Published by on February 12, 2020 • 0 Comments • Lire en Français

It took me a while, but I finally found it. Yes, I found someone who dared to criticize the WP Rocket plugin sharply. What a nerve!

A criticism of the WP Rocket plugin

This reader of an American site specializing in WordPress, says that this plugin has broken his site, that it should be thrown in the trash, and it shouldn’t be used.

A little angry, this guy. His opinion comes as a surprise because it is rare.

Try to look for info on this plugin that helps speed up your WordPress, and you will understand.

The vast majority of people who use it are overflowing with rave reviews.
It would even be “recognized best performing cache plugin by WordPress experts“, as indicated on their website's homepage.

In this article, I invite you to find out if WP Rocket really deserves all the praise we braid it.

I will, in particular, detail how to install it, how to configure it, its impact on the performance of your site, and its strength and weakness points.

Out of transparency: Please note that this article contains affiliate links to the WP Rocket website. This means that WPMarmite will earn a commission if you decide to get the plugin. This allows, in particular, to pay for the research and writing work of the blog editors. Despite everything, we remain impartial. If a product isn't worth it, we say it (or we don't talk about it).

What is WP Rocket?

Presentation of the Rocket

WP Rocket's homepage

WP Rocket is a premium (paying) plugin, which makes it possible to accelerate the loading of the pages of your website “in a few clicks,” and “without any need to code,” as its website indicates.

More technically, WP Rocket is a cache plugin. The cache is a system that keeps in memory the pages of your site already loaded, to be able to offer them to your visitors in a faster way, after that.

In summary, WP Rocket explains that it acts on two types of caches:

  • Browser cache: directives allow the browser to cache the static resources of the site (CSS files, images, and JavaScript).
  • Site cache: the plugin creates a static HTML page to avoid any PHP processing.

As a result, this (usually) improves the loading time of your site.

But if WP Rocket presents itself as a cache plugin, it is much more than that.

It also includes multiple options to boost the performance of your site, globally: delayed loading of images and JavaScript, minification of HTML code, minification, and concatenation of CSS and JavaScript files, etc. I will detail all of this a little later.

Oh and well, I didn't tell you: WP Rocket is a French plugin.

We are the champions

Let's rewind it all a bit to understand its genesis. It all started in 2013.

At the time, its creators were frustrated with the offer of cache plugins existing on the market, and they observed the following:

“We found that the user experience was not optimal. There was a multitude of options, and the configuration took a lot of time, even for an experienced user. ”

To overcome this problem, they created their own solution. Today, WP Rocket prides itself on having more than 910,000 sites optimized by their plugin and 105,000 satisfied customers.

More generally, you should know that WP Rocket is a product offered by the startup WP Media, which also provides Imagify, a plugin to reduce the weight of your images.

Why should you care about the performance of your site?

Using a cache plugin is strongly recommended if you want to try to improve the performance of your site.

WordPress' official documentation, Codex, also recommends it in its section dedicated to CMS optimization.

And, frankly, this is not to be taken lightly for three main reasons.

First, the loading speed of your site has an impact on your SEO.

Your website's loading speed has an impact on your SEO

Since July 2018, on mobile, Google is taking into account the speed of a site to position it in its search results.

Even if it only concerns very slow websites, it's never too late to worry about it.

Besides, a site that loads quickly makes it easier for search engines to index it.

Secondly, a slow site has disastrous consequences for the user experience. For example, almost half of people (40%) leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Thirdly, 67% of online shoppers declare the slowness of the site as the main reason for abandoning the cart.

Now, let’s dive into the installation of our plugin of the day.

How to install WP Rocket on WordPress?

WP Rocket is not free since it is a premium extension. That’s why you will not find it on the official repository.

To get it, you have to go to its official website.

Buy WP Rocket on their official website

Click on the Buy it now button (top right, in blue on the screenshot above).

Choose the formula you prefer: I will come back to the rates in part V.

The entry offer starts at €44. Follow the instructions. Once you purchase the plugin, you can download it via the Account tab.

Choose Download WP Rocket. This will start downloading a zip file.

Step 1 completed.

Step 2: activating the plugin on your WordPress site.

On your WordPress administration page, choose Plugin > Add. At the top of the next page, click Upload Plugin.

Select the zip file you previously downloaded to your WP Rocket account, then install it.

Download the plugin and install the .zip file

Don't forget to activate the extension right after. In theory, you should find it listed with your other plugins.

Activate the plugin

To access the settings, you can either click on the link of the same name framed in the screenshot above. Or go through the menu Settings from your Dashboard.

To see more closely what the beast has in the belly, I suggest you take a tour. I will now show you how to configure WP Rocket.

Putting WP Rocket's features to the test

You will quickly realize it: one of the enormous advantages of WP Rocket lies in its ease of use.

The creators of the extension pride themselves to have made simplicity their priority: difficult to contradict them on this point.

In fact, you don't even have to activate any features for the plugin to work. Install it. Turn it on. There you go.

As stated in its documentation, WP Rocket “incorporates more than 80% of good web performance practices, even if no option is activated. Its options can be considered as a “bonus” because their activation is not mandatory to improve the loading time of your site.

By default, it will always activate the following functionalities:

  • Caching of all pages for a quick display;
  • Reduction in bandwidth thanks to GZIP compression;
  • Headers optimization (expires, etags, etc.): optimization of the site files for the browser cache and reduction of the number of requests.

You will not see these options on your Dashboard, but they will significantly improve the performance of your site, as you will see in Part IV.

To boost your performance a little more and go further, you will need to use the “bonus” options.

You will find them on the plugin dashboard. In total, you will see twelve tabs.

WP Rocket offers twelve tabs in total

Regarding these options, WP Rocket indicates that there are no recommended settings.

“There are even settings that will work perfectly fine on one site but won’t work at all on another. So sometimes leaving a setting entirely disabled can be your best bet!”

So you will have to test and readjust accordingly.

To see a little more clearly, I suggest that you review these options one by one.

Dashboard

WP Rocket's dashboard

This is where you will find information and help on your account, such as:

  • Your License
  • Its expiration date
  • A link to the documentation
  • The FAQs
  • The link to request for assistance

Note that it is also possible, among other things, to become a “Rocket Tester,” which means participate in the testing of beta versions (in development) of the plugin. I don't necessarily recommend this if you are a beginner.

Cache

WPRocket's cache tab

The tab contains three parts:

  • Mobile Cache: this enables caching for mobiles. This box will surely be checked by default. If not, I advise you to do so. Remember that Google takes into account the loading speed of mobile sites in its algorithm.
  • User Cache: Check this box if you want caching to be enabled for logged-in WordPress users. If you are the sole administrator of your site, you can leave the box unchecked.
  • Cache Lifespan: the default value is 10 hours. This means that the files will be deleted from the cache every 10 hours. If your site is updated less frequently, you can increase this time.

File Optimization

WP Rocket's file optimization tab

If you want to tinker with this section, be careful. If you act with caution, this section can improve your performance score.

But it can also “temporarily break the website”. I'm not the one saying it; it's WP Rocket’s developers.

They add that “If you notice any errors on your website after having activated this setting, just deactivate it again, and your site will be back to normal.

How does it work? You will find three parts.

First of all, there are basic options:

  • Minify HTML: this allows you to reduce the size of the HTML code files on your site. By default, a developer tends to make an HTML file as human-readable as possible, by including spaces, comments, line breaks, etc. For a computer, this is irrelevant. Minifying removes unnecessary characters and makes the code leaner. As a result, the file will be faster to load, so it may be worth checking this box.
  • Combine Google Fonts: Google Fonts can be quite heavy and take a long time to load, especially if there are many to load. If you are using Google Fonts, check this box.
  • Remove query strings from static resources: now we're getting technical. If you are using a version lower than 2.9., WP Rocket that you leave this box unchecked. Personally, I use the latest updated version (3.4.4), and I don’t need it. It's up to you to decide what you want to do. More info is available here.

Then, you will come across CSS files and JavaScript files:

  • Minimize CSS / Javascript files: as with HTML, this reduces the size of the files concerned. This is a good developer practice, so I recommend that you check the box. Be careful; make sure that your site is displayed correctly after checking this option. If it makes it crash, you will have to uncheck the box.
  • Combine CSS / JavaScript files : this is not recommended if your site uses HTTP/2, that is to say, a protocol that improves the speed and security of navigation. If you are not sure, do not check this box.
  • Optimize CSS delivery / Load JavaScript deferred: this option will eliminate CSS and blocking JavaScript for better-perceived loading time.

Media

Media tab

Now go to the Media tab. It gives you access to 3 types of settings:

  • LazyLoad: lazy loading is a technique that consists of loading elements only when they appear on your screen at the time you scroll the page. We also find this principle on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, etc. You can activate it for images, iframes (HTML tags that allow the content of another page to be integrated into a page), and videos.
  • Emoji: you must know these pictograms, which we use excessively in our SMS or emails 😅. They make us laugh but are greedy in resources, and increase loading time 🤯. Check the corresponding box to reduce the number of external HTTP requests.
  • Embeds: the embed code tag allows you to integrate content (image, sound, video, etc.) into a web page. This functionality has been integrated into WordPress since version 4.4. WP Rocket allows you to deactivate the embeds of articles. This means that if you incorporate a link to an article on one of your publications, you will not have a real-time preview (no insert will be displayed). This avoids the generation of additional HTTP requests.

Preloading

WP Rocket's preload tab

In this tab, you will find two options:

  • Sitemap preloading: as a reminder, a sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs of your website. The preload option of the sitemap allows you to preload all the URLs present in the sitemap. By activating this setting, if you use Yoast, Jetpack, or All In One SEO, your sitemap will be automatically detected.
  • Prefetch DNS requests: as the documentation indicates, “If you have third-party content on your website (e.g., fonts loaded from Google, or a video from YouTube), you may want to add its origin domain to the Prefetch DNS Requests option. This can give your loading time a minor boost since DNS resolution will already have been processed when the external resources are requested. ”

Advanced settings

Advanced settings

This tab requires a minimum of knowledge. If you're just starting out, chances are you'll never need to use it. So I won't go into detail here.

But if you are interested in exploring the subject, you can, in particular, refer to this section of the documentation.

Database

WP Rocket's database tab

Let's stop now on this tab, which allows you to clean and optimize your database.

This is one of the strengths of WP Rocket, which, as you can see, is not just a cache plugin.

The database is perhaps the most critical element of your site. It stores all your content: pages, articles, comments, settings for your theme and plugins, etc.

In short, if you haven't already done so, remember to save your database regularly.

If it is vital for your WordPress, the database will tend to slow down your site over time. To put it simply, the more information you store, the more effort it takes to function properly.

To maintain a successful website, you have to optimize the database.
WP Rocket allows you to do this by acting on:

  • Content cleanup: you will be able to delete revisions and drafts in your database. I advise you to activate these options. Revisions keep copies of each draft of your articles. The system is handy for finding an old version of your content. But it clogs your database using many lines.
  • Comments cleanup: same as for content. Check the Spam Comments boxes and Trashed Comments to remove them.
  • Transients cleanup: a transient temporarily caches information, and this goes directly in the database. You can check the Expired Transients and All Transients boxes to optimize your database’s weight.
  • Database cleanup : by checking this box, the plugin will optimize the tables in your database, if necessary.
  • Automatic cleanup : you can schedule automatic cleaning of your database. If you update your site very little, a weekly or even monthly update will be sufficient. If you submit a lot of content and post daily, opt for the daily option.

CDN

WP Rocket's CDN tab

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a service that can be used to gain speed.

It allows you to store your files on several servers across the globe. Concretely, if you are looking to display a site that uses a CDN, the CDN will send you the files that are closest to you (for example, via a server located in Paris).

WP Rocket allows you to activate a CDN. But should you use one on your site?

If you are just starting out, you shouldn’t worry too much about that.

Add-ons and Tools

I have grouped the last two tabs we'll see together within the same section.

The Add-Ons section allows you to add two other functionalities:

  • Google Tracking: this add-on, which can be activated in 1 click, allows you to optimize Google Analytics scripts. It was introduced with WP Rocket 3.1., released on August 6, 2018. The same update also contained an automatic improvement for WooCommerce by dynamically updating the content of the basket.
  • Varnish: check this only if you are using a Varnish server.
  • Cloudflare: check it only if you have a Cloudflare account.

The Tools tab allows you to export and import your settings, as well as restore the previous major version of the plugin.

Note: for each of the ten tabs presented above, it’s always a good idea to consult the Need help? links before activating an option. They redirect to the documentation, which is very well done. If in doubt, you can also contact WP Rocket’s support.

How is WP Rocket's user experience?

How simple is it to use?

I repeat myself: WP Rocket is extremely simple to use. You can navigate very easily between the different tabs that we showed in the previous part.

The UX (user experience) and usability have clearly been the subject of extensive work.

Two clicks are enough to activate an option. Just check the corresponding box, then save the changes.

Other than that, I really like:

  • The attention to visual details (presence of icons for each tab);
  • The bright colors, which attract the eye.
  • The dashboard hosts a FAQ section, a direct link to the documentation, and a link to contact support.

What influence does it have on the performance of the site?

Simple to use, handy, flexible, and efficient without even having to configure it: WP Rocket has everything to win your heart.

But before tying the knot, I bet you want to know if it really deserves its reputation, right?

To get a clearer picture, I put on my overalls to check what was hidden under the hood of the rocket.

To measure performance with or without WP Rocket enabled, I used two services: WebPageTest and Pingdom.

I carried out the tests on the homepage of my own website, where I do a lot of experiments.

FYI, I had 34 extensions active at the time of the test. So there was content!

Here are the results.

WebPage Test without WP Rocket

WebPage Test with WP Rocket

Pingdom without WP Rocket

Pingdom with WP Rocket

In summary, my website loads in:

  • 2.69 seconds with WP Rocket, and in 4.373 seconds without it, according to GT Metrix.
  • 1 second with WP Rocket, and in 2.35 seconds without it, according to Pingdom.

Conclusion: there is no comparison. On average, the loading time was improved by almost 50% when WP Rocket was activated. You can also see that the weight of the page decreases, just like the number of requests (except with Pingdom).

Verdict: well-deserved reputation.

Why can't WP Rocket always solve everything?

As you have seen, WP Rocket can significantly improve the performance of a website.

However, in this regard, it is good to take into account certain good practices. You should apply them whether you use WP Rocket or not. Your site will thank you. Your visitors too.

Consider the following:

  • Use a well-coded theme optimized for SEO;
  • Do not use too many plugins. There is not necessarily a specific number to respect, but do not abuse it. When you no longer need a plugin, delete it or, at least, deactivate it.
  • Opt for a good host. As a reminder, WPMarmite offer you a great refund for BlueHost.
  • Do not load too heavy images. If you have to start somewhere, this is where you should focus. On average, images represent more than 50% of the total size of a web page. To deal with this problem, you can use the Imagify plugin.

For more details on the performance of a website, I suggest you consult this article written by Florian: How to optimize a WordPress site without breaking the bank.

And, speaking of money, how much does WP Rocket cost, exactly?

How much does it cost?

As a premium extension, WP Rocket comes at a price, of course. The plugin comes at three prices offers:

  • Single: for use on one site (49$);
  • Plus: for use on three sites (99$);
  • Infinite: for use on an unlimited number of sites (249$).
WPRocket prices

Each offer contains one year of support and updates.

The small downside? There is no trial version. If you are interested, you will automatically have to pay to test the product.

However, there is a 14-day money-back guarantee. This gives you time to form your own judgment.

Now you might be asking yourself if it is worth investing at least 49$ for this plugin?

It's true that, after all, the vast majority of its competitors are free.

In my opinion, the investment is worth it.

I think it should be clear by now: WP Rocket is ultra-simple to use. You activate it, it works. No headache, no confusion, no wasted time (to convince yourself, try to install one of its competitors, like WP Total Cache or WP Super Cache).

Even for 49$, I find that this argument already justifies an investment.

There are many other reasons which I will give you in the last part of this article. I'm still building up the suspense a little bit, so stay glued to your screen.

Not too close anyway, it seems that it is not good for the eyes.

Last but not least, WP Rocket is used to make promotional offers several times a year.

In general, WP Rocket offers to renew your license 30% cheaper compared to the original price, within 30 days before the expiration date. This is what is specified in their FAQ.

Before you go to the checkout, I assume you want to make sure you're getting the right merchandise that meets your needs.

For this, I suggest you compare WP Rocket to its famous competitors.

Can the alternatives to WP Rocket suit you?

You may be familiar with other cache plugins, such as W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, Hyper Cache, or even Comet Cache.

Some of them are industry behemoths. WP Super Cache has more than 2 million active installations, W3 Total Cache more than 1 million.

In addition, they are free! This can make a difference if you don't have a budget to spend on it. And that can be perfectly understandable.

But aside from the price, I don't see many other benefits from using the plugins mentioned above, especially if you're just starting out on WordPress. It’s true they are good quality plugins, nothing to say about that.

First of all, they have a lot less features than WP Rocket.

WP Rocket's features
Comparison of the features of cache extensions, from the WP Rocket site

Then, they are not easy to configure and complicated to understand when you start. W3 Total Cache, for example, has 17 pages of settings.

W3 Total Cache settings
Overview of one of the many menus (17 in total) for W3 Total Cache settings. Not so easy to navigate.

Speaking of which, I would add that if you configure those plugins in the wrong way – which is possible when you don't know much about them – you risk making your site crash.

If you're new to web development, a free cache plugin may do the trick. But if you get anxious at the slightest glimpse of a line of code, well, it's a long shot.

Remember: WP Rocket already works as soon as you activate it. The options are just “extra bonuses” that can allow you to go even further in performance optimization.

But even without those options, your site should get a good boost in speed: the loading time saved is therefore considerable.

In addition, most of the free cache plugins do not have dedicated support in English (and French too), as is the case for WP Rocket.

Our final opinion

Let’s review the Rocket one last time, before takeoff.

Strong points

  • It’s not only a cache plugin, but much more than that: it combines several options (caching, minification, database optimization, CDN, etc.) in one to improve the performance of your site. No need to use multiple plugins to do it all.
  • Simplicity and ease of use: “Minimal configuration, immediate results,” claims the plugin’s homepage. We confirm.
  • Very responsive assistance (support). For the record, I personally had a response from Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, one of the co-founders of the plugin, explain how to configure the plugin properly.
  • Fairly frequent and attractive promotional offers;
  • A plugin accessible to everyone, even beginners who know nothing about the code;
  • Documentation. It's very clear, and addresses a wide range of subjects. To help you, WP Rocket also offers tutorial videos directly on the Dashboard of the plugin.
  • WP Rocket uses a clean code that respects WordPress standards;
  • No risk of incompatibility because all the functionalities are included within a single plugin.
  • It’s a plugin that works upon activation: you don’t even have to configure it if you don't want it.
  • Regular updates: you can find the explanations directly on their changelog page, which lists the changes included in the new versions of the plugin.
  • Transparency policy. WP Rocket doesn't hide anything from you. Income generated, team members, growth prospects: the team is happy to reveal all of this to you, as was the case during the retrospective of their six years of existence. This reassures and gives confidence, especially when you know the number of unscrupulous developers who create plugins to try to get rich, before dropping the project overnight.

Weak points

  • Unlike its famous competitors (WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, Hyper Cache, etc.), WP Rocket is not free. But in the end, no pain, no gain, as we say.
  • For beginners, some of the “bonus” options are a little too technical. It is not always easy to understand, even with the documentation, what you should do about them.

Who is WP Rocket made for?

This plugin is suitable for all types of public:

  • Beginners will appreciate its simplicity and ease of use;
  • More experienced users will enjoy its more developer-friendly side. As the plugin’s homepage explains, WP Rocket “has loads of hooks so developers can easily make advanced customizations.”

If you have the budget to devote to your site, I advise you to opt for WP Rocket.

If not, you can try WP Super Cache, which I find easier to configure than W3 Total Cache, even if it is less complete.

So, ready for takeoff?

Fasten your seatbelts; you are getting to the end of this WP Rocket blog post. Takeoff is imminent.

In summary, in this post, you have discovered, among other things:

  • how to install this plugin on your WordPress site;
  • what its functionalities are;
  • its strengths and weaknesses;
  • its impact on the performance of your site.

Personally, this is one of my favorite plugins. I have installed it on my site, and I even offer it to some of my customers, who are conquered by its simplicity.

To get your license, go to the official website by clicking on the button below.

Before you fly away to other horizons, I would like to finish by asking your opinion on WP Rocket.

What do you think of this plugin? Have you used it? Or maybe you hate it (it can happen, remember the beginning of the article)?

Tell me everything in the comments!

And if you think this article can be useful to other people, share it on social networks.