Accelerating WordPress with Cloud Files and the W3 Total Cache Plugin


This article assumes that you have already completed the installation of your WordPress website and database. If you have not completed this, read the following article: Install and Use WordPress.

You can enhance your WordPress blog by using Cloud Files with content delivery network (CDN) technology to display content to users faster and more efficiently. You can distribute common files or content such as CSS, JavaScript, images, videos and much more through a CDN, which serves the content from the closest edge server to the end user.

The following steps are best practices and have been tested and verified to optimize performance on a default installation of WordPress with the default theme. This process was last tested using WordPress version 3.8 and W3 Total Cache plugin version 0.9.3.

Step 1

Download the W3 Total Cache WordPRess plugin from the W3 Total Cache website. If you are using any other caching plugins, deactivate and uninstall them. Ensure that WordPress has write permissions to the wp-content directory.  You can do this from the server's command line by changing to the WordPress directory and running the following command.

sudo chmod go+w wp-content

Step 2

Log in as an administrator to your WordPress account. In the left navigation pane of the WordPress control panel, click Plugins and then click Add New.

Step3

Click the Activate Plugin link, find the W3 Total Cache plugin zip file you downloaded, and click Install Now. You can also unzip and use an FTP client to upload the plugin to your plugins directory (wp-content/plugins/).

In all cases, wp-content/plugins/w3-total-cache/ should exist when completed.

If the plugin is successfully installed, you should see the following message: “Successfully installed the plugin W3 Total Cache.”

Step 4

Remove the write permissions that you set on the wp-content directory. 

sudo chmod go-w wp-content

Step 5

Click the "Settings" link and go to the "General" tab. aSelect your caching methods for page, database, and minify. In most cases, the following settings are recommended:

  • Page Cache Method: Disk: Enhanced
  • Minify Cache Method: Disk
  • Database Cache Method: Disk

 

On the "Minify Settings" tab, all of the recommended settings are preset. Use the help button to simplify discovery of your CSS and JavaScript files and groups. Pay close attention to the method and location of your JavaScript group embeddings. See the plugin's FAQ for more information about usage. Save your changes.

Step 6

If you already have a content delivery network (CDN) provider, go to the "Content Delivery Network" menu and populate the fields and set your preferences. If using Rackspace Cloud Files as your CDN, select  Rackspace Cloud Files from the Content Delivery Network drop down menu.

If you do not use the Media Library, you must import your images etc into the default locations. Use the Media Library Import Tool on the "Content Delivery Network" tab to perform this task.

If you do not have a CDN provider, you can still improve your website's performance using the "self-hosted" method. On your own server, create a subdomain and matching DNS Zone record (for example,  static.domain.com) and configure FTP options on the "Content Delivery Network" tab accordingly. Use FTP to upload the appropriate files, using the available upload buttons.

If using Rackspace Cloud Files as your CDN, please log in to the Cloud Control Panel at mycloud.rackspace.com. Click on your username in the upper-right  side of the window and select the Cloud Sites Control Panel from the naviagtion pane. In the left-hand menu in the Cloud Sites Control Panel, click “Your Account" and then click “API access”. If you do not have Cloud Files configured you must add it under your Hosting tab. If Cloud Files is not available, contact Rackspace Cloud Sales or Support. Note your username and API key.

Find your Cloud Files host name by going back to the main Cloud Control Panel. Click the Files tab in the product list across the top of the page. Click on the action cog next to your container (if one does not exist, you must create one) and select the "Make Public (Enable CDN)" option. Click the "Publish to CDN" button.  After the container is published, you can click on the gear icon next to the container again and select the "View All Links" option to view the container's host name.



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