I recently got an email from my hosting company about one of the sites I run. It seems that it suddenly started hogging all the CPU resources (it’s on a shared hosting account), so they had to temporarily take it offline. After a lot of back and forth and investigating, we found that the culprit was the W3 Total Cache Plugin, which I’ve used for years on a number of sites, and had – up to now – a really great experience with it.
Since I knew what the cause was, it was time to get rid of the offending plugin. However, I discovered that W3 Total Cache isn’t removed by simply deactivating and deleting it. To completely remove W3 Total Cache, you need to follow a multiple step process. Since I ran into this problem, I figured I’d write out the steps for anyone else who needs to remove W3 Super Cache.
This tutorial assumes you have a WordPress site setup and you’re using the W3 Total Cache plugin. You’ll need admin access to the WordPress site, as well as FTP access to the web server.
Estimated Completion Time: < 15 Minutes
Turn Off All Caching, Minifying, Etc.
Sign into WordPress, and browse to the W3 Total Cache settings page, which you can find at Performance > General Settings in the left-hand toolbar.
Scroll down the page and disable all the caching, minifying, and miscellaneous options. Simply remove the check from the “Enable” check box every time you see it.
At the bottom of the page, click “Save All Settings”
Deactivate and Delete the Plugin
Once everything is turned off, go to your plugins page, which you can find at Plugins > Installed Plugins.
Find W3 Total Cache and click the “Deactivate” button.
Once the Plugin has been deactivated it will be grayed out. You should see the “Delete” option available. Click that to remove the folder from your plugin directory.
Remove Files from Webserver
And here is where the uninstall is a little different from most plugins. Fire up your favorite FTP program and log into your site. Browse to the “wp-content” directory, and look for the following files:
Don’t worry if you don’t see all of them; they don’t seem to be on every install.
Before you remove them, I would recommend backing them up somewhere, just in case. They should be completely safe to delete, but I always like to create a backup before I make and changes to a live site.
Once you’ve backed up the files locally, delete them.
In the same folder, look for these two directories:
Back them up, just in case, then delete.
Finally, you’ll want to check your .htaccess file to see if it has an W3 Total Cache rules still configured after the uninstall. If you find some here, create a backup of .htaccess. This is a very important file, and you want to be able to restore is, just in case something goes wrong.
Once you have a backup, remove the W3 Total Cache rules, and upload the updated file to your server.
Optional Step: Turn Off WP-Cache in WP-Config.php
This final step is completely optional, and you’ll only want to do it if you aren’t planning to use another caching tool, like WP Super Cache.
Again, you will most likely skip this step.
Go up to the root of your WordPress install and find “wp-config.php”. This is another very important file, so make a backup.
Once you’ve got a back up, edit it, and look for “define (WP_CACHE’, true);”. Change the “true” to “false”, save, and upload.
That’s it, W3 Total Cache is now gone.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that W3 Total Cache is necessarily a bad plugin. I used it quite successfully for a number of years (I even recommended it a while back). However, I ran into an issue with it on one of my sites, and needed to remove it. So think of this as a how-to, not an indictment of W3 Total Cache.
As an alternative, I’m now using WP Super Cache, which seems to be working quite well.
In this tutorial, we covered the follow:
- Turning of Caching, Minifying, Etc.
- Disabling and Deleting W3 Total Cache
- Clearing Files from the Server
- Check .htaccess
- Turn of WP-Cache in WP-Config (Optional)
Any questions? Don’t be shy.