Caching is an effective way to improve your WordPress site’s performance and speed. It stores static copies of your web pages and serves these cached versions to visitors instead of dynamically generating the pages on every request. This significantly reduces server load and page load times.
While using a dedicated caching plugin like WP Rocket or WP Fastest Cache is the easiest method, you can still leverage caching in WordPress without relying on plugins. Here are some ways to enable caching on your WordPress site without plugins:
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Browser caching allows web pages and assets to be locally stored on a user’s device for faster load times on subsequent visits.
To implement browser caching in WordPress:
- Use an FTP client or a plugin like WP htaccess Editor to edit the
.htaccessfile in your WordPress installation.
- Add the following lines:
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/pdf "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
ExpiresDefault "access plus 2 days"
This will instruct browsers to cache static assets like images, CSS, and JS files for the specified time.
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Leverage Server Caching
Most managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine have built-in server caching. But if yours doesn’t, you can enable server caching by editing
This will allow WordPress to save cached versions of pages in the
You can then manually clear this cache by deleting the files in the cache folder using FTP.
Another way is to set cache expiration headers for your pages without using a plugin.
Add this in your
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 days"
Now WordPress will send cache expiration headers to browsers so that pages are cached for 1 day.
WordPress has a built-in object cache to store database queries, options, transients etc.
You can leverage this by adding the following in
define( 'WP_CACHE', true );
This will cache database intensive operations for improved load times.
Using a content delivery network (CDN) also enables caching of your static files across multiple edge locations around the world.
To implement CDN caching for your WordPress site:
- Choose a CDN provider like Cloudflare, KeyCDN or StackPath.
- Change your site’s DNS settings to point to the CDN instead of your host.
- Set up the CDN to cache image, JS, CSS and other static files.
- Clear the CDN cache whenever you make changes to those files.
When to Clear Cache
It’s important to clear cached files whenever you make changes to your site content or design. Otherwise visitors may see outdated cached versions instead of the latest changes.
Here is when you should clear cache:
- After publishing a new post or page
- When updating plugins or themes
- After changing any settings
- If site design changes are not reflecting
- When troubleshooting issues
Without plugins, you can clear cached files manually:
- Delete all files in
- Clear CDN cache from their control panel
- Ask your visitors to clear their browser cache
With caching plugins, you can clear cache with 1-click from your WordPress dashboard.
Benefits of Caching Without Plugins
While plugins make managing cache easier, going without them has some advantages:
- Reduce potential conflicts between plugins
- Avoid bloated code from excessive features
- Improve site performance by keeping code minimal
- Enhanced security from having fewer plugins
- Lower resource usage and server load
- No recurring costs for premium plugins
So by implementing basic caching techniques in WordPress without plugins, you can optimize your site for speed while keeping things simple.
Here are some popular caching plugins for WordPress that you can use if you don’t want to bother with manual optimization:
WP Rocket is the top WordPress caching plugin trusted by over 1 million websites. With its easy setup and optimization features, it can dramatically improve your site’s performance.
- Cache preloading
- Mobile caching
- Lazy loading for images
- Browser cache support
- Cache purge button
- Basic CDN integration
Pricing: Starts at $49 per year
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is a free alternative that also provides effective caching and speed optimization.
- Minify HTML, CSS, and JS
- GZIP compression
- Browser caching
- Mobile support
- CDN integration
Pricing: Free and paid upgrades available
Swift Performance Lite
Swift Performance Lite is another good free caching plugin for WordPress. It automatically optimizes your site for speed.
- Page, database, and browser caching
- GZIP compression
- CSS/JS minification
- CDN support
- Cache purge
Implementing caching in WordPress has significant benefits for your site’s speed and visitor experience. While plugins make managing cache easier, you can leverage basic caching techniques in WordPress without relying on plugins as well.
Browser caching, server caching, object caching, and CDNs allow you to cache pages and static assets for improved performance. Just remember to clear cache whenever you make changes to your site.
I hope this guide gives you a good overview of how caching works and how you can implement it on your WordPress site without plugins. Let me know if you have any other questions!