Anyone who visits a website retrieves data. This data has to travel from one server to another before it can be displayed. This can take time - and lead to frustrated visitors if the website builds too slowly. One way to speed up the process is to use caching to store frequently used data and retrieve it faster. What exactly caching is, what types of caching there are, and how server-side caching can properly boost the performance of your WordPress website, you'll learn in this article.
What is caching?
Caching is the process of loading frequently used data from an application (such as a website) into a virtual cache. The data is then temporarily stored in the cache for later use. If it is needed again when the user visits site , it can be retrieved from there without having to be completely reloaded. This saves time and computing power, and the website is displayed faster.
How does caching work?
But how exactly does caching work? When visitors calls up a website on the Internet, the servers usually receive hundreds of requests. These are processed and the requested information is delivered in the form of the finished website. However, it can take a few seconds for this to happen - depending on how large the retrieved data is and how many people want to access it at the same time.
The cache is practically invisible in front of the actual data store on the server, like a kind of secretariat. Only what cannot be answered with data from the cache is forwarded to the server. The server thus receives fewer requests, the information on the website is available more quickly and the loading times are reduced.
Technically, there are usually two elements behind caches:
- a software that executes the process and
- a hardware with fast access, mostly RAM (Random Access Memory) and in-memory engines, on which the data is cached.
Optimize WordPress comprehensively
Did you know? Besides caching, there are at least nine other ways to optimize your WordPress and make it faster. Which ones are concrete, we tell you in the article Optimize WordPress with the 10 most important screws - in a sensible order and with context.
What are the different types of caching?
For your website, you have the choice between two basic variants of web caching, which we will take a closer look at in a moment:
- Server-side caching
- Client side caching
Both variants work on the same principle, but differ in where the data is cached - on the server or locally at the users.
With "normal" server-side caching, a static copy of the website is cached directly on the original server, in the so-called server cache. When users then calls up the website the next time, the server simply sends back the stored version of the website without having to regenerate the content from the database again. This is also known as page c aching - so a complete HTMLsite and complete content (e.g. a blog article like this one) is cached and retrieved.
Another variant of server-side caching is object caching. Instead of the entire website, results of individual, frequently occurring database queries are stored, i.e. dynamic elements that are used practically often. These can then be answered more quickly the next time.
Client side caching
Browser caching is primarily practical if visitors repeatedly comes to your website and/or frequently jumps back and forth between different URLs and pages during their visits. The disadvantage: When users clears its local cache, the cached resources and thus the reduced loading time are gone again.
Caching with WordPress: plugin vs. server
If you run your website with WordPress and value good loading times, you basically can't avoid caching. This is because the content management system (CMS) is designed in such a way that it generates all pages dynamically and delivers them on request. It is also based on PHP. This makes it very flexible - but without caching it can also become very slow as soon as more than a handful of people access your website at the same time. The more dynamic elements like shopping carts, interactive calendars or maps your WordPress website contains, the longer the loading time will be.
So there must be a decent WordPress caching if you want your WordPress website to load fast. In principle, you have two options for this, both of which we will look at in a bit more detail:
- plugins used
- Choose hosting with server-side caching
Which solution is best - server-side caching or a plugin - can be very different for each individual. It depends on the setup you use for the website. Therefore, be sure to test whether you get the best results for your site with server-side caching or with a caching plugin . Our support will be happy to help you. It is important that you always use only one cache in the end, i.e. either server or plugin. Otherwise conflicts or loading time problems can occur - and that would be counterproductive.
1. use caching plugin
As for almost everything, WordPress offers numerous plugins for caching, which can be more or less complex and more or less expensive. Among the most popular WordPress caching plugins are for example W3 Total Cache, WP Fastest Cache, WP Super Cache or WP Rocket.
Depending on which plugin you choose, you have different features and settings at your disposal. The simplest option is the WP Super Cache from Automattic, for premium plugins WP Rocket leads the list.
Plugins for better performance
Besides caching, there are other plugins that can give your WordPress website a performance boost. In our article 7 popular WordPress performance plugins in comparison we give you an overview of the most important WordPress performance plugins.
Installing a WordPress caching plugin is easy and works like any other WordPress plugin: choose Plugins → Install from the menu, search directly for your preferred caching plugin or browse the offer with a general search and start the installation with one click once you find it.
As soon as the plugin is activated, caching is usually also active. Under the menu item Settings, you can then fine-tune the settings, depending on which functions the plugin of your choice offers. Depending on the content on your website, however, it may be that the setup still means a decent mountain of work.
2. Rely on server-side caching (with Raidboxes)
It is easier and faster to rely on a server-side cache. host WordPress hosting companies have already integrated caching into their managed WordPress hosting. Also Raidboxes offers this service. So your WordPress website has its own, powerful cache on board from the beginning.
You can clear the cache at any time via your Dashboard and configure it in the settings of your Box. No more plugins need to be installed and configured. The caching is directly adapted to WordPress or WooCommerce and is continuously maintained and optimized.
You also have the following options when caching Raidboxes:
- You can define exceptions at any time via caching rules. We also support you with predefined rules, for example for the shopping cart of WooCommerce.
- With regular expressions (regex) you can extend the rules as you like. You can also ignore no-cache or set-cookie headers (optional).
- You can also change the order of the caching rules, for example for a staggered or logical structure.
- You empty the cache with one click. At the same time you determine after which period of time the server cache of your site will be refilled.
- You define whether there should be a common cache for all end devices or not. Otherwise, a separate cache is used for each device (PC/Mac, tablet, smartphone). This is important if there is a separate mobile version of your website ("m.xyz.de").
Save time for your business
How big is the time saving through server-side integrated caching for you in concrete terms? We'll tell you about that and which hosting features can save you valuable hours and minutes that you can spend on your business instead of maintaining your website in our WordPress hosting comparison 2023.
Why a server-side cache? The advantages at a glance
Besides the time you save by not having to install, activate and configure a plugin , server-side caching offers other key benefits. Here are the most important ones at a glance:
- Better performance: The server-side cache becomes active before WordPress takes over. This makes it more performant and resource efficient than caching via plugins.
- Reduced server load: In the cache, dynamic websites are transferred into a static HTML document that can be retrieved and delivered directly - without having to contact the actual database at all. The server is thus relieved and can respond more quickly when it is needed.
- Higher Google rankings: The loading time is officially a ranking factor for Google. The response time of the server itself also affects your position in the search results. Both can be optimized with server-side caching. This gives you a head start in search engine optimization (SEO).
- Optimal user experience: Nowadays,users expects websites to load in a fraction of a second - and quickly jumps off in annoyance if this is not the case. Server-side caching ensures that you are in the best possible position in terms of speed, and that your website visitors have a good experience and like to visit your site more often.
- Better scalability: Basically, your WordPress project is only scalable with caching. site Without it, your website (or more precisely, your server) will go down the tubes as soon as a few hundred visitors are on the go at the same time.
Conclusion: More speed with little effort
Finally, server-side caching is probably the easiest and at the same time most performant way to give your WordPress website a speed boost. Especially if your website consists of a lot of content and you regularly have high traffic, caching is a must to reduce the load on your database and server. It ensures that site loads significantly faster and also improves the user experience. This also gives you an advantage in terms of SEO. Compared to caching via plugins, you can save a lot of time with server-side caching: As your hosting provider, we take care of the configuration of the cache for you.
Raidboxes So if you want to boost your WordPress performance, migration can be worth it. With our high-traffic WordPress hosting, your website will be up to four times faster, even with the highest demands.
Frequently asked questions about server-side caching
What is a cache?
A cache is a digital buffer that temporarily stores data that has been requested once, for example from a website, so that it can be accessed again later. It is connected upstream of the actual data source and ensures that information can be used more quickly.
When is a cache used?
Caching is always used when information needs to be accessed more quickly. The cache is accessed first as a fast hardware or software component and ensures that fewer requests have to be made to a slower storage medium (the database on the server). This enables faster page loading.
What problems can occur due to caching?
Once the cache is activated, information on the website is no longer retrieved live. For your WordPress website, this means that your page content may be outdated depending on the cache setting - for example, blog posts that are edited later. However, this problem can be controlled relatively easily. You can either set an automatic "expiration date" for the cached data or clear the cache manually when it's time.
Why should you delete caches?
There are several reasons to clear the cache regularly: Sometimes files stored in the cache prevent current content from being displayed. If the cache is cleared, the latest version of the website can be loaded afterwards. Also, the cache can become quite large over time and slow down processes, which is counterproductive for performance optimization.