W3 Total Cache

One day last week my blog finally crossed the top 100,000 mark per Alexa. Since I write these posts in advance, I’m not sure what it’s sitting at today, but the day after reaching that one goal it was back over 100,000 the next day; c’est la vie.

Cache Valley Sunset
by Jared Smith

Anyway, one of the things it had evaluated my site on was its loading speed, and it said my speed was less than 90% of the websites out there. Now I’m debating that one, but I do know that images can make a site load slower, as well as javascript things. So, based on a recommendation that was retweeted in a post from Kristi, I decided to try another one of these WordPress plugins to see if it would speed my site up some.

A long time ago I’d tried WP Super Cache and had nothing but problems from it, so I didn’t want to go that route again. This time I decided to try W3 Total Cache, the recommended plugin. As with all WordPress plugins, it was easy to load and activate; after that, well, easy isn’t part of the deal.

I’ll get this out of the way first; the plugin has yet to speed my blog up. I’m not going to say it’s loading slower, but I’m not seeing close the the type of results I thought I would. But I’m not sure why, and that’s my issue.

Like many other plugins, it comes with all these options of things you can do, but without any explanations of what all this stuff actually means. If you follow the link to the plugin site, you’ll see it lists all this stuff that the plugin can do; it doesn’t tell you what any of it means, or whether you should activate this or that and what the stuff that’s already checked means. I don’t consider myself a dumb guy, but sometimes this stuff is really confusing, and if it’s busting my brain then what’s it supposed to do to someone who knows nothing about technology?

I’m probably going to run it another week, and if it improves then I’ll be happy. If not, then I don’t see the point in keeping it around. Has anyone else worked with this and had really great results?

Follow up: a representative of the plugin saw this post on Twitter and sen me this link to another blog for instructions.

Juniper AX411 IEEE 802.11n (draft) Wireless Access Point - 300 Mbps

Juniper 802.11n Wireless Access Point – 300 Mbps

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34 thoughts on “W3 Total Cache”

  1. Hi Mitch

    Can you imagine the state of panic I got in when WP Super Cache didn’t work for me!!! Locked me out of my site….either that or one of the other 2 plugins I installed on the same day! Hostgator couldn’t tell me which one and I’ve never tried again. I thought I must have been doing something wrong as I know nothing about all this stuff. However was told plugins could have bugs so it makes me nervous any time I have to do anything in my backoffice now. A techie friend has just updated ones that needed doing but I don’t touch them if I can help it.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    1. Pat, I know what you mean; I had lots of problems with that one as well. This one here, well, I guess the guys who either created it or manage it have contacted me on Twitter saying if I’d followed the instructions it should be working. But I went all over the place and couldn’t find any real instructions, so what’s a guy to do? Hopefully they’ll help me, and possibly stop by the blog to comment as well.

  2. Pat, I’m not writing here because I want to convince you of anything. The install instructions state (#3) that when you properly activate the plugin that caching will be working.

    On any given page of your site once the plugin is active is an HTML comment at the end that lists the caching types that are active and what their settings are.

    At the time of this writing, the comment was shown, meaning that the plugin was active, but there were no caching types listed meaning that the defaults were not active. The most important of which is page caching with the default setting of “disk enhanced.”

    Anyway, all I stated was what I saw. If there’s a bug that causes the plugin to be activated without any page caching I have not yet seen it reported in the past 14-15 months. If you want to report a bug you can make a submission from the support tab of the plugin which will give me a report of your settings. If you don’t want to, of course that’s up to you. I’m not sure why you think that calling you a liar would be in anyone’s best interest, all I stated were the facts I saw.

    1. Okay, let’s address this first. I’m 51 years old and have had to teach lots of people how to handle customer service properly over the course of 25 years. If a customer/client tells you they did or didn’t do something, you don’t go telling them they were incorrect; it just makes people mad. Doesn’t matter what you saw, it matters what their perception is, and trust me, sometimes it’s the truth, as is my case.

      Two, I changed nothing; as I said, why the heck would I change anything I didn’t understand? I’m not an idiot; I’m pretty good with programs and the like. All you had to ask me to do was run the Restore Default Settings thing to see if anything changed, not accuse me of not knowing what the heck I was doing.

      And three, you didn’t have instructions for your own product? Luckily, the link you sent me “might” work; I don’t know because I’m not sure I’m going to give it a try right now. But having someone else need to write instructions on how to use your product is, well, I’m not quite sure what it is. Whenever I write instructions for anything on this blog, even though it’s never my product, I spell out each point to make sure no one can get lost. If my name was on it, I’d go the extra step. I care about the people who come here, and I want them coming back every time.

      I do appreciate that you reached out to me on Twitter; that was good. I don’t quite appreciate the rest of it, but that’s me.

      1. Mitch, I’m not going to take this any further as we simply do not understand each other. If you search the web you will see all popular plugins reviewed and explained in detail by the people that like and use them. I don’t see how having people wanting to write guides on how to use a swiss army knife is grounds for chastisement. All they do is take what’s in the 11 point installation page of the plugin and add screenshots and experiences.

        About “customer service” – the point of telling you what the defaults were is so that you could take some action like resetting the plugin back to it’s defaults or realizing that something normal had gone wrong as the default experience you were having was indeed atypical.

        You can check out the ratings and feedback on the plugin at WordPress.org to see what the rest of the tens of thousands of users feel about the customer service etc.

      2. Mitch,

        I need to backup Frederick for this one, i followed your conversation on Twitter. If there is one person who is helpful of all the plugins i use, it is Frederick, i really think you 2 don’t understand each other quite frankly in this one! Frederick is very polite and very helpful for all people using his FREE plugin.

        Btw W3TC works perfect for me and thousand other users, so probably you should give it a second chance. It is by far the best caching plugin for WP available today!

      3. Pascal, he said I did something, I said I didn’t. At that point it should have been dropped and just help comes instead of the accusatory tone it took in my mind. The thing is that if one really cares about communications, you move it to a different medium. Now we’re talking on email and I’m being accused of being sensitive because I’m black; really?

        He might be a good guy, and we might work through this; who knows. The plugin might work for others and still not for me; who knows. But right now, a this moment, I’m not really inclined all that much; that could always change as well.

      4. Just because someone is good guy, that doesn’t make up for taking that approach. Sometimes plugins don’t play nice with other plugins, that could also be an issue but instead of taking the time to find out and ask questions, it results to this. And what does checking out the feedback and ratings have to do with your issue? Those are OTHER people’s feedback and reading that surely won’t solve the problem you are having.

      5. Thanks Karen, and very good points. Overall it may be a gap in communications, but at this point I don’t care all that much. As for the plugin, when I was having problems with the other caching plugin it was conflicts with others. It could be my host; however, at this juncture I think things are just fine.

  3. Hi Mitch, W3TC worked great for me and several blogs I manage. That being said, it might not work on all servers and with permissions issues it could not work at all. I will say that it does work well when it is truly activated. You can usually tell by logging out of your blog and then going to the homepage and viewing the source. If you scroll down, you’ll see the HTML comment that shows if it is actually working or not. Hope it helps.

  4. I haven’t used this in a few months, but I’ll throw it out there in case you want to look into it more.

    I was able to control the headers/cache by putting the following line of code in my .htaccess file:

    Header set Expires “Mon, 1 Aug 2011 20:00:00 GMT”

    I put this on my site a while ago, and if I remember correctly I did notice a difference. I found this code from this blog article: http://sixrevisions.com/web-development/five-ways-to-speed-up-page-response-times/. (Refer to #5 if interested)

  5. I just posted this, but it didn’t go through so here it goes again.

    If you are having trouble with plugins, you can also use .htaccess for cashing. Try adding the following line of code to your .htaccess file.

    Header set Expires “Mon, 1 Aug 2011 20:00:00 GMT”

    To be honest, I am not 100% sure how well it works, but I have had it on my site for a while without any problems. I got the code from #5 on this list: http://sixrevisions.com/web-development/five-ways-to-speed-up-page-response-times/

    1. That’s interesting, Keith. I’ve read that paragraph a few times and I’m not fully getting it either. But I will give it a try to see how it goes; looks like you’ll always have to go in and change the dates, though.

  6. Hey Mitch,
    You had quite a headache with caching plugins I see. Frankly I don’t think your websites loads slow (and I honestly think that internet connections is starting to expand in such a way that everybody has or will have a broadband connection).

    I also get that “slower then 90% of web” and I honestly think that this statistic is presented to over 90% of those who look for it.

    But for some tips I think you can search for Ana’s@trafficgenerationcafe series on this matter.

    1. It’s a strange thing, Alex, especially since it says it takes around 4 seconds for this site to load, and with all the stuff on it I’m thinking 4 seconds is pretty fast. And you might have something on that because it says Google is slower than 52% of the rest of the sites out there, and I think it’s almost instantaneous most of the time.

      Thanks for the other website to check out. Overall I don’t think I have many issues with the speed of this site, and I’ve worked hard on limiting how much javascript there is.

  7. I don’t know the guy and I don’t know his plugin. I do know Mitch and if I was to believe anyone’s account it would be his.

    I’ve been in business for 30 odd years and I’ve come across a lot of idiotic customers and I’ve never, ever contradicted what they said when they had a complaint. That is always the wrong tact to take, unless you want to lose that customer.

    1. Thanks for the support Sire. I won’t be the one knowing if this plugin works or not, so I still leave the post here to see what others have to say. But if you’d seen the emails, you’d be amazed at what transpired later on.

      1. I’d rather not see them Mitch, it would only wreck what little faith I have left in the goodness of the human race 😉

  8. Wow Mitch. I would have to agree also with Sire on this one also. You do not tell a customer/consumer what they DID if you did not see them actually do it. There is absolutely nothing made that is runs 100% smooth 100% of the time. How the hell do you create develop a plugin and not write instructions for it or have a forum for help? Even a box of condoms comes with instructions and has pictures to in case you can’t quite comprehend the words.

  9. Yes, people are individuals, but looking for what people have in common is how relationships are made.
    It seems like you don’t see that indeed there are sensitivities in every culture, which is where political correctness came from.

    Everything you have said here is off topic.
    The point is that he tried to connect with you and you are finding every possible excuse to disconnect which I think is a common problem in society.

    1. Pablo, actually your comment is off topic from the post, but I’m going to allow it. Here’s the overall point; I’m mad, irritated, and feel I wasn’t treated properly. At that point, I don’t care of the plugin spits out gold, I’m not touching it. I think I was very fair in giving the link with the instructions; I didn’t have to do that.

      And of course it’s personal; as soon as you talk to someone, no matter the forum, it becomes personal. That’s a major lesson to be learned by everyone, which is why I try to treat people a certain way when they stop by, and in every interaction I have with people online or offline. I know not everyone has my sense of decorum, but it doesn’t mean I have to acquiesce to someone else’s habits if they’re contrary to mine.

  10. Dennis, I had some of those problems as well when I tried to remove it. Messing with stuff like that can be dicey sometimes for sure. This particular plugin might work for you; it’s been downloaded enough times where it at least seems like it would be safe.

    1. Dennis, it’s always me, right? And all I said was that it didn’t work for me. But when I get back home I’ll try it again with the instructions. Now, you take care of yourself and enjoy the day.

  11. Thanks Dennis. Actually, if one goes to his site you see a lot of people saying nice things about the plugin, so that part should already be covered. And even in my review, all I said was I didn’t notice any benefit to me; I certainly didn’t say the plugin was a piece of trash.

  12. Mitch, Congrats!!

    You have alexa under 100k!

    I remember how happy i was under 100K. Eventhough i notice it will then decrease slower.

    I love w3 total cache too, what i really love is you can easily deactivate and delete it when you check on something, without complex uninstall process.

    Best regards.


    1. Thanks Kimi. I probably will be giving it another shot over the weekend now that I have instructions on it.

  13. Congratulations Mitch, to pass 100,000 in Alexa is a big challenge, I am internet market for decade and I have not see many sites that have pass this boarder. I agree WP Super Cache is a great plugin and it really helps to increase the speed of blog. Actually there are few more options which are pretty advanced like to use cookie free domain, which is increase speed by more than 50% as well advanced use of expired headers.

    1. Thanks Carl. You know, if my site takes 4 seconds to load that’s really not bad, but I think that figure is an average, as I know when I come here sometimes it seems to take longer than that.

  14. I just installed this plug-in and my Alexa is getting worse. I did it for the same reason as you, to decrease load time and I haven’t noticed the benefit. Are you still using W3 Total Cache?

    1. No, I gave it a second shot & started having error messages all over the place. Now using something called WP-Optimize and it seems to be working okay.

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