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W3 Total Cache is a new WordPress Plugin that has already been downloaded by over three million users. Its features include: caching of the browser, page, object and database, as well as minifying and content delivery network support. The plugin claims to offer fantastic results including ten time improvement in overall site performance, decreased page loading times and increased page rank. If you run your site on a shared server and are looking for a way to improve overall user experience during high traffic times, installing this plugin is sure to do the trick.

W3 Total Cache help to reduce page loading times and improve the overall user experience.

Features

The W3 Total Cache plugin boasts a number of features including caching, minifying and content delivery network integration. It is compatible with shared hosting, virtual private / dedicated servers and dedicated servers / clusters. It provides transparent content delivery network management with both theme files and WordPress itself. It also offers mobile support. See below for a closer look at the three main features.

1. Caching

Usually when you visit a website, the page is generated in that very moment. It does this by connecting to a database to access the content. The server then puts the content in a page and presents it to the user. If you only have a small number of visitors using your site at one time, then this practice is fine, however websites that have hundreds of visitors attempting to load pages at the same time, will cause your server to slow down dramatically. A cache plugin like W3 makes a copy of the pages and stores them on users’ browsers to serve to them next time they visit.

Instead of having to deliver the content to individual users, W3 Total Cache stores a website’s images, style sheets, plugin content and JavaScript in an optimised way on a content delivery network. This information is then delivered to the user’s browser with the instructions that the browser must hold onto it.

Caching is the recommended way of improving your website’s performance. From using the plugin you will see significant improvements in page loading times.

2. Content delivery network support

W3 Total Cache can be integrated with a number of content delivery networks including Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront and any other CDN that is compatible with FTP uploads. The CDN must be set up by the website owner separately. Content delivery networks are optimised clusters of servers that are spread out across the planet, close to users trying to access them. Most of the elements your site needs to deliver to the user can be stored on a content delivery network.

Content delivery networks require set-up, but they work automatically and do not need maintaining. They also provide inexpensive hosting, enabling users to save on their server costs. All of the files that need storing are saved and delivered in an optimised way, increasing the efficiency of the site and improving the overall user experience.

3. Minifying

The Total Cache plugin also uses minifying to improve site performance. It does this by taking a variety of style sheets and coding that are spread across multiple pages and locations (even third party sites) and brings them all together in one simply bundle. By doing this, it reduces the number of back and forth trips users’ browsers have to make in order to load a website.

Benefits

Installing the W3 Total Cache plugin will greatly improve your YSlow score. For those who do not know, YSlow is a testing tool that evaluates the performance of websites. By using the plugin, many website owners will find that their site is able to achieve a Grade A, as it will meet most of the optimisation criteria.

Using W3 will also lead to increased conversion rates and better site performance, both of which will help your website ranking in search engines like Google. The improvement in page loading time should also have a positive effect on your websites Google Page Speed score. The quicker pages load, the longer visitors will stay on your site, giving them the chance to view more pages.

The Total Cache plugin also improves overall web server performance so that shared servers are able to cope with high traffic periods. Users of this plugin have the opportunity to save up to eighty per cent of their bandwidth by minifying and compressing HTML, CSS, JavaScript and various other feeds.

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W3 Total Cache allows for complex configuration. Only enable it when your website is 100% complete.

Tips for W3 set-up

Once you have downloaded the W3 plugin, you will find it under the performance tab of your WordPress dashboard. It is advised that you do not enable the plugin, until your website design is completely finished. Remember it is a caching app so if you are making regular changes to your website and adding new things, your website may end up out of synch. It is much easier to wait until your website is completely finished and then enable the plugin.

W3 has so many options and features enabling you to configure it to suit your website. It allows for complex tweaking, which is great for techies, but a may be a little too difficult for beginners to grasp.

Conclusion

The W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin is easily one of the most powerful caching tools on the internet. It is ideal for decreasing page load time, boosting site performance and creating the best possible user experience in order to achieve higher conversion rates. If you are looking for a way to improve your WordPress blog or website, it is highly recommended that you make use of the W3 Total Cache plugin.