Shared hosting isn’t the ideal environment for speeding up WordPress with W3 Total Cache. There are features that just don’t work well on a shared server. In addition, if you run into server configuration issues there isn’t much you can do about it if your site is hosted on a shared server.
In an ideal WordPress world, every WordPress website would be hosted in a private environment. However, many WordPress websites don’t generate the kind of traffic or revenue needed to justify anything more than bare-bones shared hosting.
If that’s where you find yourself, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up on W3TC entirely. Instead of throwing in the towel, what you really need is a simple baseline configuration – a starting point that produces a measurable improvement in site performance. From that starting point you can customize W3TC for additional gains, but at least you’ll know right off-the-bat that you’re starting the process with a mark in the win column.
This article is 100% affiliate-free!
We will never take money to promote others, everything you read is genuine. Learn more.
This post is the final part of our four-part series on W3 Total Cache. If you want to read all of the W3TC goodness we have on tap, check out the rest of our Ultimate Guide to W3 Total Cache:
- Part 1: Introduction to Caching – How caching can speed up WordPress and an overview of what W3TC does.
- Part 2: How to Set it Up – A detailed walk through W3TC’s 16 menus so you can set up W3TC like a pro.
- Part 3: All Your Questions Answered – How to fix the most common headaches and roadblocks encountered when setting up W3TC.
- Part 4: Works-Every-Time Settings for Shared Web Hosting – Run WordPress on a shared server? Here are set-them-and-forget-them settings you can use that will work 99.9% of the time and produce a measurable boost in website performance.
Simple Settings That Just Work
You might be surprised to learn that all it takes to produce a measurable improvement in site performance is page and browser caching. That’s good news because no other modules perform consistently from one shared hosting environment to the next.
What that means is that you only have to mess with three of W3TC’s sixteen menus to see a noteworthy boost in site performance: General Settings, Page Cache, and Browser Cache.
Clear the Slate
Ideally, you’ll come to this tutorial with a brand new, untouched W3TC installation. However, if that isn’t the case, the first thing to do is to clear the slate by resetting the default settings. To do that go to Performance > General Settings and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. Select the very last button you see to Restore Default Settings.
Now we’re ready to get started.
General Settings Menu
First, enable the Page Cache and Browser Cache modules from the General Settings menu. To enable these modules, follow these steps:
- Go to Performance > General Settings.
- In the Page cache section select the Enable checkbox.
- In the Browser cache section select the Enable checkbox.
- Leave all other checkboxes and settings in their default configuration and click any of the buttons labeled Save all settings.
Page Cache Menu
Next, configure page caching. Go to the Page Cache menu and make sure the following settings are selected:
- Go to Performance > Page Cache.
- Select the checkbox to Cache front page.
- Select the checkbox to Cache feeds: sites, categories, tags, comments.
- Select the checkbox to Cache requests only for yourdomain.com address.
- Select the checkbox next to Don’t cache pages for logged in users.
- In the Cache Preload section, select the checkbox to Automatically prime the page cache.
- In the Cache Preload section, select the checkbox to Preload the post cache upon publish events.
- Leave all other settings in their default configuration and click any of the buttons labeled Save all settings.
Browser Cache Menu
Finally, configure browser caching. From the Browser Cache menu just a couple of minor modifications are needed:
- Go to Performance > Browser Cache.
- Select the checkbox to Set Last-Modified header.
- Select the checkbox to Enable HTTP (gzip) compression.
- Select the checkbox next to Don’t set cookies for static files.
- Leave all other settings in their default configuration and click any of the buttons to Save all settings.