How to Install and Configure W3 Total Cache Plugin in WordPress

Installing a caching plugin is one of the best ways to improve your WordPress website speed.
Here at Webpage Beginners, we use W3 Total Cache to speed up our website and believe it is the best option for beginners.

What is a caching plugin?

A caching plugin is a small software used to speed up WordPress websites.

How does a caching plugin work?

When someone visits a page of your website, WordPress starts a loading process. During this process, WordPress loads all the webpage elements: images, texts, scripts, fonts, PHP files, etc.
Loading all those elements slows down your website. A good solution for this issue is to use a caching plugin.
A caching plugin creates a lighter version of your webpage that already contains all the elements, saves it on your server, then serves it to all your visitors. So, there is no longer a need for WordPress to start that loading process which slows down your website.

Installing and configuring W3 Total Cache

On the left side menu, click on ‘Plugins’ then click ‘Add New’. Search for “W3 Total Cache”, install it then activate it.

w3 total cache install and activate

Once activated, a new section called “Performance” will be added to the left side menu. This section contains a lot of options that you need to configure only some of them in order for W3 Total Cache to improve your website speed.
(A lot of people get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options W3 Total Cache or any other plugin offer. In fact, there is no need for all those options.)

w3 total cache performance section

Go to General Settings and enable ‘Page Cache’ then click ‘Save all settings’.
Leave all the rest of the options as they are.

w3 total cache general setting
If you see a message asking you to accept W3 Total Cache terms of use, just click ‘Accept’.
If you see a message asking you to empty the page cache, just click ‘Hide this message’. You may need to empty (purge) the cache if a problem occurs on your website.

w3 total cache accept terms

w3 total cache hide empty cache message

Go to Page Cache and enable ‘Cache feeds: site, categories, tags, comments’.
Scroll down the page and enable both ‘Automatically prime the page cache’ and ‘Preload the post cache upon publish events’ then save all settings. Leave all the rest of the options as they are.

w3 total cache page cache 1

w3 total cache page cache 2

Go to Browser Cache and enable ‘Set expires header’, ‘Set cache control header’, and ‘Set W3 Total Cache header’.
Scroll down the page to Security Headers options and enable ‘X-Frame-Options’, ‘X-XSS-Protection’ then save all settings. Leave all the rest of the options as they are.

w3 total cache browser cache 1

w3 total cache browser cache 2

At the top, in the admin toolbar, W3 Total Cache will add a menu with the same name “Performance”. You probably won’t need this menu since the same options can be found under the performance section.

w3 total cache menu toolbar

And that’s it. Now, your website will load faster.