WordPress Performance Plugins

7 Popular WordPress Performance Plugins Compared

Usually, a rule of thumb is, the less plugins, the better your WordPress website performs. However, there are plugins that can make your site faster and be the solution to your loading time problem. In this article we will give you an overview of the most important WordPress performance plugins.

There are numerous solutions for this: From caching plugins to minifying plugins and lazy loading plugins to all-in-one tools for more pagespeed. In addition, we tell you how you can measure your WordPress performance and when you need a performance plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce.

Server-side solutions for even more speed

Ideally, you don't need plugins to make your website faster. For example, if you rely on a lean and fast WordPress theme or if solutions such as WordPress caching are already integrated on the server side, as is the case with Raidboxes. Because too many plugins slow down your system or lead to conflicts among each other.

What are performance plugins for WordPress?

WordPress is a comprehensive content management system (CMS), which can be extended functionally almost arbitrarily by plugins. The plugins are available in various categories. Performance plugins (also: Pagespeed plugins) are extensions that intervene in the processes of your WordPress website to make it better or more efficient.

For example, they optimize the cache, files, images or the database. In this way, they ensure that your website loads faster overall and performs better in terms of Core Web Vitals.

Why is WordPress performance so important?

We're about to dive deeper into the world of WordPress performance plugins and look at some extensions in detail. But before that, we'll give you a little background, starting with the question of why your website's performance is so important in the first place. The answer is simple: Because you lose visibility if your site loads too slowly.

Google loves speed and has been openly communicating load time as a ranking factor since 2010. Since 2018, the speed of your site is also explicitly a ranking factor for mobile search queries. After all, users wants to find answers to their questions as quickly as possible. Accordingly, the user experience and your conversion rate also suffer from long loading times.

In the worst case, visitors users will leave your website before they have even looked at you and your business. Studies show, for example, that mobile users in particular simply abandon the loading of a site in online stores if it takes longer than three seconds. See our guide WooCommerce to make it faster.

In these cases, users are far from downloading content, subscribing to your channels, contacting you, or buying products. So, on average, slow websites make fewer sales.

How to measure WordPress performance?

To make your website faster with performance plugins, you first need to know how slow (or fast) it currently is. To measure that, there are some helpful tools. Here are some recommendations:

Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix provide very detailed data and performance reports. However, only WebPageTest also measures perceived load time. It is probably the best and most comprehensive free tool for measuring your page load time. What settings you can make and what parameters you should pay attention to, you can read in our article WebPageTest: Analyze your website performance.

More speed

That wasn't deep enough for you and you want to read more about PageSpeed? In our magazine you can learn everything about PageSpeed Insights & the importance of website performance. You can also read how to measure the loading time of your website correctly and how to make WordPress faster in general.

Why do you need a WordPress Performance plugin?

Now you know why the performance of your WordPress website is so important and with which tools you can measure it. Maybe your first tests have already shown that an optimization is overdue? We will now clarify how you can address these issues with WordPress performance plugins.

All in all, there are a lot of things you can do to optimize your WordPress performance. The absolute basis is a fast WordPress hosting. In addition, it also depends on:

  • keeping all assets on the website as small as possible
  • choosing the right format for images (e.g. WebP or SVG)
  • enabling caching or use server-side caching to reduce load times and server requests.
  • minimizing JavaScript and CSS files as much as possible, see our minification guide
  • reducing the loading weight and optimize the loading sequence
  • getting rid of unnecessary ballast and ""junk data"

For all these tasks, a WordPress performance plugin can support you well - especially if you otherwise don't have much experience with performance optimization and/or no programming knowledge.

Some plugins offer many features at once, others come a bit slimmer and are specialized for only one or two tasks. Some you don't need if you have a good WordPress web hosting. We will go into this in more detail in the comparison.

Faster load times for WordPress

If you want to boost your WordPress performance, migrating to Raidboxes is worth it. With our High-Traffic WordPress Hosting your website will be up to four times faster, even with the highest demands. Among other things, we have integrated caching directly on the server side. So you save some plugins.

Performance plugin vs. server-side caching

In practice, WordPress caching in particular is a big lever when it comes to the performance of your website with WordPress and WooCommerce. In the cache, the data of the website is stored temporarily. If you go to the website again, the data is accessed directly instead of sending a new request. This makes the site load much faster.

The function can be activated via plugin. Depending on which hosting you use, you may be able to save on one or two extensions. Because: Some host (including Raidboxes) offer server-side caching - and thus make an additional plugin unnecessary.

Which solution is best, server-side caching or a plugin, can be individually very different, depending on which setup you otherwise use for the website. Therefore, you should not just blindly grab the first random plugin or rely only on your host. Instead, test whether you get the best results for your site with server-side caching or with a caching plugin. Our support team will be happy to help you figure out how to speed up your WordPress project.

It is important that you always use only one cache , i.e. either server or plugin. In practice, the following rule of thumb has proven itself: For a normal website, you usually do best with an optimization plugin without (or with disabled) cache plus server-side caching. For an online store or a website with a members' area, a performance plugin with caching and deactivated server-side caching sometimes achieves better results.

The 7 best WordPress performance plugins at a glance

So much for the theory. Next, let's take a concrete look at what plugins can help you with this. Here comes our selection of the 7 best WordPress performance plugins. Most of the extensions in the list are free, but you will also find some premium plugins.

Overall, we have deliberately selected a colorful mix of plugins with different functions. Which plugin is the best for you depends on your individual needs and the website project. But this list can give you a good first overview. You are unsure about the choice? Please ask our support if and how well the individual plugins work with our Raidboxes functions, or if you need them at all.

But of course the wide world of WordPress plugins offers many other possibilities. You know other performance plugins that you can recommend? Then feel free to use the comment function at the end of the post.

1. WP Rocket

WordPress Performance plugin WP Rocket
The performance plugin WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a real all-rounder and one of the best, if not the best all-in-one plugin for WordPress performance. It is so popular among WordPress users mainly because it is easy to configure and works efficiently. Originally WP Rocket was intended as a pure caching plugin, but now it has become a comprehensive extension, which provides in different ways for proper speed.

It also includes functions that would normally require a few additional plugins. WP Rocket is quick to set up and is therefore particularly suitable for those who are not technical professionals.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • User friendly interface
  • WordPress caching including cache preloading
  • JavaScript and CSS minification (up to delayed JavaScript loading).
  • Lazy loading for images and videos
  • Regular database cleaning
  • Google Analytics integration for local integration
  • Good support and ongoing development

Price: from 59 € (for 1 website) to 299 € (for unlimited websites) per year

2. Perfmatters

WordPress Performance plugin Perfmatters
Perfmatters disables unused WordPress functions

Also Perfmatters is a comprehensive solution - which, however, completely excludes the topic of caching and instead focuses on clever WordPress tweaks. The plugin follows a comparatively unusual approach. Especially if you use a hosting like Raidboxes, which offers server-side caching, this can be quite positive.

Perfmatters focuses on turning off unused WordPress features that are enabled by default and slow down your site. For example, emojis, embeds, RSS feeds and even more basic WordPress and WooCommerce features can be turned off with one click.

In addition, the plugin is equipped with a script manager that allows you to load certain scripts (e.g. from plugins) only for the pages on which they are actually used. Unused CSS can also be removed automatically and Google Fonts can be integrated locally in accordance with GDPR. The bottom line is that Perfmatters helps to reduce HTTP requests on the website and to reduce the load on the database.

Despite the many features, the plugin itself is slim and does not add unnecessary weight to your website. Overall, Perfmatters is aimed more at experienced users.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Targeted loading of scripts via Script Manager
  • Google Fonts and Google Analytics can be integrated locally
  • A very lightweight plugin
  • Removing unused CSS
  • Delayed loading of JavaScript

Price: from approx. $25 to approx. $125 per year, depending on version

3. WP Fastest Cache and other WordPress caching plugins

WordPress Performance plugin WP Fastest Cache
The WordPress Performance plugin WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache is actually a premium plugin. However, it is also available in a free version with decent functionality. It is popular mainly because it is quick and easy to set up and delivers solidly. The focus is, as the name suggests, on caching. However, WP Fastest Cache also offers the possibility to shrink CSS and HTML or to set URL strings.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Simple setup
  • Clear cache via 1-click
  • Shrink CSS and HTML
  • Set URL strings
  • CDN Support

Price: free of charge, premium version with extended functions from one-time $40

More caching plugins:

There are several other good caching plugins that offer a similar range of functions and are therefore not considered separately here. These include WP Super Cache, Cache Enabler and W3 Total Cache. All three are also freely available, lightweight and frequently used plugins. Which one you like best is up to you.

However, you only need all this if you do not use Raidboxes and the server-side cache. This offers you the following advantages:

  • It becomes active before WordPress takes over the command. This makes it more performant and resource efficient than plugin caching.
  • 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.
  • Extend your rules via regular expressions (regex). Ignore no-cache or set-cookie headers (optional).
  • Change the order of the caching rules, for example for a staggered or logical structure.
  • Empty the cache with one click.  You can also set the time period after which the server cache of your site is filled.

Also specify 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").

4. WP Super Minify

WordPress Performance plugin WP Super Minify
The WordPress plugin WP Super Minify

If you are already equipped in terms of caching (server-side or through another plugin), you can use WP Super Minify to take care of the compression (minification) of JavaScript and CSS files. See also our article How to Minify WordPress.

These types of plugins can be a bit tricky in terms of conflicts with certain themes and other plugins. However, once they are up and running, they are extremely useful and can significantly reduce the loading time of your website. WP Super Minify also offers the ability to turn off compression, should conflicts arise.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Reliably downsizes JavaScript, CSS and HTML files
  • Compress CSS and JavaScript can be disabled
  • Uncomplicated and simple application
  • Open source software

Price: free of charge

5. Smush

WordPress Performance plugin Smush
Smush, a plugin for image compression

Images and graphics make up a large part of a website in terms of data. Smush ensures that images are compressed and load faster without losing quality. The plugin scans images for useless data, formats them and identifies faulty files. Up to 50 images can be optimized at the same time.

WP Smush and WebP

Smush can convert images to WebP format, but saves these files in a separate folder rather than in the original folder. However, this is often a requirement for the WebP format to be used automatically, including at Raidboxes. A good alternative, in this case, is Shortpixel, which we will introduce in a moment.

The plugin is really only specialized in image optimization - but it does it very well. That's why it is quite popular in the WordPress community with over 1 million active installations. WebP images can only be created with the paid Pro version.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Lossless image compression (PNG, JPEG, GIF)
  • Removing not needed metadata from images
  • Removing EXIF files

Price: free, Pro version from $7.50 per month

6. ShortPixel image optimizer

WordPress Performance plugin ShortPixel
The plugin for image optimization ShortPixel for WordPress

Also the ShortPixel Image Optimizer also improves your pagespeed by taking care of the images on your website. So this is not a performance plugin in the strict sense, but the image optimization pays a lot of attention to your website performance.

The plugin is intuitive and easy to use and you can easily improve multiple images at once. The optimization takes place directly during the upload and you can choose between a compression with little or no quality loss. The result is shown to you in a preview during the process.

ShortPixel Image Optimizer can also convert your images to modern formats like WebP or AVIF - and unlike Smush, even in the free version. At least for up to 100 image files per month. This makes the plugin especially interesting for small blogs and websites. But the paid upgrade with more images is also available at a relatively low price.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Good support
  • Compression with no or little quality loss
  • Automatic conversion to WebP or AVIF possible
  • Fair pricing

Price: free (up to 100 images per month), paid version as subscription from $3.99 monthly

7. Autoptimize

WordPress Performance plugin Autoptimize
The WordPress Performance Plugin Autoptimize

Autoptimize is one of the most popular WordPress pagespeed plugins and a real classic. It has been around for a long time and is already actively used by more than 1 million users. The plugin is not a standalone tool, but should rather be understood as a complement to other plugins that take care of caching (e.g. WP Rocket).

Autoptimize lets you compress load time hogs like JavaScript and CSS files with a simple click of the mouse. Autoptimize moves scripts to the footer, for example, and delays the loading of files such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript or even Google Fonts. Experienced users can also make many individual settings.

The most important functions at a glance:

  • Minimize HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files
  • Optimization of images (fee required)
  • Compatible with a wide range of caching plugins

Price: free, Pro version (with image optimization) from $5 monthly

Frequently asked questions about WordPress performance plugins

How do I make my WordPress website faster?

The basis for a fast WordPress website is a suitable WordPress hosting. Furthermore, caching is probably the most important performance factor. It can be activated either on the server side via host or via plugin. In addition, images should be kept as small as possible and unneeded functions should be disabled. More on this topic can be found in our e-book Making WordPress faster.

Are performance plugins for WordPress free?

Not all performance plugins for WordPress are free. There are both free and paid WordPress performance plugins. Especially extensive all-in-one plugins are usually only available for a fee. However, there are also good free versions of many premium plugins with somewhat slimmed down functions. Especially for small websites, these are often already sufficient.

What are the best WordPress performance plugins?

Some of the best WordPress performance plugins include WP Rocket, Autoptimize and pure caching plugins like WP Super Cache, Cache Enabler and WP Fastest Cache. However, which plugin is actually best depends on your individual requirements.

Your questions about WordPress performance plugins

What is the best WordPress performance for you plugin? What questions do you have? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to be informed about further posts about WordPress and WooCommerce? Then follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or via our newsletter.

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