What is caching and why should you use it
When looking at ways to improve your site, one of the things you’ll see talked about most is caching. But what does this mean? And how does it speed up your site? More importantly even; how can you use it yourself?
In this article we’ll be going over just what caching is, how we utilize it ourselves to speed up our customer’s sites and how you can use it yourself.
If you’re interested in purchasing hosting yourself, one that makes extensive use of caching to give your site the best performance, you can check out our offerings here.
Table of Contents
What is caching
Let’s first take a quick look at the dictionary.com definition for caching, as it’s a good starting ground.
A temporary storage space or memory that allows fast access to dataDictionary.com – 2020
This definition touches well on the meaning, which is to move files that are accessed frequently to a faster storage media.
When talking about storage there is many different ‘speeds’ of storage. Everything ranging from your bulk storage on hard drives, to the incredibly fast speed of RAM (Random Access Memory). In the case of hosting sites, moving frequently accessed files to faster storage media can give incredibly performance gains when someone visits them.
Caching can be preformed in several different ways, all of which with their own benefits. In the case of our own sites and hosting, we utilize 3 different tiers of caching. This goes from media on CDN’s to large scale caching of all sites, and caching of individual pages on a site.
It’s important to remember that caching is a very broad term, and can be applied in many different ways, depending on the specific
How does caching speed up loading times?
Caching can speed up site performance both by using faster media, as well as literally moving the content closer to the viewer. This can be done by utilizing a CDN, or Content Delivery Network. We’ll talk more about what these are in a future article, but if you’re interested you can read more about it here.
These CDN’s can serve the content (like images) from the servers closest to the viewer. This cuts down on latency and improves the loading of the site. Faster media also offers lower latency, as the faster media can respond quicker.
How do you use caching?
The different layers of caching each have their own ways to activate them. For using a CDN or caching DNS requests we can recommend using Cloudflare. Cloudflare can be set up to proxy all traffic through them, allowing them to use their own cache to serve to the viewer whenever it’s advantageous to do so.
Whole site caching is something our hosting services will do automatically for you. This looks at the best files to cache, and automatically does so for all users. This doesn’t require any additional setup from the users’ side.
Last is specific site caching, utilizing this depends on the site builder you’re using. In the case of WordPress there’s plenty available plugins, like Autoptimize or WP Super Cache which we recommend in this article about top 10 free plugins for WordPress sites.
Caching is an incredible tool in increasing the SEO of your page, and the experience of your users. After this article you should have a basic understanding of what caching is, and how it’s used to improving your site.
Setting up caching with both Cloudflare and one of the aforementioned plugins can vastly speed up your site.
If you have any questions about caching or anything else, please let us know with a support ticket or via Twitter.