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Setting Up and Optimizing WP Super Cache for Your Blog

It's pretty darn super.

[This post is part of theĀ Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]

WP Super Cache is one of the top caching plugins for WordPress out there. In fact, it’s been downloaded more than 2 million times! (Not sure what blog caching is? Check out this post before you proceed!)

And the volume of installations are definitely an indication of it’s success in doing what most people need and that’s why I recommending it as a caching plugin for many clients and bloggers.

In fact, I use it for many of the properties that I actively manage! Here are a few:

And many more! Those are just a few that have been optimized for use of the plugin. This includes the WordPress Theme itself, plugins, server/hosting setup, and especially the WP Super Cache plugin itself.

As a result I highly recommend that you take a look at installing this for most (if not all) blogs – and it’s definitely essential to include as an option (of the many WordPress caching options) as you do your research for the right caching plugin!

Setting Up WP Super Cache:

I’d like to take a few moments to not only walk you through installing this plugin but also provide a place where you can ask questions or get help via the comment section below. It’s not too hard of a process but there are always some installation questions that typically crop up that I hope I can help with.

1. Download it

The first step is to simply download it either via your WordPress plugin dashboard or to upload it via an FTP editor (I use these apps for uploading and downloading):

Type it in like above and hit 'Search Plugins'

It should be the first result. Go ahead and then hit install:

Install that bad boy!

Now, if you have to manually install it just head over to the WordPress.org page here, download it to your desktop, unzip it, and then manually use an FTP application to put it into your wp-content/plugins folder:

Go get it!

And that should be it!

2. Activate the Plugin

The next step is to simply go to your Plugins menu item in your WordPress admin panel and then Activate the plugin:

Activate it like your life depended on it.

It should automatically be setup and then in disabled mode:

You'll have to work with some of the settings.

Go ahead and jump to the admin page and you may see a few errors and/or notices.

3. Setup WP Super Cache

It is very common for people to see the following error:

Drat!

Essentially the plugin cannot properly complete the installation because it can’t create the right folders and files to work properly. Typically the issue can be quickly solved by making sure that your wp-content folder has the right permissions, which to get it installed you’ll need to change it to 777.

You can either do this through a web-based interface that your hosting provider has for you or via an FTP editor application.

Here’s what it might look like via an FTP editor:

Change permissions via FTP app.

And here’s what you might have to deal with via a web-based interface (this is using Dreamhost‘s interface):

chmod wp-content folder via web interface.

Of course your web interface might look different.

Once you fix this then you’ll be able to continue setting up the system. You might also experience this issue as well:

Need some pretty permalinks!

The plugin requires that you have a pretty permalink structure for your blog content. Luckily I have the perfect blog post for you! Check this post here about the optimal permalink structure for your WordPress blog!

Set that up and you can continue on your merry way!

The next notice you might get is that WordPress has installed a new line of code into the wp-config.php file:

This is a good thing.

What WordPress is essentially doing here is adding a variable to enable caching through your WordPress blog. You don’t have to pay attention to this unless WordPress is again unable to add this line of code into your wp-config.php file. If it can’t then you’ll have to modify the permissions again of the folders/files to allow the system access to that file.

One this is good to go you will most likely be able to start setting up the system properly. Please note that many of you will also see this warning about the wp-content folder being “writeable” and that’s fine – you’ll want to revert back to chmod 755 after you finish setting up the plugin:

Fix this warning after you fully setup the plugin.

4. Adjusting Configuration

The next few steps will be entirely dependent on your server and hosting configuration and what options might be optimal for your blog.

Now, before you do anything further make sure you’ve backed up your WordPress blog! Adjusting some of these settings could “break” your blog and in some instances make it very difficult to recover! This is your fair warning! I recommend checking out these 3 ways to backup your blog!

After you’ve done that you can now proceed!

For starters, go ahead and just hit the “Easy” button and see what happens:

That was... easy.

For many you might just stop right there and for many blogs this will do just fine. Guess what, you’re done!

But, if you’re interested in getting even more performance out of your blog then you might want to adjust some of the advanced settings. Please note that every blog and hosting situation will be different and some of these will help your blog even more and some of them might actually make your blog slower!

The point here is that you’re going to want to check with your hosting provider and also experiment with the settings to find out what is the most optimal. Here are some settings that, if you can get to work well, are the most optimal:

Click for larger view.

Again, I must re-iterate that you must test and experiment to see if it works the best.

A few things that you may also have to do is adjust your .htaccess file:

Error! Must update your .htaccess file!

Once you update your .htaccess file you should see the following screen:

Green means good!

Great! You’re all set.

5. Test It

The final part of the process is to simply test out the system to make sure that everything is working. Head over to the first tab and hit Test Cache:

Timestamps don't match! Uh oh...

If you get this notice above then something is wrong! What you want to see is this:

Ding ding ding! You are a winner!

Of course, don’t forget to simply check out your site in a different browser so that it can pull the cached version of your site.

You can always check the code of your blog via your browser and you should see something at the very end of the code like this to confirm that caching is in fact working:

Yup. Working!

It should be substantially faster than before!

6. Additional Features

You may have some advanced needs for your blog and WP Super Cache has them for you! Some of you have a mobile version of your blog and so you’ll want to enable mobile-ready engagement with your blog with this setting in Advanced:

Mobile!

Also, some of you may want to use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) in tandem with the caching system and that’s fine too.

It’s a somewhat advanced section that I may cover in more detail later but if you’re even at this point of needing one then you probably already have the technical chops to get it installed already. 99 out of 100 bloggers (actually, more than this) will never really need a CDN.

But, I’ve created a tutorial here on how to install a CDN on a WordPress blog just in case. You’ll be able to use this blog post to help you add a CDN to WP Super Cache.

Whew! I hope this overview and installation walk through was helpful!

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments and let me know if you need help getting it setup! It’s a great solution and should serve you, your blog, and your readers well!

[This post is part of theĀ Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog series.]