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How to Install and Setup W3 Total Cache for Beginners

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Do you want to install and set up W3 Total Cache on your WordPress website?

W3 Total Cache is a popular WordPress caching plugin that helps you to improve your website speed and performance. Caching plugins can help retain users and lower bounce rates, which can help SEO and increase conversions.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll show you how to easily install and set up W3 Total Cache on your WordPress website.

W3 Total Cache installation and setup guide for WordPress beginners

Editor’s Note: We don’t use W3 Total Cache on our website anymore and have switched to WP Rocket which is a premium caching plugin. W3 Total Cache is still a fine solution that works well.

What is W3 Total Cache?

W3 Total Cache is one of the best WordPress caching plugins that allows you to easily improve WordPress performance and speed.

By default, WordPress uses PHP to dynamically generate each page on your website when it is requested by a user.

PHP is a server-side programming language. This means each user request increases the load on your server. This affects your website’s performance, user experience, and SEO.

WordPress caching plugins help you reduce this by skipping PHP and serving a cached copy of your webpage.

How caching works

It also allows you to easily connect your website to a CDN (content delivery network) to further improve your website performance.

Installing W3 Total Cache in WordPress

Before you install the W3 Total Cache plugin in WordPress, you’ll need to make sure that you deactivate any other caching plugin on your website. This will help you save server resources and prevent any plugin conflicts.

After that, you can go ahead and install and activate the W3 Total Cache plugin. For more details, see our step-by-step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, W3 Total Cache will add a new menu item labeled Performance to your WordPress admin sidebar. Clicking on it will launch the plugin’s setup wizard.

W3 Total Cache set up

Simply click on the Next button to continue.

First, you will be asked to turn on Page Cache. Click on the Test Page Cache button to continue.

Configure page cache

W3 Total Cache will show you different storage engine options. You need to choose one that saves you the most time. Usually, it will be the ‘Disk: Enhanced’ option for most shared hosting platforms.

Click on the Next button to continue.

Now, you will be given the option to Test Database Cache. We recommend choosing None. For most small to medium-sized websites your MySQL server will be able to fetch data more quickly than the Database cache.

Database cache

Click on the Next button to move on to the next step.

This will bring you to the Object Cache section. Object Caching allows W3 Total Cache to store database queries for dynamic pages and reuse them to improve performance.

Object cache in W3 Total Cache

If the test result shows barely a few milliseconds difference then you can choose None.

Click on the next button to continue.

After that, click on the Test Browser Cache button and then select the ‘Enabled’ option under the test results.

Browser cache

This option requests the user’s browser to store a copy of the web page for a limited time. Loading a page from a browser cache is much faster than loading it from your web server’s cache.

Click on the next button to move on to the next step.

Lastly, the setup wizard will ask you to enable lazy loading for images.

Now, WordPress comes with built-in lazy loading for images. However, some older browsers may not have support for that feature.

W3 Total Cache uses JavaScript to add lazy loading for images, which can be even faster and more efficient.

Enable Lazy Loading

After that, click on the Next button to finish the setup wizard and view W3 Total Cache dashboard.

Advanced Caching Options in W3 Total Cache

The basic settings would work for most websites. However, there are many advanced options that you can configure to further improve performance.

Let’s take a look at the most important ones.

Minifying JavaScript and CSS in W3 Total Cache

The term ‘minify’ is used to describe a method that makes your website file sizes smaller. It does this by removing white spaces, lines, and unnecessary characters from the source code.

Note: Minifying JS and CSS files can potentially break your website. If you turn it on and your website doesn’t look right, then simply disable these options.

W3 Total Cache allows you to easily minify JavaScript, CSS, and HTML source code as well. However, we recommend only minifying JavaScript and CSS files.

Simply head over to Performance » Minify page and scroll down to the JS section.

Enable JS minify in W3 Total Cache

Check the box next to ‘JS minify settings’ to enable it.

Now, scroll down to the CSS section and enable CSS minify settings the same way.

Enable CSS minify

Don’t forget to click on the Save All Settings button to store your settings.

For alternate methods, see our guide on how to minify JavaScript and CSS files in WordPress.

Enable CDN Support in W3 Total Cache

CDNs or content delivery networks help you further improve your website performance by serving static files like images, CSS, and JavaScript from a global network of servers.

This reduces the load on your WordPress hosting server and improves page load speed.

W3 Total Cache comes with built-in support for various CDN platforms.

We recommend using which is the best CDN solution on the market. This is what we use for our OptinMonster website.

First, you need to signup for a account. After signup, you need to create a Pull Zone for your website.

Bunny CDN dashboard

A pull zone adds a hostname to CDN. This hostname is then used to serve static files for your website.

Add a name for your pull zone and then provide your website’s domain name.

Create pullzone

After adding the pullzone, you need to visit the Performance » General Settings page.

Then, just scroll down to the CDN section.

Enable CDN

Check the Enable box next to the CDN option and choose Generic Mirror next to the CDN Type option.

Don’t forget to click on the Save All Changes button to store your settings.

Next, you need to visit the Performance » CDN page and scroll down to the Configuration: Objects section.

Add CDN hostname

From here, you need to add the hostname you created earlier for your pullzone and click on the test mirror button.

W3 Total Cache will check the availability of your hostname and will show the Test Passed message when it’s successful.

You can now click on the Save All Changes button to store your settings.

W3 Total Cache will now start serving your static resources from CDN server.

W3 Total Cache also works well with Cloudflare free CDN. Alternately, you can also use it with Sucuri which is the best website firewall service with built-in CDN service.

Troubleshooting W3 Total Cache Issues

Once you have configured W3 Total Cache properly, it should work seamlessly in the background to improve WordPress speed and boost performance.

Occasionally, you may come across issues where you don’t see changes you made to your website right away, or a plugin may not be working properly.

The most common reason for those issues is that you are probably seeing an old cached version of your website.

This can be easily fixed by clearing the cache in WordPress.

Simply click on the Performance menu at the top and then select Purge All Caches option. W3 Total Cache will clear all cached content on your website.

Clear all cache in W3 Total Cache

If you are still seeing the old version of your website, then try clearing your browser cache too.

We hope this article helped you install and set up W3 Total Cache in WordPress. You may also want to see our complete WordPress security guide for beginners to strengthen your website security, or our expert picks of the best WordPress hosting services to speed up your website even more.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

163 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. Jiří Vaněk says

    I would recommend everyone to make a note of the changes you have made, especially. Issues on the website may not manifest immediately. For instance, it happened to me that after a week, WordPress started behaving strangely, and it was happening randomly. It took me quite a while to find the problem in the cache plugin and incorrect settings. If I had documented the changes I made, I would have found the problem more easily. It’s a recommendation for everyone.

  3. Roin says


    I’ve a question:

    Does a free version slow the website ? My opinion is that a free version of this plugin makes website slow.. how do you think?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      The free version of plugins will not slow down your site, poorly coded plugins can slow down your site.


  4. Abu Allaah says

    Thanks for the valuable tips,

    I would like to ask if it’s possible to update the article with the latest version of the plugin.

    Thanks in advance

  5. Balu says

    I enabled Minify settings in W3 Total cache plugin and also installed cloudflare extension in w3 total cache plugin.
    Should I enable minify settings in Cloudflare extension also?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      You would want to only use one or the other, if your W3 Total cache minification is working well then stay with that for the moment :)


    • WPBeginner Support says

      It is not required but it is recommended to use a caching plugin with your CDN


  6. Duryab says

    This post is much outdated now, please update this post to the latest W3 total cache plugin.


    • WPBeginner Support says

      Thank you for letting us know about this post being outdated, we will update this article as we are able :)


  7. Tom Lloyd says

    Thanks for the great article! I really benefitted from it and have a better performance now 1/4 load time. One thing you should mention is in the Browser Page under Performance tab there is a box at the bottom that says Rewrite URL. Don’t check that it ruined my pages. All links were alterred but I took it off and it’s ok.

    • Gavin says

      Thanks for your very easy to follow tutorial (with screenshots) on W3 Total Cache. I noticed an immediate difference in load time of the site.

  8. Bikramjit says

    Hi, As per your recommendation, I have decided to go for MaxCDN, Is there any new update about CDN? Going to the MaxCDN site, there are different service including Content Delivery Network, Edge Delivery and other. Can your recommend me which service I have to select initially? I have new blog with no affiliate link till now and not planning for the next six month. And I am planning to apply Google adsense in the near future.Presently I installed WP Super Cache.
    Do I need to switch W3 Total Cache to configure with MaxCDN? if I can configure MaxCDN with WP Super Cache, do you have any guideline?

  9. HumbleHuman says


    Thanks for those detailed instructions and I must say that you helped me much in setting up W3TC for my website..

    I have a small issue with W3TC.. It is not purging my feed cache even though I have enabled this in the Purge Policy..

    Will you help me how to solve this issue?

    Thanks in Advance

  10. Brandon says

    After following this guide, I get the error: “Error: Empty hostname / CNAME list.” I have filled the “Replace site’s hostname with:” with all my cdn.* fields. Has anyone ran into this issue?

  11. Vijay Prajapati says

    I am Using W3 Total cache plugin for WordPress. My post has one table which updates every minute/hour. But as I do caching, the server does not serves latest version, instead it displays cached copy to the visitor. How can I purge cache every 30 minutes automatically so that it shows latest version of the post at after every 30 minutes?
    I have already tried inserting this code in functions.php file but its not purging cache every 1h, instead it dies 2-3h later.

    function w3_flush_cache( ) {

    // Schedule Cron Job Event

    function w3tc_cache_flush() {
    if ( ! wp_next_scheduled( ‘w3_flush_cache’ ) ) {
    wp_schedule_event( current_time( ‘timestamp’ ), ‘hourly’, ‘w3_flush_cache’ );

  12. Anna says

    Thanks for such an easy to follow article. I broke my website yesterday using instructions from another blog. I should have come here first!!

    I am a bit surprised by my results though. I did a Pingdom and GT Metrics test before I made all these changes and my page load time was:
    Pingdom: 8.91 secs and GT Metrix: 5.3 secs

    After I made all the changes I re-ran the tests:
    Pingdom: 9.51 secs and GT Metrix: 9.9 secs

    I thought my load times were meant to get much better – not worse!!?? What have I done wrong?

  13. Roman says

    Thank you for so great content.
    Should I enable “Page cache” option in the process of development of site or only at when I launch it?
    For me it is convenient to do this right now, but I think maybe during development it is not good as I visiting thousand times to check the progress.

  14. Jessica Braboy says

    Hi! Trying to install the W3 Total Cache Plug In, and while it says it is compatible with my version of WordPress, it says that the plug in is unavailable and says “Not allowed on our system due to performance, security or compatibility concerns. Please contact support with any questions.”
    First of all… do you know why this is no longer working? And, do you have an alternative cache plug in that you recommend? Thank you!

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Jessica,

      This means that your WordPress hosting company doesn’t allow the plugin. Most probably because they have their own caching solution integrated into your hosting account which doesn’t work well with W3 total Cache. Please contact your hosting provider for more details.


  15. Andy Sellers says

    Hi, I need some help please.
    I’ve followed the instructions to serve my static files through CDN (and they’re very clear, thank you) and have found the process straightforward so far- but when I log in to my site the URL still starts with ‘www.’ and not ‘cdn’ so I guess cdn is not operational yet.
    One thing I notice is that in the MAXcdn account page there is no option to ‘Update’ the Custom Domain settings as mentioned in the instructions – is this OK? I assume it now updates automatically?
    But my main problem is that, assuming I now have to do this, I don’t know how to specify the static files in the custom files list in the custom setting of W3Total Cache. Help please. How should I fill in this Advanced panel – it’s now getting a bit too techie for me? Thank you.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Andy,

      You will login to your WordPress site using the normal URL. CDN only serves static files via their network not the whole website.

      MaxCDN settings may have changed, but you would still need to setup your domain. Please contact their support and they will be able to guide you.


  16. sazia kazia says

    Hi Very helpful and useful article. I set w3 total cache as per above instructions and could see it improved my website speed in good level. I ‘ll use MaxCDN instructions …Thank you so much

  17. Amit Jain says

    Hello Team! I am following your blog since long now and trust have learnt a lot. Thanks.

    I need a little bit of help – Mine is a startup site, but have started with Cloud VPS Server with Data Centre located in Mumbai, India. 2.80*4 CPU and 8GB Ram is the part of Server Configuration. For better Site Security and Performance what should i use – Cloudflare (If cloudflare then free or paid plan) or Sucuri, W3Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Varnish Cache or Some other plugin/software.

  18. Raj singh says

    I have an issue with this plugin , when I trying to update this plugin it failed and after fails when I Refresh my wordpress site .
    It says under maintenance come back after few hours.
    So I leave and came back after few hours but after few hours when I try to open my site .
    It’s Totally blank , Nothing is show on my Site.
    Only white page comes when I Try to open.

    So now what should I do ?

    Please help me…

  19. Derek C says

    Thank you so much! I was about to go pay an extra $15 a month for cloud based hosting because my blog had gotten so slow at times it was unbearable! I had setup W3 Total Cache and just enabled everything.

    I didn’t recognize it until going through your guide, but this was the main reason my dashboard and WP console was taking FOREVER to do anything. Sometimes I would wait 20-30 seconds just to create or save a post. Now it is like 2-3 seconds at the max. Also, my site loads even faster with a lot of that junk turned off.

    I am on a shared hosting plan, and I guess all of the caching was actually bottlenecking the CPU or something…. Anyhow, thanks for such a useful guide!

  20. Amit says

    Dear sir,

    I use your guide with w3 total cache but facing the issue of rendering CSS file. This is link of my blog How its work

    Can I use Cloudfare with subdomain CDN ? Is it speed up loading time?

  21. Rahul Rampal says

    Hi, I have a problem with My yoast sitemaps not rendering. A blank screen appears when I click it. My question is should I include or exclude Sitemap.xsl file in custom file settings in CDN?
    Kindly advice.

  22. Mody Star says

    Hello , I’m using w3 Total Cache on multisite wordpress … I want to exclude certain site from being excluded
    I want to exclude the whole site from being cached
    and what about exclude caching of certain plugin on
    Help me Please :)

  23. Utkarsh says

    I did the settings of W3 total cache plugin and the favicon of my website stopped appearing. Can you please check it

  24. Jon says

    I downloaded plugin and now its loading slower.

    Each time I test in pingdom the % faster than other sites decreases.

    Its only a 1 page site at this time.

  25. Ian Smith says

    I recently set up W3 Total Cache with the Rackspace Cloud Files CDN. It all works, but I had expected the media files in the wp-content/uploads folder to only be posted in the CDN rather than on the server. Instead, media uploads now go to both the CDN AND the wp-content/uploads folder. Is this what is supposed to happen? It seemed unnecessarily redundant to me.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Yes, but the images on your server are stored so that you can end using CDN service anytime you want, or move to another service, or to create backup using WordPress backup plugins. However, your visitors will be served images from the closest CDN server instead of your site.


  26. Ian says


    Are you still using maxcdn on this site? I’m trying to decide between maxcdn and keycdn. I noticed this post was from a few years ago and wondered if your thoughts about maxcdn are still the same?


  27. Bart Percy says

    Superb site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feedback from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Bless you!

  28. ROSANNA says

    Hi ! I installed yesterday Super Cache because it seemed easier to configure than W3 Total Cache but this morning my site was very very very slow… So I decided to follow your tutorial step by step and change plugins.
    So, the first step was to deactivate the first plugin, so I clicked deactivate Super Cache and my whole site crashed !!! I get this message : 503 SERVICE UNAVAILABLE no server is available to handle this request.
    I don’t know what to do. Can you help ?

  29. Anant says

    Minify via disk is currently disabled

    I tried to check the box and when I save after the refresh, it’s disable. enabling it 100 times over still results in an unchecked box, and the message “Minify via disk is currently disabled. Anyone know how to fix that ?
    Thank you


  30. TJ says

    Thank your this tutorial. I have used it for a couple of my sites.

    One thing, which might be a “duh” situation… But, I had my site in “Maintenance Mode” using SeedProd’s Coming Soon Pro. I did not see the CDN in front of the image urls until I turned off maintenance mode. Then, when I turned it back on again, they were gone again.

    Just in case someone needs this information :-)

  31. Rahul says

    hi there, thanks for making this post for wp beginners. i’m also using wp total cache plugin for . could you help me or check my website what is problem in this becasie i’m not getting hits pls help me a humble request to u

  32. Jewel says

    I appreciate so much, your posts. They have helped me learn a bit about setting up my website. However, this particular post led me to check a bunch of boxes under”Performance » Browser Cache” that took me from faster than 91% down to faster than 71% on speed. I had checked them just as you have in your picture above. I unchecked all your suggested boxes and got back to 84%. (on Pingdom) This was the only change I made. I don’t understand why it made things slower, or why I couldn’t get back to my original speed. If you could explain this I would appreciate it. Thanks.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      A lot of reasons can show you conflicting results when you are expecting something different. For example, you may have forgotten to save plugin settings, your server is particularly under heavy traffic at that time. Make sure you enable gzip compression as we have shown above, then test.


  33. sojib says

    I am not using this cace plugin anymore. Using now wpfc two of my site. simple and faster then other plugins.

  34. Tea says

    Thanks for the tutorial…really helpful
    However my website is slower then before.

    I also have these performance issue “Remove query strings from static resources”.

    I haven’t enabled database caching and Minify as per your insutrctions as yet…also don’t have CDN service.

    before my website was faster.
    Any thoughts?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      How are you checking your website speed and performance? We recommend testing with pingdom using different locations. If it is still slow, then try resetting the plugin and follow the setup instructions again.


      • Tea says

        yes using pingdom to test and speed is 2.55s…I think we can do better :)

        All my performance scores are 100 or 95 the lowest, but the “Remove query strings from static resources” is at 12.

        Any suggestions?

        Many thanks

  35. Lifa says

    This has to be one of the best if not the best WordPress learning sites ever! Detailed and very easy to understand modules. Thank you for all your hard researched work.

  36. Penelope says

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS! I’m EXTREMELY cautions on the plugins I install from horror stories. I’ve also heard horror stories about this very plug in. Therefore, I research as much as I can: tutorials, forums, reviews, troubleshooting etc. I am going to follow your tutorial exactly. My server says my site is too large, 500kb, and needs to be gzipped. [sigh] Another plugin to search.

    Helpful note: You may have a downloadable instructions on your site somewhere & I am not see it. But It would be helpful if I could download to print OR this was print friendly. you have have link but I am not seeing it.


  37. Keami says

    When I check the box for enable for page cache and click save all setting it doesn’t stay checked. Help please?

  38. reza says

    Please Inform That if Enable Object Cache is checked may cause very slow or accessible admin panel after some times as happened to me and i have to disable object cache and after that i have no problem with this Great plugin

    TnX for your tutorial too

  39. deepa tiwari says

    Thanks for sharing . I tried to install W3 total cache showing Error not Available for you. How to fix it. Please help me

  40. Manu says

    i always come back for W3 Super Cache settings after messing-up with the plugin and i never back or restore its settings :P because i know where to look for it.

    Thanks Wpbeginner for this awesome tutorial.

  41. tracey sharp says

    Many thanks for this really detailed step by step guide. I’ve installed google adsense along with a couple of other plug ins and my load time seems to have almost ground to a halt. I’ve installed Total Cache which has helped a little but I’m not sure what to do next. I’ll keep looking!

  42. Hasnain Abid Khanzada says

    I have one question that as we know that when we open any new website then browser cache it so then why we need any plugin for improving cache performance?

  43. Muhammad Imran says

    Hello WPB team,
    I have connect MAxCDN by following all the guidlines as suggested in the article. But after some days my 99% images de-indexed in Google. Please is there any tutorial to FIX this? Will be very thankful to you for the help.


  44. Tristian says


    I do have one question, when static pages are created for example you have 200 pages and just installed and set up W3 cache. So now when static pages will be created for all those 200 sites.
    Do you have to load it manually every site by site in your browser ? I understand that this action takes some time so when exactly those sites are created ( static copies on a disk) ?

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