Disable w3 Total Cache Plugin Completely

This post is regarding WordPress w3 total cache plugin. W3 Total Cache is a great plugin to me. However this plugin sometime create problem which might result in WordPress white screen or even 500 internal server error. Usually i faced this problem just after some modification on the setting of this plugin. So simply said, there’s high possibility that the cause of this error or white screen that appear is by w3 total cache plugin.

I’m not sure why this problem appear. Maybe the new setting that i just made not really compatible with shared hosting or any other reason. But instead of showing error notification, it just simply showing white screen or internal server error. You know there might be some mistake that you have made, but it seems there’s no way that you can correct it through the plugin setting interface. So in this simple post, i just want to share how you can completely disable w3 total cache plugin.


Disable plugin through database phpMyAdmin

1. go to wp_options table. Take note that wp_options with assumption that the prefix you use is wp.

2. Find active_plugins row under option_name column.

To make procedure 1 and 2 easier, you can just execute sql query.

SELECT * FROM wp_options WHERE option_name = ‘active_plugins’;

3. Edit the options_value field. You can find something like


and delete that part. Deleting all simply means that you disable all plugins.

However, for me disable plugin through database is better if you want to disable all plugins. If i want to disable a single plugin, to go through database and find specific part can be too troublesome.


Disable plugin through FTP

1. Go to wp-content -> plugins

2. Find w3-total-cache folder and rename it to w3-total-cache-disabled. Yes, you can do this to any other plugin to disable it.

3. Go back to wp-content and find files that named




rename it to other filename such as




4. Go back to root and edit your .htaccess. Find modification made by w3 total cache and delete it. In my case it starts with

# BEGIN W3TC Browser Cache


# END W3TC Page Cache core

It might be different depending on your setting. But basically just delete anything related to w3 total cache. Don’t worry. It’s obvious enough.


500 Internal Server Error

For some cases such as 500 internal server error, if you want to make everything back to normal, you can skip all the steps and directly to step 4 which is editing .htaccess. That’s also mean you actually didn’t disable the plugin.

What you need to do after editing the .htaccess, go back to w3 total cache plugin setting interface and make correction (rollback) any setting that you have done that cause the problem. Then you can click the red notifications on top of the w3 total cache plugin to make it function as normal again.

That’s all. Hope that helps. Thank You.

3 thoughts on “Disable w3 Total Cache Plugin Completely”

  1. This was incredibly helpful! I couldn’t log in to admin, but your instructions allowed me to disable all wordpress plugins via mySQL, log in and then activate plugins until I found the culprit. Hurrah! Many thanks for posting such clear details.

  2. Didn’t work for me :(, I only wanted to disable the w3cache but it turns out after doing all 4 steps , cache is still working, i even renamed directory “w3tc-config’ in wp-content which you didn’t mention and also comment the line of w3cache in wp-config but still pages and images are still being cached, don’t know what else is causing it.

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