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Ever wondered if your WordPress image compression plugin was getting you results? Or just giving you sub-par compression that provides either poor quality images or images that just weren’t small enough to make your website competitive in terms of speed?
Today’s attitude of wanting everything fast, makes boosting website speed a highly sought after asset. Page load speeds slower than 1.5 seconds are what Google considers slow. Meaning you need every advantage you can get.
Optimizing your images is one of the most significant ways you can boost your website speed. As images often take up the majority of the data downloaded when loading a page.
You may have realized this and decided to get a quick plugin to handle it for you. But did you check the before and after compression sizes for your images? Or other popular competitors?
There are many options to choose from. Probably too many that it becomes time-consuming and overwhelming to test and compare all of them. But guess what? You don’t need to do any of that, because I’ve done it all for you!
Each Tool Has Been Carefully Tested
I’ve carefully compared the before and after compression sizes of 3 different example images. Which I also used in my comparison of reducing image sizes using software tools.
These 3 different images give a variation of the different images types you’ll often come across. Such as photos, images with graphic and text. Plus, images that are a combination of these types.
Each different image was tested through the different plugin settings in both the free and paid versions. And each was then compared in a table.
The plugins covered are mostly based on popular plugins mentioned in this post. Which looked at some of the best plugins that aren’t mentioned as often from successful bloggers.
By the end of this post, you’ll know just how well each plugin compresses images on your WordPress site both at the free and paid level. So you can see and decide for yourself which is best suited to your needs.
So let’s get started!
The WordPress Image Compression Plugins
You may be thinking – Isn’t TinyPNG a website tool? Well, yes it is. But, it also has a WordPress image compression plugin that can sit on your WordPress site and convert your images exactly as the website does.
It can automatically compress new uploads or even bulk optimize all the images you have already sitting on your server. If you prefer you can also optimize individual images by using the Compress button next to the image in the list view of the Media Library.
What might have caught your eye is the Estimated Cost of the tool that sits under Media > Bulk Optimization. TinyPNG allows you to optimize 500 images free per month. Any images over this cost $0.009 each. This cost per image can drop to $0.002 but only if you compress over 10,000 images. Which is an insane amount that most users will never get close to reaching.
Important: When you upload images to your Media Library in WordPress. It also creates several other sizes for each image. Each of these size variations counts as 1 image compression! So keep this in mind and adjust the settings to not automatically compress these sizes if needed.
Kraken Image Optimizer
Kraken is a popular WordPress image compression plugin. Its advanced settings include automatically optimizing new uploads, lossless and intelligent lossy options. You can also optimize individual images through the Media Library list view. Sadly there is no option to bulk optimize any images already on your server.
Note: Whilst it might just be me having way too many tabs open. I felt like activating the Kraken plugin caused some lag spikes when activated.
Smush Image Compression & Optimisation
Smush is another popular plugin. With over 1 million active installations and highly rated it looks like an efficient and light-hearted option.
There are two options for Smush – Free and Pro. There’s a massive difference between free and pro compressions, which you’ll see below. However, there’s also a huge price gap with the Pro version costing $49 per month. This Pro subscription doesn’t just cover Smush though. It covers all the Pro versions of their plugins.
Smush allows automatic compression for new uploads, compressing individual items in the image library. As well as bulk compression of all images already hosted on your server.
The Pro version produces some of the best file size compressions, whilst the free version offers hardly any improvement in size at all. In fact, you’d be better off sticking with TinyPNG which is a solid all-rounder.
EWWW Image Optimizer
This WordPress image compression plugin EWWW is yet another popular tool. Whilst not as popular as Smush it has amazing compression capabilities and is much more affordable. If you are looking for just an image optimizer, rather than a whole host of website optimization tools.
EWWW Image Optimizer has many custom options you can set. Yet, this can make the settings screen quite daunting for most users.
Advanced settings include optimization levels for main image types, like JPG, PNG, GIF and PDF.
The free version of the plugin only allows Lossless compression. The Pro version allows optimization for Maximum Lossless, Lossy and Maximum Lossy compression. As well as bulk optimization for files already on your server. And, individual optimization from the Media Library. There’s even a CDN feature which could further boost your website speed.
Note: I recently did a comparison between IrfanView and TinyPNG for reducing image sizes. IrfanView provided superior compression and whilst it’s not automatic nor a WordPress image compression plugin. It feels like a good baseline to throw into this comparison of tools.
WordPress Image Compression Sizes Comparison
Right, so now you have an overview of the plugins. It’s time to compare how well they compress images. Here’s a quick look at the images used for testing.
Comparison of Image Sizes By Tool
Let’s have a look at the image sizes (in kb) when grouped by plugin.
|WordPress Image Compression Tool||1st Image||2nd Image||3rd Image|
|EWWW (Maximum Lossless)||42.1||111.0||183.0|
|EWWW (Maximum Lossy)||18.0||32.2||90.8|
Does anything stand out to you? For me, the free WordPress image compression plugins don’t compress anywhere close to what their paid counterparts do. The free software IrfanView is also superior to the free plugin versions.
Kraken.io despite being a paid plugin only, outside of the first 100 MB. Also doesn’t compress images as well as some of the other options here. So if you currently pay for Kraken, now might be the time to consider a switch.
You can also see from the last 2 rows of the table that the TinyPNG plugin works identically to the web-based version of it. So, if you’re a fan of this tool it’s worth considering adding the plugin to WordPress to automate and streamline some of the processes.
Just keep in mind the 500 images per month limit if you want to keep things free. Also, it’s one of the top 4 plugins when it comes to compression so you’ll get reasonable image size reductions for your trouble.
What doesn’t make sense is that the EWWW Maximum Lossy setting did not result in smaller images compared to just using its Lossy compression. It’s puzzling and I’ve sent a message to see if there’s something we can figure out.
It may just be due to the small image sample size, since images can vary so much. The Maximum Lossy algorithm might just have trouble with these images. Perhaps due to the text elements.
WordPress Image Compression Top Tools
There’s a lot of information in the above table. So let’s remove some of the worst results and have a closer look at what’s left.
|WordPress Image Compression Tool||Cost||1st Image||2nd Image||3rd Image|
$0.003 per image
$49 per month (unlimited images)
500 free images per month then $0.009 per image
Here’s the thing – EWWW using the Lossy setting overall yields the best compression.
With Smush Pro being a close second, then IrfanView then TinyPNG. They are all fairly close in compression efficiency when it comes to the 1st and 2nd image. The most significant differences are with the 3rd image (photos). Which in my opinion is probably the most common image type. Unless you like to write tutorials, that is.
But, whilst compression should be the primary focus of this comparison. The cost of these tools, the final image quality and their other features are also important. For example, whilst Smush is arguably #2 in terms of compression. The price simply sucks for just a WordPress Image compression plugin.
Whilst the Smush Pro gives you access to all their other plugins, within the same price. It’s simply expensive if you are just starting out or have a tight budget. And if all you want is an image compression tool, then it’s simply not worth it.
Image Quality Comparison
Superior compression is only as valuable as the image quality left behind. No one wants images that look like Lego. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the original images vs. EWWW’s Lossy versions.
Can you spot any differences? Do you think anyone would notice them?
|Compressed with EWWW Lossy|
|Compressed with EWWW Lossy|
|Compressed with EWWW Lossy|
One Aspect That Might Have Slipped Your Mind
Pinterest. Yes, that’s right! High-quality images are the recommendation for Pinterest pins. If you use a WordPress image compression tool, and utilize its feature to automatically compress your images on upload. Then you’ll have an issue with it converting your pins too.
The only solutions to this are either to:
- Turn off automatic compression on upload and manually compress files in the media library.
- With EWWW you could turn off compression for PNGs and make sure you upload your pins as PNG, this is probably at the cost of file size though.
- You could find an alternative place to store your pin images.
- Or you could follow my IrfanView tutorial for reducing image sizes and use specific settings for your Pinterest images.
Important: If you don’t want your pins compressing, you’ll need to be careful with bulk optimizing too!Is your #WordPress image compression letting you down? Find out with these test results. #website Click To Tweet
Still not sure what to use? Well, how about this.
Best For Compression
For the best compression and superior gains for your WordPress site speed. EWWW Lossy will offer the best results overall.
It’s affordable, with a generous image credit for starting out. The $1 sign up will give you 330 image credits and all new customers get an additional 500 credits. Plus there’s a CDN to help speed up your images even more (for a $9 monthly subscription)!
The Best Free Tool For Image Quality vs. Size
Want a free option with optimal image quality vs. compression? Then IrfanView is perfect for this.
Whilst it requires some manual processing. It’s quick and painless! In fact, you should read the detailed tutorial for reducing image sizes for how to get the best results. It may even be a preferable option if you don’t want a compression plugin messing up your beautiful pins.
Best For Compression & Automation
If you’d rather have the automation that a WordPress image compression plugin has to offer. Then TinyPNG is an excellent option.
It’s free providing you don’t process more than 500 images per month. Including all the extra image sizes WordPress creates unless you turn the compression off for them in the settings.
So there you have it. Whilst not completely straightforward due to the nature of image compression varying from image to image. This shortlists of 3 options will help get your images optimized and your website loading faster than ever. And, hopefully, will even save you some time in having to research all of these yourself!
What are you waiting for? It’s time to speed up your WordPress site with one of these plugins. You should even do a website speed test to measure the before and after effects!