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Cache Plugins

Last updated on June 17th, 2016 at 01:18 am

Ok, we will now get into a little more of this website details. The main driver for this site is the Live Composer page-builder. We are also using the free theme that is from the same developers – Orao. We’ll come to that later. Today we want to talk about cache plugins that we’ve tried with this combination.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, page-builders in general can add a hefty size and load on a site slowing down its rendering time. But the WordPress system has not been too bad with the non-cached average load time of around 1.9 seconds. The present day belief is that anything more than 2 seconds will get the visitor clicking away from your site. The site also weighs in at 710 kB and 40 requests. All measured with GTmetrix website.live_composer

So the first cache we tried was our favourite combined security/cache plugin, WordFence with Falcon caching engine baked in. This has worked well in our other projects and so was our “go-to” solution. It also covers two functions in one. To our utter surprise, when the cache part was activated ( it can be separately switched on), The site broke with the WordPress white screen of death! So this was a pita and we quickly fired up the trusty Filezilla (ftp client) to delete the plugin from the WordPress directory.

The second plugin we tried was the Comet Cache (nee Zen Cache). After installing and activating ….. the site was still up and running – all was well. So we tried the GTmetrix site to measure the decrease in loading time we hoped to see. But no change was seen. We repeated a few loading to get the cache warmed up but to no avail. The load time refused to budge from a stubborn 1.8 to 2.1 seconds. Further research into the  Comet cache website told us that to check for the evidence of the cache was working, peek into the source code (vie the browser “view page source”) and on the last line of the source, the plugin will reveal all. No, sorry, the cache was not working (it mentioned some cryptic explanation why its not caching). We fiddled with the setting a bit but without success.

So to plugin number three – WP Total Cache. This plugin has a reputation of a fearsome learning curve that matches the Eiger’s slopes! But methodically going through the settings, page by page gave us the impression that it was not that terrifying. Then to the test. The first run was 1.4 seconds which we thought might be a fluke. So to the second run which produced 1.1 seconds – hey can we believe this? After multiple runs, it settled down to 0.9 to 1.1 seconds. Another bonus was a drop of 10 http request and a drop of about 100 kB in download size to 600 kB. All very satisfying indeed.

final gtmetrix result

So our worry about page builder’s compatibility was well founded – two out of three caching solutions did not work. But our assessment of the Live Composer and whether it is worth learning will be discussed in a mini review type post at a later date. But high-fives to the W3 Total Cache, at least with it installed in the configuration we’re running.

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