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Reduce WordPress Page Loading Time with W3 Total Cache

Have you noticed your blog is taking longer to load than it used to? When you get in the blogging groove you may find things getting a little sluggish the more you post. But what can you do? W3 Total Cache puts your website on a crash course of physical fitness that speeds of load time and lessens the resource crunch that plagues so many WordPress powered blogs. Alex Patin of Alex Patin Designs swears by W3 Total Cache, he says:

“I went home and installed the plugin on a client’s content heavy blog (filled with lots of code, plugins, images, etc.), then configured it with our Amazon S3 account and started performing some tests. The results were almost too good to be true. My initial tests were averaging 9 seconds for the home page. After installing and configuring W3 Total Cache, the home page loaded in just under 1 second. It was unbelievable. For the last couple years, I have included W3 Total Cache in almost every WordPress site I have developed. It is very easy to configure, and since it is free, everyone who uses WordPress should have this plugin installed on their site.”

W3 Total Cache is one of the highly recommended tools for WordPress  which comes with advanced level features to reduce load timings for a website.

Necessary prerequisites

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First of all you need to be on a self hosted WordPress blog (if you log in to wordpress.com this isn’t for you), and the W3 Total Cache plugin. You can find it either in the plugin directory (accessible through the dashboard) or from their official website here. Also for the purpose of this walk-through I will be using another plugin called Yslow from yahoo (measures loading time of media) and a third party service called pingdom (monitors the ping rate or the load time of a website). I will refer to both at some point so its up to you to use those as well.

Before I forget I have setup two identical WordPress sites for this walk-through. You can find the pre-w3 one here, which has content and plugins resembling you typical blog. Just like the post-w3 site the blog will have 5 pages, 20 posts with an image each, and the plugins you would expect to use on a blog. The eventual goal is to piratically demonstrate how using W3 Total Cache you can speed up load times on your WordPress blog or Website.

Installing W3 Total Cache

The easiest way to install W3 Total Cache is to go through the plugin directory available directly in your dashboard. To install head over to your plugins tab on the left hand toolbar. From the plugin list, click on install plugin. Now you should a search bar with a box of the most popular keywords for plugins. To find W3 Total Cache just enter it in the search bar. If everything is going corrctly you should see a list like in the picture to the left. Just click install and let it do its thing, but most importantly when the install finishes don’t forget to activate W3 Total Cache. Yslow should also install in a similar fashion.

General Usage

When you install and activate W3 Total Cache a new section on your menu bar will pop up titled “Performance”. Mouse over to it and go to general setting where you should see a page that looks like this. W3 Total Cache tries to be pretty straight forward with each option and includes explanations or recommendations with each option. Taking some time and familiarizing yourself with the general options will be very beneficial in the long run for you.


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