Will that Caching plugin really make your website faster? (Part 1)

newimg7b

I see a lot of caching plugins being used in websites everyday. Apart from SEO plugins, it’s by far the most used type of plugin out there. Installing a caching plugin is a painless operation, its easy to find, few clicks to install and users report immediate relief. Q.E.D in a box, or is it?

Caching Plugins – do they sell us snakeoil?

Lets start our discussion by saying that caching plugins are serious works of coding art. If you think at all that they have to do to get caching done properly, and how they are achieving this with minimal problems, caching have come a long way in the last few years.

Yes your caching plugin will work, and no it probably will not, not because of the plugin, but the way in which you manage your content.

How does caching work?

Whenever a WordPress page is opened, a program determines what page you’re on, search for the relevant items in the database and push it to the visitor to view.

Booking a weekend at a spa requires the database to be “queried” every time to check for available time slots and prevent double bookings, but when it’s your about page that’s being visited, it’s less important to query the database because the info stays mostly the same, and that’s where the caching plugin comes into it’s own.

The caching plugin makes a copy of the code that is rendered on the page and sets a rule to bypass the database whenever the page needs to be displayed and just show the copy.

The benefit is the time to get the request to the program, from there to the database and returned all the way get’s bypassed and sites load faster.

Another neat feature is that the caching plugin makes the copy of your site every few hours to ensure changes are refreshed.

 So Where’s the bump in the road?

The unfortunate truth is that the benefits gained by caching is more than depleted by the website owners website setup, and from what I’ve experienced a lot of times, it’s better not to have caching is the rest is not set up properly. The benefits gained by caching can easily be undone by the addition of the incorrect web elements.

There’s a cost to this right?

Well yes and no whilst the resources and software to make the change is free, it needs a fine bit of adjustment when images and plugins are added just to ensure that all is set up fine.

The real cost then is in the few minutes that it will take to ensure all is done set up right.  The benefits are experienced instantly, and if practiced for a few times the difference to your projects will set you apart from the rest.