Setting up W3 Total Cache part 1

Posted by Matthew Snider with 14 Comments

W3 Total Cache is a monster of a plugin, that is a good thing! This plugin is a must have and it is NOT in competition with wp super cache at all. It stands alone and on top of wp super cache in the functionality and breathe that it offers up to help your site becomes as fast as it can be.

I will do a general overview in this part 1, in part 2 I will go into depth on what settings can be used and why.

Why do I need W3 Total Cache?

Because I said so! Oh wait that won’t work here.  You need this plugin so your site can be as fast as it can be for your visitors. Your visitors is why you have a website, why you want it to be faster, along with our big brother Google.

Google has said time and time again, rankings are dependent upon the speed in which a website loads. This is not the only factor in Google search engine rankings/placement but it is a large factor. With that being said, why would you skip it when you have a tool that is so easy to setup?

With the above said, lets get down and dirty and start installing this badboy!

How to install W3 Total Cache

The install is like any other plugin. You have two options.

1. Download the file from the WordPress Plugin Directory . Ftp the contents to your server and activate.


2. Install it from within the admin panel on your plugins page. I usually always do this option as its a time saver and is only one step.

General Settings Page

The General Settings page is the overview, the main hub if you will for all of W3 Total Cache. Once we have you all setup, this page will be the only page you need to validate is setup correctly.

Let’s go through each of the important options and get to know a bit more about what it is and what it can do for your site visitors.

Page Cache

What is Page Cache, well it’s W3TC way to serve up static pages in the place of dynamic ones when possible to your visitors. This allows you to show your content as fast as possible to the visitor. You need to enable this setting, choosing basic disk is what I have setup and will be fine for 99% of us out there. I will cover the more in depth options in Part 2 of this setup document.


Minify is a way to squash your files to serve up the data in the smallest form possible. W3TC can automagically minify your HTML, JavaScript and CSS files. This removes all whitespaces and other options within the mentioned files. This allows the server to serve this content up as fast as possible to your visitor. Squashing out about 10% does make a speed difference for sure!

This should be enabled and again, we will dig into the specifics in Part 2 of this setup document.

Database Cache

This should be enabled and disc method should be setup as the default. W3TC can be setup to cache the database queries for easy and fast recall when they are needed. This can speed up any site significantly, especially if you have a popular, heavy trafficked site! Make sure to check out the options I setup in Part 2 of this setup document.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

In a world where speed matters, this is the easiest way to handle a slow site. A CDN is a place, off site that has a network of connected computers that can serve your images, content, javascript and more a lot faster than your local server. I currently am with MaxCDN and love them!

The most important and unique feature of W3TC is the ability to use a CDN like MaxCDN (which I use here at Geek for Him, or other options. W3TC can host all of your images, including your uploads, your theme files, CSS files and other static items on the CDN easily to speed up your site and reduce server load. This is HUGE and very simple to setup.

There is a cost involved in having a CDN solution but it’s well worth every penny to speed up your site and get noticed.

Import / Export Settings

This is a blessing in disguise. It is what it says it is, this section allows you to import and export configurations for this plugin. In Part 2 of this setup document I will link out to my exported file so you can just use my settings and be good to go.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, where I plan to go into much more depth about each section and what settings we need for it to run quickly.

Matthew Snider

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Matthew is the Editor-In-Chief, and founder of Geek for i. He has produced such posts as Top 5 iPhone Apps For The BathroomMac or PC and many more. His love for iDevices started back when he purchased the original iPhone.

14 responses to Setting up W3 Total Cache part 1

  1. wow! what interesting timing! i’m writing a post on w3 today…!

    i would disagree with you on a few points here, most of which i’ll describe in my post… and a CDN is definitely not the”The most important and unique feature…” since more and more plugins (like WP Super Cache) include CDN as a value proposition.

    It’s rather the ability to customize and use alternative php caching methods per server environment.

    • Thanks brother – looking forward to your post. Will read it for sure.

      I do have a bad habit of putting out some pretty bold and all encompassing statements. It is who I am!!

      When did Super Cache add CDN? Last time I used that, long time ago, it brought my server and site down rather quickly.

      • a few versions ago.

        also, i see that your minify settings here are broken since the jquery comment/reply in wordpress’ native system is requiring to reload the page to do so.

        this is another reason why w3 total cache is tough for new bloggers to use because there are almost too many places for them to mess up… you can check the user forums to get a good picture of how many people are frustrated with it!

        but, i love the darn thing… it just requires a bit more knowledge than most have.

  2. i can’t reply again…

    so have you not put the other systems on your w3tc/cdn? seems my browser is requesting data via multisite.

    fascinating… it seems to be affecting your load time which would impact your page speed and seo. did you decide to not isolate on purpose? just curious. doesn’t bother me either way.

  3. what page cache methods are available to you? screenshot?

  4. Like i promised…

    published ~~~~~~~~~~>

    let me know your thoughts.

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