Today I want to talk to you about caching and how caching works. Imagine it like being in a huge industrial building where you must go from one end to the other to complete your task. So you walk the length of the building one way and the length of the building the other way. Now the next time you make the same trip but you find a shortcut allowing you to finish the task faster.
Now that you have found this shortcut you start using it more often but as you use it objects start to block your path forcing you to take the long way again. This is how cache works, it stores the data the first time so that the second time it needs to find the same files it can find them faster, but if there are too many files being cached it can actually slow down the page load speed.
Which is Better Server Level Caching or Static Caching?
Caching can be great depending on how it is done and how the server is configured. Server configuration takes a major part in whether or not the cache will speed up your site or crash your website! If your server is configured in a custom way, a plugin that works for others may crash your website. Not all cache plugins are compatible with all servers, so you need to make sure to research the software on your server before you install a cache plugin to handle the caching of your WordPress website.
If your host has server level caching your site will load faster as it is caching the entire site on the server for all visitors rather than per person using a plugin. So your site is being cached on the main server rather than per person per visit. This allows for anyone visiting your site to get to the site faster rather than visiting the first time at a decent speed, then when they return to that page getting a faster load time.
This is usually a safer method as the cache is built in vs. adding a new component to handle the caching of the website files, so the cache has been set up to be compatible with your system. This can help avoid any issues between the system and the caching component while serving up the files.
When you use static cache or plugins to cache you are only caching per person per browser so that person has to have already visited that page for it to load faster the next time they visit it, as the plugin will then store the data. This is because the data must be first stored in the cache so it can then be used when they return to those pages at a later time.
Therefore server level caching is better for site performance and will provide better site experience as users are navigating through the website. It will load faster allowing them to take less time to retrieve the information they are looking for.
How to Speed Up Caching
To speed up the site you can use a managed hosting solution with a built in cache that caches the entire site and serves up a cached copy to every user. If you have a managed solution everything is cached in the main tmp folder on the FTP server. This allows the entire system to cache vs. user by user. Doing it this way allows the TMP folder to store all the data from the site in one location, so the browser can read and render it faster.
Another thing you can do is use a CDN, or Content Distribution Network like Cloudflare which gives you nameservers to put into your hosting account and caches the entire site. This CDN even has the ability to minify all the code to speed up the website just by telling it to optimize the site in the drop down section. This will allow the system to load a cached and minified copy and also allows you to set up cached copies if the website is down, so even if your site is down users will be able to access the websites cached pages.
A program like this will also lower the amount of bandwidth the server uses, as it serves a copy of the site from the servers closest to the person requesting the information. This allows less call functions allowing the site to load fast and without using a ton of extra bandwidth, which helps save you a lot of extra bandwidth. This can be extremely helpful if your plan is limited to a certain amount of bandwidth per month as the site will go down after it reaches the max bandwidth limit.
How Big of A Difference Does it Really Make?
It can make a huge difference when using cache and not using cache! Using server caching and having an entire copy of the site stored can bring page load times down to 1 second or less for large amounts of data. You will be able to notice a huge speed boost between the cached version and the un cached version. The cached version will load almost instantly while the live version takes a bit more time to load all of the data.
Depending on the size of the pages and the size of the images on the pages this may be exactly what you need and it may help you with any speed issues you seem to be experiencing. It can also help increase user experience and help you keep people on your site longer! The faster your site loads the better experience your users will have.
What We Recommend For WordPress Users
If you’re looking for a decent method to cache your site I would recommend a WordPress Managed Hosting solution with built in cache over a cache plugin. These solutions are far more reliable and built in a way that is more compatible with the WordPress installs the system will install.
They also come with a list of plugins that are not allowed on the server, as they can cause issues with performance, security, or may be incompatible with the system. This helps you keep your site running fast and secure and helps prevent slowdowns and future attacks on your site.
So far we prefer Godaddy’s WordPress Managed servers as they have been the fastest and most reliable of the servers we have tested. We have seen an exponential increase in speed and reliability and the servers have more security features, allowing us to focus on our sites not our servers, as all updates and security issues are handled for us.
This makes Godaddy Managed Hosting the perfect solution for any web designer, or business who needs to focus on their sites not their servers. The single site plan is great for anyone with no server experience as well as you can set up your site and build your site and everything is taken care of for you. Because these are managed plans and not basic plans you will also have better customer support and Godaddy will take care of certain tasks for you if you experience issues so you can relax while the Pros work on your system.