Do you want to properly install and set up the WP Rocket plugin in WordPress?
WP Rocket is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market. However, many beginners find it difficult to decide which settings they should use to speed up their website.
In this tutorial, we will show you how to easily install and set up WP Rocket in WordPress. We will also walk you through all its settings so you can get the maximum performance benefits.
Why Use WP Rocket?
No one likes slow websites. In fact, a performance study found that a one-second delay in page load time can result in 7% fewer conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.
And it’s not just users, either. Search engines like Google also don’t like slow websites. They give priority to faster websites in search rankings.
That’s where WP Rocket comes in.
It is the best WordPress caching plugin on the market and allows you to quickly improve your WordPress website’s speed and performance.
Here’s how it works.
WordPress is a dynamic content management system. Every time a user visits your website, WordPress fetches the content from your database, generates a page on the fly, and sends it back to the user.
This process takes up WordPress hosting server resources. If a lot of people visit your website at once, then this would slow down your website.
WP Rocket makes WordPress bypass all this.
It crawls and saves a static copy of your pages in the cache and allows WordPress to show the cached page to the user instead of generating a page on the fly.
This frees up server resources on your website and improves overall page load time throughout your website. That’s why we use WP Rocket on many of our own websites.
That being said, let’s take a look at how to easily install and set up WP Rocket on your WordPress website. Here’s what we will cover in this tutorial:
- Installing WP Rocket Plugin in WordPress
- Setting Up Caching Options in WP Rocket
- Minifying Files Using WP Rocket
- Using Lazy Load Media to Improve Page Load Speed
- Fine Tuning Preloading in WP Rocket
- Setting Up Advanced Caching Rules
- Performing Database Cleanup Using WP Rocket
- Configuring Your CDN to Work With WP Rocket
- Reducing Heartbeat Activity in WordPress With WP Rocket
- Using WP Rocket Add-ons
- Managing Your WP Rocket Cache
- WP Rocket Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you prefer written instructions, then continue reading.
Step 1: Installing WP Rocket Plugin in WordPress
WP Rocket is a premium plugin, but the best part is that all features are included in their lowest plan.
Once installed and activated, the WP Rocket plugin works out of the box, and it will turn on caching with optimal settings for your website.
We ran speed tests on our demo site before and after installing WP Rocket. The performance improvements were incredible using just the out-of-the-box settings.
The performance improvement is instantly noticeable because WP Rocket doesn’t wait for user requests to start caching pages. It proactively starts to crawl your website and preloads pages in the cache.
You can see the caching status by visiting the WP Rocket dashboard located on the Settings » WP Rocket page.
Now that you have installed WP Rocket, let’s take a look at other WP Rocket options and how to set them up to further improve your website speed.
Step 2: Setting Up Caching Options in WP Rocket
First, you need to visit the Settings » WP Rocket page and click on the ‘Cache’ tab.
WP Rocket has already enabled page caching by default, but you can tweak the settings to further improve your website speed.
1. Mobile Cache
You will notice that mobile caching is turned on by default here. However, we recommend you check the ‘Separate cache files for mobile devices’ option as well.
This option allows WP Rocket to create separate cache files for mobile users. Checking this option ensures that mobile users get the full cached mobile experience.
2. User Cache
If you run a website where users need to log in to your website to access certain features, then you need to check this option.
3. Cache Lifespan
Cache lifespan is the time you want to store the cached files on your website. The default limit is set to 10 hours, which will work for most websites.
However, you can set it to a lower value if you run a very busy site or a higher value if you don’t update your website frequently.
After the lifespan time has passed, WP Rocket will delete the cached files. It will also immediately start preloading the cache with updated content.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
Step 3: Minifying Files Using WP Rocket
Minifying static content makes those file sizes smaller. In most cases, this difference is too small to make any noticeable impact on your website’s performance.
However, if you run a large traffic site, then this can definitely have a big impact on reducing your overall bandwidth usage and saving on hosting costs.
The one caveat is that minifying files can also have unexpected consequences, such as files not loading or not working as intended.
If you turn this setting on, then please make sure to thoroughly review your website pages to make sure everything is working as intended.
Step 4: Using Lazy Load Media to Improve Page Load Speed
Images are often the second heaviest item on a page after videos. Images take more time to load than text and increase the overall page download size.
Most popular websites now use a technique called lazy loading to delay image downloads.
Instead of loading all your images at once, lazy loading downloads only the images that will be visible on the user’s screen. This not only makes your pages load fast, but it also feels faster to the user.
WP Rocket comes with a built-in lazy loading feature. You can enable lady loading for images by simply switching to the ‘Media’ tab on the plugin’s settings page. You can also enable lazy loading for embeds like YouTube videos and iframes.
Note: While lazy loading images will help improve perceived website speed, you should always save and optimize images for the web to get maximum results. To learn more, see our step-by-step guide on how to optimize images for web performance.
Step 5: Fine Tuning Preloading in WP Rocket
Next, you can review the preloading settings in WP Rocket by switching to the ‘Preload’ tab. By default, the plugin starts to crawl your homepage and follow the links it finds there to preload the cache.
Alternatively, you can tell the plugin to use your XML sitemap to build a cache.
You can turn off the preloading feature as well, but we do not recommend that.
Turning off preloading will tell WordPress to only cache pages when they are requested by a user. This means the first user to load that specific page will always see a slow website.
Editors note: We strongly recommend that you keep preloading activated to get the maximum performance results on your WordPress website.
Step 6: Setting Up Advanced Caching Rules
WP Rocket gives you full control over caching. For example, you can switch to the ‘Advanced Rules’ tab on the settings page to exclude pages that you don’t want to be cached.
You can also exclude cookies and user agents (browser and device types), and automatically rebuild the cache when you update specific pages or posts.
These settings are for developers and power users who have a complex setup and need custom settings. If you are not sure about these options, then the default settings will work for most websites.
Step 7: Performing Database Cleanup Using WP Rocket
WP Rocket also makes it easy to clean up the WordPress database. This has very little effect on your website performance, but you can still review these options if you want to.
You need to switch to the ‘Database’ tab on the plugin settings page. From here, you can delete post revisions, drafts, spam, and trash comments.
We don’t recommend deleting post revisions because they can be really useful in undoing changes to your WordPress posts and pages in the future. You also don’t need to delete spam and trashed comments, as WordPress automatically clean them up after 30 days.
Step 8: Configuring Your CDN to Work With WP Rocket
If you are using a CDN service for your WordPress site, then you can set it up to work with WP Rocket. To do that, you need to switch to the ‘CDN’ tab.
A CDN is a content delivery network that enables you to serve static files from a network of servers spread across the globe.
This speeds up your website because it allows the user’s browser to download files from the server closest to their location. It also reduces your hosting server load and makes your website more responsive.
For more information, see our guide on why you need a CDN service for your WordPress site.
WP Rocket has separate add-ons to easily set up Sucuri and Cloudflare on your website. More on this later.
Step 9: Reducing Heartbeat Activity in WordPress With WP Rocket
The Heartbeat API allows WordPress to send a periodic request to the hosting server in the background. This allows your website to perform scheduled tasks.
For example, when writing blog posts, the editor uses the Heartbeat API to check connectivity and post changes.
You can click on the ‘Heartbeat API’ tab in WP Rocket to control this feature and reduce the heartbeat API frequency.
We don’t recommend deactivating the Heartbeat API because it offers some very useful features. However, reducing its frequency will improve performance, especially on larger sites.
Step 10: Using WP Rocket Add-ons
WP Rocket also comes with some ready-to-deploy features that are available as add-ons. Let’s take a look at the currently available add-ons on this list.
1. Google Analytics Add-on
The Google Analytics add-on for WP Rocket allows you to host Google Analytics code on your own server. This does not have any significant performance improvement, but some users do this to get a 100% page speed score.
2. Facebook Pixel
If you are using the Facebook pixel for user tracking, then this add-on will host the pixels locally on your server. Again, this will improve your page speed score but may not have any actual impact on website speed.
3. Varnish Add-on
If your WordPress hosting company uses the Varnish cache, then you need to enable this add-on. This will ensure that the Varnish cache is cleared when WP Rocket clears its cache.
If you are using the Cloudflare CDN, then you need this add-on to make it work alongside WP Rocket. Simply enable the add-on and click on the ‘Modify options’ button.
After that, you need to enter your Cloudflare account credentials.
Doing this will connect WP Rocket to your Cloudflare account.
If you are using Sucuri, then you need to enable this add-on and click on the ‘Modify options’ button. After that, enter your Sucuri account’s API key to connect your account.
Step 11: Managing Your WP Rocket Cache
WP Rocket also makes it easy for admins to manage and clear the WordPress cache. Simply go to the plugin’s settings page, and you’ll find the option to clear the WP Rocket cache on the ‘Dashboard’ tab.
You can also start a preloading sequence to rebuild the cache on demand.
The plugin also makes it easier to import and export plugin settings. You can switch to the tools to easily export and import plugin settings. This is helpful when moving WordPress from a local server to a live website and when moving WordPress to a new domain.
Below that, you’ll find the option to Rollback the plugin to an earlier version. This comes in handy if a WP Rocket update didn’t work as expected.
If you want to have the same rollback feature for all your plugins, then see our guide on how to rollback plugins to an older version in WordPress.
WP Rocket Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
As WP Rocket has grown in popularity, we have answered many questions related to the WP Rocket WordPress caching plugin. Here are some of the top WP Rocket questions:
1. Is there a free version of WP Rocket?
No, WP Rocket is a premium WordPress caching plugin. There is no free version or free trial available. They do offer a 14-day money-back guarantee.
You may find a nulled version of WP Rocket for free, but we strongly recommend against using it because sometimes hackers use nulled versions as bait to hack your website.
To learn more, see our guide on avoiding nulled versions of WordPress themes and plugins.
2. Is WP Rocket worth the price?
We also recently switched to WP Rocket on WPBeginner. You can learn more about this in our behind-the-scenes look at our new site design.
You might also be interested in reading a case study on how we made WordPress faster than static site generators.
3. Can I use WP Rocket with a managed WordPress hosting platform?
The short answer is yes. You can and should use WP Rocket in combination with built-in caching offered by your managed hosting company to unlock additional performance improvements.
WP Rocket plays nicely along those built-in caching options provided by your managed hosting provider while helping you get additional performance benefits with features like CDN, minifying files, lazy loading, smart cache preloading, and more.
4. How can I check whether WP Rocket is working and caching pages?
To check whether WP Rocket is working properly, you need to log out of your site or open it in an incognito window.
Next, you need to open the browser’s source view of the page and scroll to the bottom. At the very end, you should see the text, “This website is like a rocket …”
If those words are there, then you know WP Rocket is working properly and caching pages.
5. What makes WP Rocket better than other caching plugins?
In our opinion, WP Rocket is better than other WordPress caching plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache because it offers the most comprehensive set of features, and it is regularly updated to keep up with modern browser standards.
This is the #1 reason why we are switching all of our sites to use WP Rocket.
We hope this guide helped you learn how to install and set up the WP Rocket plugin in WordPress. You may also want to see our ultimate guide on how to speed up WordPress, or our expert picks for the must have WordPress plugins.