Some time ago, I got a copy of WP Rocket from the guys that developed it in order to test it and write a review about it. I was curios what this paid WordPress cache plugin has to offer in comparison with other free plugins out there, some of them very popular and used by lots of developers.
What’s the main functionality of a WordPress cache plugin?
WP caching plugins, either free or commercial, have the purpose of making the webpages load faster by:
- Caching pages into HTML ones (so they could be read without parsing the PHP code and make queries to the database)
- Minifying and concatenating .CSS and .JS files
- GZIP compressing the HTML pages
- Being compatible with Content Delivery Networks in order to serve assets (images and other files) from other servers (that are often closer to the location of the person loading the website, thus taking less time to download).
These are only a few of the features that are included in a caching plugin. As much as a like working with WordPress, being a developer myself, we all know how notoriously slow it can be sometimes if not optimised properly. Thus, all these caching plugins were developed.
Is it worth paying for a cache plugin when there are other ones out there free of charge?
In the beginning, I thought that this looks like a waste of money and wondered why would someone pay for a cache plugin when there are lots of other ones that can be found for free out there and are very powerful. However, I was thinking with the mind of the developer that likes to download plugins, have the time to play with them, tweak what needs to be tweaked and then happily use them without thinking of the premium options out there.
The plugin went through lots of updates in the past year and came with features that you won’t find in other cache plugins including: lazy loading, enable/disable caching on specific posts, combine google font requests into one. Besides, the interface is very simple and intuitive to use for the regular user which makes it easier to configure and it’s less likely that you will mess up something on your website. I’ve been using W3 Total Cache on my websites. It’s a good plugin, I would recommend it, but it takes you a while to understand it, especially if you’re not a developer. Plus, you don’t have any one on one support in case something goes wrong. You need to fix things yourself and since many people pay for convenience, an investment of $39 doesn’t seem much to save yourself time and other headaches.
Is WP Rocket’s default caching options the best for basic websites?
What would be one reason for investing into this plugin?
Having customer support when you need it. If you’re not a developer, it will help you save time and other headaches that other plugins could give you if they are not configured properly. I’ve regularly received emails and updates about WP Rocket in the past months.
If you’re a developer and care about the back-end side of things, I’ve also checked the quality of code.
- What I DO Like: it follows the WordPress standards (although they are really old fashioned) and is very well organised. Moreover, it has plenty of hooks that you can use which is great as you don’t have to touch the plugin directly in case you need to make changes (in general, it’s always best to make the changes you need without touching the WordPress plugins)
- What I DO NOT Like: the lack of OOP code (you barely see any). Most of the code is procedural and I believe WordPress developers should focus more on the objected oriented side of things as it would make things easier for future development. Also, some of the functions have fairly common names (e.g. “rocket_init”), which could conflict with other functions name the same in either the theme or in other plugins. It’s not that likely, but you never know. It happened to me in the past to believe that I used an unique name, and to found out that it was used in other plugins as well.
In short, if you need a simple to use caching plugin (the interface is basic and you won't get lost there, that's what I like about it) that would speed up your website, I would recommend you WP Rocket, especially for the support it offers. To convince yourself which plugin works best for you, test a few plugins and see which one has the best performance for your website.