This is a confusing topic.

Multiple plugins offer multiple answers. In many cases, the plugins duplicate functionality along with those functions which come built in with your chosen theme.

It feels like you need to be an IT expert just to select the right settings.

Here’s a guide to helping you understand what a popular combination of Themes and Plugins have to offer, and what the difference between the functions they serve are.

First up Minification of CSS and JS Files vs GZip Compression

Thought I’d jump in with a simple one!

Your Theme may offer Minification or “Pre-Minification”

For instance, the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes and the Atelier Theme by Swift Ideas both offer the option to Minify Stylesheets, otherwise known as CSS and Minify Scripts, otherwise known as JS or Javascript.

As you read above, this minification is different to GZip compression. Therefore these settings can be selected alongside GZip compression and live in harmony.

That already sounds like a win and we’re only a few hundred words into the article.

Page Caching: Is it static or dynamic?

There are elements of your page you don’t even realise are dynamic. Dynamic basically means, specific to the user.

That’s why Page caching can be dangerous.

This could be why Siteground with their SG Optimizer plugin ONLY offer Dynamic Full-Page caching.

Here’s a snippet of a support response I got from SG Optimizer when seeking clarity on their plugin capability:

I would like to take a moment and explain that most caching plugins include functions that your website can benefit from. The point here is to make sure that if you need to use more than one caching systems concurrently working on your website – they will not be all doing the same thing.

For example, our SG Optimizer will store cache for your website directly in the server’s memory. In comparison, other WordPress caching plugins will use a file-based caching method storing the gathered cache in a separate directory inside your application.

Pulling the cache directly from the server memory is considered to be much faster and more reliable than the common file-based caching method.

In a situation such as this one, you can leave SG Optimizer to take care of full-page caching for your website (which means using dynamic cache with the SG Optimizer), and deactivate the same in the other caching systems you are using in order to avoid any conflicts or misconfiguration.

In case you prefer to use the two plugins at the same time, I would suggest making sure to disable the full page caching of the Hummingbird plugin.

Browser Caching

Browser is a form of caching that happens at the user’s machine or handset.

The PC, Mac or smartphone has an ability to save some core website files to the internet browser that then allows the individual to browse your website at speed.

What’s the best Caching Plugin?

This depends on your hosting setup. By far the most integrated solution we’ve come across is Siteground combined with SG Optimizer, combined with CloudFlare CDN.

This is a supremely powerful solution – and if you have a decent hosting account with Siteground, comes as part of the deal. Very cost efficient in comparison with other solutions.

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