The Best Caching Plugin for WordPress | HummingBird Pro

Caching in WordPress is a complex matter; it’s not just about a page cache anymore. Caching involves CSS optimizations, above the fold ordering, gzip resources, the actual page cache and a lot more. This leads users to turn to a plugin for an easier solution, such as Hummingbird Pro or WP-Supercache.

For this post, I’m going to review Hummingbird Pro for caching. My experience shows that this plugin designed for WordPress can work wonders for those that want the complete package, and most importantly, ready to work without having to worry too much in adding extra plugins.

Stick around, because I compare Hummingbird Pro against WP-Supercache and the added bonus of Autoptimize – two plugins that are known to work well together and a very logical configuration, especially for Divi. You can also listen to a podcast episode on WP the PODCAST where David Blackmon and Tim Strifler compare the Top 3 Cashing Plugins for WordPress, including Hummingbird Pro.

Hummingbird already gives an incredibly good feature set in the free version. Today, we’re going to check the Pro version with some nice added bonuses.

The Dashboard

Hummingbird Pro has a nice dashboard interface that acts as the main place to check for any optimization. It will display the latest speed test with its current score and all the main options enabled on the plugin.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The dashboard gives you a good idea of the optimizations already done and the main parts of the plugin. It also allows you to re-run the last test to see how you are against the last optimization done.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Aside from taking a quick look at the status of the Page Cache, the Gravatar Caching, and Browser Caching, it also provides for a Database cleanup. The Database cleanup safely removes useless parts of your database, such as old WordPress posts revisions and transient cache. It also allows you to configure an Uptime monitor for your site and gives you extra reports on the Database Cleanup and the Performance tests.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The Pro version also offers to install WP Smush Pro to easily compress images for either lossless formats or lossy ones.

The Performance Test Window

In the main Performance Test window, you will see the actual points on your site. You can re-run the test and see the accumulated points you have compared to the last run and even do regular scans & reports without the need to run them manually. How nice is that!

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The main section lets you to activate page cache even for logged in users, a very useful feature on sites that don’t have an active store. The plugin would even allow for caching of 404 requests and remove URL queries from cached resources. Similar to WP-Supercache, Hummingbird Pro also enables the Clear full cache when a post is published or updated, a thing that could prove useful when other options fail.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

You can also configure the exclusions either on URL strings or user agents for access to no-cache patterns.

GZIP Compression

GZIP compression is not something that the plugin can enable directly on some configurations. For example, you could enable GZIP inside apache but you can’t do that on nginx. However, the plugin shows the current status of GZIP even if it’s not directly configurable by the plugin.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Asset Optimization

The extra asset optimization window will allow you to customize the way the CSS assets are handled. This handy tool will allow you to further compress each CSS asset individually. Comparatively, some assets have problems if they are compressed and usually, caching plugins won’t allow you to do it manually, file by file with an easy selector, you have to exclude files manually. Not so with Hummingbird Pro! It allows you to turn each CSS file optimization individually without you having to worry about filenames and exclusions. AmaZing!

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The last part of Asset Optimization allows you to add manually those files that you want to load with the “above the fold” optimization. This kind of optimization can drastically enhance performance, but at a cost. Usually a bad above the fold optimization can literally break your site. This is why it’s added as an extra option, separated from the rest of the asset optimization. Above the fold optimizations usually break styling while loading, exchanging performance for presentation. It can be either a good or a bad thing, depending on how it’s being used.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

After you enable the asset optimization, you can use the WPMU Dev CDN, included with the Pro version to upload automatically all the contents of your site, this will speedup loading as those already compressed assets are going to be loaded from a CDN.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Advanced Tools

On the Advanced Tools, you can remove the query strings, usually a string of data that tells your browser how to properly cache the content. For sites that don’t rely too much on dynamic content, forcing the removal of query strings can prove to be very useful. You can also remove emojis Javascripts and CSS, usually removing 2 extra requests for your site.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Uptime Menu

Finally, on the Uptime menu you can configure the uptime monitor for your site. This handy monitoring tool will send you e-mail alerts in case your site is down.

  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

As you can see, the plugin handles a lot of caching functions:  Page Cache, Avatar Cache and Above the Fold optimizations. It also includes a CDN for your compressed assets, allows for custom CSS compression to avoid breaking your site, supports an uptime monitor and it can even do periodic speedtests on your site to follow it’s performance. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the complete package!

Fits perfectly with Divi

The Hummingbird Pro plugin allows you to enable the Divi static CSS generation while at the same time doing CSS compression. I’ve checked the plugin for compatibility and found out that it works just as expected. Considering all the extra options the plugin has, this is just a perfect fit for any Divi site.

Performance Benchmarks Comparison

For the purpose of this review, I set performance benchmarks using a Divi site wtih a ton of articles. The following illustrates No caching, Hummingbird Pro and WP Supercashe and Autoptimize:

Considering the amount of data on the homepage, the Hummingbird Pro plugin allows me to get a nice score of just 1.46s. As no surprise, it scored definetly better than having no cache at all, but it also scored better thanWP SuperCache and Autoptimize at a 2.02s. One thing I should mention is that the Hummingbird Pro plugin refused to remove the URL queries from static resource; something that Autoptimize seems to do just fine, but considering results, the total load time has been reduced nevertheless.

GTMetrix is a lot more strict on results and this test allowed us to reduce the total loading time from 5.6s down to 4.7s. I wasn’t able to achieve a top score though, even when all the options were enabled.

Usability Hummingbird Pro

Although we have a wonderful plugin on our hands, it’s not saved from criticism. There are some inconsistencies. I found that some options that remove URL query strings worked on some sites, but not all. The disposition of the content from the dashboard and extra tabs is somewhat badly distributed and needs more coherency. This lack of a coherent interface can be problematic for inexperienced users, as there are things that seem replicated through several tabs. The main dashboard lacks consistency and should be packed more firmly together. Aside from these few inconsistencies, the performance of the plugin speaks for itself. The Hummingbird Pro plugin does exemplary work caching pages, as well as doing CSS compression and optimization. Rounding it off is a well-balanced set of added tools, like the uptime monitor and speedtest tools.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a complete caching system for WordPress, even with some dashboard inconsistencies, Hummingbird Pro is a viable solution that allows for the integration of several caching tools all in one place. It does a fine job all by itself without the need to use extra plugins to do the job, and includes a nice CDN for extra speedup in loading resources. Hummingbird Pro is a plugin we can certainly recommend.

We want to hear from you. Have your tried Hummingbird Pro, or maybe WP Supercashe and Autoptimize? Let us know your thoughts on these plugins in the comments below.

 

Previous post
Next post

17 Comments

  1. Chris

    I need to figure out why my DIVI site is so painfully slow to work on. The site scores are great when tested using Page Speed Insights and GMetrix, but when I work on the site, it’s so slow to update, refresh, preview—it’s painful and tedious.

    Does anyone know of a reasonable service that can evaluate a site and recommend fixes? I’m not sure if it’s my host or the plugins that are active or just a DIVI thing.

    Reply
    • Erik Haagensen

      Chris, are you on PHP 7? Also some configurations that will make the builder faster….

      Add this to your .htaccess file…

      SubstituteMaxLineLength 20M

      and in wp-config.php add this…
      define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’);
      define( ‘WP_MAX_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ‘256M’ );

      and set these PHP variables. I have had it crash the site doing it in PHP.ini on one host, but if you are on cpanel you can do it using the PHP variables manager…
      post_max_size = 128M
      memory_limit = 256M
      max_execution_time = 420
      upload_max_filesize = 256M
      max_input_vars = 5000
      max_input_time = 600

    • Alex Vojacek

      What you’re describing fit perfectly with an example of slow hosting. Basic static HTML caching can help speedup website tremendously on those scenarios but access to WordPress dashboard will require basic PHP processing and that needs CPU cycles. If the hosting company is providing you with poor CPU availability you will have good and acceptable performance on the frontend, product of skipping PHP processing but poor dashboard/backend performance. You need to switch to a better hosting solution as no plugin can give you extra CPU cycles. Only your hosting company can.

    • Chris

      Erik, Alex,

      Thank you so much. I have been so frustrated with Divi that I considered walking away from it and just buying a bloody theme.

      Wish I could hire somebody to get me over the hump. I will try your suggestions. Thank you.

      Is there a site that offers a Divi optimization review?
      My host is InMotion Hosting. They are always very responsive.
      Chris

    • Chris

      Thank you guys. I posted a followup but ot is not showing up. Let me thank you again.

      Is there a service to help evaluate a situation and recommend fixes?

  2. Luke Cavanagh

    Cache Enabler is a solid free option for a WordPress cache plugin.

    Reply
    • Alex Vojacek

      Hello Luke !, so glad to see you here. Yes, Cache Enabler is one of the very best as basic static HTML caching, even better than WP Supercache sometimes because of the way it’s written. It’s so simple that it’s hard to beat as a static HTML cache. But if you’re looking for an all around solution it’s one of the least recommended, primary due to being a basic static cache. I use it on a lot of sites that needs this functionality, it reduces the overhead a lot.

  3. Don V

    Now it’s all fun and all that you test it against 2 free plugins while it’s being a premium plugin. I’d like to see some more decent comparisons against a premium plugin like WPRocket. THAT would give some good insights.

    Reply
    • Alex Vojacek

      Although your point is valid, please, do not forget that WP-Supecache with Autoptimize is considered to be one of the fastest methods for doing proper caching on wordpress, that combination can even beat WP-Rocket on some tests so I don’t see how that invalidates the comparison. I have several sites with wp-supercache + autoptimize and it’s a combination that is hard to beat, that’s why it’s been selected, because it’s easy to do if you know what you’re doing and it’s free so it’s a comparison anyone can make.

  4. Mitch

    As much as the suite of products from WPMUdev are nice with a lot of eye-candy… a lot has to be said about their support and their pricing structure. It is expensive plus the minute you cancel your subscription you will lose access to most API features of a lot of their plugins making them unusable.

    May I also mention that their advertisements when you install their child plugin on every site are appalling. I ended up canceling my subscription after a month or two, their Facebook review are increasing in negative responses. That’s just my 2 cents, thanks for your review but you can get similar results from many other similar plugins.

    Reply
  5. Jon Cooper

    Is a WPMUDEV membership still required to get the Pro version of Hummingbird, Alex? That price point of 49.00/mo or $588.00 per year always seemed cost prohibitive to me for freelancers and solo entrepreneurs even though I like Hummingbird a lot.

    Reply
    • Cory Jenkins

      Hi Jon, yes that cost includes unlimited installs of all their plugins plus their support team will assist with literally any CSS or coding question as long as you are a member. When you compare this to WPRocket, which is $199 for unlimited and you only receive 1 plugin, the cost is justified.

    • Joshua

      Thanks for the awesome review guys! Also worth noting Hummingbird (with the complete cache feature) is completely free on WordPress.org. 🙂 https://wordpress.org/plugins/hummingbird-performance/

      As Cory mentioned it is for unlimited sites and includes Smush and a lot of other awesome stuff.

  6. Simplebutcreative Media

    I was an autoptimize user. It gave me great results and I can tell the difference BUT it gave me issues with Divi. Some of my customization weren’t rendering properly. Autoptimize works great with a basic Divi design. The heavier the customization the more likely it won’t fully render. That’s my normal description.

    Reply
    • Alex Vojacek

      Autoptimize works very good in most cases but will need an experienced user where Hummingbird Pro is safer than Autoptimize + Wp supercache. Autoptimize requires some fine tuning as enabling the wrong option could potentially even break your hosting as Autoptimize has some very aggresive optimizations and some of them could create thousands of static files. I’ve written a blog post about how to properly configure autoptimize, maybe I could write a post here about this.

  7. Simplebutcreative Media

    I’ve never considered combining Autoptimize with WP Super Cache. Thought they would conflict each other too much. Can you link your Autoptimize post here…Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Fabio Fava

    WP Rocket is by far the simpliest and best cache plugin for WordPress. It’s a premium plugin but totally worths!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Receive notifications about our new blog posts.