The Ultimate WP Rocket Review: The Best WordPress Cache Plugin Yet

WP Rocket is a premium plugin for WordPress that speeds up your website by handling all your regular site caching (page caching, browser caching, database cashing) and, for more advanced users who want to squeeze out more performance, will also act as a controlling hub to handle more advanced caching services, such as server caching (Varnish), Content Deliver Networks (MaxCDN, etc), and CloudFlare.

It was designed by premier developers Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, Julio Potier, and Jonathan Buttigieg, and has been on the market for just several years now, garnering a huge following (over 100,000 sites use WP Rocket now) and glowing praise. Even more so, WP Rocket does NOT offer an affiliate program, so that praise is real praise, and not some cheap sales tactic by bloggers & influences to score affiliate sales.

This is THE cache plugin that I own and use, both on this site on virtually every other site I own and run. I have long since replaced the free W3 Cache with WP Rocket.

Why?

Because WP Rocket is by far the best wordpress cache plugin on the market and faster than every other cache plugin. It’s also a lot easier to use and set up, making what was normally complex rather simple to understand and configure for optimal speeds.

Simply activating the plugin without enabling or fiddling around with the more advanced features will increase the speed of your site, sometimes drastically.

Just to be clear here — there is no ‘incentive’ for me to write a bit review on this plugin (which this is) as there is no ‘affiliate program’; I am not getting ‘paid’ to write this, nor can I earn money from it. I wrote this 3000 word review simply because I strongly feel this plugin is well worth the yearly cost and one of the best investments you can make if you own a blog or multiple blogs.

Why a Caching Plugin?

Caching can be used to make your website load pages much faster than normal, and we all can appreciate the importance of having fast loading sites.

There are a couple reasons why you want a caching plugin.

  1. Better Google Search Ranking: Search engines are continually focusing on loading speed as one of the ranking factors.
  2. Faster WordPress page loading: One of the easiest ways to optimize WordPress sites for better speed, is by installing a cache plugin.
  3. Reduced Bounce Rate & Increased Page on Time factors: again, ranking signals used by Google indicating a better user experience
  4. Better conversions: studies done have shown every extra second of page load time can significantly reduce your sales conversions; this can affect adsense and affiliate sales as well
  5. Cache plugin can do the heavy lifting for CDN and Cloudflare settings
  6. Can Reduce Overall Server Load (useful if you have a dedicated server or shared server with multiple sites on it)
  7. Reduce Server Bandwidth Usage

The bottom line here is that installing a cache plugin can significantly speed up your wordpress which brings a host of benefits. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have one installed, period. Even if not WP Rocket, any cache plugin will help you here!

How Caching Works?

It  happens in the background without manual input. The cache is created in your computer’s memory in an area that is reserved for temporary storage. When a request is made on the web to load a particular page, the copy of the page is loaded from the cache. This reduces the speed at which pages are loaded, while also minimizing the use of resources, and increasing efficiency with less load required from your site.

With caching, the pages are no longer sent from the server where they are hosted, but copies of the pages coded with the HTML files are sent to your computer. It means that a lower number of  requests to retrieve pages are sent to the server, but the files are instead loaded from your PC. With a lower number of requests,pages and elements load much faster, and a few additional options can also accelerate the process.

With heavily trafficked sites, and those that contain a lot of images, the server load is increased, and the problem is exacerbated especially on shared servers.where options such as load balancing may not be available.

Some of the premium cache plugins such as WP Rocket include additional options such as compression of the markup and minification of the external scripts for efficient processing, and also caching of the connected database in memory for faster connections and searching.

The result is that caching always provide much faster processing.

The Cost

There are 3 licenses available for using WP Rocket

  • Single site – $39.0
  • 3 sites – $99.0
  • Unlimited sites – $199.0

The purchases are a one-time payment, however, if you wish to continue to receive updates and have access to the support desk, the licenses must be renewed annually.

Let me be clear here: this is a premium solution. If you have a single site, the $40 a year basically comes down to under $4 bucks a month. For a significant increase in page loading speed (even when compared to other cache plugins), this is a no brainer. I’ll pay 20 dollars a month to shave off 1 or 2 seconds of page loading time. In fact, I currently pay something like 300-400 a month just to ensure the maximum speeds I can (WP Rocket, MaxCDN, a dedicated server, image optimization services, and CloudFlare). If you have more than 3 sites though, you may find the $199 a year pretty steep. While that’s something like 15 bucks a month, it’s still a bit of a stinger all up front.

I do wish the company offered a lifetime membership, even if it was double or triple this (I would pay it!). But they don’t.

Note, you can continue to use the software after the license expires, but you can’t get an update. Note that you are given a 50 percent discount for renewing. The plugin won’t activate though on more than the allowable amount of sites, depending on the package you buy. So if you want to put it on more than say 3 sites, you’ll need to have the unlimited site option, or it won’t install on more than the three you activate.

WP Rocket Vs W3 Cache, SuperCache, and Hyper Cache

The comparison chart may help you to decide if the paid model offered benefits over installation of a free cache plugin.

WP RocketSuper CacheHyper CacheW3 Total Cache
Price/ professional license$199.00freefree$99.00
Cache PreloadYPARTNPART
Gzip compressYNNY
Lazy LoadYNNN
CDN SupportYYNY
Cloudflare compatibilityYNNY
DNS PrefetchingYNNN
Support multi-siteYNPARTPART
Connected user-experienceYYNY
Import/ Export capabilityYNNY
Mobile detectionYYNY
Minification/concatenationYNNY
Easy setupYNYN
 Database Optimization Y N N N

Using WP Rocket

Downloading and Installing WP Rocket

After downloading the files associated with the purchase of the license at the WP Rocket site, it can be installed directly from your WordPress admin dashboard. All other caching plugins should be uninstalled before installing WP Rocket. The installation process is simple, as you access the plugin menu from the WordPress admin panel, and click on “Add new” to “upload plugin”.The installation can then proceed, and you should receive notification that the installation has been successfully completed.

How to Configure WP Rocket

In order to operate at your site, the plugin must be activated and a few simple configurations are necessary. From the Settings menu, the basic options page will be loaded where configuration options can be set. I won’t get into the setting up of the plugin here. However, suffice to say that you can install and set up your plugin in less than 1 minute — and without being inundated with complex settings, options, and confusing information, which is always the case with other plugins like W3 Cache.

Simply install, activate, and click a couple buttons. Bam, your site will be significantly faster.

WP Rocket Features of Note

Unlike other caching plugins, WP Rocket contains a few, but powerful options.

  • Lazy Load – This ensures that images only are loaded on the when they come into view. Consider what happens with pages that contain a lot of images. To load each image, requires a server request, slowing the page load process, if the full page is loaded. The Lazy Load forces images to only be loaded when seen in the window, as user scrolls up or down. Far better load times. These feature sets the plugin apart from all the other free options like W3 Cache, because it has support for lazy load right out of the box. If you don’t use this plugin, you’ll have to download and install a separate plugin, which slows down your site. It also also WP Rocket to manage and control this setting within the cache plugin framework, leading to better speeds and less issues with broken CSS/JS. 
  • Prefetch — allows you to warm up the catch by pre-fetching resources. Even better, if you use a sitemap or you have Yoast SEO installed, you can set it up to prefetch from your default XML sitemap. This can shave a bit of time off of your page loading.
  • Database Optimization — another new but powerful feature just added as of 2.8 version. This basically includes a full database optimization tool where you can optimize your database tables, delete comments, post revisions, and other transient data. And you can schedule optimizations regularly to keep your database optimized and fast. WP Rocket is the only cache plugin that has this built in. Formerly, you would need to install something like WP-Optimize. Now, WP Cache does it for you.
  • CDN Management: The Content Delivery Network function is used in conjunction with your CDN. When enabled, all your image resources are hosted through a content delivery network for much faster delivery which result in faster page loading times. You can link your site to a CDN simply by adding the required CDN information here.
  • CloudFlare: WP Rocket also has a dedicated CloudFlare management system. If you have cloudflare set up, you can link your site to it and control all your cloudflare settings right from the dashboard (such as clearing your cloudflare cache, adjusting the cloudflare caching settings, turning it off, etc). Even better, since CloudFlare support is built into WP Rocket and managed through this area, WP Rocket works very well with CloudFlare and has few or no issues because of it when you use both together, unlike other cache plugins which often break when you turn cloudflare caching on. Also note that because WP Rocket includes support for CloudFlare through a dedicated section, it does what the CloudFlare wordpress plugin does, so you won’t need that. Mainly, this helps with Cloudflare SSL settings so they work properly by default if you have CloudFlare, SSL, and RocketCache installed
  • Minification – Adjusts the size of static CSS and Javascript files, by removing spaces and comments. The files are still fully functional, but loading should be faster. However, my experience has been that it should be used judiciously, as it can sometime affect the appearance of the theme. Concatenation combines the JS and CSS files, to reduce the number of http requests, however, enabling this option can also be the source of site errors.
  • Mobile Cache – Most WordPress themes are designed to be mobile responsive, however with Mobile Cache enabled, you can ensure that your pages are loaded quickly on mobile devices.
  • Logged in user cache – If you run a site with multiple authors, or one that require users to sign-in, you can enable caching for logged in users, which is a feature not normally enabled.
  • SSL – Secured pages are not usually cached, however enabling SSL will allow secure caching for pages with SSL protocol (https://). I’ve found this feature useful when using Cloudflare’s flexible SSL setting and MaxCDN.
  • Clear Cache Lifespan – You can set the time for pages to be cleared from the cache, which by default is set at 24 hrs.
  • DNS Prefetch: Whenever you visit a webpage, external scripts, such as widgets and popups or Google Fonts are loaded for processing. The loading is normally fast -in milliseconds, however, many of the scripts are hosted on third-party domains, where access to APIs may be needed. This can slow the speed of DNS lookups, however, DNS Prefetching can be an effective solution. By adding the 3rd party host DNS to Prefetch requests, the requests are made before the pages are loaded.
  • Exclude JS and CSS files you can select which files are to be excluded from caching. Such as in cases of eCommerce, where it is impractical to have checkout pages, shopping carts and download items to be cached.
  • Deferred loadingThere are instances where you some associated JavaScript files to be loaded at slightly different times that the page, and can set these options with Deferred loading.

My Speed Tests

I have tested the plugin on a few WordPress sites and the results as reported by Pingdom and GTMetrix, all indicate a great improvement in loading speeds, when compared to several leading popular caching plugins. The tests were not complex over scientific, but simply looked at a few characteristics of page and element loading in addition to file size both before and after WP Rocket was installed.

In most cases, the file sizes were drastically reduced, and loading time was significantly decreased, while there were no noticeable differences in functioning or site rendering. Testing included the differences noticed with Lazy loading enabled, mobile caching, and  lifespan of the cache. to 96 hours.

What I found awesome was that this plugin combines well with CloudFlare and MaxCDN, allowing you to really improve the speeds. Just using WP Rocket ALONE improved speeds over all the other cache plugins. But by installing Cloudflare (and activating all the cloudflare speed caching options — Rocket Loader, JS, CSS minifications) and MaxCDN — something the plugin supports and links together for you, you can boost your speeds even faster!

It is advised that you do your own tests, as environments may be different, but I can suggest a few criteria that should help in your evaluations. I recommend that all tests be done under loaded conditions.

  • Recognize that you often get what you pay for, and there may be times when the free model may not be enough.
  • Usability will perhaps be determined by technical proficiency, and you may or may not need something that is intuitive. WP Rocket is easy-to-use with minimal configurations. Other WP plugins such as Super Cache is much more difficult, and in some cases requires coding knowledge.
  • I gave a lot of weight to the features, and how easy they were to use. WP Rocket emerges ahead of the competition.
  • Price comparison – All features available in WP Rocket one-site license for $39.0. Features, needs should be balanced against derived value.
  • Support. WP Rocket support staff can be described and remarkable, and are always ready to provide assistance in multiple forms. Some free models lack support and only offer a forum for discussion, which may not always be a suitable solution.

The Good

    1. With comparative tests, the caching technology employed in WP Rocket showed to be superior to those used in WP super cache and W3 Total cache. Sometimes it’s close (within one second, but sometimes it’s significantly faster).
    2. Reduced renewal rates for licenses : You can easily renew your license at up to 50% off within 30 days of the date of expiration of the original license. The reduced renewal costs of the Professional, Business, and Personal Licenses are $99.50,  $49.50 and $19.50 per year respectively.
    3. Remarkable advanced features galore that outshine those of competitors such as Lazy Loading, Database Optimization, Built in CloudFlare support, and more
    4. Wide compatibility with other WordPress plugins
    5. Steady documentation and support with an extensive and frequently updated knowledge base.

The Bad

  • It is not free, and you should expect to compromise looking at the value when compared to competitors. The cost for the Pro version at $199 annually with a renewal cost of $99.0 may be considered as being expensive.
  • The Advanced options are not as extensive for those who are inclined to be hands on and managing details.
  • The minification option, when enabled, may affect the CSS and rendering of some themes, as will the lazy loading
  • Some users have mentioned issues with some themes where the CloudFlare loading option is enabled
  • If you use SSL or Cloudflare’s flexible SSL with MaxCDN, you may have some broken page issues. You can resolve these by adjusting the plugin’s SSL options (which I had to do to fix the issues).
  • The overall interface is ugly and, considering the price you pay, should be dramatically updated to be more user friendly, more beginner friendly, and more visually appealing. If you are going to charge $200 a year, then you better make your user interface look like it’s 200 a year. Right now, this is not the case and the developers should put a lot more emphasis on visual design and a better layout for the options.

Caching was a process, normally reserved for the technically inclined, in much as the same manner of other tasks, such as setting cron jobs and manual backups. WP Rocket is a formidable attempt at a simplification of the process, so that it may be completed by anyone.

Many WordPress cache plugins have been moved from the free model to Premium product status. however, the freemium model has some drawbacks, as not all the features will be included, but they can be unlocked at a price. I have compared a few of the competitive plugins, and you may be surprised at where they stand.

The developers have adopted an innovative stance with increased transparency that brings users into closer into the fold. Deeper trust is built with the monthly release of a transparency report that includes revenue, outlook, and even the failures.

What encourages me to trust them even more, is the release of a spreadsheet that explains in details how the salaries of the team members are calculated.

How to Get Ridiculous Speeds with WP Rocket

I’ve used this plugin for almost a year now and really dug down deep into the features. I have it on at least 10 – 15 websites and I’ve spent a good few weeks even, in total, trying to squeeze out the maximum speeds from my best sites using this plugin.

Here’s what I’ve found, working together, can bring your speeds down from say 4-10 seconds to under 1 second page loading (sometimes 1-2 seconds depending on how big your page is and your theme).

  • Activate CloudFlare (turn on Rocket Loader, CSS, HTML, JS minification via cloudflare’s cache settings in the cloudflare dashboard on cloudflare.com)
  • Activate MaxCDN (sign up for MaxCDN, set up a pull zone for your site, put in the information into the CDN tab on WP Rocket)
  • Turn on WP Rocket’s Lazy Load
  • Activate WP Rocket’s Pre-fetching (if you use Yoast SEO, link the prefetching to your Yoast xml sitemap via the automatic option it gives you)
  • Turn on the WP Rocket Database Optimization (Optimize your database)

Extra Things You Can Do to Speed up WordPress while using WP Rocket

  • Optimize your image size — use Imagify, WP Smush It PRO, or the free EWW Image Optimizer plugin
  • Reduce your image sizes to fit your max wordpress theme dimensions – install IMSANITY plugin for this
  • Reduce your thumbnails — install Regenerate Thumbnails plugin
  • Use a fast WP theme — this can make a significant difference. In fact, your theme may be one of the biggest bottle necks in your page load speed. You can use everything above to improve page loading times significantly, but if you have a slow loading, bloated theme, you may still have a site that loads in 2-4 seconds, rather than .5 to 1 second. I recommend themes by MyThemeShop, which are the fastest loading WP Themes on the market, hands down, and combine perfectly with WP Rocket for incredibly fast loading sites.
  • Reduce wordpress plugins to a minimum — too many plugins can slow your site down. Reduce these to the minimum, if you can. Turn off or deactivate any plugins you don’t actually use regularly or that provide needed functionality.

Power User Tip

When the plugin is activated and open while you may be editing any page on your site, WP Rocket includes a nifty clear cache button that allows you to clear the cache, without moving to the browser. This feature can be valuable in cases where specific memory or settings must be retained  Instead of clearing the entire cache, the page or post setting can be removed individually. This avoids the need to rebuild the entire cache, and conserve resources in a more efficient process. 

Why This Plugin is the Best

It’s the Fastest Cache Plugin Available: it really is the fastest wordpress cache plugin. I’ve tested it against W3 Cache, super cache, and other free cache plugins, but WP Rocket is faster than all of them. Sometimes significantly so.

It’s Easy to Use: Some  advanced features are included with WP Rocket which can be setup without the need for coding or confusion. . The cache pre-fetching feature is activated and simulated when the pages are loaded to facilitate better indexing by SE bots.

Includes Lazy Load Feature: The Lazy Load techniques is used by some of the web’s biggest properties to conserve resources with faster load times. The image requests are only returned when they are displayed in the window, and not when the page is loaded. This results in faster page loads.

Includes a Database Optimization Feature: a full on database optimization tool

Completely Manages your CND & Cloudflare: install this and you can set up your CND solutions with a few clicks and WP Rocket does the heavy lifting, linking these to your set for even better performance.

Allows you to use both MaxCDN & Cloudflare together for even faster speeds: this is one of the reasons why I have this installed. Not only is it the fastest plugin, but you can use both MaxCDN (the best CDN around) and Cloudflare together for even FASTER speed loading times. This saves you money (Cloudflare reduces bandwidth usage on your server and via MaxCDN), adds better security, allows you to use FREE SSL that cloudflare offers, and of course, give you the advantage of MaxCDN’s image loading speeds.

Reduces the need for other plugins, saving load times: using WP Rocket gives you Lazy Loading, Database Optimization, and if you use Cloudflare, built in CloudFlare support that replaces the CloudFlare plugin. Right there, that saves you installing 3 extra plugins.

Lots of advanced features: if you want to get nitty and gritty for real optimizations and squeeze out extra speed, well you can — WP Rocket does have that. But right out of the box, you can still get faster speeds than other plugin solutions. There’s plenty of customization available if you need that.

Export/Import Settings: If you have sites with similar configurations, a nifty import/export utility allows to easily transfer the WP Rocket parameters and settings between sites.

Should You Buy It: Worth The Money

I feel,  yes, absolutely. It’s pricey yes, but it’s one of the best investments you can make. Page Load Speeds are critical. You do improve your ranking metrics (I’m not sure how much, but every little bit helps) and your ON SITE user browsing stats such as time on site, pages viewed, bounce rate, and more. 

Faster page loading time improves customer conversions and may increase your adsense / media.net / affiliate conversions.

And it’s gives a better user experience on your site.

You also get powerful features like a database optimizer, lazy loading, and the ability to easily use cloudflare and MaxCDN together. You can’t get this (easily) with any other cache plugin.

And, at the bottom of the day, WP Rocket is the fastest cache plugin. And this itself is worth the money.

When all of the features, such as ease of use, support, performance and even pricing are compared to those of other WordPress cache plugins, WPRocket offers outstanding value. Thrush is that  the need of the sites can and will differ, but there may be cases when the same services and applications are required. I

If you have a  heavy WordPress site that continually seems slow loading. it can be worthwhile to consider purchasing  WPRocket to make your life easier.

I’m also not a fan of the user interface. It’s simple, and understandable. But it’s ugly and frankly, I’m disappointing the developers are not putting some of the many dozens of thousands they make a month (the developer publishes income reports on their website from what they make with the plugin) into a better visual design. I know features and performance are the most important part here, but frankly, the layout is not that user friendly. Redesigning it should be a priority.

Now, if you don’t have any money or are ‘cache’ strapped (ok, bad pun but I had to try), then using one of the free competitors like W3 Cache will improve your site speeds significantly. You don’t need WP Rocket for this. However, if you want the FASTEST cache plugin, or you want to really wring maximum page loading speeds out of your site, or you want a beginner friendly plugin where you don’t have to have a pHD to understand and tinker with the settings, the WP Rocket is the plugin for you.

The Bottom Line

The tests all show that WP Rocket may be the fastest premium caching WordPress plugin in the market. The performance exceeds those other premium plugins in the category. It becomes clear that WP Rocket is superior, not only by value, but in performance and sometimes by a wide margin.

There are multiple reasons why it should among your favorites when it come to caching, and should be included in your toolbox.  

WP Rocket was set up and configured in less than three minutes, which is far less time than it took to set up WP Super Cache. You can tell if your set up has been done correctly as you can locate a message in the source code that says “This website is like a Rocket, isn’t it ? Performance optimized by WP Rocket”.

The support provided for WP Rocket is considered as first in class. The developers are available to answer all questions, you have immediate access with online chat, A big fat knowledge base that includes a set of FAQs, that contains pre-sale, and post installation questions. tutorials, a blog for discussion, documentation, troubleshooting issues, and for developers, there is immediate access to a Codex library of filters, hooks, and callable functions.

You can expect to stay ahead of the curve as far as caching plugin are concerned, and we hope that WP Rocket does not disappoint. I have seen the second major upgrade in the year added to WP Rocket, and the changelog indicates that bug fixes and more advancements are also coming soon.

In conclusion, I think that the value obtained from WP Rocket far exceeds the price paid for a single site license. It is one of the plugins that should become an essential, even though you can set and forget about it, as the features continue operate in the background.

So yes, it’s worth it and I arguably say it’s a must-have plugin, even if it’s a pricey one.

WP Rocket Review
  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Functionality
  • Aesthetics / User Interface
  • Plugin Future
  • Support
  • Price
4.4

WP Rocket Review Summary

Hands down the best wordpress cache plugin on the market. Compared to W3 Cache and Supercache, WP Rocket gives faster loading times. It's also more fully packed with features, giving you a Database Optimization tool, CloudFlare Tool, Lazy Loading Tool -- all individual functionality you would need to install a separate plugin for.

It's also easy to use and right out of the box will configure your site to load faster than any other plugin.

I'm also a big fan of how the plugin allows you to seamlessly combine both MaxCDN and Cloudflare together without issues.

Overall, this is the best cache plugin hands down. The developer's consistent updates and fixes and schedule of new features being released ever few months seal the deal.

My only complaint is the price, which is significant especially if you have more than 3 sites, which puts you at the $200 cost for unlimited sites option, which gets you 1 year of updates only. I feel the plugin should be 50% of that or at least offer an lifetime price. Despite the developer's price gouging, the plugin remains a must-have if you want the best speeds.

Comments 2

  1. Marc January 8, 2017
    • BenK January 8, 2017

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