WP-Rocket is a new commercial caching plugin for WordPress that launched exclusively in the French market eight months ago. It’s created and supported by Julio Potier, Jonathan Buttigieg, and Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, a small group of Frenchmen with a passion for website optimization.
WP Rocket Overview
WP Rocket is making its international debut this month in a market that is currently dominated by free WordPress caching solutions. Aside from a couple of Codecanyon items, WP Rocket is the first caching plugin to launch with a completely commercial model. Prices start at $39 for a single site ranging to $199 for unlimited sites with a year of updates and support.
Upon installing WP Rocket you will notice the options are pretty basic compared to Super Cache. I recommend enabling the following:
Why should I pay for a premium caching plugin?
- Enable Lazy loading images (this is one of the best features of the plugin! Thissignificantly improves load time and the end user experience)
- Enable HTML Minification
- Enable CSS Minification
- Enable JS Minification (the only reason I couldn’t enable this one is because I am using Google maps which is an external JS script which can’t be minified)
- Enable caching for mobile devices
If you install a caching plugin, the next thing you will probably do is to search for “best settings for W3TC or WP Super Cache”.W3TC recently launched add-don options for its powerful WordPress caching plugin to help meet this need but it costs $100. Hyper Cache and Quick Cache were created to help users who felt overwhelmed by the options of the other two plugins.I assume if I am paying for WP Rocket, I will provided with the best configuration options for the plugin.
If something goes wrong which is almost certain when you are using a caching plugin, who do you call on? If you are using a paid plugin, this should not be a problem as you can easily contact support and get the problem fixed.
Premium plugins receive more improvements and updates than free plugins. No surprises here as the developer needs to stay ahead in a very competitive market.I assume WP Rocket will add more features and the developers will continue to improve how the plugin handles caching.
Installing and Configuring WP Rocket
WP Rocket is a very powerful plugin, but unlike other caching plugins it is not packed with a ton of options. In fact, this plugin is exactly opposite to W3 Total Cache. There are only a handful of options that you will need to configure to make it work for your site. If you are a beginner, and installing WP Rocket plugin for the first time, then please follow the steps carefully.
Before you install the plugin, you need to make sure that you uninstall all other caching plugins, for example W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache. This needs to be done before installing WP Rocket plugin, so you don’t run into any issues upon activation.
Download and Install the plugin
Since WP Rocket is a premium plugin, the first thing you will need to do is to download a copy of the plugin from their site. Once you have downloaded the plugin files, you can install it directly from the WordPress dashboard. Under the plugins option of your dashboard, click the “Add new” button and then the “Upload plugin” button.
Go ahead, upload the plugin, and click the “Install Now” button.
Comparison Out-of-the-box performance
To create a caching plugin for the wider non-technical WordPress users that works out of the box is crucial. This test was conducted on my website flattrendz.com which is a collection of website design based on flat UI style. The site is image heavy and hosted on a shared hosting account. The tests were conducted using Pingdom.com’s Full Page Test.
Default WordPress: Without using any caching plugins, it takes 2.91 seconds to load the site and 1.7 seconds for the server to serve the first byte.
WP Super Cache:
After activating WP Super Cache, users are required to perform one additional task; to visit the plugins setting page and enable Caching. There is no out of the box optimization, however the option to enable caching is clearly marked and easy to find so let’s test the performance with caching on. With just caching enabled, WP Super Cache has reduced the load time to 1.74 seconds and the load time for the first byte to just 0.6 seconds.
W3 Total Cache: Similar to WP Super Cache, simply activating this plugin does not activate caching. Further steps are required but due to the amount of options in this plugin and the different menus, what that next step is, is unclear. Unlike WP Super Cache, if you are not a developer, the settings offered by W3 Total cache can be difficult to understand.
By simply activating WP Rocket, caching is activated by default. Without doing anything else, let’s test if there is any difference in performance. By simply installing and activating WP Rocket plugin, the site load time was 1.33 seconds and the time to load the first byte was just under 0.3 seconds.
Simply installing and activating WP Rocket boosts your site speed more other free caching plugins. The two other plugins do not offer out-of-the-box performance improvements, and even after just activating their basic caching, the performance different still does not match one provided by WP Rocket. That said, WP Super Cache is not far behind in terms of ease-of-use and performance improvement.
If money is tight, this wouldn’t be the first plugin I think you NEED to have. However, if you’re having trouble with your current caching plugin and don’t mind spending some extra money for a quality UPGRADE, then go for it! And get WP Rocket. You will definitely not be disappointed.