While I think compression is mostly pointless on some sounds, there really are some great plugins that are worth using on percussion and on the overall master bus. I have all these plugins activated simultaneously to save time. You don't have to produce in stages!
Insert FX: Tape Simulators, Tape Saturators, Compressors, EQs etc.
Saturators, compressors and other simulators are great on the main drum channel. The Crystal Method has been known to use "Fatso Jr" to get their beefy drum sound. It is a tape simulator with many options. It works on any type of drum or percussive sound. There are also tube amp simulations and others that slightly disort or compress the sound into warmth and fatness. A regular compressor won't cut it. We need some sort of saturation and an intelligent use of these plugins can get you some really beefed up drums. The people designing these hope you to keep feeding it more signal and that it never sounds bad. While these insert FX can be really energizing, for some genres and songs it might be a pass.
Tip: Before you insert a compressor or saturator make sure you place the reverb plugin. Pre-reverb makes a compressor "breathe."
Mastering Compressors & FX:
Dynamics compressor will work on the master bus and balance sounds together. Make sure its a good plugin specifically designed for this use. Generic plugins don't always work so well. Generic multi-band compressors, ones that come with the program or system can leave me completely lost. I try out presets and then start tweaking. Also going back to your individual channels and re-tweaking everything is a good idea. Just make sure you save the best setups to A/B them or you will get lost.
With a couple plugins and little bit of Mastering dynamics you can get a louder sounding recording that doesn't sound "overcompressed." Don't be afraid to use multipe plugins on the same channel or multiple plugins for mastering. There isn't an end-all, be-all plugin! But some of them are like magic for their specific use!
Thats all I have to say right now on compressors. Mostly you just find a good product and tweak the knobs till it sounds just right. If you have a "magic bullet" processor its a lot harder to end up with a bad recording.
Check out Sonnox Oxford, UAD Plugins, EZ Mix, Elysian, and McDsp to get yourself started.