My updated review of the NitroPack service.
- What’s changed?
- Do I still feel the same way I did before?
- Who do I recommend it for?
So that you understand the context, please read my original: NitroPack – cloud caching and CDN service review
What is NitroPack?
A caching plugin that integrates with their cloud-caching service. What is cloud-caching (aka “edge-caching”)? For those who don’t know…traditional cache plugins store the cache on the web server. Cloud-caching takes it a step further by storing your cache pages at the edge. There’s a few reasons why this might be considered “better”.
- Because the cached pages are now mirrored across multiple CDN servers and can be delivered more quickly to users from a local mirror. (This is especially helpful when the origin web server is far away.)
- Because the cache plugin developer can now charge more money for a “service” instead of just a “plugin”. Also charge money based on usage tier….whereas traditional cache plugins weren’t able to do that.
- Because the cache plugin developer can more easily integrate with other cloud-based optimization features….such as static CDN for images, CSS, JS, etc.
So is cloud-caching really better than traditional page-caching?
As with everything, it really depends. Depends on the caching configuration…how well it’s matched to the site, its needs and its traffic. Not all caching is created equal. And even with the same caching, not all configurations produce equal results. Even though tools are getting easier to use and almost becoming “automated”…it still requires skill.
Last but not least…COST FUCKEN MATTERS. And this part alone is why I always felt NitroPack was silly. The cost of NitroPack could easily get you a better server where you wouldn’t even need it.
So why is NitroPack so popular?
To be honest…it’s because it does a good job. It very easily speeds up sites with very minimal effort (or technical skill required), and produces better page scores on GTmetrix, Core Web Vitals, etc.
It’s really one-click touch and go. You don’t have to read instructions or Google search for guides online for “best cache configurations” and read dozens of arguing comments back and forth about which optimizations methods are necessary or not.
You could be a bonehead monkey, click one button, and immediately show off to your client how much faster you made their site.
Things NitroPack has changed/updated:
This is really the whole point of this quick update review anyway:
- New dashboard – I’m not a fan. Maybe I’m forgetting but I feel like the old one was better. Cleaner, clearer, easier to understand and find things. This new one feels more modern and flashy but I hate the ambiguous icon menu at the top-middle.
- Revamped optimization algorithm – maybe they changed something. Before…I felt like you had to choose the highest optimization option to get the best scores. Now I feel the middle optimization setting gets you better page scores.
- Manual mode – this is cool. I don’t remember seeing this before. You can granularly decide which optimizations to enable or not. I’m definitely liking this. Although I feel anybody who knows what options to pick would probably be better off saving their money and just using a server-based cache plugin.
- Fixed FOUC – I felt they used to have more FOUC issues before and that part seems much smoother now. Cheers to them improving this. This was one of my big complaints before.
- Preload pricing – I felt like they didn’t use to charge for this before. Like before, the preload was more aggressive and free. And then their preload got much less aggressive and slow (like the service got a little worse). But now it seems their preload is back to being aggressive BUT they charge for it.
Overall, I do feel NitroPack has improved.
So does WPJohnny like NitroPack now?
NO! I still don’t like it for the same reasons listed in my (original) Nitropack review:
- too expensive (better server/hosting costs less than NitroPack)
- too automated (doesn’t fit all sites)
- too much focus on page scores (which I never care for…but admittedly many clients do)
- still really ugly FOUC, and my god is it horrible on mobile
What about my clients? How do they like NitroPack? I’d say only my most unskilled and busy clients love NitroPack. Everyone else complains it’s too expensive and unrealistically-priced once they want/need to optimize more sites. And I’d say that’s about fair. NitroPack is for busy newbies. They’re not for the guys/gals that like to learn DIY and tinker under the hood.
Which users is NitroPack best for?
- Anyone on a crap server, only a few bloated sites (instead of many), with zero knowledge of speed optimization, care (too much) about page scores, and don’t mind paying the premium.
Obviously, none of those attributes reflect me. I prefer to build a site with clean-code from the start, placed on a well-configured server, finely tuned with customized cache settings, and value human user experience over page scores. Knowing how to tune sites makes me 100 times more effective across many sites…saving lots of money.
So basically…you’re either learning how speed-optimize your WordPress site and replicating those efforts cost-efficiently across many sites…or you’re better off with something like NitroPack which can save you a ton of time and let you focus on other tasks (that hopefully make more money than what you would save on not using NitroPack).
Curious to try NitroPack?
- NitroPack.io – see the hype for yourself!
What about the comments made in this article…
…regarding the usage of NitroPack negatively impact organic rankings?
I don’t have proof of either way since I don’t like to use NitroPack personally. But they’ve gotten popular enough that if they really did affect rankings negatively, I think we’d hear of it by now.
Svilena from NitroPack here!
A big thank you for taking the time to write an update to your original article.
You’ve given a thorough review of our product and provided some much-appreciated feedback. Just wanted to make a few points about what you refer to as preload pricing – this is actually our cache warmup feature.
The Cache Warmup (CW) system is instrumental in keeping our clients’ sites optimised when cache purges occur. The system simulates visits to pages with purged cache files that in turn trigger optimisations and creation of a new cache version. This means that clients don’t have to wait for an organic visit to a page to get an optimised version – great news for UX and site visitors! I wanted to mention that the CW system is not responsible for running optimisations and it does not determine how fast the new cache versions are created.
Please note that we offer cache warmup on all our plans.
If a client purges a specific URL (through their NitroPack dashboard or automated plugin event), the CW system will simulate a visit to the page. This is the case for both Free and paid plan users.
In the event of a full purge, the CW system will simulate visits only to the pages linked to the homepage for sites on the free plan. For sites on one of our premium plans, after a full purge the CW system will simulate visits to all pages listed in the linked sitemap.xml.
Please let me know if you have any questions, as we’d love to have an open discussion.