Do you know how to setup W3 Total Cache correctly?

Guide For Dummies: How To Setup Your WordPress W3 Total Cache Correctly?

W3 Total Cache is one of the world’s most renown cache plugin for WordPress and you are probably finding the best setup guide for WordPress W3 Total Cache right?

Before that, let’s see what W3 Total Cache actually is and how it functions. It provides close to everything you would need to make your website load blazing fast but most of the time, these settings could be very misguiding and complicated for bloggers and even new website developers. 

In this guide, I am going to try my best to provide you a step by step guide in setting up your W3 Total Cache. This post is a little lengthy but trust me, it will definitely worth your time especially when you are going to get the best setting for your W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin. 

Here’s the slide which I had created thanks to SlideShare (for those who want to avoid reading the wall of text) ~ Enjoy!


Setup guide for WordPress W3 Total Cache

Firstly, head over to the plugin page and search for W3 Total Cache. Very easy and very straight forward right? 

Setting up your W3 Total Cache the right way

Plugin cache will help website to load faster.
The famous W3 Total Cache setting tab 

1. You should be able to see a new tab labelled as Performance on the left side of the screen on your WordPress dashboard. Click on that.

2. Next, you will see the Dashboard for W3TC and this gives you a general outlook of the plugin. You see the option to select General Settings and select that. General Settings works as a master switch for W3TC. You can enable or disable a certain option with just one click of the button.

3. On the General Settings page, scroll down a little and you will see Page Cache.

Page Cache: Enable

Page cache method: Disk: Enhanced

You do not need to press save at the moment. I will explain to you after this on why I rather save later than now.

4. Scroll down more and you will see the Minify option.

Minify: Enable

Minify mode: Manual

Minify cache method: Disk

HTML minifier: Default

JS minifier: JSMin (default)

CSS minifier: Default

5. Next is Database Cache option.

Database Cache: Enable

Database Cache Method: Disk

6. Scroll down a little to Object Cache.

Object Cache: Enable

Object Cache Method: Disk

7. To the next option, Browser Cache.

Browser Cache: Enable

8. For CDN settings, you may disable it first.

The right setup guide for WordPress W3 Total Cache can boost website loading speed
Setting up W3TC plugin could be time consuming but it will make your website load at blazing speed 

9. Reserve Proxy disable, Cloudflare settings disable, monitoring disable, miscellaneous disable and debug disable all. Now, you may save all your settings. After saving it, W3TC will ask you if you would like to clear the cache which you can select yes. The reason to save once you have done the whole page is to avoid inconvenience. You may save one by one but it is totally a time consuming process.

10. Select Page Cache on the left of the screen.

You should enable cache front page, cache feeds, cache SSL and don’t cache pages for logged in users.

Cache Preload: Enable automatic prime

Update interval: 907

Page per interval: 7

Sitemap: (change your domain to your own site name)

Save all settings and you may ignore the rest of the options on that page.

11. Select Minify button on the left.

Enable rewrite URL structure and for HTML minify settings, select enable, inline CSS minification, inline JS minification and line break removal.

As for JS minify settings, select enable, before (combine), after (minify) and before (combine). Enable preserved comment and line break as well.

As for CSS minify settings, select enable, preserved comment and line break removal.

Go for save all settings again and clear the cache.

12. Now, select Database Cache button on the left

Enable don’t cache queries and save the setting.

13. You can exclude Object Cache as nothing needed to change there. Select Browser Cache instead.

Under General, enable everything except do not process 404 errors.

Under CSS & JS, enable all the options there. The only changes you need to do is change the value of expires header lifetime to 31536000 seconds.

Under HTML & XML, enable everything as well.

Under Media & Other Files, enable everything and set the value of expires header lifetime to 31536000 seconds.

Finally, save all settings and clear cache if needed. 


You can basically forget the rest of the options for now. These settings should serve you well with or without a Content Delivery Network. You will notice your site gets loaded up faster than usual. Remember to clear all the cache at least once to make everything stays for good.

And for the record, I have tested these settings on various websites now and all of them are giving them very good response time. Certainly hope this works well for you as well and good luck.

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35 thoughts on “Guide For Dummies: How To Setup Your WordPress W3 Total Cache Correctly?”

    • Hi Ganesh,

      Glad it worked for you! Some hosting companies are slightly different. Like GoDaddy has OpCode turned on etc. However, the basics are always the same.

      Take care and thanks for visiting!


    • Hi Tom,

      Oh wow! Glad you find this article useful. Hopefully it gives you the same results or even better ones than I’m having!

      Have a great week and thanks for dropping by.


  1. Hello Reginald, really an useful guide for me. INcreased page speed score by 10 points for Desktop version. But is there any possibility to optimize for Mobile version of my site. Can you suggest any other plugins or any resources to configure for mobile version of my site?
    However this guide is good.
    Thanks for the share mate and waiting for your reply 🙂

    • Hi Sumanth,

      For mobile, there isn’t any. Basically, optimization are set to focus on generic which means for both desktop and mobile. How fast is your site now? If it is below 1.5 sec, then it is good and you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

      Also, hosting companies and the number of items on your page play their roles too. Just don’t forget that 🙂

        • Sumanth,

          Your site page is too big. 3.2m on first page isn’t good. You need around 1 to 1.2mb page size for scaleable. I did a quick check on your site waterfall and seems like you need to work on ‘addthis…’. Are you using some sort of plugin etc on your homepage? I am seeing more than 10 requests just from this and is affecting your site. It is also pulling only after loading most of the parts of your page.

          This means that everything had been loaded and then ‘addthis’ takes place and that is not good. Try turn off minify and see if this is better. At times, minify wrongly and you will be affected. In most cases, i advise to turn off minification unless you know what you are doing.

          W3TC takes sometime to build its cache. Some says few hours, some says days 🙂

          Good luck trying 😀

  2. Hi my friend,

    It’s great to see your review about W3 Total cache plugin, I tried to install it at my blog but received a vital error and had to deleted, I am not sure if this is something because I have another caching plugin installed WP super Cache plugin, if you have any experience with WP super cache plugin which one do you think is better? and do you recommend using both plugins or one of them is enough. Thanks again for this article and tutorials.

    • Hi Qasim,

      Well it really depends. For me, I had experience with both and W3 Total Cache is more complicated and is workable for those who really know how to handle it. If you are new, there is a very good possibility that you might mess things up. If you want to use W3 Total Cache and you are not a pro, just disable minify and enable the rest. You should be just fine then.

      WP Super Cache is a good plugin and it is rather simple to use. Easy setup especially if you are a newbie. But, when it comes to feature, it has more basic features compared to W# Total Cache.

      Hope this helps buddy.

  3. Hey Reginald

    Great share which i have installed this plugin many times had an issue with that so i just left might i would have to try out with your steps between can you suggest me an good plugin for images


    • Hi Shameem,

      I don’t see any reasons why you need a plugin for images? Just use to reduce the size, upload those images to Flicker and cope the codes of the images on your site. Easy 🙂

  4. Hey Reginald,

    Thanks so much for this awesome guide. I picked up this app from a few reviews and would have never know how to set it up. Really big help. Thanks again.


      • Hey Reg,
        I’m late to the party here (been reading on your site for hours now), but anyway: I’m currently playing around with various hosting solutions and providers for WordPress. I may go the Synthesis or WPEngine road later in the year, but for now am trying to optimize on a simpler hosting solution.

        I’ve been fumbling around in W3TC a lot in the last few weeks, and have found results to be rather variable, i.e. testing results in Pingdom, Webpagetool and GTMetrix being all over the place, from superfast to really slow, with no changes to the WP setup and content.

        For now, I’ve decided to leave W3TC and use an extremely simple caching plugin, namely Cachifyer. Its results are not as good as W3TC, but then it also is orders of magnitude less complicated and thus error-prone.

        However, as I’m almost certainly going to use Genesis starting this week, W3TC’s «pro» version with fragment caching still sounds really intriguing. And that, unsurprisingly, is why I wonder: what do you mean by «buggy, especially for pro version»?

        Thanks, Phil

        • Hey Phil,

          Thanks for commenting. Buggy as the Fragment Cache doesn’t always work with your site. While this may resolved on server end, it is definitely something not under our control. This means that when that happens, it may slow down your site instead of speed things up.

          Comparing both Synthesis and WPEngine, my bet would always be with WPEngine since it has a inbuilt cache system. No more headaches and worries to be honest.

          Hope this helps!

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful information. Currently I am using Genesis+Eleven40. I configured accordingly what you said above. But I have doubts like why we need to select “Manual” instead of “Auto” for minify settings. Also after setting as you said, I am getting below error message. Can you please let me know the solution of the same.
    Recently an error occurred while creating the CSS / JS minify cache: File “/home/basunxe3/public_html/wp-content/themes/js/frontend.js” doesn’t exist.

    • Hey Basavaraj,

      When you go for Manual, you will have more options such as JS minify on head and body. While automatic is always a faster choice, it doesn’t work well on some hosting environment. This means that instead of speed up your website speed, it will reduce it instead.

      For the error, it seems like W3TC is not able to detect the file. It could be on a wrong path. Try check on the path through cPanel and see if that is correct. Once you have determine the file, add the script on Minify setting > JS > JS File Management > Add a script.

      Hope this helps.

      • Reginald,
        Thanks for your quick reply. So you mean to say that both “Auto” or “Manual” settings are fine. Else safer will be to set at “Manual”?
        Coming back to the error, I am illiterate when it comes to technicalities of these coding, files and paths. So let me know how to find out in a detailed way. I know I may be troubling you more. But this error is consistent and unable to find the right solution from anyone.

        Or else the error is due to Cloudflare free version which I am using currently for my site? Because previously I have same settings with no issue. But currently I am facing this problem.

        • Hi mate,

          Well, CloudFlare shouldn’t do much of an issue since the cache system is different from W3TC. W3TC is really a trial-an-error and thus, I suggest you to try both Auto and Manual to find which speeds up your blog more. In order to test:
          1. Set to Auto
          2. Clear cache
          3. Wait for 1 day and try the website loading speed (do this 3 to 5 times to get the average)

          Repeat the above with Manual. Manual offers Minify and Combine (pretty tech part) so, Auto is a good thing if your site is running okay.

          Now, to troubleshoot is a bit hard. Here goes:
          1. Open cPanel and look for File Manager.
          2. Open File Manager and search for your web database (should be /home/basunxe3/…)
          3. Follow the path you shown earlier (the error message) and see if the file is visible.
          4. Now, if you see the file, there could mean that something is ‘blocking’ the access to it. If you don’t see the file, maybe the file is misplaced. Use the search and find for the said file.
          5. I am assuming the file is there and W3TC is not able to ‘see’ it, then just contact your hosting and ask them for help. They will know what to do from there. This is because it goes very tricky here 🙂

          Hope this helps!

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