Slow Site - WPSuper Cache and W3 Total Cache don't seem to help?



I’m having a lot of problems with the speed of my site. (I’m super tech-challenged, so there’s probably some things I should be doing that I’m not!) I’ve just been fumbling along… I found a lot of suggestions to use WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache… I tried, but they both actually seemed to SLOW the site down :confused: However, I’ve read a lot of different tutorials suggesting different settings - so perhaps I’m not setting it right? Recently, I added WP Widget Cache, which is the first thing that seems to help a little.

Some people have suggested that the problem is Dreamhost? I know several people who have Wordpress sites on different servers who use either WP Super or W3 Total and their sites are a lot faster than mine. (But that could just because I’m doing something wrong!)

I’d REALLY, REALLY appreciate it if someone could 1) tell me which caching plugin I should use (or if there’s another option) and 2) what settings I should use to optimize use with Dreamhost. (Any other suggestions on improving site speed would be GREATLY appreciated!)

Thank you so, so much!

My site is


Seems pretty fast to me. Are you sure you just don’t have a slow internet connection?


It doesn’t appear to be using caching presently. Perhaps recheck your WP Super Cache settings.


@sierracircle - thanks for checking… maybe that’s a possibility? if it loads fast for you, maybe it’s something on my end?

@sXi - i’m not using any caching right now (besides WP Widget Cache) because when i tried using it before it actually seemed to slow the site down. i don’t know why that would happen? are there specific settings i need to enable? i was just installing and activating the plug-in and that’s it. one time i tried to play around with settings (from a tutorial i saw) but that just made things 100x worse. do most dreamhost wordpress users use one caching plugin over the other (super vs w3 total)? do most even use the caching plugins at all, would you say?


You’re not on a VPS, so I would suggest using WP Super Cache. It’s easier. Once you install and activate, just enable caching. I would recommend clicking on the advanced tab for the plugin and making “Use PHP to serve cache files.” selected. Also turn on compression :slight_smile:

I looked at your server and you’ve got PHP set to 5.2. You should change that to 5.3 and activate Google PageSpeed, which should help you some.


I’d probably go for the mod_rewrite caching method :stuck_out_tongue:

…but it probably depends on how much time you spend logged in to the site versus how many “anonymous” visitors you receive (or something like that) as to which mechanism will provide the greatest performance benefit for any given website. Ipstenu will definitely know all the ins and outs about this. And, yes, this is a thinly veiled attempt to cajole more free education from the local Guru.


i’m such a novice, so this is probably a silly question: but what is the PHP setting and how do i change it to 5.3 and how do i activate google page speed? (and do i turn on compression in the advanced page of Super Cache?)

thank you so much for taking the time to help me - i know these questions are super basic, i just really have no idea what i’m doing. i want my site to run as fast/effective as possible - and i’m expecting a good amount of growth over the next 6 months. when i first opened my blog, i just did the dreamhost trial and then signed on to keep it going. i’m not at all aware of what a VPS is or what services/different types of things dreamhost offers. i’m not opposed to making a greater financial investment into my site, i just literally don’t know where to put my money - i don’t even know who to hire to advise me!

if you wouldn’t mind answering the PHP/compression questions… and if you could let me know if you think it’d be wise for me to upgrade or change whatever type of hosting setup i have, i’d really really appreciate it! thank you so much for your time!


Politely butting in, since there isn’t a follow up to your question:

  • What VPS is:
  • Changing the PHP mode: if you were on a VPS account, you’d do that from “Manage Domains”, edit the domain you want, select the PHP mode from the drop-down menu in “Web Settings”. On a shared hosting, I believe the PHP mode would be set to 5.3 by default.
  • When using WP Super Cache, mod_rewrite caching might cause an extra server load so I suggest clearing your cache and switching to php caching instead. Use a web service to monitor your site’s performance - refreshing your site yourself to see how fast it loads is rarely accurate and would definitely not give you an overview of what others experience.
  • Turning on page compression: yes, that’s in WP Super Cache advanced settings.

Ultimately, you site might be slowed down by various plugins you’re using or by a messy database that might need an optimization, in which case caching can only marginally help.


For what it’s worth, I JUST finished writing up how you can use PageSpeed to your extra advantage:

(PHP is set to 5.3 for all new accounts, but some old ones may be on 5.2).


Thanks @Ipstenu, I’m going to check that article out right away… @Rightfit: thanks so much! one question: what would make for a ‘messy database’? Is this something I can prevent by doing things a certain way as I go along (my blog is fairly new)? And either way: is there any way to fix it if that is my problem?

(I really appreciate everyone’s patience and help!)


The best way to clean up the DB is to log in via phpMyAdmin.

Open the database, select all the tables and pick the optimization table action from the drop-down menu located below the tables’ list.

Boom :slight_smile:

(I don’t advocate using plugins for that personally, since I feel it’s the wrong tool for the job).


Your website actually seems superfast to me :slight_smile:

While I’m a W3 Total Cache fan, it has two drawbacks: it consumes much more memory (a trade-off for improving performance) and it’s a pain to configure (every website and theme will require slightly different tweaks). The trick seems to avoid PHP FastCGI and just use the regular PHP: it’s slower, but also consumes less memory.

If you don’t want to bother with a very complex configuration, WP Super Cache is a safe bet.

Something that will “magically” improve your performance without any costs or risks is just to activate CloudFlare. DH is a CloudFlare partner, which means that all you need to do is to register a CloudFlare account, and then use the DH panel to connect your website to your CloudFlare account. CloudFlare is a caching mechanism in the cloud — your website will actually be delivered out of 14 data centres spread around the world (instead of just from DH’s main data centres) and you might expect that half of the traffic will be served by them.

Another nice thing that I’m using on most of my sites is Jetpack. That’s a WordPress mega-plugin (with lots of modules) which has been developed by Automattic, the same company that created WordPress. One of the recent features they’ve added is Photon, which will host all images on your blog posts on their servers (and provide an automatic resizing mechanism for those images — great for tablets and smartphones!). This means that a lot of traffic will be pushed out of DH and be served out of the data centres for You also get stats, spam control, much nicer comments, and lots of added niceties.

But really, I’d say that your website already loads so fast that there will be few opportunities to improve it :slight_smile: I wish I had mine loading at the same speed…


Gwyneth, your site (linked in your sig) doesn’t have any caching on it. I mean, I can see you have W3TC installed, but if I view source, it doesn’t claim it’s running.


@Gwyneth: Thanks so much! I ended up using the advice Ipstenu gave (you can see more of our discussion here: ) and it really got things moving faster! Thanks for your advice as well!


Hello, do you know any good tutorials to use W3 total cache with woocommerce and cloudfare ?

Thanks a lot.