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!
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.
Top WordPress professionals also have a few nice things to say, like Nick Roach, CEO at Elegant Themes (the company behind Divi), or David Vogelpohl, VP of web strategy at hosting company WP Engine:
As for the designers of WP Rocket, they present it as “the most powerful caching plugin in the world”, as indicated on their website’s homepage.
In this article, I invite you to find out if this plugin really deserves all the praise we give 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).
This article was updated in May 2021, using version 3.9 of the plugin.
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What is WP Rocket?
Presentation of the Rocket
WP Rocket is a premium (paying) plugin, which makes it possible to accelerate the loading of the pages of your website “right upon activation” and without “configuration headaches”, 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, later.
In summary, WP Rocket explains that it acts on two types of caches:
- 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.
Oh and well, I didn’t tell you: WP Rocket is a French plugin.
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 nearly than 1,660,000 sites optimized by their plugin and more than 170,000 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. Here is our article dedicated to Imagify.
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 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.
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.
The real added value of a page that loads quickly is the following, in terms of SEO: it facilitates the indexing work of search engines, which will be able to crawl more pages of your site (i.e. explore them and retrieve information in order to index them).
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 plugin. That’s why you will not find it on the official directory.
To get it, you have to go to its official website.
Click on the Buy it now button (top right, in orange on the screenshot above).
Choose the formula you prefer: I will come back to the rates in part V.
The entry offer starts at $49. Follow the instructions. Once you purchased the plugin, you can download it whenever you want by logging into your account via the “My Account” link.
On your dashboard, click on the “Download WP Rocket” button. 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 New. At the top of the next page, click Upload Plugin.
Select the zip file you previously downloaded from your WP Rocket account, then install it.
Don’t forget to activate the plugin right after. In theory, you should find it listed with your other plugins.
To access the settings, you can either click on the link of the same name 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 plugin 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.
- Google Fonts files optimization.
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.
Some default settings will also be activated, when the plugin is used for the first time:
- Disable emojis and embeds.
- Cache preloading.
- Mobile cache.
- Cache lifespan (10 hours).
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.
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 help you find the best settings for your site, WP Rocket provides a dedicated video about it.
To see a little more clearly, I suggest we review these options one by one.
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.
- A request for assistance.
- The possibility to subscribe to WP Rocket’s in-house CDN: Rocket CDN (affiliate link). A CDN (Content Delivery Network) distributes the loading of files useful to a theme from several servers located in different parts of the world. Thanks to it, the loading time of your site is improved.
- Quick actions that allow you to delete all files from the cache in one click, for example.
- Video tutorials to help you get started, such as the one above.
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.
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 two parts.
The first one enables you to optimize your CSS files:
- Minify CSS files: with this option, reduce the size of the CSS code files present on your site. By default, a developer tends to make a CSS file as readable as possible for a human being, by incorporating spaces, comments, line breaks etc.
For a computer, this is of no interest. Minifying removes unnecessary characters and makes the code less “heavy”. This is a good developer practice so I advise you to check the box. Be careful, make sure that your site is displayed correctly after checking this option. If it makes it crash, you’ll have to uncheck the box.
- Combine CSS files: it is not recommended if your site uses HTTP/2, a protocol that improves the speed and security of navigation. If you are unsure, don’t check this box (by default, you probably won’t be able to do so, by the way).
- Optimize CSS delivery: This option will eliminate blocking CSS for a better perceived loading time.
- Remove unused CSS: a very interesting new feature, which appeared with WP Rocket version 3.9. It “helps to reduce page size and HTTP requests for better performance”.
At the time of publishing these lines, the feature was still in Beta, which may be the case for you when you read this post. If this is still the case, a good practice is to test it on a local server, for example, to avoid any problem.
Speed up your website with WP Rocket
Some options available on previous versions of the plugin have disappeared in recent updates. For example, the (technical) option “remove query strings from static resources” does not appear anymore since WP Rocket 3.6 because it does not affect the loading time. If you are wondering where the setting for “combine Google Fonts” went, it is now applied automatically since version 3.7.
Now let’s go to the Media tab. It gives you access to 4 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.
- Image Dimensions: available since WP Rocket 3.8, this option adds “missing width and height attributes to images”. Checking the corresponding box “helps prevent layout shifts and improve the reading experience for your visitors”.
- 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 integrate 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.
- WebP compatibility: WebP is Google’s home image format. It compresses your images even more than in JPG and PNG, without loss of quality. This setting, which appeared in October 2019 with version 3.4 of the plugin, will create a separate cache file for you to serve your WebP images.
In this tab, you will find 4 options:
- Preload Cache: here you will be able to “generate the cache starting with the links on your homepage, followed by the sitemaps you specify”. As a reminder, a sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs of your website. The option “Activate sitemap-based cache preloading” allows you to preload all the URLs present in the sitemap. By enabling this setting, you will see that it will detect your sitemap, if you use Yoast, All in One SEO, Rank Math, SEOPress or The SEO Framework.
- Preload Links: this feature, included since version 3.7 of WP Rocket, will help you to speed up your site even more! How does it work ? As soon as “a user hovers over or touches a link for 100ms or more, the HTML code of this page will be fetched in the background, so that when they actually click on the link, the page will appear to load nearly instantly”.
- Prefetch DNS Requests: as the documentation says, “if you have external resources on your site (e.g. fonts loaded from Google, or a video from YouTube), you could add their original domains to the Prefetch DNS Requests option. This can slightly boost your loading time because the DNS resolution will have already been done when the external resources are called”.
- Preload Fonts: to take advantage of this, you have to add the URLs of your font files manually, as explained on this page.
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 refer to this section of the documentation.
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 back up your database regularly thanks to a dedicated plugin.
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 powerful website, you have to optimize the database.
WP Rocket allows you to do this by acting on:
- Post 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 posts. 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 and Trashed Comments boxes to delete 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.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a service that can be used to increase display 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 near your city).
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.
If you really want to, you can also use WP Rocket’s in-house CDN (RocketCDN), which starts at $7.99/month. Its main advantage is its ease of use: it automatically integrates with WP Rocket, so you don’t have to do anything on your side.
Heartbeat is the name of an API that “can save some resources of your server”.
Here again, we enter a technical and rather accessory part if you are a beginner. It’s up to you to see if you activate it or not. If you realize that your server is getting tired, why not do the test.
WP Rocket specifies that “disabling Heartbeat entirely may break plugins and themes using this API”.
An API is the part of a computer program that is freely available to anyone with valid access, and can be manipulated to create a new way of using an application.
Add-ons, Tools and Tutorials
I have grouped the last three tabs within the same section.
The Add-Ons section allows you to add other functionalities in one click:
- Varnish: check this only if you are using a Varnish server.
- Cloudflare: check it only if you have a Cloudflare account.
- Sucuri: to be checked only if you use Sucuri to secure your site.
Google & Facebook tracking one-click add-ons were removed with the release of version 3.9 of the plugin. In its Changelog, WP Rocket states that it now recommends “to use the delay JS option to optimize loading of those 3rd party scripts”.
The Tools tab allows you to export and import your settings, as well as restore the previous major version of the plugin but also to optimize CSS loading for mobile.
Finally, the Tutorials tab offers videos to learn how to use and set up the plugin.
For each of the 12 tabs presented above, I strongly invite you to check the Need help links available when you want to activate an option. They redirect you to the documentation, which is very well done. In case of doubt, you can also contact the plugin support.
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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 ergonomics 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. Not to mention that “WP Rocket automatically applies the 80% of web performance best practices”.
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 presence, on the dashboard, of a direct link to the documentation, a FAQ, videos to get started, and a link to contact support.
- The option to enable/disable the display of the sidebar of the settings menu, if you want to have an even cleaner dashboard.
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.
I carried out the tests on the homepage of my own website, where I do a lot of experiments.
FYI, I had 34 active plugins at the time of the test. So there was quite some content!
Here are the results.
I did not check any “bonus” option. All the settings were those already set by default when I activated the plugin .
WebPage Test without WP Rocket
WebPage Test with WP Rocket
Pingdom Tools without WP Rocket
Pingdom Tools with WP Rocket
In summary, my website loads in:
- 2.69 seconds with WP Rocket, and in 4.373 seconds without it, according to WebPageTest ;
- 1 second with WP Rocket, and in 2.35 seconds without it, according to Pingdom Tools.
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 Tools).
Conclusion: 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:
- Using a well-coded theme optimized for SEO. I could mention Astra, GeneratePress, or Neve, famous for their loading speed.
- Not using too many plugins. There is not necessarily a specific number to respect, but do not over-use them. When you no longer need a plugin, delete it or, at least, deactivate it.
- Opting for a good web hosting like BlueHost (affiliate link).
- Not loading 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 check out this article: 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 plugin, WP Rocket comes at a price, of course. The plugin offers three plans:
- Single: for use on one site ($49).
- Plus: for use on three sites ($99).
- Infinite: for use on an unlimited number of sites ($249).
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 stick to your screen. Not too close though, 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 50% cheaper compared to the original price, within 30 days before the expiration date (30% for customers who bought it after February 2019). This is what is specified in their FAQ.
Before you proceed to checkout, I assume you want to make sure you’re getting the right merchandise that meets your needs.
So, let’s compare WP Rocket to its famous competitors.
Can the alternatives to WP Rocket suit you?
Some of them are giants in the industry. 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.
Then, they are not easy to configure and complicated to understand when you start. W3 Total Cache, for example, has 16 pages of settings.
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, whereas WP Rocket does.
Our final opinion
Let’s review the Rocket one last time, before take-off.
- 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, to explain me how to configure the plugin properly.
Regarding support, WP Rocket claims a 92% Happiness Score.
- 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 to.
- Regular updates.
- 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 seven years of existence. This reassures and gives trust.
- 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 with them.
Who is WP Rocket made for?
This plugin is suitable for all types of users:
- Beginners will appreciate its simplicity and ease of use.
- More experienced users will enjoy its more developer-friendly side, with loads of hooks, for advanced customizations.
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 take-off?
Fasten your seatbelts, you are getting to the end of this WP Rocket blog post. Take-off is imminent.
In summary, in this post, you have learned, 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 (also, take a look at our articles about performance available here).
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!
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