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How Many Plugins Are Too Many on Your WordPress Website?

Originally Published on Upwork.com on By Miljan Bivolarevic

Once you discover WordPress plugins and how easy it is to use them, it doesn’t take long before you have 20 or more plugins installed. This article discusses how many plugins are too many and how this can have negative consequences for your website.

First, let’s talk about what a WordPress plugin is.

Plugins are ways to extend and add to the functionality that already exists in WordPress. They offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor their site to their specific needs. There are plugins for almost anything you can think of, from adding slider bar navigation to full e-commerce solutions. Plugins usually consist of one PHP file or a group of PHP, JavaScript, and CSS files.

At the time this article was written, there are 42,165 plugins in the WordPress plugin directory. This is the safest place to get your plugin because every plugin is manually reviewed by developers from WordPress, and they must meet strict guidelines if someone wants to add plugin in this directory, no spamming is allowed. Most of these plugins are free to download and use. When new users discover this “hidden treasure” they can sometimes go a little overboard and install every plugin they can think of, but with plugins, more is not always more.

Also, some plugins use databases extensively, increasing the number of database queries and slowing the performance of your website. If a plugin is well-coded this shouldn’t be a problem, however it’s something to consider before installing a large amount of them. For example, if you have 10 plugins that all retrieve and store information from your database, this could impact the speed of your website.

These are the things that can happen when too many plugins are installed on your website.

  • Your website becomes slow. Each plugin adds its own PHP, JavaScript, and other files to your websites workload, which can slow performance.
  • Your website can be open to can open security problems. Some plugins are poorly coded or haven’t been updated for a long time and can make your site easier to hack into. Some plugin authors may stop updating their plugins for whatever reason, so it’s important to keep an eye on regular updates. If the plugin hasn’t been updated for a few months, consider replacing it.
  • Your website can crash. Plugins receive occasional updates. Sometimes when you have too many plugins running, conflicts between them can occur, causing your cutting-edge website to crash.

So how can you avoid these plugin-related pitfalls?

1. USE ONLY THE PLUGINS YOU REALLY NEED.

While some small blogs or websites may only need one or two plugins, larger websites may require 20 or more. The main thing here is to remember to only use plugins you really need. For example, I see many people install the plugin for MailChimp when a plugin isn’t necessary—they can simply go into their MailChimp account, copy and paste the form code into their website code, and get the same functionality as using the plugin.

2. Uninstall any plugins that you don’t need.

If you already have too many plugins installed, go over each to see if you really need them. If a plugin isn’t critical to the functionality of your site, uninstall it.

3. Remove inactive plugins from your website.

I often see that many of my clients have inactive plugins installed on their WordPress websites. This can be a security problem, as hackers can use vulnerabilities in inactive plugins to gain access to your website. o solve this problem, log in to your website, click on Plugins in your WordPress dashboard, then click “Deactivate” under each of the inactive plugins.

4. Install only plugins that come from reputable sources.

When choosing a new plugin, be sure to consider the following criteria using details you can easily see in the the WordPress plugin directory.

  • Check when the plugin was last updated. You can see this in the plugin description. Good plugins are updated often (some are updated weekly). If you see that it’s been more than a year since a plugin was last updated, it’s a pretty good sign not to use it.
  • The number of downloads is also a good indicator that a plugin is worth considering. Look for plugins with 100,000+ downloads and 4+ stars.
  • See if there is any support available for the plugin. Even some free plugins have great support, and you can usually check this by clicking on “Support” in the plugin description.
  • Some quality plugins you can safely use include:
    • Yoast SEO–a very popular plugin used for search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Wordfence security–a plugin that can protect you from hackers and malware
    • Akismet–an anti-spam plugin included in the WordPress core installation

5. Keep your plugins updated.

Plugins get regular updates all the time, including security patches, so it’s very important to update your plugins as soon as you see that an update is available. Keeping your WordPress installation version updated is also very important.

6. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, engage a WordPress plugin expert to help you.

Whether you’re a new WordPress user or are looking for a custom plugin for your site, this is a good time to hire a WordPress expert. WordPress professionals can help solve these problems by following best practices and saving you trouble in the long term.

This story was submitted by freelance WordPress developer Miljan Bivolarevic and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.