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We love it! GET IT.

I was adding a post to a site with a third-party app and ran up on a “xml-rpc services are disabled on this site” message when I tried to post.  Odd.  I thought XML-RPC was ENABLED by default and we no longer really had the easy opportunity to shut it off.  I know I didn’t put in plugins of note to shut it off.  Checked my .htaccess – nope.  Checked my wp-config.php – nope.  Okay, what IS shutting off my XML-RPC??  Aha.  WordFence.  New update – the 5.0.1 update.  I installed this on a few sites yesterday completely unaware of this addition to the spam-fighting WordPress plugin.  Okay, so shut off the shutoff.  Things back to normal. New post ensues.  This is awesome if you don’t use the XML-RPC features of WordPress – but alas, on this particular site, I do.  I could probably put something in my .htaccess file to shoot people off into the ether that aren’t coming from my IP address, but that will wait until another day.

New Features on WordFence 5.0.1

But what ELSE is new in there?   Did a little search and ran across someone’s less than flattering opinion on the new WordFence release of their Falcon caching engine.  I think their basic take was that WordFence was bloated – sort of annoyed me.  I’m all about using only what you need to get the results you want, but in the case of WordFence, it combines a lot of functions that SHOULD be all in one for the average user.  And that’s mostly what’s out there – average users.  Anything that can goof-proof their WordPress install as much as possible is a plus.  I do have to concur to some degree though, perhaps their caching engine SHOULD be a separate release.  I digress…

There are a lot of bug-fixes and improvements – but the one of most interest?  The Falcon caching engine.  I run most of my sites with either Quick Cache or WP Super Cache thinking that it will speed up my sites.  After some quick and non-authoritative testing of just a couple of sites, including this one, I got some pretty interesting results. I used Pingdom as my basis for testing from NYC. Granted, there will exist the possibility of network congestions via this method, but it IS real-world testing.

Site 1

SiteCachingPerf GradeRequestsLoad timePage Size
Site 1WP Super Cache63864.03s1.8mb
Site 1WP Super Cache63863.62s1.8mb
Site 1Raw WP – None62884.20s1.8mb
Site 1Raw WP – None62852.56s1.8mb
Site 1Raw WP – None62873.23s1.8mb
Site 1Falcon63861.60s1.8mb
Site 1Falcon62851.62s1.8mb
Site 1Falcon62863.10s1.8mb
Site 1Falcon62861.90s1.8mb

And a second test that might be a little more telling via WebWait.com using a default of 5 loads with a 5 second between calls…

CachingAverageMedianStdDev
No Cache2.862.86.17
2-3x mode2.882.92.23
Falcon1.831.82.09
Falcon1.781.81.11
QuickCache2.932.94.22
No Cache2.862.86.17

Addendum:

So I got working on some pressing stuff and ended up popping this thing up before I had an opportunity to put my FINAL two cents in. That and while testing with WP Super Cache (which kept causing issues when I tested it). Ended up with a few white screens when I installed WP Super. Wiped it via FTP but couldn’t ever get it to kick properly. Figured it was probably a sign… Let it go.

SO, my two cents? That Falcon engine seems to perform better than the Quick Cache for darned sure. It also performed better on the less than quantifiable testing I *was* able to pull off with Super Cache before it blew up on me. The results I had from Super were on par with QuickCache – and the Falcon blew them both away – and certainly did a number on NO caching.

Learn more or GET WORDFENCE NOW!

What I *DO* want to know is, going forward, if they ARE planning on making this a viable caching engine for real life usage, when will we get setting access like cache cleaning times/conditions, showing logged in users live content or cached, et al? Perhaps it’s somewhere in the documentation but I didn’t see it. Much as I love nice simple “turn it on and it works” functionality, caching plugins have the potential to do some really problematic things. Customers calling and asking WHY their facebook feed hasn’t updated (this week) for example. I don’t know what I’ll tell them.

WordFence will need to provide (I believe) access to these kinds of settings to make it truly viable as a caching for all plugin. Right now, I’m using it on ONLY my own sites and not client sites as I really don’t know the answers to the above questions. Until I do, I’ll keep it where it won’t cause issues! Though I *DO* love that Falcon SPEED!

Verdict:

Use it for your own site until they start implementing some of the other changes above.  I know the changes will come and likely quickly.

One MORE Addendum (4/9/2014):

Took the opportunity to test the XML-RPC thing with both of my favorite WordPress network management tools – MainWP and InfiniteWP – and as I thought, but have now verified, they both work great with XML-RPC blocked.