WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache: Which One Is Better?

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WP Rocket and w3 Total Cache are two of the most popular WordPress caching plugins.

But which one is better? Not just for site speed, for ease of use, too.

In this WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache comparison, I put both plugins to the test on identical websites to see which plugin made the site the fastest.

I share the test results with you below, and discuss which plugin is the easiest to use. We’ll also take a look at the pros and cons of each plugin.

Let’s get started!

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About The Test Websites

To make sure both testing sites are an exact copy of each other they are hosted on the same web host.

I installed the same WordPress theme, filled with duplicate demo content, and installed a bunch of commonly used WordPress plugins. The same plugins on each site.

On the first website, I installed WP-Rocket and configured the settings to match those recommended in my WP Rocket Review.

On the second site, I installed W3 Total Cache and configured the settings for optimal results on a shared server, as recommended in this post here.

Finally, to test load time and performance scores BEFORE and AFTER installing the WordPress caching plugins I am using GTmetix.

The Results: WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache

As you can see from the screenshots below, before adding the caching plugins, both sites have the same:

  • Load time
  • Performance scores
  • Total page size
  • Number of requests

Here’s the screenshot for site #1 before installing the WP Rocket cache plugin.

Gtmetrix screenshot before installing WP Rocket

And the screenshot for site #2 before installing the W3 Total Cache plugin.

GTmetix screenshot before installing W3Total Cache

First I installed and configured WP Rocket and run another performance test using GTmetrix. This is what happened …

GTmetrix screenshot after installing WP Rocket

Then, I installed W3 Total Cache and run a new performance test.

GTmetrix screenshot after installing W3 Total Cache

WP Rocket is clearly a lot better than W3 Total Cache.

The numbers don’t lie!

After installing W3 Total Cache:

  • No improvement was made to performance scores
  • The homepage now loads slower than it did before
  • Number of requests are cut by only 16 (wp-rocket cut 35)
  • Total page size was reduced by a tiny 10 kilobytes

And here’s what happened after installing WP Rocket:

  • Performance scores jumped from grade B to grade A
  • The site now loads 1.3 seconds FASTER
  • Number of requests went down by 35
  • Total page size dropped from 802 to 459 kilobytes

Watch the video demonstration below to see how easy it is to speed up your WordPress website using WP Rocket.

By the way, the links above are affiliate links. That means I will get a small commission if you do end up purchasing. It’s at no extra cost to you, and please if you have any questions about the plugin, let me know in the comments box below, or send me an email. I’d be happy to answer them for you.

WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache: Pros and Cons

Now you know which plugin is proven to make WordPress faster.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using each one, starting with W3 Total Cache.

W3 Total Cache is a Free Plugin

This first point is obviously on my pro list.

After all, no one wants to pay for something when you can get the same solution for free, right?

Unfortunately though, in my experience, this is the only benefit I can find when comparing the two caching plugins.

That old saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly true in this instance because the cons far outweigh the pros. And here’s why.

W3 Total Cache Is Not Beginner Friendly

For non-techie WordPress users with no knowledge about how WordPress caching works, configuring the W3 Total Cache settings is overwhelming.

There are SO many of them! Just knowing where to start will confuse you.

For example …

Just take a look at all the settings you have to configure for page caching.

W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part One
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Two
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Three
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Four
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Five
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Six
W3 Total Cache Page Caching Setting: Part Seven

And that’s for page caching only. There’s a whole load more to configure for browser caching, file minification, and more.

Even when I followed the suggested configuration settings in the post I linked to earlier, it still took around 45 minutes to configure the plugin and that was a waste of time!

W3 Total Cache made no difference to the performance scores or load time of the site: even with page caching and browser caching enabled.

WP Rocket on the other hand is easy to use.

You just install it. Turn on the site speed features that you need, and you’re good to go. You don’t have to mess around fine-tuning the setting even further, like you do with W3 Total Cache.

For example…

When you active the WP Rocket plugin after installation, both browser caching and page caching is automatically applied for you.

The only change you may want to make to caching if your WordPress theme isn’t mobile responsive and you’re using a plugin like WPtouch, is this …

W3 Total Cache Has No Documentation Or Reliable Support

Although the plugin developer has answered some frequently asked questions about w3 Total Cache here and provided some guidance on how to perform specific tasks, there’s no official documentation.

Some bloggers have published how-to guides to help you get started, however, because every WordPress setup is different there is no one size fits all configuration!

Settings that work perfectly on one site may not work well on another WordPress site, and can easily break it.

And since W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress plugin, there’s no one to reach out to for support should that happen to you.

That said, you are able to ask a question in the plugin’s dedicated support forum, but from the looks of things I wouldn’t expect a speedy response.

Many questions have gone weeks without being answered.

WP Rocket, on the other hand, has a dedicated support team to help you fix any performance issues that are slowing down your site.

And they provide you with detailed documentation that covers everything you need to know about the plugin from installation and configuration to advanced usage.

Take a look at the testimonials below to see what others are saying about the WP Rocket caching plugin. To see more testimonials, click the image.

Click here to try WP Rocket today! If you’re not totally blown away with the plugin or support, you can ask for a full no questions asked refund for the first 14 days.

WP Rocket Won’t Break Your Website

Going back to what I said earlier about how w3 Total Cache can easily break a site, even if the settings applied worked seamlessly on another website…

It’s no secret that W3 Total Cache has a reputation for breaking wp sites, and sometimes all you have to do is install it. Click here to see what others are saying about that.

Personally, I’ve never known WP Rocket to break a site and I use it on my own WordPress website and wp sites belonging to clients that I work with.

Yes, the ‘file optimization’ settings can make some wp site features like popup forms behave strangely, but that’s easily fixed …

You just deactivate the settings and your wp site returns back to normal immediately!

wp-rocket file optimization settings

W3 Total Cache on the other hand breaks your site permanently with a 500 Internal Server Error that cannot be so easily fixed. Try WP Rocket Today.

WP Rocket Is a Complete Set of Site Speed Tools

WP Rocket gives you all the tools you need to speed up your WordPress website with just one plugin.

It has more features than W3 Total Cache and many other wp caching plugins including WP Super Cache. See the comparison chart below.

When you use W3 Total Cache, you will also need to install a bunch of other WordPress plugins to fix site speed issues that W3 Total Cache cannot fix.

And in my experience, many of these additional plugins often conflict with other plugins installed on your wp website, or with your active WordPress theme.

As a result of this, you’ll end up wasting hours, days, or even weeks of your time just trying to troubleshoot and resolve problems that can be avoided with WP Rocket.

WP Rocket Makes CDN Integration Easy

Both caching plugins integrate with most CDN providers including MaxCDN, KeyCDN, Amazon Cloudfront, Cloudflare, and others. However …

WP Rocket has gone the extra mile to make CDN integration super easy for you with their own premium CDN service called RocketCDN.

When you subscribe to the service, WP Rocket will:

  • Automatically apply the best CDN settings for you
  • Automatically configure the plugins CDN option

WP Rocket provides a convenient and fast one-click setup for easy CDN integration that you don’t get with w3 Total Cache and other WordPress cache plugins.

Conclusion: WP Rocket vs W3 Total Cache

The test results in this comparison clearly shows that WP Rocket is a lot better than W3 Total Cache. Here’s a quick recap.

After installing WP Rocket the load time, performance scores, and more where significantly improved:

  • Performance scores jumped from grade B to grade A
  • Page load time is 1.3 seconds faster
  • Number of HTTP requests reduced by 35
  • Total page size was reduced by 343 kilobytes

But after installing W3 Total Cache, very little changed:

  • No improvement made to performance scores
  • The site now loads slower than it did before
  • Number of HTTP requests reduced by only 16
  • Total page size reduced by a tiny 10 kilobytes

And that’s not all!

Because unlike W3 Total Cache:

  • WP Rocket won’t break your website
  • WP Rocket is quick and easy to use
  • WP Rocket has excellent customer support
  • WP Rocket provides clear and detailed documentation
  • WP Rocket has more features
  • WP Rocket makes CDN integration super simple

So if you’re ready for a blazing fast WordPress website, get WP Rocket today. [Full disclosure: if you click that link and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you], and if you have any questions about the plugins let me know in the comments box below or email me here. I’d be happy to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does WP Rocket Work?

Yes. I have used it to speed up my own WordPress website. Thanks to WP Rocket I was able to easily achieve load times of under 2 seconds on average and improve my performance grades significantly from a grade F to a grade A.

I have also used the plugin to speed up wp sites for clients of my website care plans, reducing load times by as much as 14 seconds in some cases.

Is WP Rocket Free?

No. WP Rocket is a premium cache plugin and for good reason too! You get premium results with premium support, and the plugin is easy to use. A single site license costs just $49 a year. You can buy it here.

What Is WP Rocket?

WP Rocket is a premium WordPress cache plugin that will make your WordPress website load fast which is important for SEO and user experience since site speed is now a Google ranking factor and 40% of users won’t wait longer than 2 seconds for a website to load.

Why Is WP Rocket Better?

WP Rocket has a reputation for being the best WordPress caching plugin ever created and I think it’s fair to say that my test results back that up 100%.

WP Rocket made the website load faster. It improved performance scores. Reduced the number of https requests significantly, and cut total page size in half, almost.

W3 Total Cache did none of those things! It just made the site load slower.

HELP! I Installed WP Rocket and My Site Still Loads Slowly.

If you have installed the plugin and set it up like I show you in this video demonstration, and you’ve optimized and resized scaled images …

You should consider moving your website to a faster web host. I recommend a2Hosting.

What Does W3 Total Cache Do?

W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress caching plugin that can also speed up your WordPress website. However, the plugin doesn’t work equally on all websites and server environments. Settings that work beautifully on someone else’s site are not guaranteed to work the same on your site, and may even break it.

How do I use W3 Total Cache in WordPress?

To get started, you’ll need to carefully follow the installation instructions given by the plugin developer here. This is very important! Not following those instructions can break your website, resulting in a 500 Internal Server Error.

Once installed, you need to active and fine-tune the plugin settings to work best with your website set up.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ configuration instructions I can give to you. Try this tutorial here. It didn’t work for me, but it might do for you. You won’t know for sure until you try.

That said, be sure to backup your WordPress files and database BEFORE installing the plugin. That way if anything bad happens you can restore your website.

How Do I Clear W3 Total Cache?

Clearing the cache is easy. Once logged into your website admin area, look for a tab at the top of your dashboard named ‘Performance’. Select ‘Purge All Caches’ to clear the cache.

Do I Need a Caching Plugin?

I highly recommend it!

Without a caching plugin, every single time someone visits your website the browser has to wait for the server to find all the information that it needs from the WordPress database to create a static HTML file to give to the browser.

The browser then needs to download the HTML file and any external resources it points to such as CSS stylesheets, javascript files, and images.

Only after ALL of that is done can the browser load your website for the visitor.

The entire process takes time, more so if your website is not optimized for speed. And the longer the process takes the slower your website loads.

When you install a good caching plugin like WP Rocket the server stores a copy of the HTML and simply gives the file to the browser immediately upon request. This cuts out all the back and forth, speeding up the load time of your website.

If I have any unanswered questions about either of the WordPress caching plugins, leave a comment below. I’d be happy to help.

Kind Regards,
Kerry – The Blog Mechanic