Request a Website Audit 👈

Swift Performance vs WP Rocket 2024 (Speed Comparison)

If you buy something through a link on this page, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you.

Swift Performance vs WP Rocket - WordPress Caching Plugin Review
Swift Performance vs WP Rocket Caching Plugin Comparison

In the online world, fast websites rule the game. That quick-loading speed isn’t just a perk; it’s a big deal. If a site takes too long to load, people are outta there. Search engines also love speedy sites, bumping them up the search results ladder.

Enter Swift Performance and WP Rocket. They can be like superheroes for speeding up WordPress websites. These plugins can help make your site faster, easier to use, and more Google-friendly.

In this comparison, I’ll share my experience with Swift Performance and WP Rocket, checking out what they do and how they do it. I’ll look at their features, test their performance, and share what folks say about them. By the end, you’ll have a better idea of which one best suits your WordPress website.

Join me as I compare Swift Performance vs WP Rocket to see which one is the best caching plugin.

Must read: Best WordPress Hosting for Speed

Importance of WordPress Speed Optimisation

Optimising website speed is crucial in retaining visitors and improving conversion rates. Studies indicate that users expect websites to load within a few seconds. Slow-loading sites often experience higher bounce rates, affecting engagement and ultimately revenue. Additionally, search engines like Google prioritise faster websites in their rankings, making optimisation a vital component of any online presence. So make sure you know how to speed up WordPress sites.

What is Swift Performance?

Swift Performance is a comprehensive WordPress caching plugin designed to speed up WordPress websites.

Swift Performance has three caching plugin versions including:

  1. Swift Performance Lite
  2. Swift Performance PRO (aka Swift Performance 2)
  3. Swift Performance AI

They all include advanced caching mechanisms, file optimisation (CSS & JS), media optimisation, database optimiser, plugin optimiser, CDN integration, and various other optimisation tools.

The Pro version has a few more advanced features like preloading images and fonts, which is nice. However, it seems like the Pro version is being phased out and replaced with the AI version.

The AI version essentially provides the same features as the Pro version but the main difference is that the AI automatically configures everything for you.

What is WP Rocket?

WP Rocket is one of the most popular caching plugins. It focuses on simplifying the caching process for WordPress users. Its features include essential caching mechanisms, file optimisation, media optimisation, preload features, database optimiser, and CDN integration, among others. WP Rocket emphasises ease of use without compromising on performance, making it a go-to choice for many WordPress site owners.

Difference Between Swift Performance and WP Rocket

Both Swift Performance and WP Rocket can help speed up your website, but their approaches and features are different.

Swift Performance Lite and Swift Performance PRO are geared towards developers, WordPress speed optimisation specialists and tech-savvy WordPress website owners. Swift Performance comes with many more advanced caching and optimisation settings. However, the new Swift Performance AI version appears to be geared towards beginners and less tech-savvy users to make configuration and optimisation easier. The AI is meant to configure and optimise automatically, however, as you’ll see from my experience below, the AI version could harm instead of help your WordPress site. But, the AI version still gives you the option to configure manually if you want.

On the other hand, WP Rocket focuses on user-friendly functionality and ease of use, making it appealing to beginners and experienced users.

Both plugins have the same set of essential caching and optimisation settings. Both will help speed up your WordPress website. Swift Performance allows you to be more aggressive and fine-tuned with your optimisation though, even with the free version, but at the risk of your website breaking or causing a conflict with your theme or other plugins.

Which is Better? Swift Performance or WP Rocket?

Deciding between Swift Performance and WP Rocket depends on various factors. Considerations such as compatibility with themes/plugins, personal preferences in terms of features, and specific website goals play a crucial role. Conducting performance testing and examining ease of use and support might aid in making an informed decision.

Choose Swift Performance if:

  • You need more advanced options
  • You are on a budget >> Use Swift Performance Lite
  • You have plenty of time to thoroughly test your website

Choose WP Rocket if:

  • You are a beginner
  • You don’t have the time to thoroughly test your website
  • You want to mitigate the risk of theme and plugin conflicts
  • You don’t mind paying a little extra

Comparison Against Other Caching Plugins

All of the best caching plugins do the basics. e.g. page caching, cache preloading, etc. And caching plugins have been around for a while now and they all seem to have the same or similar optimisation features. e.g. minification, delaying scripts, preloading images and fonts, etc.

So, in mind, choosing a caching plugin should be about finding one that’s easy to use, does not cause conflicts, and comes with great support. Another great option, similar to WP Rocket, is Flying Press.

Or you could try the below free caching plugins:

How Have Swift Performance and WP Rocket Changed Over the Years?

Swift Performance was geared towards developers and WordPress speed optimisation specialists with many more advanced caching and optimisation settings. However, Swift Performance seems to be changing its target audience to less technically-minded users with its new AI version that automatically configures and optimises everything.

Swift Performance used to lead the way with new optimisation features with WP Rocket always lagging behind. Swift Performance continues to bring out new optimisation features while WP Rocket hasn’t made any big changes to their plugin for quite a while.

Swift Performance Review

Below you’ll find my review of Swift Performance including Swift Performance Lite, Swift Performance PRO and Swift Performance AI.

Swift Performance Lite Review

Swift Performance Lite was the very first caching plugin I used. I used it for a couple of years. I always loved the advanced caching, file optimisation and preloading features it provides. It was my secret weapon for speeding up WordPress websites. However, the more aggressive you get with optimisation, the more likely something will break. So even though Swift Performance Lite was great at speeding up websites, it did cause a lot of issues, which took considerable time to resolve.

So, I only recommend using Swift Performance Lite if you are tech-savvy, already optimise websites yourself, or you own a website that needs advanced optimisation features for your developer to implement. However, you could install it and only enable the most important features. e.g. page caching. But if you enable more features you might run into problems you don’t know how to fix.

Swift Performance PRO Review

My thoughts on the PRO version, also known as Swift Performance 2, are pretty much the same as my thoughts above. The main reason I purchased the PRO version in the past was because of the image optimiser. But this is now apparently available in the free version, you just need to click the button that says activate features (at least that is what it says today 21/11/23).

There are more advanced features available including image and font preloading though, which is great. However, I prefer to preload images and fonts using Perfmatters. So, I don’t see the value in Swift Performance PRO anymore. If you are going to use Swift, use the free version or the AI version (if it works).

Swift Performance AI Review

Recently Swift Performance has moved towards using AI and automating the configuration and optimisation process. They claim that their plugin is ‘easy to use’. However, I’ve personally tested their latest AI version and while it is easy to set up, it seemed to break multiple parts of my website.

Here are some of the problems I experienced:

  • The initial page load showed up broken for a split second; showing a weird bullet-point list of menu items from the WordPress Dashboard. It reminded me of similar issues I experienced with multiple websites using Swift Performance Lite and PRO a few years ago, where the initial page load would show a broken version of the page for a split second before loading. Remember the movie Fight Club? And the scene where he would stitch a ‘random’ image into movies at the cinema for a split second? Yeh, it was kinda like that. i.e. it’s quite a shock to see. But to be fair, most of the websites that had that problem were ones with bloated WordPress themes like Divi that had a higher risk of conflicting with Swift Performance settings like concatenation (outdated tactic), critical CSS, etc.
  • Once I finished waiting for the AI to complete the configuration and optimisation, I started testing my site. I was shocked when I clicked from the home page through to one of my service pages which then froze. I couldn’t click back or to a new page. It just completely froze. No good.
  • Swift Performance AI also broke my font styling. i.e. the system fonts I was using were no longer being displayed.

The above issues might not happen to you. And I’m sure many people are using Swift Performance AI that have had a better experience. But they did happen to me, which is surprising considering my website uses a lightweight, performance-focused theme with minimal features and minimal plugins, which makes it less likely to cause conflicts. This has been a common occurrence using Swift Performance over the years though, so I’m not surprised that Swift Performance AI broke my website.

Note that I could have spent an hour or so trying to figure out what the AI got wrong when it was configuring and optimising, but I felt this was going against the whole purpose of this new AI version that is meant to be easy to use, configures everything automatically, etc. So instead of troubleshooting, I simply deactivated and deleted the plugin. If this happens to you, I recommend contacting support and having them manually inspect your website and manually configuring the settings ‘under the hood’.

Overall I prefer Swift Performance Lite over Swift Performance AI. Advanced caching plugins like Swift should be configured manually, not by an AI that may or may not get it right.

Swift Performance AI - Premium WordPress Cache Plugin
Learn More
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

WP Rocket Review

Overall I’m very happy with WP Rocket. I’ve used WP Rocket for my sites and client sites for many years now.

How I use WP Rocket

This website uses WP Rocket for page caching and cache preloading. The majority of my caching is done using CloudFlare though. WP Rocket is just the backup cache in rare cases where visitors don’t get served with a cached version from my CloudFlare CDN.

I also don’t use any of the WP Rocket optimisation settings. I leave this to another plugin, which I’ll list below.

Note that WP Rocket has an option to enable their RocketCDN which serves images from BunnyCDN. I don’t recommend using this. Your website will be much faster if you use full-page HTML edge caching through CloudFlare Enterprise or Fastly. I prefer CloudFlare though.

This is my setup:

  • Hosting = Rocket.net, which uses CloudFlare Enterprise for full-page HTML edge caching (the holy grail!)
  • Caching Plugin = WP Rocket, for page caching and cache preloading as a backup cache to CloudFlare
  • Optimisation Plugin = Perf Matters, for advanced optimisations like delaying javascript until user interaction, lazy loading, using system fonts or hosting fonts locally, etc. WP Rocket has some of these features but not all. Perf Matters is a full-featured optimisation plugin with everything you need.
WP Rocket Caching Plugin
Learn More
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Caching Plugin

When choosing a caching plugin for WordPress, several factors should be taken into account to ensure it meets your website’s specific needs. Here are some considerations:

  1. Performance Impact: Look for a caching plugin that significantly improves your site’s speed without causing conflicts or negatively impacting other functionalities.
  2. Compatibility: Ensure the plugin is compatible with your WordPress version and other plugins/themes you’re using to prevent any conflicts.
  3. Ease of Use: A user-friendly interface and easy setup process can save time and prevent headaches. Consider how intuitive the plugin is for configuration and maintenance.
  4. Cache Types: Some plugins offer different types of caching (page caching, browser caching, etc.). Choose one that provides the caching methods suitable for your site’s needs.
  5. Customisation Options: The ability to tweak settings according to your site’s requirements is crucial. Look for plugins that offer customisable options without overwhelming complexity.
  6. Support and Updates: Regular updates and reliable customer support are vital. Ensure the plugin is actively maintained and supported to address any issues or compatibility concerns.
  7. Reviews and Reputation: Check reviews and ratings from other users to gauge the plugin’s reliability, performance, and user satisfaction.
  8. Cost: While many caching plugins offer free versions, premium versions often provide more advanced features and support. Consider your budget and the value offered by the premium version.
  9. Additional Features: Some caching plugins come bundled with extra features like CDN integration, image optimisation, etc. Evaluate if these additional features align with your site’s requirements.
  10. Community and Documentation: A strong user community and comprehensive documentation can be invaluable for troubleshooting and learning how to maximise the plugin’s potential.

Before deciding on a caching plugin, it’s a good practice to test it on a staging site or backup of your website to ensure it works well with your specific setup and doesn’t cause any unforeseen issues.

Comparison of Key Features

Caching

Both plugins offer page caching and browsing caching.

Swift Performance goes further by allowing you to fine-tune the caching settings to suit your website.

Some advanced settings include:

  • Caching mode: Choose between disk cache with rewrites, disk cache with PHP, and memcached with PHP
  • Cache expiry mode: Time-based or action-based
  • Warmup table rebuild speed: Reducing speed is useful for those using cheap shared hosting

Even though Swift Performance has advanced settings for caching, most users don’t need them.

I prefer the simplicity of the WP Rocket caching settings.

File Optimisation

While Swift Performance seems to have more options to optimise CSS and Javascript files, I think most of the settings aren’t needed by the majority of WordPress website owners.

For example, most WordPress websites should not be merging aka concatenating CSS and Javascript files because files can now be loaded in parallel using HTTP/2. Although some of the internet still uses the HTTP/1.1 protocol, the majority doesn’t. If you check this website using Chrome Dev Tools and the Network tab, you’ll see that the majority of my files are served using the latest HTTP/3 protocol, some using HTTP/2 and none using HTTP/1.1.

Network Protocol - HTTP2 - HTTP3 - Max Jacobs
Chrome Developer Tool > Network > Protocol

Merging your files is more likely to slow down your website, not speed it up. If you look at the file optimisation settings inside Swift Performance, you’ll notice that merging scripts and styles is a requirement to use any of their other script and style optimisations. So the file optimisation settings inside Swift Performance are quite limited when you aren’t merging files (which you should be doing).

Also, WP Rocket has a Delay Javascript Execution option, which is something the current version of Swift Performance does not have. However, they did in the past, so I’m not sure why they’ve removed it. But even if they did still have it, you had to merge scripts before you could delay scripts, which isn’t great.

Anyway, this feature will delay javascript from loading until user interaction. i.e. the scripts will load once a user starts clicking, scrolling, etc. WP Rocket also provides some preset exclusions for common plugins and the ability to manually exclude certain scripts if they can’t be delayed. This website uses Perf Matters to delay all javascript until user interaction, but it could just as easily use WP Rocket to do the exact same.

I prefer WP Rocket because of the delay javascript option. The other options can stay off.

Media Optimisation

Both caching plugins have media optimisation options including lazy loading images/iframes and adding missing image dimensions to reduced content layout shifts aka CLS.

However, the Add Missing Dimensions option is only available in the Pro version of Swift. But Swift does have a cool option to inline lazy-loaded images and other small images in the free version to reduce the number of requests. But as mentioned above, this isn’t that important considering the latest network protocols.

Even though these plugins can lazy load images, it’s not critical because WordPress has introduced native lazy loading since version 5.5. With that being said, it can help to be more aggressive with lazy loading and to tell browsers when you want them to start lazy loading. Many sites that use lazy loading actually provide a poor user experience, because images take forever to load as you scroll.

So it can be better to use a plugin like Perf Matters that has much more advanced media optimisation settings. e.g. setting images to start lazy loading 500px below the viewport. I think this is much better. i.e. to start loading images once they are a certain distance below the part of the page you are viewing. This way it doesn’t appear to lazy load and is ready to be viewed once you’ve scrolled to it. Thoughts?

One thing that Swift Performance PRO provides that WP Rocket does not is an image optimiser where images are compressed and optimised upon upload. I don’t mind because I use an image optimisation plugin called Imagify that does the same thing but with better compression.

So overall, I don’t rate the media optimisation settings of WP Rocket or Swift Performance. I leave all of this off. But if I were to use it, I prefer the simplicity of WP Rocket. The UI is so much nicer too!

Preloading

Both WP Rocket and Swift Performance have cache preloading, which is great. WP Rocket also has link preloading, which loads a page in the background after someone hovers over a link and makes it load almost instantly when clicked.

Cache preloading and link preloading are great options for static websites. These settings might cause issues though, particularly cache preloading, for dynamic websites or websites on cheap hosting.

Database Optimiser

Both plugins have options to optimise the database including removing old post revisions, drafts, trashed posts, spam comments, transients, etc.

CDN Integration

Both plugins have options to integrate Cloudflare or another CDN.

Performance Testing

Running performance tests using tools like Google Lighthouse can help uncover issues holding your site back. Google Lighthouse powers tools like GTmetrix and Google Page Speed Insights.

To compare Swift Performance vs GT Metrix, I’ve used GT Metrix for speed testing. It’s important to note that these tests only simulate a device to collect lab data, they don’t test real devices getting actual field data. Regardless, simulations and lab data can still be helpful to analyse website speed.

It’s also important to note that the Performance % and Structure % score given by GT Metrix isn’t that important. The most important metrics are the Core Web Vitals. e.g. Largest Contentful Paint, Total Blocking Time, Cumulative Layout Shift, etc.

And even more important than the scores and simulated metrics, is how fast the website feels to users.

Here are some steps I take to test website feel:

  1. Open up Google search on Chrome Incognito
  2. Search for my website home page
  3. Click through to my home page from Google and get a feel for how quickly everything loads
  4. Click through to an internal page, e.g. service page, and again get a feel for how quickly it loads
  5. Try clicking back to a previous page to see how much quicker it loads

I recommend using Chrome Incognito because you’ll see how fast your website initially loads without the browser cache.

Speed Tests Using GTmetrix

To test each caching plugin, I installed each on this website, ran 3 tests and recorded the average result.

MetricsSwift Performance Lite
LocationVancouver, Canada
BrowserChrome
ConnectionUnthrottled
Performance100%
Structure100%
TTFB (ms)101
LCP (ms)259
Fully Loaded (ms)267
Table showing GT Metrix speed test results for Swift Performance Lite.
MetricsSwift Performance PRO
LocationVancouver, Canada
BrowserChrome
ConnectionUnthrottled
Performance100%
Structure100%
TTFB (ms)83
LCP (ms)217
Fully Loaded (ms)224
Table showing GT Metrix speed test results for Swift Performance PRO.
MetricsSwift Performance AI
LocationVancouver, Canada
BrowserChrome
ConnectionUnthrottled
Performance100%
Structure94%
TTFB (ms)51
LCP (ms)198
Fully Loaded (ms)207
Table showing GT Metrix speed test results for Swift Performance AI.
MetricsWP Rocket
LocationVancouver, Canada
BrowserChrome
ConnectionUnthrottled
Performance100%
Structure100%
TTFB (ms)79
LCP (ms)263
Fully Loaded (ms)315
Table showing GT Metrix speed test results for WP Rocket.

Swift Performance Speed Test Screenshots

Below you’ll find screenshots from the third test of each caching plugin. The third test was often the fastest load.

Swift Performance Lite Speed Test - GTmetrix
Swift Performance Lite Speed Test
Swift Performance PRO Speed Test - GTmetrix
Swift Performance Pro Speed Test
Swift Performance AI Speed Test - GTmetrix
Swift Performance AI Speed Test

WP Rocket Speed Test Screenshots

Below you’ll find a screenshot of the third test I did with WP Rocket installed on this website.

WP Rocket Speed Test - GTmetrix
WP Rocket Speed Test

Feel Tests & Overall Thoughts

I believe the website felt fastest with WP Rocket. It loads almost instantly when clicking through from Google. And all internal pages load almost instantly too, especially if browsing slowly by hovering over links for a split second before clicking instead of clicking through pages like a madman.

Note that this website feels that way because I have 3 important levels of caching. The first and most important is full-page HTML edge caching done by CloudFlare. When someone lands on my website, I want it served from here. This is like my server cache. If for some reason it isn’t served from there, then my second cache level is through WP Rocket’s preloaded page cache. And thirdly, I have preload links enabled so internal pages load instantly when hovered over before clicking.

However, the above is not to say Swift Performance Lite and Pro didn’t feel fast. They did. They just didn’t feel snappy quick like WP Rocket. Instead, it felt like there was this split-second lag.

As you know from my Swift Performance AI review above, the AI version broke my website in multiple ways. Weird loading, broken fonts and frozen pages aside, the website did not load quickly at all. If anything, the initial load felt 5x slower. Obviously, the frozen page prevented loading other pages too. But, as you probably noticed from my GT Metrix speed tests, the fastest load times were from Swift Performance AI. This just proves that speed scores and lab results like core web vitals tests aren’t as important as user testing.

With that being said, I think it would be possible to fine-tune Swift Performance Lite, Pro and even AI to load (by feel) as quickly as WP Rocket. It would just take time though.

So, unless you need a specific advanced setting from Swift Performance, I recommend using WP Rocket instead. You’ll have far fewer issues and your website will feel faster out of the box.

Ease of Use

As you know by now, Swift Performance offers in-depth configurations, ideal for experienced users, while WP Rocket stands out for its user-friendly interface catering to both beginners and experts.

WP Rocket is much easier to use than Swift Performance. Their UI is also really nice to look at. Even their website design makes you feel safe like their plugin isn’t going to break your website.

Compatibility

I’ve never had a compatibility issue with WP Rocket. In fact, my hosting provider recommends using WP Rocket because it’s so compatible.

Unfortunately, Swift Performance has a low level of compatibility with hosting providers, themes and plugins. But this is to be expected with all of their advanced settings. It’s the price you pay to be able to fine-tune everything.

Support

Both WP Rocket and Swift Performance provide great support. Just as good as each other.

Pricing

Swift Performance Lite = Free

Swift Performance AI (and PRO) = $49.99/year

WP Rocket = $59/year

User Reviews and Testimonials

Swift Performance has the following ratings:

  • Swift Performance Lite = 3.6/5 from 119 reviews on WordPress.org
  • Swift Performance PRO = 3.5/5 from 13 reviews on Trust Pilot

WP Rocket has the following ratings:

  • 4.8/5 from 2005 reviews on Trust Pilot
  • 4.2/5 from 42 reviews on G2

Swift Performance seems to have a lot of negative reviews. Most of them seem to share a similar experience to me where the plugin breaks your website. Most of Swift’s reviews on on WordPress.org where you can download their plugin. They received an average rating of 3.6/5 from 119 reviews.

WP Rocket has mostly really good reviews with an average rating of 4.8/5 from over 2000 reviews. Most of the negative reviews appear to be from people not happy with their RocketCDN integration. If I used this, I also wouldn’t be happy as it would just slow down my website. It’s much better to use a CDN with full-page caching.

Pros, Cons & Use Cases

Swift Performance Pros:

  • Advanced optimisation settings
  • AI version that is meant to automatically configure optimal settings

Swift Performance Cons:

  • Advanced settings are likely to break your website if you don’t know what you are doing
  • AI version can’t be trusted to configure optimal settings
  • Lots of bad reviews

Use Swift Performance IF:

  • You need advanced settings not available in WP Rocket
  • You are on a budget >> Use Swift Performance Lite
  • You have plenty of time to thoroughly test your website
Swift Performance AI - Premium WordPress Cache Plugin
Learn More
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

WP Rocket Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Streamlined setup
  • Performance without the worry of something breaking

WP Rocket Cons:

  • RocketCDN is not worth using

Use WP Rocket IF:

  • You prioritise ease of use and want a reliable caching plugin that offers performance improvements without requiring in-depth technical knowledge
  • You are a beginner
  • You don’t have the time to thoroughly test your website
  • You want to mitigate the risk of theme and plugin conflicts
  • You don’t mind paying a little extra
WP Rocket Caching Plugin
Learn More
I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Recommendation

Both Swift Performance and WP Rocket can help increase website speed and performance. Swift Performance is geared towards users seeking advanced caching and optimisation settings, while WP Rocket prioritises simplicity and efficiency. The choice ultimately depends on your website’s specific needs, your level of expertise, and preferences in features and usability.

With that being said, for 99% of people, I recommend using WP Rocket.

Max Jacobs - Author - www.maxjacobs.com.au
Author
Max Jacobs

My name is Max Jacobs and I’m a Web Designer, SEO and Marketing Consultant based out of Geelong, Australia. Visit my about page.

Recommendations are based on my experience building, optimising and maintaining WordPress websites over the last 7 years. However, I don't claim to be an expert or pretend that I know everything. The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know. I'll update these articles as I continue to learn though!

2 thoughts on “Swift Performance vs WP Rocket 2024 (Speed Comparison)”

  1. Hi Ibrahim, thanks for the comment. I’ve sent you an email. Looking forward to helping you.

Leave a comment