WP Smush Review: Do You Really Need it? (2019)

WP Smush is one of the easiest plugins to perform image compression for WordPress. With more than one million active installs, this image optimizer is one of the most popular WordPress plugins in the official plugin repository.  What is WP Smush and why is it popular among WordPress users?

WP Smush is being developed by the guys from WPMUDEV, which are an excellent group of WordPress developers involved in many different plugins, each of one is specialized in a certain aspect of your WordPress site. For example, “WP-Defender” performs regular malware scans in your website, and “WP Hummingbird” promises to speed up your website through all their fancy caching options and asset optimization techniques.

With this premise, it’s safe to say that WP Smush is a reliable image optimizer, that will work in all situations and circumstances. However, it all comes to a price. Currently, the WPMUDEV group charges a fixed subscription price for access to all their Pro plugins, which might be a bit pricey if you don’t need many of them.

For this reason, in this in-depth WP Smush Review, we will see if the Pro version of this plugin is worth alone the whole price of the subscription or you should better go with the normal version or an alternative.

WP Smush Review

1. Why use it

How many times have you wished that you had a faster site? You can, of course, delete all your images, but shouldn’t there be a better way? Sure it is!

Plugins that perform image compression for WordPress make it possible for you to optimize your site for both performance and (image loading) speed, without requiring you to delete them from your website. Let’s all be realistic here, nobody wants to go back to the ’90s with all those static pages without media content. Image size is key. Readers love beautiful pictures along with high-quality content. Images help in optimizing your content and posts. However, large images take a toll on your page-loading speed. 

It is common knowledge that search engines and site visitors detest slow-loading websites. So what is the way out? To create a balance between site aesthetics and SEO scores, you need a plugin that does image compression.

wp smush review

Compression here means reducing the image file sizes without affecting the quality. Doing this manually is tedious and time-consuming. How can you do this in a smart manner rather than doing it the hard way?

WP Smush to the rescue! WP Smush can seamlessly compress all your images automatically. It also works on your old photos by squeezing them to reasonable and optimal sizes and fine-tuning them for your site. Don’t be afraid with all those configuration options, the defaults are pretty reasonable and you rarely will need to tweak them.

2.How to Install and Configure it

To install the plugin, the simplest way is to go to your site admin, and click on “Plugins” –> “Add New”. Then type “smush” in the search box and you should see the plugin appear in the first position of the list.

wp smush image resizer

After you have install it (and activate it!), it’s time to start Smushing your images. To do that, you just need to click first on the “Smush” button on the left sidebar and you will get redirected to a Dashboard where you can configure the most important settings of the plugin.

Finally, on the right side of the screen, you will see the “Bulk Smush Now” button. If you click on it, WP Smush will take all the images stored in the “Media” folder and will optimize them. During the process, on the top of the page, you should start seeing the “Total Savings” (in MBs) that you are gaining for using the plugin.

wp smush image optimizer

One important thing that you should keep in mind though is that the non-paid version of WP Smush only allows up to 50 images per run. Meaning that after the first 50 images have been processed, you will need to click on the “Bulk Smush Now” button again in order to resume the process.

3. Features

WP Smush is genuinely a revolutionary cloud image resizing, optimizing and compressing WordPress plugin. It uses the WPMUDEV powerful servers on the background to remove bulky elements from your images. Every single image is smushed removing all superfluous data without compromising the image quality.

Additionally, the plugin goes even further to optimize images beyond your media library. You can use it to optimize NextGen images, Amazon S3 images and images from other plugins or themes. It also works well with all other plugins including Elementor.

It’s time now to analyze in this WP Smush Review, the two versions available: Free and Paid. The free version is about enough for basic optimizations in small images (up to 1MB). However, the paid version of the plugin comes loaded with many additional features that can help you achieve the best possible performance:

PRO Version

  • Unlimited Bulk Smush
  • Super Smush (Get 2x the compression in comparison with the Free Version)
  • Resize Images (Set max width and height and images will be automatically scaled)
  • Restore Originals (Rollback any Smushed image with just a click)
  • Auto-Smush (Smush automatically all images in your site)
  • Keep EXIF Data (For Photographers that want to keep the metadata attached)
  • Convert PNG to Lossy JPEG
  • Compress Big Files (From the camera directly to your site, WP Smush optimizes images up to 32MB)
  • 200% Faster than WP Smush Free Version
  • Directory Smush (Optimize images outside of the media directory)
  • S3 Cloud Smush (Smush your S3 Cloud-based media library)
  • Image CDN (Serve images directly from the WPMUDEV powerful CDNs)
  • WebP Conversion (Optimize images by converting them to this new generation format)
  • Wrong Size Detection (Receive alerts if your images don’t match their respective containers)

3. Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offers unlimited free image optimizations per month.
  • Ability to automatically compress images on upload.
  • Ability to automatically strip unnecessary information off your images such as metadata and EXIF data (elements like camera settings, focal lengths, location, time and dates etc).
  • Automatically resize your full-size images to a pre-set minimum and maximum.
  • Works with WordPress Multisite (you can global-activate the plugin or configure it for individual site preferences).
  • Ability to view image optimization statistics (number of images compressed, sizes and space saved).
  • You do not need to create a user account to use their API key on the free version. The free version gives you the ability to compress each image. You can also bulk-compress 50 images at a time.
  • Image optimization uses the plugin developer’s server resources. This means that your private server resources are not utilized in this process. This is especially advantageous for websites using a shared hosting environment.
  • The plugin highlights mismatched images on your frontend so that you can correct the sizes. This is however done on the admin role (your site visitors cannot see this).

Cons

  • The maximum file size is just 1MB for the Free version. This may not be enough for all categories of websites. However, the Pro version allows up to 32MB.
  • You need a membership to WPMU DEV to enjoy additional features that will cost you $49 per month. However, this comes with many other exciting plugins from the developer.
  • The Free version does not keep your original images. Other optimization plugins have this feature.
  • The Free version is limited to 50 images per instance. This may mean “more time” if you have many images to compress.
  • You should be ready for intrusive advertisements on your admin dashboard calling your attention to upgrade to the pro version.
  • If you are a Photographer you probably need the Pro Version, as you might want to keep the Metadata.

5. Verdict

In this WP Smush Review, we went through some of its strongest points, and explained how you can use this image optimizer to drastically improve the performance of your website. We truly believe that this is the most powerful Image optimization plugin in the market. It has, however, the big downside that it requires a pricey subscription to enjoy all the benefits of the PRO version. So the question remains, is it really worth the price?

In our opinion, it’s not really worth the monthly price unless you are either going to use other plugins of the WPMUDEV family or you have a website with a lot of traffic that requires the extra speed that the PRO version offers. If this is the case, go ahead by all means, it’s a great product that you will be using every day!

It’s worth mentioning though, that the plugin has interesting competitors in the “image compression for WordPress” space. These include Imagify, ShortPixel, reSmush.It, EWWW Image Optimizer and Compress JPEG & PNG images among a few others. Having said that, WP Smush is generally considered the best overall, being selected as the winner of the Torque back-2-back Plugin Madness contest.

WP Smush Pro is part of the $49 per month package of WPMUDEV, and can be bought here.

Overall Score: 4/5

Want to read more? Check out our review of MonsterInsights!

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