W3 Total Cache (W3TC) is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress sites. It works out of the box by caching every element in your WordPress installation and helps speed up your website. But this only happens if you configure the settings correctly, otherwise it could do more harm than good. Additionally, websites hosted on shared hosting platforms should be careful to enable many options to avoid account termination.

How to completely uninstall and delete the W3 Total Cache plugin?

Whatever the reason, if W3 Total Cache doesn’t work for you, the removal process isn’t as simple as you might think. In this article, we will explain how to completely uninstall remove the W3 Total Cache plugin from your WordPress installation.

How to completely remove W3 Total Cache plugin?

Here are the steps to follow:

clear all cache

Disable and remove plugins

Check your .htaccess file

delete cache folder

Delete the W3tc configuration folder

delete the upgrade folder

Delete the object-cache.php insert file

Clear cache from CDN server

1. Clear cache

The first thing you should do before removing any cache plugins is to clear the cache files. For W3 Total Cache, go to the “Performance” menu on the top bar and click the “Purge Everything” option.

Keep in mind that this clear all content will not remove any cached content from the server.

2. Deactivating and removing plugins

Similar to removing any other plugin, simply “deactivate” the plugin under “Plugins > Installed Plugins”. Once deactivated, then click “Remove” to remove the plugins folder from the “/wp-content/plugins/” folder.

How to completely uninstall and delete the W3 Total Cache plugin?

3. Check the .htaccess file

The W3TC will create a number of directives in the .htaccess file to control caching behavior. Each section will begin and end with comments like “#BEGIN W3TC Page Cache core” and “#END W3TC Page Cache core”.

Make sure there are no residual entries in your .htaccess file after removing the plugin.

delete other directories

W3TC has created many other directories under the “/wp-content/” folder as shown below. You should delete all these directories and subdirectories to clean up. We will explain this in other parts of this article.

4. Delete the cache folder

The W3TC will create a “Cache” folder under “/wp-content/” and store all cached content for your website. The content here depends on the enabled settings. A directory is created here for each enabled cache type. For example, enabling page caching, database caching, and object caching will create three different folders and store content separately.

Depending on the size of your website, you will see a large number of subdirectories within each folder. In a shared hosting environment, this would result in a violation of the terms limiting the number of files and directories. Deleting these cached contents is also not an easy task due to the large number of files.

Related reading: Exclude pages and directories in W3TC?

5. Delete the W3TC configuration folder

The plugin stores all saved configuration settings outside the “/wp-content/plugins/W3TC” directory. This will help the plugin restore settings when removed and installed again. When you decide to get rid of the plugin completely, delete the folder “/wp-content/w3tc-config”.

6. Delete the upgrade folder

The W3TC also created an “Upgrade” folder under the “/wp-content/” directory. We believe this folder is used to hold settings related to upgraded premium versions. Make sure to delete this folder as well.

7. Delete cache files from CDN

In addition to deleting all related files, if you use a CDN, make sure to clear the cached content from the CDN. This is required when you enable the minimize option in W3TC settings. You should remove the compressed and combined scripts and CSS files from the CDN server to avoid the site breaking on browsers.

8. Delete the object-cache.php file

It doesn’t end there. The W3TC has also added a “drop-in” plugin to its object cache. The file name is “object-cache.php” and can be found under the “/wp-content/” folder. We also recommend deleting this file. When you install another cache plugin, they will most likely create this “drop-in” again.

Summary

As mentioned earlier, installing the W3TC plugin on your WordPress site is easy. But removing it from the admin panel is not easy. You should use FTP to access the backend server to delete the file completely. This is the same situation with many caching and security plugins. At least one good thing is that W3TC doesn’t create any MySQL database tables. So, be aware of this fact before trying to install unnecessary plugins on your website. You can also check out other caching plugins available to choose the best one for your site.

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