Ultimate Guide to W3 Total cache settings with Cloudflare setup!

The fastest W3 Total Cache settings with Cloudflare setup for enhanced speed!


There are many performance optimization plugins for WordPress like WP-Rocket, WP-Super cache, Hyper Cache, DB-Cache Reloaded Fix etc. But we will discuss only W3 Total cache in detail as it has the deepest possibility of customization. So we will give you W3 Total Cache settings which are the best and optimized for almost all different server setups.

Because of the recent updates like PenguinPanda  & Fred, the loading time of websites plays a critical role in a website’s search engine rankings. There are several ways to speed up a website. Caching, database caching, object caching, lazy loading, minifying and a lot more. Optimizing images and a lot more other factors are required to make sure that your sites load fast, really fast. The real beauty of the W3 Total Cache plugin is that it makes it easy to do it all at one place.
So, let’s start the tutorial without wasting much time! 😀

W3 Total Cache settings 2021 edition:

the ultimate guide to w3 total cache settings

1.) First of all, install W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress and activate it.

2.) Now after activation deactivate the Preview mode. To deactivate it, just click “Performance” on the left side of your WordPress dashboard and click the “disable” button on the Preview section.

Now we will do the rest of the process stepwise.

General Settings

  • Enable Page Cache, use “Disk: Enhanced”. If it’s showing up in your options then you can also select Opcode: Alternative PHP cache as it’s the best.
  • Enable Minify, set it to “manual”. Use “Disk”. If it’s showing up then you can also select Opcode: Alternative PHP cache as it’s the best.
  • Enable Database Caching. Use: “Disk”. If your wp-config is not writable due to some security plugin then set it to writable for the optimal working of Database Cache.
  • Enable Object Caching. Use: “Disk”. It’s great for sites with heavy traffic.
  • Enable Browser Cache. It helps in leveraging browser caching.
  • Enable Verify rewrite rules, and if you have a Google Page speed API, then it’s your choice to enable Dashboard Widget.

Optionally you can enable “Optimize disk enhanced page and minify disk caching for NFS“. It helps on some shared hosting setups.

Advanced settings

W3 Total Cache settings For Page Cache

  • Enable Cache front page.
  • Enable Cache feeds site, categories, tags, comments.
  • Enable Cache SSL (https) requests.
  • Enable Cache requests only for www.yoursitename.com hostname.
  • Enable Don’t cache pages for logged in users.

For Cache Preload

  • Enable Automatically prime the page cache. Set update interval as 907 seconds or something close. Select the number of pages as 15 (increase or decrease depending on hosting).
  • Enter your sitemap URL. And enable Prime post cache on publishing.

For Advanced

  • Set Maximum lifetime of cache objects: 180060 seconds.
  • Set Garbage collection interval: 3600 seconds.

W3 Total cache settings for Browser cache

  • Enable set Last-Modified header, set expires header, set cache-control header, set W3 Total Cache header and enable HTTP (gzip) compression.
  • Set all the cache control policies to Cache with Max-age.

For CSS & JS

  • Set expires header lifetime: 31536000 seconds (over 1 year).
  • Enable set Last-Modified header, set expires header, set cache-control header, set W3 Total Cache header and enable HTTP (gzip) compression.


  • Set expires header lifetime : 7200 seconds.
  • Enable set Last-Modified header, set expires header, set cache-control header, set W3 Total Cache header and enable HTTP (gzip) compression.

For Media and other files

  • Set expires header lifetime: 31536000 seconds.
  • Enable set Last-Modified header, set expires header, set cache-control header, set W3 Total Cache header and enable HTTP (gzip) compression.

 W3 Total Cache settings for Minify.

  • Enable rewrite URL structure and disable minify for logged in users. Set error notification to Admin notification.


  • Tick on enabling, inline CSS minification, inline JS minification and line break removal.


  • Tick enable, preserved comment removal and line break removal. Now go to your website in some other browser and right click and view source. Find the CSS files, and add their urls one by one in the CSS minification box. Do this to see whether something breaks the layout on minification or not.

For Advanced

  • Update external files every: 216000 seconds and same for garbage collection.

For JS

This is the most difficult part of setting up W3 total cache settings. It requires some trial and error. Do it if the above steps were not enough.

  • Tick on enable preserved comment removal and line break removal. Now got to the source of your site as before and find only those js files which are hosted on your website. Now add their urls one by one and check every time whether something is breaking your site or not.
  • NOTE : Customscript.js and the themes js files like themename.js should not be minified as mostly they are the ones which cause errors.

W3 Total Cache settings for User-agent groups.

Just enable it and don’t change anything.

NOTE: If any setting is not there in this guide then leave it to the default value.

Checking the cache

1.) Open any other browser and clear its cache and then open your homepage URL. Now right click and click on “View Page Source” and at the bottom, it should look like the screenshot below

w3 total cache settings check

2.) Go to tools.pingdom and check your site load time. If everything is working well. You can expect results like below.

w3 total cache settings test


If the Optimal Settings do not work for you. Follow these steps :

1.) You can try WP-Super cache. And learn to customize it here. Using it along with DB-Cache reloaded fix will give you nice results. But not better.

2.) Disable Gzip compression and see if it works well.

3.) You can comment below so that I can help you in fixing errors.

If you have any problem in the above guide or have any doubts, then do comment. I will be more than happy to help. 😀
Genuine views are also welcome.

Updated settings for different scenarios and custom W3 Total Cache configurations: 

  • For people on shared hosting servers: Enable only Page caching, browser caching and database caching for best results. Use “Disk enhanced” method for best speeds. In database caching set the time to 301 seconds or something around 5 minutes. If your shared hosting is too poor or you are using a free server then only use the browser caching module with the page caching module as it makes the objects static instead of dynamic PHP code execution on every page hit.
  • Try and use Cloudflare CDN or Pagespeed CDN along with the W3 Total Cache plugin in order to have the best loading time. (NOTE: Google PageSpeed CDN has been officially retired by them quite some time ago.)

Here’s a short video by Cloudflare on how to set up their service perfectly in a hassle-free manner. 

By watching the above short tutorial video you can get a better idea on how to adjust Cloudflare best settings, adjust complicated things like performance, security and page rules for defining what you want cached and what not. For people who run into any problems, they can always comment here or they can share their problems on the Cloudflare forum here.

  • Try and optimize cron jobs manually to reduce server usage and you can also try to disable the WordPress heartbeat API in order to reduce CPU usage. Disabling automatic cron can go a long way in improving the overall performance of your server and save you unnecessary load.
  • W3 Total Cache miscellaneous settings: Enabling the “Edge mode” in the latest variant of W3 Total Cache can give a minor speed boost to some server setups. But be warned as it’s known to break some server configurations, so always try it at your own risk.
  • W3 Total Cache extensions: W3 Total cache plugin now comes with extensions in order to improve upon the existing functionality. For those people using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, they can enable the Yoast SEO extension. Those people looking for implementing Cloudflare on their sites need to install the Cloudflare extension for communication between Cloudflare and the caching plugin. Installing the Feedburner extension allows you to ping Feedburner automatically every time you publish a new post. There’s also the extension for Genesis Framework, but it requires W3 Total Cache pro along with Genesis Framework installed on the site. This module improves the page generation time by 30%-60% for the Genesis Framework by implementing Fragment caching method which is available with W3 Total Cache pro.

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There are a lot of other easy options in the market which don’t involve as many features as the W3 Total cache plugin. In recent times the W3 Total Cache plugin has also undergone many changes. A lot of advanced features are only available for the paid pro versions. But in this w3 total cache settings guide 2021 we have only covered those things which you can configure for free. Those interested in getting their sites manually tweaked for best performance or those who want help in configuring w3 total cache settings can leave their queries in the comments below and contact us via email for the speed packages.
Otherwise following this guide well and having a good server can easily get you around the 1-2 seconds loading time mark.

Last Updated on 23 January 2021.

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The ultimate guide to W3 Total cache settings | Inspire2rise
Article Name
The ultimate guide to W3 Total cache settings | Inspire2rise
We will discuss W3 Total cache in detail as it has the deepest possibility of customization.So we will give you W3 Total Cache settings which are the best.

Written by Aditya Nath Jha

Aditya Nath Jha is an Engineer from New Delhi, India. His areas of interest include Gadgets, WordPress, speed optimization & latest technology.
When he is not busy blogging he loves to write poetry, compose his own songs and has a taste for music! Find me on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Linked in.
And watch my videos on Youtube.


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