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