How to Use WP Super Cache Plugin

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WP Super Cache is a caching plugin for WordPress. It produces static HTML files for your web pages so your web server can serve them to users instead of processing heavy PHP scripts every time a page is rendered.

There are a lot of caching plugins out there. I prefer WP Super Cache because it’s lightweight, follows the best coding practice and most importantly developed by automattic (The company that owns WordPress). It gives me the confidence that this plugin won’t just disappear tomorrow.

Caching makes your website load faster and reduces the bandwidth usage of your server. However, it also involves some additional tweaking in the plugin settings to make sure that your users get the best experience while browsing your site. It may not be easy for most WordPress users as they are not familiar with these caching terms. In this article I want to explain some of these caching terms to help you get started with WP Super Cache plugin.

WP Super Cache Configuration

After you have installed the plugin the first thing you need to do is enable caching in the settings (Settings->WP Super Cache). By default this option is disabled by Super Cache when you activate it.

screenshot showing how to enable caching in the wp super cache plugin

Now switch to the Advanced tab.

screenshot showing the advanced tab of wp super cache plugin

Enable “Cache hits to this website for quick access”. There are three ways super cache can serve cached files.

Mod_Rewrite: This method is done by the Apache mod_rewrite module and is the fastest way to serve cached files. The reason why this is so quick is because it completely bypasses PHP by modifying your .htaccess file. It also works well with a large amount of traffic as it doesn’t rely on PHP.

PHP: This method allows PHP to serve cached file, which is why no modification is made to the .htaccess file. If your website gets a large amount of traffic, this method may not work as well as “Mod_Rewrite”.

Legacy caching: This method is used mainly to cache pages for known users (users who are logged in or left comments). That means the content of the each page might be different to different users. Legacy caching is flexible but the slowest. It’s better to avoid this option as it doesn’t serve a big purpose.

You can choose between Mod_Rewrite and PHP (I prefer Mod_Rewrite).

screenshot showing the miscellaneous section of super cache plugin

In the Miscellaneous section select these options,

  1. Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors
  2. 304 Not modified browser caching (if you haven’t selected Mod_Rewrite). This indicates when a page has not been modified since it was last requested. This feature may not work well on some web hosts. In that case feel free to disable it.
  3. Don’t cache pages for known users (very useful when you are logged in as an admin and making changes to your site).
  4. Cache rebuild. Serve a supercache file to anonymous users while a new file is being generated.

In the Advanced section enable “Extra homepage checks”. This is to make sure your homepage is always cached (very occasionally it may not get cached).

screenshot showing the advanced section of super cache plugin

Click the “Update Status” button.

If you select the “Mod_Rewrite” method, Super Cache plugin will generate the necessary Mod_Rewrite rules for you. Click “Update Mod_Rewrite Rules”.

screenshot showing the update mod_rewrite button in the super cache plugin

In the “Expiry Time & Garbage Collection” section make sure to set a cache timeout in seconds. By default it should be set to 3600. This tells the plugin how long it should keep those cached pages before they are regenerated.

The rest can stay as is. Your site should now be ready to use super cache caching. If you have any questions feel free to share it in the comments.

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