(Reading time: 4 – 6 minutes)
There are some arguments in life that can never be won. Mets or Yankees? Tutti frutti or rum n raisin? Whiskey or beer? Dave Thackeray takes on a blogger’s dilemma…
WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache?
-by Dave Thackeray
Feverish was my anticipation of installing Total Cache after the Super Cache had been ploughing a furrow for my diseased database to trail along… while the tinkle and clatter of my 50+ plugins sounded from the rear.
I’ll be the first, and the last, to admit I’ve never really hung around the coding corner long enough to fathom the intricacies of cache. My closest encounter until recently came when King Podcaster Laporte spoke excitedly of Cachefly.com. Excitedly, as the ker-ching of sponsorship cash in the kitty resonated around Cottage Leoville.
In my Website 101 class, I discerned – slightly, barely – that cache is when the interwebs kidnaps pages and files on your behalf so you don’t have to go loading them all over again. Albeit a fortuitous, no-Amnesty-International-required, no kitties harmed abduction.
Since I’ve been dishing out scraps of creativity on the blog side of the tracks, I’ve become more interested in the benefits of Mighty Cache. To many, “cache” really IS cash: if you’ve got an eCommerce site, feeding content through the pipes quicker than your competitor means extra meat on the table.
Inevitably, you crave more.
You want a fancy carousel to display your content; your navigation area needs to shore up the link salvation provided by John Godley’s godly Redirection plugin. And you won’t sleep at night unless you can serve a tasty smorgasbord of images with every full-fat post.
That’s when you need to call in the cache ninjas; deft, flight of foot and utterly ingenious, these warriors of winning websites are manifested in everything epitomised by W3 Total Cache.
A while back, ever-so-frustrated by WP Super Cache’s lack of Adonis-like speed prowess, I decided to look into the wonders of Minify, an effort by Google to provide alchemic compression of CSS and JS. We all love and live by the law of CSS and JS these days, like it or not. Unless you put your rubies on rails, or handy python.
It didn’t work much, but then, it certainly didn’t promise to cure stupidity, so it’s a love-all compromise.
W3 Total Cache comes with Minify built in. This time it works, probably because the guys who built the WordPress plug-in knew what to use it for, and how to caress the Google baby’s shiny buttons.
To say it flies in style would be like comparing a Cessna to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Upload W3, activate it, head straight for the Minify Settings option and drop all your CSS and JS files (other than any dynamically-generated ones and conditional CSS for incontinent IE browsers) in the appropriate fields at the bottom. The mighty Yoast (of yoast.com) recommends embedding the JS scripts in the footer, as per the option on this page. So just do it: never disagree with ANYONE whose forehead equates in size to a football field.
You’d see huge speed gains straight away.
But I don’t stop there.
Not for you, not when we’re this close (and I imagine right now you’re wondering how you could clone me or add my double helix to that of your progeny).
There’s another beautiful page in the W3 Total Cache options that talks about “Content Distribution Networks” (CDN). Here’s my interpretation of CDN: to save undue load on your server, you hire a CDN spot on the web to host all your burdensome files and scripts. Then every time they’re called, the load is shared between your server and the CDN hangout. Everything pops up on your visitor’s screen in double quick time.
Well CDN sounds like a big deal to me. But there’s a place on the web where, as of today, you could snap up exactly what you need for $10 A YEAR! The holy grail is Max CDN. They’ll give you 1TB of bandwidth for that. Now I don’t know whether you serve up high definition hot and juicy mammas from Mexico, but if not, that’ll do you until the Second Coming.
For a full rundown on how to CDN your WordPress in conjunction with W3 Total Cache, check out a quick and dirty tutorial courtesy of the Racker Hacker dude.
I truly believe off the back of W3 Total Cache I managed to save a project that had taken me months of hard labour to get off the ground. It launches next week, and I get paid. [And we want a link to it when it's live - Dave]