, new line characters, comments, and sometimes block delimiters, which are used to add readability to the code but are not required for it to execute.
Minifying your code is important to boasting site performance because each character and space in your source code increases the size of your website. The more clean and condense your html, java, and css codes are, the better. Minifying with W3 can be a tricky procedure because you run the risk of breaking some of your website’s styling and functions.
In General Setting, enable Minify and select the auto minify mode then save all settings. Then navigate to the minify tab, make sure that all sections are active. You may deselect Don’t minify feeds under HTML & XML.
To ensure that your main css file will not be affected, insert these lines to “Never minify the following CSS files” field to exclude them from being minified. Replace”themenames” with your own theme’sname.
After saving, refresh your site to make sure that everything is still working correctly. If parts of your styling, content, or function get stripped of, try switching to combine only. For CSS, select “Bubble” next to @import handling. If these steps fail as well, return to the minify section inside the general settings tab, then check “manual” next to Minify mode. Now you can explore and experiment more extensive settings in the Minify tab to find a solution that works for your site. Learn more about Minify with this FAQ.
CDN, content delivery network or content distribution network, is a server setup that allows for faster, more efficient delivery of your media files. In essence, CDN works as an intermediary between your actual website and the users by allowing users to access media files from your CDN which can help reduce traffic and load time of your website.
There are two types of CDNs- Push CDN an Original Pull CDNs. Both of these have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your needs. A Push CDN can be considered as a secondary server, you as the user uploads media to the CDN and link to it. The CDN pushes the content you’ve uploaded to the network. This method helps keep traffic to a minimum because content is uploaded only when it is new or changed. An Original Pull CDN (Mirror) puts files on the CDN for the users. You simply leave the content on your current server and rewrite the URLs to point to the CDN. When asked for a specific file, the CDN will first go to the original server, pull the file and serve it. This method is very simple, yet may cause more traffic and requires users to set the cache expiring time correctly to optimize its functions. Learn more about CDNs.
W3 Total Cache has a CDN configuration panel that lets you connect your site to different types of CDNs with a few clicks. To begin, scroll down to the CDN section on the General Settings page, enable the CDN function and select the CDN type you will use. Choose “Generic Mirror” if you have set up a self-hosted CDN. Navigate to the CDN panel after saving the settings, and customize based on your needs. In the case of serving static content with a cookieless domain, check “Set cookie domain to ‘www.yourdomain.com.” Read more about how to Serve Static content from a cookieless subdomain.