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How to Enable Gzip Compression for Faster WordPress Sites (2021)

Last Updated on August 5th, 2021

Published on August 22nd, 2019

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The internet has evolved into a massive, thriving lifeline for social networking, e-commerce, entertainment, games, information, education, and a slew of other uses. Everything has become a part of the internet world, from where to buy shoes to watching a favorite movie. People expect websites they visit to respond quickly; delays are unacceptable.

As a WordPress site owner, you’ll have to experiment with a variety of ways to ensure fast page load times. To be competitive, you’ll need to make decreasing page load times a top priority so you can provide visitors, leads, and customers what they want when they want it. Using GZIP compression on your WordPress site is one of the most popular ways advocated by professionals.

Enable Gzip compression to minimize page size and reduce the number of resources that must be downloaded from the webserver. The page would load faster in the browser, and the client would have to consume fewer data. 

Google promotes this easy technique since it increases site performance. In this article, I’ll explain what GZIP compression is, how it works on the web, and how you can use it to optimize your website. But first, let’s take a step back and look at file compression as a notion. 

What is Gzip Compression?

Compression is the process of reducing the size of data in order to preserve storage space or speed up data transit. Gzip is most commonly used on the server end to compress web pages for decompression in the browser. The format is widely used to compress streaming media. gzip is a compression algorithm that can be used to concatenate and compress many streams at the same time. It is typically used to compress individual files. As a result, a GZIP compressed file is smaller than the original, allowing the browser to render its contents faster. 

Furthermore, Google recommends compressing files with GZIP since it improves the efficiency of all text-based CSS, JavaScript, and HTML assets. But, more crucially, all modern browsers, not only Google, support this compression method. However, the server should be set up to support GZIP compression, and some CDNs may require some more attention.

How does Gzip work?

Let’s go over a few things to help you understand how this data compression works.

  1. When a server receives a web page request, it examines the header to see if the browser supports gzip compression. 
  2. If this is the case, the server generates the page’s markup before applying gzip compression. 
  3. Gzip compresses the markup and sends it to the end-user as a compressed data stream. 
  4. When the compressed stream is received by the end-user, their browser decompresses it.

When should Gzip compression be used? 

When you initially make your website public, you should enable GZIP compression. If you haven’t already, you should think about GZIP compression when your website starts to load slowly or when you’re optimizing it. 

If you’re not sure if your website is GZIP-enabled, use the Google developer/inspection tool to find out. Open your webpage in Google Chrome first. Right-click anywhere on the page and select Inspect to access the developer tool. Then, in the top bar, go to Network and click Ctrl/Cmd+R to refresh the page. 

Check the content-encoding status under Response Headers.

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Why Enable Gzip Compression in Your WordPress Site?

Raw data takes longer to download, slowing down your page load time. If multiple visitors visit your WordPress site at the same time, it will slow down even more. 

A WordPress website must have a fast page load time. To guarantee that your website runs well, you will need to experiment with various optimization tactics. Because enabling GZIP compression is quite simple, most website owners ensure that it is done.

GZIP may appear to be an extremely sophisticated and difficult acronym. Fortunately, there are numerous WordPress plugins that make adding GZIP compression to your WordPress website extremely simple. 

Your WordPress hosting company may already have GZIP enabled in some circumstances.

Is Gzip lossy or lossless?

For compressing text data in webpages, GZIP compression is the de-facto lossless compression method. 

Lossless compression is a type of data compression that allows the compressed data to be perfectly reconstructed from the original. Lossless compression techniques can be reversed. GZIP, Brotli, WebP, and PNG are examples of lossless compression. 

Lossy compression, on the other hand, makes irreversible compression by using inexact approximations by discarding some data from the original file.

How to Check if Gzip Compression is Enabled?

Google Chrome Developer Tools 

You can check if Gzip Compression is enabled by using other tools and the procedures below, you may verify that gzip is enabled.

You can easily verify if GZIP is enabled on your website if you use Google Chrome.

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Steps to Check if Gzip compression is enabled

  • In Google Chrome, go to your web page. 
  • The DevTools will launch in Chrome if you press the F12 key. 
  • Refresh the page after selecting the ‘Network’ tab. 
  • Look for a ‘Name’ that is similar to your website’s name. If you’re having trouble finding the right file, sort by ‘Waterfall,’ and the file will appear at the top or bottom of the list. 
  • Select headers by double-clicking the file. 
  • Look for the ‘Connection-Encoding’ column under ‘Response headers,’ which will say gzip if it is enabled. 

SmallSEOTools

Using an online tool is the easiest way to check if file compression is enabled on your website.

Perform an online GZIP test to look into the compressed files on your web server. The compression checker tool has been developed by a highly skilled team to meet the needs of our users. You might have never stumbled upon such a swift online utility of compression check tool.

Small SEO Tools have always been at the forefront of providing users with services that go above and beyond their expectations. We are always working hard to give the best SEO and other web-related services to our customers. You’ll be surprised to learn that the GZIP Compression Test Tool can assist you in identifying a server-side flaw. It will show you which files are compressed and which are uncompressed on your server. It will help you to correct such files, allowing your site to load faster.

Steps to Check if Gzip compression is enabled

  • Visit the smallSEOtools website for more information. 
  • In the provided field, type your domain’s URL. 
  • Now press the “Compression Check” button. 
  • Gzip compression should be checked. 
  • Voila! In a matter of seconds, the web tool will run a GZIP test and present information about compressed and uncompressed files.

How to Enable Gzip Compression

To ensure that certain resources such as HTML, JavaScript, and CSS are served in a compressed format, you must activate GZIP compression. This will ensure that your website’s web pages load quickly. Large files that have not been compressed might have a major impact on page load times on your site. 

You can use some of the common steps given by professionals to enable GZIP compression. Here are a few examples:

Enable Gzip Compression with a Plugin

Aside from GZIP compression, WordPress has a plugin for almost every purpose. Here are a few plugins that complete the task.

W3 Total Cache 

gzip compression by plugin - W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is the most comprehensive and fastest WordPress speed optimization plugin available. W3 Total Cache enhances your site’s user experience by boosting server performance, caching every component of your site, lowering download times, and integrating with a content delivery network (CDN) in a transparent manner.

Pros

  • With minimal configuration, it achieves tremendous performance gains. 
  • Browser caching, page caching, object caching, fragment caching, and database caching are just a few of the caching techniques available. 
  • You may use practically every major CDN provider with W3 Total Cache thanks to a strong CDN integration.

Cons

  • There are a lot of options that are difficult to understand, and nothing is presented well enough within the UI.

Steps to Enable GZIP Compression

  • To use Gzip, first make sure that Browser Cache is turned on.
  • Navigate to Performance General Settings in the Dashboard. 
  • If you haven’t already done so, scroll down to the Browser Cache section and click Save All Settings. 
  • We can enable Gzip in W3 Total Cache now that Browser Cache is enabled. 
  • Navigate to Performance Browser Cache on the Dashboard and enable HTTP (gzip) compression. 
  • Click the Save All Settings button. 
  • Congratulations! Your WordPress website now uses gzip compression. W3 Total Cache will put the relevant rules in your.htaccess file after you enable Gzip.

Price

  • Pro license $ 99 per year for 1 site

Get W3 Total Cache 

WP Rocket

gzip compression - Speed Rocket

WP Rocket automatically compresses your files using GZIP compression as soon as the plugin is activated. 

Only if GZIP compression is enabled at the server level will it function. The necessary compression rules should be placed in your .htaccess file, which is located in the root directory of your site. 

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Upon its activation, WP Rocket will apply GZIP compression rules in your .htaccess file using the mod_deflate module. This process is automatic on Apache servers so if you’re using one, there’s nothing you need to do. WP Rocket automatically takes care of everything.

Pros

  • Excellent customer service and extensive documentation. 
  • Eliminate the need for many plugins to make your life easier. Everything is contained within a single user interface. 
  • New features and upgrades are added on a regular basis.

Cons

  • Many cache plugins have a free version, however, WP Rocket is exclusively available as a premium option. 
  • WP Rocket’s preload bot can cause CPU overload on some (shared) servers, therefore if this happens to you, lower or disable this parameter. 

Price

  • For one website, the price starts at $39 for a year of support and updates.

Get WP Rocket

WP Super Cache

gzip compression - W3 Super Cache

WP Super Cache is one of the most popular caching WordPress plugins, assisting thousands of websites around the world in improving their site’s optimization and performance. 

Automattic manages this fantastic WordPress plugin, which you may discover in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory. 

It generates static HTML files that are saved on your web server, just like the other caching plugins. 

The server will view the cached files instead of the hefty WordPress PHP scripts when a visitor tries to access your site.

Pros

  • The simplest and most recommended method of caching your website is simple. Because you won’t have to alter or edit any PHP files, including the.htaccess file, this way. 
  • It’s simple to add cached pages to your website.
  • Compatible with multiple websites

Cons

  • No Google Fonts optimization

Steps to Enable GZIP Compression 

  • To use WP Super Cache to enable WordPress GZIP compression, first install and activate the plugin. 
  • Then, in your dashboard, go to WP Super Cache > Advanced and tick the box labeled Compress pages to make them load faster for visitors.

Price

  • FREE

Get WP Super Cache

By manually editing your.htaccess file, you can enable GZIP compression in WordPress. 

Editing your.htaccess file is one of the most common ways to enable WordPress GZIP compression. However, this method necessitates changing the code of your website, which has the risk of breaking something. This is a highly important server file, and one incorrect transfer could result in a slew of issues. 

Make a backup of the original file before making any modifications to minimize the risk of damaging your WordPress website. Also, don’t forget to make a backup of your WordPress site! It’s time to get to work after you’ve addressed these essentials.

  • Access your website’s.htaccess file where is located in the root folder. A File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client is the best way to access this file. You have the option of editing this file directly or downloading it to your computer before making changes. 
  • Add the following code below the parts defined by the # BEGIN WordPress and # END WordPress tags after you’ve found and open.htaccess:
# Compress HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Text, XML and fonts
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/vnd.ms-fontobject
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-truetype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-font-ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/opentype
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/otf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE font/ttf
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/x-icon
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml

# Remove browser bugs (only needed for really old browsers)
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html
Header append Vary User-Agent
  • Save the file and upload it to the server for your website. To ensure that you were successful, run your website through a GZIP compression tester tool (or validate the response headers) as described above.

Windows Servers with Gzip (IIS Manager) 

You can compress both static and dynamic files when your site is hosted on a Windows server. Setting this up in the IIS manager is quite simple: 

  • Launch IIS Manager. 
  • Select the site you want to enable compression for 3. Select Compression from the drop-down menu (under IIS) 
Windows Servers with Gzip (IIS Manager)
  • Finally, turn on static compression, and you’re done! 

If you’re having trouble getting it to function, check out Microsoft’s guide on the issue.

Activate Gzip compression in WordPress

 Note: Because it relies on PHP to enable gzip compression, this option is not recommended. To enable gzip, utilize the.htaccess file in Apache or the IIS Manager on Windows servers wherever possible. 

  • You can actually enable gzip in WordPress’s control panel: 
  • Go to /wp-admin/options.php and fill out the form. 
  • Use your browser’s search function to look for the Gzip compression setting. 
  • To enable gzip compression in WordPress, change the value of this parameter from 0 to 1.

Contact Your Web Host Provider

GZIP is a technology that works on the server-side, and as such your, web host provider is in the best position to help you out with it. So reach out.

Usually, hosting providers do this from their own end without you having to click a button. However, in some cases, they will provide instructions. It all depends on the provider, but by all means, reach out. 

Note that we recommend having your host enable this feature. Other solutions should only be used if there are issues with this method.

How to Check if Gzip Compression is Working

After you’ve enabled gzip, double-check that it’s compressing your outbound files. This can be done with a variety of online tools or by inspecting HTTP response headers in a browser, such as ensuring that Gzip is listed under the Content-Encoding header in Google Chrome’s Network > Headers tab. 

Additionally, you may use cURL to inspect HTTP response headers by executing the following command:

curl -H “Accept-Encoding: gzip” -I https://sitename.com

Gzip should be listed in the Content-Encoding header of the response:

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>HTTP/1.1 200 OK</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Server: nginx</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 01:12:36 GMT</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8…</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Vary: Accept-Encoding</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

<!-- wp:paragraph -->
<p>Content-Encoding: gzip</p>
<!-- /wp:paragraph -->

Wrapping Up!

There’s little reason not to utilize gzip on your websites with nearly universal support and a quick setup method. Gzip is a simple and quick solution to boost page speed while maintaining a high-quality experience for your users.

We hope this guide aids you in safely activating Gzip compression on your website. Shoot us a question if you have any!

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A team of WordPress experts that love to test out new WordPress related software, WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.