If you’re using WordPress as your blogging platform, then chances are you’re also using the WP-Cache plugin that comes standard with the platform. Using the cache plugin is a smart move. Especially if there is even a remote possibility your site will get Dugg, Stumbled, or Slashdotted.
Of course, the cache plugin is not perfect and there are a few drawbacks, but the benefits far outweigh them. Nobody wants their server to crash when that sudden onslaught of traffic comes.
About the WP-Cache Plugin
WP-Cache is an extremely efficient WordPress page caching system to make your site much faster and responsive. It works by caching Worpress pages and storing them in a static file for serving future requests directly from the file rather than loading and compiling the whole PHP code and then building the page from the database. WP-Cache allows to serve hundred of times more pages per second, and to reduce the response time from several tenths of seconds to less than a millisecond.
The New WordPress Super Cache Plugin
While the standard WP-Cache plugin has been a staple among WordPress users, it hasn’t been updated or improved in quite some time. That is until now.
Previously, one of the best ways survive getting dugg, was to generate a static version of the page getting traffic. Of course, this only works if you can anticipate it. Something that doesn’t happen very often.
Essentially, this is what the WP-Super-Cache plugin does automatically. It basically turns your dynamic site into a static one. But unlike MovableType, static cache pages are generated as needed and update regularly. It’s the perfect hybrid of WordPress and MovableType’s caching systems.
Changes and Upgrades from WP-Cache
1. A plugin and hooks system. A common complaint with WP Cache was that hacking was required to make it work nicely with other plugins. Now you can take advantage of the simple plugin system built in to change how or when pages are cached. Use do_cacheaction() and add_cacheaction() like you would with WordPress hooks. Plugins can add their own options to the admin page too.
2. Works well with WordPress MU in VHOST or non-VHOST configuration. Each blog’s cache files are identified to improve performance.
3. Normal WP-Cache files are now split in two. Meta files go in their own directory making it much faster to scan and update the cache.
4. Includes this WP-Cache and protected posts fix.
5. Automatically disable gzip compression in WordPress instead of dying.
6. As Akismet and other spam fighting tools have improved, the cache will only be invalidated if a comment is definitely not spam.
I’ve been using and testing the WP-Super-Cache plugin on another site for about a week now and I can see a noticable difference. That site hasn’t received the amount of traffic that comes with making the front page of Digg, but it gets a fair amount of steady traffic. And even under normal traffic levels, the page load times have improved.
I’d like to see, first hand, how this holds up under a massive influx of traffic, but for now I’m pleased with the faster load times.