Swift Performance vs WP Rocket – WordPress Cache Plugin Comparison

Swift Performance easily beats WP Rocket for me. (UPDATED 2019)

It’s faster, just as easy to use (although requiring a few extra clicks to setup), has more features, and performs better on a wider range of servers. WP Rocket is no slouch, it was the WordPress caching champion for several years!

Let’s do some deeper comparisons!

 

1. Speed

This is the criteria that matters that most for many people. They care about max speeds and nothing else. No doubt about it, Swift is faster for me. (Check my WordPress cache plugin reviews for more details.) But faster in what sense?

  • Swift had faster speed scores using test sites like Pingdom, GTmetrix, etc.
  • Swift was faster via eye test, clicking around and judging with my own eyes.

Winner – SWIFT!

 

2. Ease-of-Use

This is another important area. We can’t enjoy the cache plugin if it doesn’t work right away and/or breaks our pages! Older cache plugins like W3 Total Cache (W3TC) were a pain to set up and seemed to require a secret configuration for every server/site. WP Rocket wasn’t the first to make setting up caching truly simple, but it was the first easy-to-use FULL-FEATURED cache plugin. You turn it on and it works, that’s it. No wasting time trying to figure out the right settings. And if you want, there are still some nice granular options to play with. It does everything in a super friendly way and gives you features/options without overwhelming you.

Swift is only SLIGHTLY less easy-to-use than WP Rocket. It’s still easy to use but requires a few extra clicks. When you first install it, there’s a wizard asking you questions to help you decide what settings to use and from there, it sets everything else up. The panel is still super simple but not as colorful and fancy like WP Rocket. I think if you’re a beginner or non-techie, WP Rocket will be more appealing. If you’re a tech-savvy user, you will prefer Swift’s simpler panels with more options to choose from. Those in between may vary.

  • WP Rocket is easier to use for beginners, simple panels and beautiful explanations on each setting.
  • Swift is easier to use for expert users, but still easy for beginners. Clean organization of features and descriptions. Also a helpful setup wizard.

Winner – WP ROCKET!

 

3. Features

Both are at the top of the caching world, with plenty of optimization features outside of just caching. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to do decide what features you care about more and score this yourself. I, however, will score it according to my own tastes (Swift has more):

  • CSS/JSS optimization (merge, minify, defer, remove query strings) – BOTH
  • Minification (html/CSS/JS) – BOTH
  • Pre-caching – BOTH (Swift more robust)
  • Browser caching – BOTH
  • Remove query strings – BOTH
  • E-commerce compatible – BOTH
  • Google font/DNS prefetch – BOTH
  • Image optimization (lazy load, compression) – BOTH
  • CDN support – BOTH
  • Cached items table/log – SWIFT (big one for me)
  • Multiple cache logic – SWIFT
  • Database optimization – BOTH
  • Object caching – ROCKET (but I don’t think it’s robust)
  • WooCommerce compatibility – BOTH (I think Swift is better)
  • Dynamic Caching – SWIFT

One important distinction to make is that even when Swift and Rocket shared the same features, Swift often had more options available for the feature. If you’re like me and love having more options, you’ll prefer Swift. Those not knowledgeable in server terminology or want a “simpler” plugin will prefer Rocket.

Winner – SWIFT!

 

4. Conflict Resolution

This is a major area of concern especially when comparing full-featured plugins. They’re often so aggressive with your website optimization that they end up breaking your site or causing FOUC/FOUT issues (unstyled content/test). When it comes to caching, and especially aggressive caching, you’re bound to break your site at some point. In this case…how easy is it to get your site running again?

Some plugins make you delete the cache, restore your htaccess file, maybe even re-install the plugin manually through FTP—what a pain! The best ones allow you to still get into your admin dashboard area and make changes. There should be an easy way to dial back certain settings to resolve CSS/JS conflicts. In this regard, Rocket was definitely easier. It felt more natural to uncheck things and retry the front end again. Swift on the other hand left you wandering around wondering which things to uncheck.

Winner – ROCKET!

 

5. Server Compatibility

I’ve tried both plugins in Apache, LiteSpeed, and NGINX servers. Swift is more compatible, and performs better on more servers off the bat. Rocket was fantastic on Apache, a step slower on LiteSpeed, and then much slower on NGINX.

Winner – SWIFT!

 

6. Price

While cost shouldn’t be an issue for serious website owners who are already monetizing with their sites, it certainly is the case for people looking for free options for their personal sites or those who manage their client sites. In this area, Swift wins easily. Not only is their free version faster than Rocket, their paid version is also cheaper than Rocket’s pricing (don’t know how long that’ll last). It’s an emphatic win for Swift.

Winner – SWIFT!

 

7. Support

WP Rocket is a paid plugin with premium support and been around for a while whereas Swift just got started and is getting off the ground. If you’re an expert user, you won’t need support at since you can figure things out yourself. If you’re a newbie user, you may prefer a plugin company that has someone more readily available to diagnose issues and recommend settings for your site. Rocket’s support is not only more established but also faster.

With that said, Swift still has incredible support and despite that rapid growth in the recent months, have done well to answer support tickets, reply to forums, and reply to their Facebook group. They too can help you figure out your site but it takes a little longer. Personally, I would recommend everyone to try Swift Performance Lite for free first. Any problems, ask for support. If it works, upgrade to the paid version and if they don’t like it…go to WP Rocket.

Winner – ROCKET!

 

8. Technical Details & Drawbacks

No comparison is fair without speaking about their shortcomings. I do my best to list things I don’t like about each one.

Great details:

  • Both Rocket & Swift uninstalls cleanly returning your site to normal, undoing all their htaccess/wp-config edits and removing their cache files/settings.
  • Swift has incredible warm-up table – essential for figuring out why caching doesn’t work. Many cache plugins lack this ingenious feature!
  • Swift works much better than WP Rocket for NGINX servers.
  • Rocket has incredible documentation.
  • Rocket has modular plugin extensions. So you don’t have all features installed (unnecessary for most people).

Things to improve:

  • Swift has an aggressive pre-caching function (great for ultra-fast speeds) but can hog CPU resources if you don’t know how to configure it properly.
  • Swift leaves advanced settings out in the open (without enough explanation), allowing beginner users to break their sites.
  • Swift may require you to enter https rewrites into their custom htaccess area. Easy for me but some users didn’t know about it.
  • Rocket is easy-to-use but lack some granular features that advanced users like.
  • Rocket is slow out of the box for LiteSpeed and NGINX.
  • Rocket removed the white label option.

Winner – EVEN

 

Swift Performance beats WP Rocket

Try Swift free version first; spend 30 minutes playing with different configurations. If it works well, buy the paid version for more features. If Swift free doesn’t work after a while, you can go straight to WP Rocket.

Honestly, the only winner is us users as these 2 plugins will battle harder to bring the best performance to WordPress users. Whichever one you choose will be great no matter what. Both are great plugins, and both have users who swear by them. Both also have users that complained about broken site or issues. No caching plugin is perfect. From most reviews I’ve read, I feel Swift has always been consistently faster except when it causes some styling issues. It’s too bad because those issues could be easily resolved by disabling “Merge Scripts” and “Merge Styles”. Same goes for the people complaining about WP Rocket.

If there’s one final thing I can say…since seeing these plugins side-by-side for the past 2 years…I can tell you that I see Swift coming up with more and more new innovative features while Rocket is just now starting to copy features that Swift came up with first.

 

User comparisons between Swift & Rocket

4 thoughts on “Swift Performance vs WP Rocket – WordPress Cache Plugin Comparison

  1. Great read. Thanks to your other post here I have gotten the most out of Swift, thanks for that.

    I have compared Swift Performance with WP Rocket and WP Speed of Light. All premium versions. Swift wins. Period. Not only in tests, but to the eye.

    1. Glad to hear it worked out for you, Antal! WP Rocket and WP SOL are pretty awesome themselves as well so big credit to Swift for out-speeding them. And I do love when the eye test is faster.

  2. I wonder how Swift can be faster than WP Rocket if they use the same method to load static resources? Also WP Rocket is better than Swift in processing static resources ( minify, combine, defer ), and minified files have a smaller size with WP Rocket. When enabling those options in Swift, most of the time you will get a broken website.

    It’s a real mystery how you get better results with Swift. In all my tests with both premium versions, WP rocket wins in every segment. Even WPFC is better than Swift in most cases.

    1. Funny…my question to you would go the exact opposite way. Which website do you have that goes faster with WP Rocket/WPFC? I’d love to take a look and try my own settings on it for you to see.

      I find Swift caching mechanism and overall features are just more aggressive and faster [than WP Rocket] in general. WP Rocket ain’t bad. They were the old king for a reason but now I look at it as a noob tool. You can do far more aggressive things with Swift; granted it takes more skill to use Swift.

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