Before going any technical details on how to setup W3 Total Cache plugin in WordPress, lets see why we need a caching plugin at all? What we will be benefits once we install it and what we are missing without one.

We will also see why W3 Total Cache should be your choice if you are looking for some serious site optimization.

what is cache

What is a Cache?

Caches in general makes browsing fast by showing content already fetched from websites instead of fetching it again from the source. That’s why all browsers have this feature in the form of history, browsing data or by different names.

Same concept now can be applied to WordPress.

cache in wordpress

Cache in WordPress

WordPress on a fresh install doesn’t have any cache solutions. It means everytime a user request a page, it will connects to database to fulfill the request. At the backend, WordPress php files make a connection with database, run dozens of queries and finally creates an html output to show it to the user.

This whole process can put extra burden on your server and responsible for poor site speed also.
wordpress cache diagram
This is where caching plugins come into play. These plugins save static pages of your whole website hence greatly reducing calls to database. This will greatly increase your website speed which was not possible before. This results in good SEO results and of course happy customers.
Installing a stable caching plugin in WordPress is highly recommended and you will notice huge performance in site speed. Woopoo's Tip

w3 total cache intro

W3 Total Cache Plugin Introduction

NO doubt, with 1+ million installs, W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular cache plugins for WordPress. At its core, the plugin offers HTML, CSS and JavaScript optimization, creates static pages and reduced server load.

On a more advanced level, it can be integrated with CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to even boost website speed.

In this tutorial, we will see all important adjustments need to be done after installing W3 Total Cache.

w3 total cache performance
The menu looks overwhelming for first-timers but it’s not. You literally don’t need to even peep into some of the menu items. Stay with us and we will let you know W3 Total Cache best settings for shared hosting.
w3 total cache settings

W3 Total Cache Settings

For the rest of this tutorial, we have set our focus on websites with shared hosting. However same or slightly changed settings can be used for websites hosted on dedicated servers which we will mention otherwise.


Dashboard has nothing important for us. Mostly advertisements but the two options of our interest are compatibility check and empty all caches at the top. You can run compatibility check to see what options of W3 Total Cache best suits your website. Empty all caches will be used to clear any caches already saved.
w3 total cache clear

General Settings

General settings hold the main settings of W3 Total Cache. Consider it a central place to set all of your website caches. Let’s start from the very beginning.


Toggle all caching types on or off (at once) will switch all the caches listed below the same page either on and off with one click. Generally not required.

Recommended settings: OFF

w3 total cache toggle

Page Cache

Page Cache is the heart and soul of this plugin. That’s the main reason to install this plugin. This will keep all your website pages in cache to display to visitors when requested without making any calls to database hence greatly enhanced site speed.

Recommended Settings: ON

Page Cache Method should be Disk: Enhanced.

w3 total cache page cache


Minify settings will process your websites CSS and JavaScript settings to improve server load time.

Recommended Settings: ON

w3 total cache minify

Database Cache

If you are on a shared hosting, use Database Cache with caution as it can take a lot of server resources to process. Leave it ON and observe performance. If server complaints about too many resources used by your website, switch it off.

Recommended Settings (shared hosting): OFF
Recommended Settings (private hosting): ON

database cache

Object Cache

Object Cache can also affect your website response time. Test your website performance with and without enabling this option. Leave it enabled but could be switched off on shared servers as it could be resource-intensive for servers.

Recommended Settings (shared hosting): OFF
Recommended Settings (private hosting): ON

object cache

Browser Cache

It will let browsers save a cached copy of your site pages hence reducing calls to your website.

Recommended Settings: ON

browser cache

Import/Export Settings

Although optional, you can download a copy of all the settings you have done to keep it in your records. You can also upload the file to another website using W3 Total Cache to adapt the same settings.

w3 cache import

General Settings being the central place to switch On/Off the caches globally, the individual caches still need to be further fine-tuned from their respective dedicated pages with a complete set of new options.

In the next couple of steps, we will adjust these values.


Page Cache

Once switched On from the general settings, this is where we have to further adjust the page cache values.

  • Make sure Cache posts page should be switched on as it creates the static replica of all of your site pages.
  • Enable Cache SSL requests if you are site URL starts with https which means you are using SSL.
page cache settings
  • Also it’s a good idea not to show cached pages to logged in users specially Administrators, editors and authors. Keep these settings.
logged in users w3 cache
  • In Cache Preload, switch on the options Automatically prime the page cache and Preload the post cache upon publish events. It will overhaul the site cache everytime you publish.
  • In the Sitemap URL, feed your website XML sitemap, see how to create sitemap for more details
cache sitemap
In the Advanced settings, switch on the Compatibility mode. It is off by default but highly recommended to be enabled although at a cost of a bit decreasing performance. It will optimize all caching solutions with WordPress.
w3 total cache compatibility


Minification process removes extra data and combines the website CSS, JavaScript and HTML to speed up websites load time. These settings could break your website so a little bit of trial and error is required.

Keep the default settings in HTML & XML, JS and CSS all enabled. If you experience any issues, switch off JS and CSS and check again.

w3 minify settings

Browser Cache

HTTP gzip compression is only enabled in this section by default but ideally keep the first six options enabled. It will cache visited pages in user’s browser and keep them in history for future visits. For example the second option will add expires headers which is even recommended by Google.
w3 total browser cache
w3 total cache errors

W3 Total Cache Common Errors


The plugin breaks my site

The first of the settings to disable if W3 Total cache breaks your site is CSS and JS (JavaScript). First uncheck only JS and see if it resolves problem then disable CSS and check again.

W3 Total Cache crashed my site

Crashed sites mostly occur due to multiple caching plugins installed on the same site. This can cause conflicts, see if you have installed another caching plugin other than W3 Total Cache and disable it.

Website showing old pages

In order to see updated results once you made any changes in the plugin, go to plugin dashboard (under Performance) and click empty all caches. This will flush out all previous caches and show you updated view at front-end. You will also see notifications at the top to clear old cache.

w3 total cache clear
disable w3 total cache

Disable W3 Total Cache

To disable the plugin, first clear all caches from plugin dashboard then go to WordPress dashboard > Plugins and simply deactivate the plugin.

delete wordpress cache

Delete W3 Total Cache

If you think W3 Total Cache messed up your site and you want to remove the plugin or simply if you want to try another caching plugin. Never delete the plugin directory from plugins folder, it could break your site.

Instead here are the steps to uninstall:

  • Clear all caches as shown above.
  • Deactivate plugin.
  • Delete the plugin.
  • W3 Total Cache adds code in htaccess file. Once you deactivate and delete the plugin properly, it will automatically remove the code. Confirm by opening htaccess file in public_html directory and delete any code under # BEGIN W3TC Browser Cache and # END W3TC Browser Cache.

Additional Reading


We hope you find this guide useful as we have listed all important settings to configure W3 Total Cache. More advanced settings like configuring CDN networks are only required for websites with huge traffic and generally not needed for small to medium websites.

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