I’ve been using WP Smush.it on my sites for a year or two now, and it’s an excellent way of losslessly compressing all of your images when you upload, so that you can reduce your page size (and thus, your load speed etc.). However, in the past few months, I’ve noticed that it hasn’t been playing nicely with upgrades of WordPress, so I set about finding a replacement.
What I found was a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer, which not only worked reliably, but had other advantages over WP Smush.it that I hadn’t even considered before.
First and foremost, I should mention what EWWW Image Optimizer and WP Smush.it are, for the uninitiated. These plugins are image optimisers, that take the images you upload to WordPress and compress them, so that the image files are smaller, but they do it without impacting the quality of the image. So it looks exactly the same, but it’s smaller. This has benefits for reducing your page size, which in turns means your pages will load faster; all good things for you and your visitors.
The WP Smush.it service takes each image and sends it off-site to be compressed by Yahoo’s own systems and then returns the compressed image. That’s fine, and worked for me for a number of years, but only because I didn’t know there was an alternative.
What EWWW Image Optimizer does is use utilities on your own server to compress the images and keep everything local. That has a number of advantages, including privacy, ownership and speed in processing your images.
Since it uses utilities installed on your own server, you either have to be able to make changes to your own server, or be on shared hosting that has the utilities already installed. This is one of the reasons that having a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is so useful. The three utilities that the plugin uses are:
You can always ask your host if they have these utilities installed before you get going, to see whether you can use this plugin.
Once installed, the plugin pretty much does the work for you; just set the paths for the three utilities and then watch the plugin compress each image as they get uploaded.
There’s also a bulk processing tool, if you already have a library full of images that need to be processed. Furthermore, you can also target specific files by using the links in the media library to compress individual images.
How do you like it? Were you able to use it, or were you limited by not being able to install the utlities? Did you find big improvements over WP Smush.it if you used that service before?