6 best image optimization plugins for WordPress

6 best image optimization plugins for WordPress

Image optimization plugins. When it comes to site speed, image optimization has never been more important than it is now. That’s because images continue to be the biggest resource on the web, but also because of the growing number of people using mobile devices. And as we all know, mobile devices are often not as fast or well connected as the laptop on your desk.

If you also consider that 1 in 4 websites worldwide uses WordPress (yes, that’s 25% + market-share), you will realize why WP image optimization plugins are as important as So: they can be used to optimize 25% of the web. Quite a mission!

Now, I’ve spent a day testing all the WP image optimization plugins I could find and making a list with them to save you a day and make decisions faster.

Please note that I have only included in this list those plugins that can perform “cloud” optimization. There are also plugins that can do the optimization on the server where the WP site is hosted but I don’t like them because you (usually) need to install additional software and they can significantly load your system. That’s especially bad for shared hosting.

Here’s a shortlist, sorted alphabetically, with them all so you can see them all at a glance:

  • EWWW
  • crack
  • Optimus
  • ShortPixel
  • TinyPNG
  • WP Smush

Now let’s take a look at them one by one and see what happens to them:

EWWW

6 best image optimization plugins for WordPress

6 best image optimization plugins for WordPress

I can’t test it, it doesn’t have a free plan even though it’s listed on the WP repository. Strange.

ShortPixel

Simple to use the plugin with a clean interface and useful features. You need to sign up for ShortPixel to get an API Key and start using the plugin. After signing up, you get 100 free credits/month. While it’s not as much as what TinyPNG has to offer, it’s definitely enough for a casual WP blogger. Also, this plugin only counts images that they have successfully optimized by at least 5%. Otherwise, no credit will be charged. Interesting deal.

This is the only plugin I’ve tested that offers a backup and restore solution for optimized images, so feel free to try it out.

What I feel is missing is more free credits

Plans start at $4.99/month and one-time plans are also available. You can optimize 10,000 images for $9.99, which is a good bargain, especially if you have large images.

Crack

It is a simple-to-use plugin with just a few options and a clean interface. Compared to other plugins, its optimization capacity is low. It can automatically optimize images but with no backups.

In case an image is not properly optimized, there is no easy way to restore it. If you upload multiple images at once and Auto-optimize uploads have been selected: the selected setting will take significantly longer to complete the file upload.

What I believe it lacks the most is the ability to batch process all the images with the click of a single button.

Oh, and they haven’t updated their plugin for 9 months. It makes me wonder…

Its free plan includes 50MB/month and their paid plan starts at $9/month. There is no option for a one-time payment.

TinyPNG

What I like about TinyPNG is that they have the option to optimize only certain image sizes, they offer the option to resize the original images (it can lead to big savings), and they have a free monthly plan. Rich fees (500 images/month for free).

What I don’t like is that they don’t provide a backup option, the optimization results in KB/MB (I find it a bit confusing) and only the image optimization option is lost.

While testing their plugin, I was able to notice blurry parts on some of the images. While they don’t look bad, they don’t look good to the trained eye either.

TinyPNG has a generous monthly plan of 500 images and also has the option to pay for exactly what you need. So if you only need to optimize 3500 images then you only pay for that.

The cost to optimize 10,000 images is $85, which is pretty high.

Optimus

It’s easy to test this plugin as it doesn’t require API Key to work. But in its free version, it is quite limited: you can only optimize images up to 100KB and advanced features are not available.

Even if you paid for it, you can only optimize images up to 5MB, they cannot be scaled and only the option to optimize them is lossless.

What I like most about this service is the price: they offer an unlimited plan of $19/year. While certainly not the best or versatile plugin, the price can be a good deal for someone who can live with average optimization and limited features.

WP Smush

This plugin is the ancestor of WP optimization plugins. It used to work on Yahoo’s API but they disabled it immediately and the plugin was sold to WPMU DEV. Despite being an optimized plugin with most downloads and users, it is a demo version of what the PRO plugin can do if you spend $19/month.

No API Key required to run (or just test) this plugin is great but it only optimizes files under 1MB and many if not all features are unavailable unless you pay for them. The PRO version seems to be fully featured, which is great but I haven’t had a chance to test it fully yet. I may update this post when I get a chance to do so.

Now here are 2 tables to help you look at how different plugins work.

A simple optimization test on 4 file types (an archive with files available here link to be added)

Type of service JPG PNG GIF PDF
crack 51.66% 75% 32.35% N / A
Optimus 82% 25% N / A N / A
ShortPixel 96.73% 74.93% 27.51% 88.76%
TinyPNG 98.22% 75.61% N / A N / A
WP Smush 43.5% 0% 27.2% N / A

Note:

  • TinyPNG plugin has the best optimization for PNG and JPEG but ShortPixel has come very close
  • ShortPixel is capable of optimizing most file types while being close to TinyPNG in terms of optimization power
  • Kraken works average on JPG but best on GIF optimization
  • To my surprise, WP Smush did the worst on all file types with the mention that it doesn’t even try to optimize the PNG file, it considers it “Optimized”. Really?

Features/options that I consider the most important in a simple comparison table

Service API Code Backup Bulk Lossy Free / m Maximum size Change the size
crack correct Are not Are not correct 50 MB 32 MB Are not
Optimus Pay Are not correct Are not 5 MB Are not
ShortPixel correct correct correct correct 100 correct
TinyPNG correct Are not correct Only one 500 ? correct
WP Smush Pay Are not correct Pay 1MB Pay

Note:

  • For WP Smush and Optimus, only free/demo version tested. I hope they will do better for the paid version
  • I couldn’t figure out the maximum file size limit for TinyPNG but while testing I didn’t hit it.
  • Kraken is the only plugin that doesn’t have an option for bulk optimization

To learn more about improving search performance and content engagement on your blog, be sure to check out SEO Tools as well.

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