By default WordPress is a dynamic CMS (Content Management System). This means that for every visitor request that WordPress has to process, it must first connect to the database to see if the requested page even exists.
In a lot of cases this might not be problematic on a site that doesn't receive much traffic. However a sudden surge in traffic caused by search engine bots, or just a general increase in normal traffic can quickly cause your WordPress site to use up a lot of CPU resources from the server while trying to fulfill needless duplicate requests again and again.
You can counter this increase in CPU usage by implementing a caching plugin. What these do is cache the first visitor's request of a new page to a plain HTML file on the server, then when another visitor comes through and requests the same page, so long as the page wasn't updated in your administration section, or updated by a comment, the cached HTML page will be served.
This can greatly reduce CPU usage of your WordPress site very easily. As an example let's say you had 100 views of your front page, without caching that would require the same database query to have to run 100 times and every time it's just getting back the exact same data anyways.
With a caching plugin only the first user would have the database query run to generate the cached HTML file, then the next 99 visitors would get that cached HTML served to them right away, without having to wait for any database activity to complete.
This is just about always a win-win, because your visitors don't have to wait as long for your pages to load, and you're reducing the impact of WordPress's requests on the server's performance.
One of the simplest WordPress caching plugins to setup is WP Super Cache which is discussed in a previous article of ours.

However if you need more advanced caching options such as the ability to serve a static 404 error page the steps below will walk you through installing and configuring the W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress.

**Note: This will not work with Wordpress Multisites.

  1. Hover over Plugins in the left-hand menu, then click Add New.
  2. In the Search box, type in w3 total cache and click on Search Plugins.
  3. Under W3 Total Cache click on Install Now.
  4. Click OK in the installation pop-up.
  5. Click Activate Plugin.
  6. You should now see Plugin activated.
  7. From the left-hand menu, you should now have a new Performance section, hover over this and click on General Settings.
  8. Scroll down the general settings page ensuring that each main section is enabled.

    These would be:

    Page Cache


    NOTE: If you are using minify, make sure to enable the option, save it and then immediately look at your WordPress site to make sure that the site looks normal. If you see problems with formatting, then it's possible that a theme or plugin is causing issues due to the minification. You should then disable minification and not use this option with your website.

    Database Cache

    Object Cache

    Browser Cache, after enabling this option click on Save all settings
  9. Hover over Performance again in the left-hand menu, and click on Page Cache.
  10. Ensure that these options have a checkmark beside them, then click on Save all settings:

    Cache home page

    Cache feeds: site, categories, tags, comments

    Cache 404 (not found) pages

    Cache requests only for hostname

    Don't cache pages for logged in users

  11. Finally to confirm that you've setup everything correctly, in your web-browser open up your site and hit (Ctrl-U), or go to View -> Page source to view the source of the page. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and you should see the W3 Total Cache banner letting you know the page has been optimized.

Once you've confirmed that W3 Total Cache is up and running properly on your website you're done. Now you can enjoy quicker page loads, and reduced resource usage from your WordPress site! For more information on this course please visit Recommended Plugins.

Continued Education in Course 201: Recommended WordPress Plugins
You are viewing Section 7: Optimizing WordPress with W3 Total Cache plugin
Section 6: Optimizing WordPress with WP Super Cache Plugin
Section 8: Clearing cache in WordPress
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2014-06-08 4:31 pm
i followed the above instructions exactly and my site display was radically changed to not acceptable viewing. called tech support and michael logged into backend and discover an error message in the dashboard... he went to Minify and unchecked "CSS minify settings:" so do NOT enable and my site went back to normal. can you guys check to see if okay and/or update your instructions. thank you!!! wp 3.9.1 - W3 Total Cache .0.9.4
2014-07-02 11:30 pm
a few days after doing the Minify, the site CSS still got whacked and made the site unreadable, so there's more going on here. but then a few days later the site went back to good with no modifications and been good for about 2.5 weeks now. i have no idea.
9,968 Points
2014-07-03 5:14 am
Hello Rockit,

Sometime CSS minification can cause problems and you might need to leave it disabled. It might be working now because the cache has cleared since enabling it.

If you continue to have issues, you might want to try to clear the WordPress cache and also clear your web-browser cache

Let us know if you have any further problems.

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-10-18 9:23 am

Recently, I used w3 total cache but my site is acting wierdly, it is not properly loading and this happens on every page but when i referesh it loads properly.

I told my developer so he told me to empty the cache so it worked fine but it keeps happening like this. My developer advised that my internet speed is slow which is causing the page to stop loading. What possible solutions are there ?


23,972 Points
2014-10-20 11:26 am
Hello Arif,

The Internet speed would be from your end, not the server in the data center. However, there is a possibility that there is a routing error, causing slow loading. You may want to perform a ping and trace test to see if there are any hang ups in the route.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-06-25 12:53 am

I'm wary of installing this on a news website that currently has over 30 thousands posts. Will the process of caching this much content over burden my vps in media temple?

23,972 Points
2014-06-25 8:09 am
Hello dtigs,

Caching takes place as a page is initially visited not the entire site at once. It should not have an adverse affect on the server. In fact, overall (after caching) it should decrease your load, making your site more efficient.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-07-06 10:19 am

W3 Total Cache is very powerful but I get high CPU usage after doing page's purge

I need to purge page's for refreshing the new pages after getting new posts of my wordpress

Could you please to advise ? Thanks

9,968 Points
2014-07-06 4:29 pm
Hello Jage,

You shouldn't need to purge the entire cache when just updating one post in WordPress. Typically when you update a post, it will automatically update the cache for that post. Are you not seeing this behavior?

Make sure that you update the WordPress plugin so that you're using the latest version which has this functionality.

Please let us know if you're still having issues.

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-10-20 8:14 pm

Yes, I still get the cpu high after purge pages

Yes, I see after updating a post, it will automatically update the cache for that post, but not the paging (1, 2, 3,...)

To re-arrange the paging  (1, 2, 3,...), page 1 is the newes post..etc, I have to purge pagesplease advise, my blog is

23,972 Points
2014-10-20 8:31 pm
Hello Jage,

There will be a surge if you clear or purge pages from caching. They need to recache in order to reduce the cpu usage. Is this what you are doing?

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-10-20 9:43 pm

Yes, that's what I do 

Please enlightenment, how to rearrange the pages (1,2,3, .. etc) including category pages without causing cpu spike ?


2,033 Points
2014-12-05 11:02 am
Hello Jage,

You can setup your front page to be the latest post which can be done with your theme options. However it will still most likely cause a cpu spike when purging the cache.

Kindest Regards,
TJ Edens
n/a Points
2014-12-06 6:20 pm

It solved, by checking Post terms pages and changing Purge Limit to 0

Thank you

n/a Points
2014-07-15 2:03 am

I installed the W3 plugin and followed these W3 total cache settings but still my account shows high resource usage, what is the problem that I am facing. How do I get rid of high resource usage?

23,972 Points
2014-07-15 8:40 am
Hello Aditya

If you have installed the plugin and still report high usage you will need to contact live support so they can take a deeper look at the specifics of your account.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
9,968 Points
2014-07-17 7:35 pm
Hello Aditya,

You can always take a look at the CPU graphs in cPanel to keep an eye on your account's resource usage.

It looks like you had a very large usage spike on 6/27, but since then your CPU usage has been within the limits for the most part.

I'd recommend also taking a look at our optimize WordPress guide for further tips on how to tweak WordPress to use the least amount of resources possible.

- Jacob
n/a Points
2014-07-22 12:06 am is a good website to compare CDNs. I've chosen and I'm very happy with it. 

n/a Points
2014-08-02 5:36 pm

I've followed many tutorial to install W3 Total Cache and have been having problems.  I've followed yours (great tutorial BTW) and my page source says it's optimized (although it has a ton of other script written below it) and currently I have over 700 broken links, 404s.  I disabled minify.  Is there anything else I check before I deactivate the plugin?


Thanks for your help!!



23,972 Points
2014-08-04 10:23 am
Hello Jaime,

If the site was working prior to enabling a plugin, the first thing you should do is disable it to see if the normal behavior returns. If not, then you should check into the other things.

However, with that many broken links and 404's, it sounds as if your PermaLinks may have broken. To test this, go back into the admin area, disable the permalinks, save, and then re-enable them the way you had them. The site hopefully will return to normal behavior from there.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
n/a Points
2014-08-04 5:10 pm

Thanks so much for your response, Scott!  I've disabled the plug-in and I still have those broken links.  I also have the Yoast SEO plugin.  Do I go into those settings and disable my permalinks, save then change it back to the way it was?  

Do I just change it to this:  /%postname%/

And do I change it under post titles?

Thanks for your help!!



13,552 Points
2014-08-04 5:24 pm
Hello Jamie,

Thank you for contacting us. What Scott is suggesting is changing your Wordpress Permalinks to a different option. For example default, and saving.

Change the permalinks back to the one you were using originally, and save again. Then, test your site to see if it fixed your 404 errors.

If you are still having problems, I recommend reviewing our Common WordPress Troubleshooting guide. The first section goes over Disabling your WordPress Plugins.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post them below.
Thank you,

n/a Points
2014-10-08 10:25 am


I am using wordpress along with cloudflare & cloudfront CDN, & also running W3 Total Cache plugin at, but GTMETRIX report at always give my website a F in "Specify a cache validator" section. I do not understand what i am doing wrong.

21,370 Points
2014-10-08 10:37 am
Hello Nikhil,

Thanks for the question. I researched this issue and I found this post that gives a variety of possible solutions to the issue. They also faced the same problem with the cache validation and provide you a solution.

Kindest regards,
Arnel C.
n/a Points
2014-10-08 10:46 am


Thanks for your quick reply i did what you asked but it didnt help my page speed issue instead yslow jumped from 84 to 90, but still the cache vallidator issue persists.

21,370 Points
2014-10-08 11:02 am
Hello Nikhil,

Did you clear your W3 cache? If you didn't then the old cache will still reflect the files made without the changes and be assessed by GtMetrix that way. If the problem persists, then you should contact Gtmetrix and ask what could be causing the flag if you have taken steps to resolve it. Also, if you, looked through the forum response, the last post mentions the same thing and provides a possible resolution to the issue.

Arnel C.
n/a Points
2014-12-02 11:01 pm

You know, I'm sure this must be a great plug-in and I must be the dumbest idiot on the planet, but I swear to God, my site stats actually showed slower page loads AFTER implementing W3 Total Cache and setting it up as directed by WPBeginner and a couple of  other sites. Fortunately, we're not Amazon, so loading pages in a flash is not going to make us or break us. Maybe this is a KUDO to inMotionHosting for having fast hardware, I don't know, but if I can avoid ANY complexity in my website, I'm going to avoid it.

You know, if you implemented every single plug-in that is "recommended" to "speed up your site", spread your content over a CDN, get your SEO in order, yadda, yadda, yadda, SERIOUSLY, NO ONE could afford to have a website!

Yeah, I guess I just don't get it.

21,370 Points
2014-12-03 11:17 am
Hello John,

Sorry to hear that you're having problems with the caching software. It's very possible that it may be slowing your site, depending on the settings. Try going to and it should tell you what may be causing your site to be slow. If you can provide a URL for the website we can also look if you wish. Apologies again for any confusion or difficulties. Please let us know if you have any further questions or comments.

Arnel C.
156 Points
2014-12-04 5:21 pm
1. i use wp default theme twenty fourteen (through a twenty fourteen child theme) ALL my site css format gets whacked enabling Minify. is there a solution for this?

2. it seems to me that every site in created on IMH using Softaculous Clone function gets this error
"The required directives fro fancy permalinks could not be detected, please confirm they are available:"

but all my url links are text words just like the sites that W3 installed fine.

searching i found some explanation saying "your .htaccess file does not exist" but in my case that is NOT true.

i would also like to comment on John Orban - really all 30 of my sites are pretty much identical, all the same popular plugins, identical pages... testing on gtmetrix (W3 - 1/2 the sites bump up one letter the other half have no change if they already B C sites. it seems only my C D sites bump up to B C.)

last months using WP Fastest Cache i noticed all my sites bumped up at least one letter no matter. i had to stop using WP Fastest Cache because the author told me it is not compatible with ithemes security which i use.

PS. anyone having trouble with W3, make sure you follow ALL of IMH instructions first, do NOT pay attention to RED BAR warnings when you install W3, do all of IMH steps above first. AND on some of my sites, using a fresh download of W3, W3 had extra ENABLES like CDN, Enable varnish cache purging, New Relic... i have no idea why/how these got auto checked but they cause all kinds of RED BAR warnings.
23,972 Points
2014-12-08 2:53 pm
Hello TheBoatPeople,

I am not quite sure what you mean by your CSS getting whacked. Do you mean it gets deleted? broken on the site? It should simply compress without any execution errors.

As for the cloning problem, have you disabled and re-enabled the perma links after getting that error? Perma links can be problematic and that usually fixes the issue. They are stored in the .htaccess file, so that may explain why that came up in your research.

Kindest Regards,
Scott M
156 Points
2014-12-10 3:12 pm
1. whacked i mean all the text, images, menu is present but the positioning and color get mixed up and most all images/text left justify. it would be nice you this forum allow attachments. the result is not proper for users to view. it looks like what you instructions above warn about "does not look normal". your above instructions warn of this but only mention to turn minify off if this happens, i'm inquiring if there is a solution to enable minify and have my site "look normal" as it did before the enable.

2. your suggestion worked on the Clone sites. i went to Permalinks and clicked Default > Save. then i clicked "Post Name" > Save, which i set all my sites to after i have them built. no more Red Bar error on permalinks. i don't know if Yoast helps this along to translate but all my urls end up being the Title of the page i created, which i want.

thank you very much cause searching i saw nothing pointing to that. though it was 4 clicks, 5 seconds, i would have never known to do that and i don't see how anyone in the world would! LOL except you!
21,370 Points
2014-12-10 4:51 pm
Hello Theboatpeople,

If the minification settings are causing problems, then you may need to contact the author of the plugin for help resolving that particular issue. This is a third-party product and fixing functionality of the plugin will need to come from the plugin's author. Check out their support page for the plugin for additional assistance.

Arnel C.

156 Points
2014-12-10 3:24 pm
W3 - Green Bar warning - "It appears that activating the WordPress SEO extension for W3 Total Cache will be helpful for your site"

i can only find 3 results in google for this. user posted the same question i have, 5 months ago with no replies.

do you guys enable this?

21,370 Points
2014-12-10 4:28 pm
Hello TheBoatPeople,

The setting for the W3 Total cache SEO is something we don't endorse or suggest you NOT use. It will be up to you if you want to use it or not. This is a third-party plugin and our recommendations would be based on its affect to performance of the website on our servers, but to our knowledge it will not have a significant impact.

Arnel C
156 Points
2014-12-10 4:18 pm
what if there is no improvement of site performance, using as a bench mark? in fact one site i just enabled was
Page Speed Grade 85% - YSlow Grade 73%
then enabled W3
Page Speed Grade B 86% - YSlow Grade C 71%
if we see no improvement or reduction do you still recommend W3?

what do is normal, what do you guys get after enabling W3?

as i noted above, WP Fastest Cache did the best on my sites, upping 1 to 2 grades on all sites. i got As using Fastest Cache but B is the highest i get with W3.
21,370 Points
2014-12-10 4:39 pm
Hello TheBoatPeople,

Using caching of any type will vary depending on the website and the software used. We can't give you a flat statement that says "this is what will happen to your website when you use this plugin". There are too many factors involved. Performance of your website with caching can depend on your server settings, your website structure, your hosting plan, if you use content delivery networks (CDN), etc. If you find that the caching isn't working as well as you hoped, then you may need to experiment with the settings to see what best works for you, OR, you may want to try a different product. Apologies that we can't give you a direct answer, but you will need to work with the plugin in order to determine what works best for your website.

Arnel C.
n/a Points
2015-01-18 8:33 am

I followed the steps above, however in step 11, above, my source of page message looks like the one below, instead. Does that mean some of the setup did not go through?

<!-- Performance optimized by W3 Total Cache. Learn more:       Served from: @ 2015-01-18 14:27:33 by W3 Total Cache -->
21,370 Points
2015-01-19 1:31 pm
Hello Bedzzled_b,

I reviewed the settings for W3 Total Cache and ran the latest install on a test site myself, but I'm seeing the summary indicating that caching has occurred. Either caching has not been enabled on your site (in spite of the plugin being installed), or the plugin's not working. If you're using the latest version of W3 Total Cache, there's a shortcut to turning on the caching in step 7. Click in the top box (under General Settings) labeled "Toggle all caching types on or off (at once)". Then click on SAVE ALL. It should enable the caching. Then double-check the page source again. You may also want to reference this WordPress support page: How to Ensure that W3 Total Cache is working. It gives you several suggestions that could help resolve the issue.

If you have any further questions or comments, please let us know.

Arnel C.
n/a Points
2015-02-01 9:38 am

Hi there

I tried to follow the step, as mentioned and I got the following error messaes right there on the general settings page (and obviously no change in the page source notes.

Perhaps there is something more to the set up, in addition to the steps described in the post, that I need to perform?


New Relic is not running correctly. The plugin has detected the following issues:

  • PHP module is not enabled.
  • PHP agent is not enabled.
  • API Key is invalid.
  • Account ID is not configured.
  • Application ID is not configured. Enter/Select application name.
  • License key could not be detected.

Please review the settings.


23,972 Points
2015-02-02 4:23 pm
Hello bedazzled_b,

By the look of the error, the New Relic is the one having issues. Is there any error regardign W3 totcal cache? Or do you believe this error for New Relic is due to he Total Cache?

Kindest Regards,
Scott M

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