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Is Installing Plugins Bad? How They Can Secretly Harm Your Website Performance

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by | Jan 4, 2021 | Digital Marketing, Web Hosting

There seems to be a plugin for everything these days… ones that better protect your website against spam, optimize your media file sizes, and ones that even allow users to make their own custom avatar. It may be tempting to download that plugin that promises to fix your current issue, but have you may have asked yourself: is installing plugins bad?

So… Is Installing Plugins Bad For My Website?

The short answer: sometimes. While there are plenty of useful plugins, playing around with them willy-nilly usually leads to issues. 

But why? 

Plugins add tables and sometimes lots of data to the database and they don’t always remove them when uninstalled. This is a great way to invisibly bog down your website, as there is no indication to the administrator to what is happening. 

Curiosity Killed the Load Speed

Plugins will also often add new image thumbnail sizes (and again, don’t delete them on uninstall) and this can quickly turn into a situation where your WordPress Admin is adding 20-30 (or more) individual thumbnail images for each image you upload. This adds tons of ‘invisible weight’ and hinders your website performance.

Sometimes plugins, even though they are in the WP Plugin Directory, are poorly built, not created by reputable developers, and/or have been abandoned by their makers. Some indicators of this are: less than 10,000+ active installs, low or no ratings, and not having been updated in over 6 months.

Tips For Installing Plugins the Smart Way

Now that you know that installing plugins can negatively impact your website performance (even when uninstalled), you’re probably wondering the best way to go about this moving forward. 

Here are some of our suggestions:

  • Don’t install plugins unless you absolutely need to use it. Having some level of curiosity and trying a plugin out to see if it does what you think it should do is ok, but always avoid installing plugins “just for fun”.
  • Be 100% sure that you require a plugin to do the job; most of the time we can add in custom functionality without the need to install a load-increasing plugin.
  • Do not install a plugin that hasn’t been updated in over a year. This can have very serious security implications, as the WordPress Core gets updated very regularly (sometimes monthly). If a developer hasn’t taken the time to keep their plugin up to date in the last year, you 100% do not want to have that software running on your website.
  • Seriously consider the first two bullets if the plugin you want to install hasn’t been updated in under six months. Six months is a grey area… sometimes developers let things go a little too long, but they will get to it. However, a lot of times, this is a sign that the plugin has been abandoned.
  • A big “tie-breaker” on all of this is ratings and active installs. Unless you have a very good reason to ignore this rule, we suggest not installing a plugin with less than 10,000 active installations and mostly 4-5 star reviews. This is up to you, but this last one a lot of times helps make the decision on the previous two bullet points.

My Website Already Has Too Many Plugins… Now What?

If your site already has multiple plugins that you are unsure about, or you don’t have a real use for them, you might feel a little overwhelmed right now. 

Worry not. 

Contact us for a free website audit – this will give you a detailed report on where your website performance currently is. 

Our web developers will take a look at the issues tied to plugins and will be able to make the necessary repairs. This will add many benefits to your website such as faster load speed, a better platform for preventing issues later on, and an overall better user experience. 

Now, who wouldn’t want that? 

We hope that this information will save you time and stress in the future, and as always, we are here to help you with all of your website needs.