Last Updated on May 23, 2022 by WP Knowledge Hub
If you are here, then it’s probably because you made some changes to your WordPress website, published them, and they are still not showing on the live site. If you are wondering how long it should take to see your WordPress changes take effect, the answer is – immediately. If your content, design or code changes don’t show up right away, it’s most likely because of a caching issue. Don’t worry, this is a common issue for WordPress beginners, and we’ll walk you through all the possible solutions.
So why is your site not updating right away?
Why WordPress Sites Don’t Always Update Instantly
As mentioned before, WordPress sites should update instantly after pressing the publish or update button, and the main reason for not updating right away is almost always caching.
These are the 4 different types of caching issues that might come into play:
- Browser caching – your browser, like Chrome, Firefox or Safari, is storing outdated information in its memory.
- Plugin caching – you have a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache installed.
- Host caching – hosting providers offer built in caching as part of their services. You might have to clear that cache.
- CDN caching – services like Cloudflare also have their own cache which might be another reason why you can’t see your changes.
If you want a better understanding of what caching is, you can read our guide about caching and caching plugins here. However, you don’t need to understand what caching is to solve these problems. You simply need to follow the troubleshooting tips.
How to Fix Browser Caching Issues
Browser caching’s goals is to speed up your website for returning visitors, and it does that by saving assets to its memory, called a cache. Instead of re-downloading these assets every time, the engineers behind the browsers have come up with a clever way to store information temporarily. This could be the issue you are having. Sometimes, when you have visited a website often (like your own, for example), your browser will save a specific version of your WordPress web page in its cache, and serve it to you over and over. In order to see your most recent changes, you will have to clear or refresh its cache.
Here is how to do that:
Visit Your Site in Incognito or Private Mode
Before you do anything, visit your page in a private window, such as Chrome’s incognito mode. You can access it through the settings, or by simply pressing Shift + CTRL + N. Incognito mode always runs without a cache, so if this is your issue, you will be able to see the changes now. In order to see the changes on your regular browser window, you will need to do one of the following things:
Do a Hard Refresh
To do this, just hit:
- CTRL + F5 on Windows
- Cmd + R on Mac
This should refresh the cache, just as if you were viewing the page in incognito mode. You can also clear your cache completely!
Clear The Browser Cache
You can clear your browser’s cache completely and wipe out all of the cached files to make sure that you download new versions of all files across your site.
Of course, we can’t go into details about every single browser, so just Google “How to clear the cache using [your browser of choice]”. You’ll typically find this in the “Settings > Privacy” options.
How to Fix Plugin Caching Issues
If you’re still not getting the results you want, you might have to clear your caching plugin’s cache. Again, this option is a bit hard to explain in detail since there are hundreds of quality, popular caching plugin options available to WordPress users all around the world. Explaining each one is outside the scope of this post, but it will always boil down to the same thing.
- Your caching plugin has one or more different type of caching activated, such as: Page caching, database caching, object caching, etc.
- You can go to your plugin’s settings and find each one of the activate caches, and find the option to “clear or empty the cache”.
- The best caching plugins typically have the option to “Empty all caches at once”.
- If you can, do this and re-check your website to see if you can see the changes now.
In almost all cases, the two steps above will solve the issue of not seeing your WordPress changes right away. But in the odd event that you still do not see your changes, press on to the next solutions.
How to Fix Host Caching Issues
Just like caching plugins, host caching works the same way. Popular hosts like WPEngine or GoDaddy offer managed WordPress hosting services with built-in caching, which mostly eliminates the need for installing third-party caching plugins.
If you have a managed WordPress hosting account, it’s quite possible you have built in caching. If you do, you need to:
- Look in the WordPress dashboard’s left sidebar for the name of you hosting provider.
- If it’s not in the dashboard sidebar, it might be in the top black bar above the site.
- Find the caching option
- Empty or clear the cache
How to Fix CDN Caching Issues
Lastly, CDN services like Cloudflare also offer caching as part of their vast cloud server networks. CDNs are a kind of “middle-man” that exists in between your domain name and your web hosting provider to act as an extra layer of security, but also to serve up your website to nearby users faster. It does this by saving copies of your website across it’s various data-centers, and so it’s only natural that some caching issues may arise from this.
If, after completing all the other steps, you still can’t see your changes, it might be that your website is being routed through a CDN, and its cache is the problem.
In order to clear the CDN cache, you will need to:
- Identify your CDN provider
- Log into the account
- Find the caching option
- Clear or empty the cache
- Wait a few minutes for it to take effect (since CDNs have data-centers all over the world, it takes a while to update everything)
If after all this, caching was not the issue, another possible reason why you might not see your changes right away might have to do with server permissions, or user permissions. If you have a membership site with many different access levels, it’s possible that your user simply might not be “allowed” to view certain things.
Outside of this, you might simply be viewing the wrong site 😛