W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache Review: Best Caching Plugin for 2023?

Are you curious about the latest performance-oriented W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache Comparison? Well, you are in the right place.

Did you know that installing a caching plugin helps you increase your site speed? Yes, it’s so true.

That’s why we came up with this comparison post between WP Super Cache vs W3 Total Cache. Both are legendary caching plugins designed to improve the speed of any WordPress website.

In this comparison, first, we will look at how W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache performed on our conducted tests. Then we will differentiate all the essential factors including features, support, setup, configuration, and whatnot.

Quick note: We recently moved to WP Rocket. We had been using WP Super Cache on our blogs for years. Then we switched to W3 Total Cache. Both plugins hardly disappointed us. But as our blog traffic grew, we felt the limitation of power that we achieved only with the help of a premium plugin. So we tried WP Rocket, and with the support of WPX (free CDN Hosting), we gained a 100% performance result
the current performance score of our website: Reason - wp rocket & wpx hosting
The current performance score of our website: Reason – WP Rocket & WPX Hosting

You can learn more about WP Rocket’s performance from these 2 blog posts: WP Rocket Review & W3 Total Cache Review.

Are you ready to know the best caching plugin for 2023 between W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache? Let’s get started!

W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache Comparison (2023 Edition)

W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache

Quick Difference:

W3 Total Cache plugin is ahead of WP Super Cache in terms of features, caching types, compatibility, better controls, CDN direct integrations, and developer friendliness. Whereas the biggest plus point of WP Super Cache over W3TC is its working and less complex setup. WP Super Cache serves the static HTML version, which takes comparatively less time to process than the W3TC plugin, which processes bulky PHP scripts.

The Performance Test: WP Super Cache vs W3 Total Cache

The Testing process:

Before jumping to the test results, please go through the testing process.

Basically, we will test W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache on our friend’s website, which runs on low-powered shared web hosting. Well, this test is unique. It will reveal the true potential of W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache.

You may be wondering why we didn’t perform a test on our own website: Bloggerspassion.com.

Well, these are the reasons:

First of all, our website bloggerspassion.com is already optimized because of the WPX hosting. Yes, WPX servers are high-powered and offer up to 75-80% performance without any caching plugin. Because of this, we cannot find the true capability of both plugins.

Secondly, WP Super Cache is known for its unique static HTML files concept. It has been recommended first for low-powered hosting sites.

Quick note: We have turned on all essential optimization settings in both plugins except CDN settings for these tests.

Before installing any caching plugin, this is the current situation of the shared hosting-powered web page.

situation before w3 total cache & wp super cache
Situation Before W3 Total Cache & WP Super Cache

Let’s see who is the real performance player.

Test Result: W3 Total Cache vs WP Super Cache

Winner: W3 Total Cache

Metrics Performance Situation W/O Caching Plugins W3TC WP Super Cache Winner
Score 59 (Mobile), 82 (Desktop) 72 (Mobile), 90 (Desktop) 60 (Mobile), 88 (Desktop) W3TC
FCP 1.8 seconds (Good) 3.1 seconds (Increased) 2.8 seconds (Increased) _
Speed Index 5.7 seconds (Average) 3.1 seconds (Huge Improvement) 2.9 seconds (Huge improvement) WP Super Cache
LCP 2.9 seconds (Average) 3.1 seconds (Increased) 3.7 seconds (Increased) _
Time to Interactive 8.5 seconds (Poor) 6.2 seconds (Improvement) 8.2 seconds (Poor) W3TC
Total Blocking Time 1,140 ms (Poor) 460 ms (Huge Improvement) 780 ms (Improvement) W3TC
Cumulative Layout Shift 0.074 (Good) 0.007 (Improvement) 0.067 (Improvement) W3TC
Error Reduced unused JavaScript (High Impact) No Change No Change _
Error Reduce initial server response time (High Impact) Resolved Resolved Tie
Error Serve images in next-gen formats Resolved No Change  W3TC
Error Avoid serving legacy JavaScript to modern browsers No Change No Change _
Error Image elements do not have explicit width and height (High Impact) No Change No Change _
Error Avoid an excessive DOM size (High Impact) No Change No Change _
Error Minimize main thread work (High Impact) Impact Reduced Impact Reduced _
Error First contentful paint (3G) No Change No Change _
Error Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy Resolved No Change _
Error Reduce JavaScript execution time No Change No Change _
Error Not Found Eliminate render-blocking resources (New Error) Eliminate render-blocking resources (New Error) _
Error Not Found Not Found Reduce unused CSS (New Error) W3TC
Error Not Found Not Found Defer Offscreen Images (Lazy Load – New Error)  W3TC
test result - situation after w3 total cache plugin (shared hosting)
Test Result – Situation after W3 Total Cache Plugin (Shared Hosting)
test result - situation after wp super cache plugin (shared hosting)
Test Result – Situation after WP Super Cache Plugin (Shared Hosting)

Test Conclusion:

The conclusion is that the WP Super Cache performance results showed a lack of features. Considering the shared hosting fact, W3 Total Cache performed well. But WP Super Cache hardly made a difference in performance.

These are the few errors WP Super Cache had failed to resolve because of the lack of features:

  • Serve images in next-gen formats – W3TC eliminated it because of the lazy loading feature
  • Serve static assets with an effective cache policy – W3TC eliminated it because of supporting browser caching
Quick note: In case this test is performed with WP Rocket, we are sure that the score in Google PageSpeed would be reached 90+ easily. And the errors would be gone too. Don’t you believe in our words? Well, check these WP Rocket review & W3 Total Cache review posts where we have given the proof of WP Rocket efficiency.

What is W3 Total Cache: Why Use It?

w3 total cache plugin

W3 Total Cache is one of the widely used caching plugins across the WordPress blogging world. With over 1 million active downloads, this is the top-rated (4.3 out of 5 stars) plugin.

This plugin improves your speed by increasing server performance, reducing the download times, and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

Pros of W3 Total Cache Plugin:

  • Browser caching is done.
  • Page and object caching is done.
  • You can easily minify your databases.
  • Supports CDN
  • More control
  • Up to 80% bandwidth savings via minify and HTTP compression of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and feeds
  • It dramatically improves your overall page speed.
  • Claims to be web host agnostic: No matter what type of hosting you use on your website, W3TC always works and hardly shows compatibility issues.

Cons of W3 Total Cache Plugin:

  • Making perfect settings using this plugin usually takes time. Read this first if you are wondering how to get the most out of this plugin.
  • Unless and until you use a CDN, you can’t see much difference in your website speed.

What is Super Cache: Why Use It?

wp super cache plugin

WP Super Cache caching plugin has over 1 million active installations on WordPress. Many users use this plugin to speed up their sites. This plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress blog and serves them to users.

One Big Reason to Pick WP Super Cache Over W3 Total Cache:

Here, we are talking about the working of the WP Super Cache plugin.

Unlike W3TC, which processes and serves WordPress PHP scripts directly, WP Super Cache converts dynamic pages from your WordPress blogs into static HTML files and serves most of your users. In simple words, WP Super Cache created a single static copy of your webpage and served it to thousands of users. Because of this approach, the server fetching time will be reduced drastically.

Suppose your site is hosted on a really less bandwidth or underpowered server. In that case, We highly recommend you to use this plugin as this plugin creates a static HTML version of a webpage that can be processed much faster.

Pros of WP Super Cache Plugin:

  • This plugin offers legacy caching. Mean, loads your web pages faster even for those visitors who are not logged into your sites.
  • PHP serves all the cached static files, which improves your loading times.
  • Automatically compress pages.
  • Also supports a CDN network.

Cons of WP Super Cache Plugin:

  • Again, there are a lot of settings you need to go through if you want to use the functionalities of this plugin fully.
  • You cannot enhance the capabilities of this plugin because there is no pro version available.

Features Comparison

Winner: W3 Total Cache

Features W3 Total Cache WP Super Cache
Minification (Text, JS, CSS) ✔️
Caching Types Supported More Less
Cloudflare CDN Supported ✔️ ✔️
Dedicated CDN services integrations ✔️
AMP Support ✔️
SSL Support ✔️
Browser Caching ✔️
Database Caching ✔️
Page Caching ✔️
Fragment Caching ✔️
Object Caching ✔️
Caching of Feeds ✔️
Deferring (CSS & JS) ✔️
Lazy Load ✔️
Legacy Caching ✔️
Automatic Page Compression ✔️ ✔️
Preloading ✔️ ✔️
Caching Statistics ✔️
Pre-caching ✔️ ✔️
Control on Pre Caching More Flexible Less Flexible
Import/Export ✔️ ✔️
Working Process WordPress PHP scripts Process HTML static file version
Jetpack Plugin Integration ✔️ ✔️

The Setup & Configuration Part: Which is Less Complex?

w3tc vs super cache

Winner: WP Super Cache

The moment you see the number of tabs in both plugins, you will automatically understand which plugin is less complex.

W3TC has divided its configuration settings into 16 tabs, whereas only 5 simple configuration tabs are there inside the WP Super Cache.

After activating the W3TC plugin, navigate to performance > general settings. Here you get options to quickly switch on and off the available modules. Later you can configure the settings of these modules from their own dedicated tabs.

w3tc setup

Things are different in the case of WP Super Cache. Here you just have to navigate Settings > WP Super Cache > Easy Tab. and switch on the caching button. For beginners, this is enough.

wp super cache setup

In a nutshell, the W3TC setup & configuration part is going to be difficult. You might have to watch a few tutorials to configure it for the best performance. WP Super Cache situation is simple. Just toggle the one switch, and your website is all set for the performance boost.

Quick note: WP Rocket setup is the simplest of all. Upon activation, It applies 80% optimization automatically.

Read: How to Configure W3 Total Cache Plugin for Maximum Performance

CDN & Cloudflare Overview

Winner: W3 Total Cache

Installing a CDN (Content Delivery Network) is another simple way of making your site super fast. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on using a CDN for your WP websites; you can use a free version of the Cloudflare CDN plugin.

Gladly both of the plugins have the option to integrate the website with the CDN networks. Although both plugins can be integrated with Cloudflare free version, but still why W3 Total Cache is ahead? W3TC has inbuilt direct integrations for the most popular CDN services (excluding Cloudflare). In comparison, you have to configure a CDN service in WP Super Cache manually.

w3 total cache cdn options
Quick note: Want to avoid manual CDN configuration? Then why don’t you upgrade to those hosting services which enable the CDN service by default free of cost? The best example is WPX hosting.

As you know, we moved to WPX Hosting from Hostgator a few years back. You can learn more in detail about why we moved from Hostgator to WPX here. With WPX Hosting, we got lots of quality add-ons like MAXCDN, etc. This is how we were also able to avoid the separate CDN expense.

You can now install Cloudflare CDN on Bluehost web hosting for free. BlueHost recently partnered with Cloudflare for free integration and support of Cloudflare CDN for its customers.

Read: How to integrate Cloudflare & W3TC plugin

Overview of Support System

Winner: Tie

Both plugins are free, so you should not keep the hope high for premium support. W3TC and WP Super cache have similar support options.

W3 Total Cache Support Options (Free Version):

WP Super Cache Support Options

wp super cache support options

Quick note: The option of premium support is mandatory to have in performance optimization plugins because you cannot be certain about possible future issues related to compatibility, website crashes, etc. This is one of the main reasons we have moved to WP Rocket.

Pricing & Premium Version Comparison

Only W3TC has a premium version. WP Super Cache is a forever-free plugin.

The single website license of the W3TC premium version would cost you $99/year. Yes, there is no such unlimited sites plan available here compared to WP Rocket. This is why the W3TC premium version should be avoided for multi-sites. One W3TC license could only be installed on a single website.

Only a feature of CDN delivery is worth it in W3TC premium, but as we stated earlier, almost all web hosting companies are providing integrated CDN services (for example, WPX Hosting), so investing in W3TC for the sake of CDN might sound strange.

FAQs of WP Super Cache vs W3 Total Cache

Why do I need a caching plugin?

A caching plugin will help your website load faster while reducing the load on the server.

What are some free caching plugins?

W3 total cache, WP super cache, WP Fastest Cache, and Auto optimize are some of the most widely used WordPress free plugins for caching.

Which is the best free caching plugin for a WordPress site?

For us, it’s a W3 total cache. We used the same plugin in the past, and it works very well.

What is the best alternative to the W3 total cache?

If you want some extraordinary performance, we recommend you go with the WP Rocket plugin. This is a premium plugin with lots of advanced features, and recently we switched to the WP Rocket plugin. We are pretty much happy with the performance.

Can I get WP Rocket for free?

No, WP Rocket is a premium plugin, and its plan starts from $49 for a year.

What is Nulled WP Rocket?

This is a free version of WP Rocket available online and developed freely by some people. It contains some malware that may put your website at threat.

Which is the best cache plugin for shared hosting?

WP Rocket (Premium) & WP Super Cache (Free)

More Posts Worth Reading:

Final thoughts about W3 Total Cache Vs WP Super Cache plugin review

So what’s the bottom line?

As far as we are concerned, we found W3 Total Cache is better in the W3 Total Cache Vs WP Super Cache comparison (as we’ve personally used and tested both these plugins).

But remember, we mentioned in the introduction about our update to WP Rocket. WP Rocket looks to be the best if someone is looking for a premium caching plugin. If the free caching plugins don’t work well with your website, don’t go for W3TC premium. Instead, go for WP Rocket and achieve a 100% performance score in just half of the amount. 

What do you think about the best caching plugin for 2023? Is it W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache? Please share your experiences with both in the comments.

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