WordPress can power websites ranging from personal blogs and small eCommerce ventures to the sites of large corporations like Sony Music and the New York Times. This is largely due to the power of plugins. Users can choose from more than 50,000 free and premium plugins to add an array of useful features to any self-hosted WordPress site – but more isn’t necessarily better.
Using WordPress plugins can be great to enhance the overall functionality of your website, but it can also cause more harm than good if used incorrectly. If you have created your own WordPress website, you may be wondering, “How many WordPress plugins is too many?” As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to know that too many WordPress plugins can slow down your site and create issues with security and compatibility, so to keep your site running smoothly and securely, you’ll want to make your plugin collection as lean and manageable as possible.
Why Your Site Needs Some Plugins
The WordPress core code provides a framework for creating a “vanilla” website with essential basic features. You will also need a web hosting service to get your site up and running. This basic setup probably won’t have all the functions you need to make your site work, but you can easily add those functions with plugins. These small packages of code make it possible to extend the functionality of WordPress into niches of all kinds and create millions of websites that are completely unique.
WordPress plugins are designed to integrate a specific type of function into your site’s framework, such as managing a mailing list, adding social media buttons, blocking spam, or adding a shopping cart for eCommerce. Plugins can be installed from the official WordPress Plugin Directory, or from third party plugin developers across the globe. Many are free, while others are available in premium packages that provide additional features and support.
Some plugins are important for just about every WordPress site. Whether you’re setting up an online store, creating a portfolio, or running a company website, your site most likely needs a set of plugins for site security, search engine optimization (SEO), and blocking spam. Other useful plugins for most sites include mail management, social media sharing, and optimization of images for faster loading. Beyond these basics, WordPress site runners can choose from an array of plugin options to provide virtually any function imaginable – but it’s important to stick to the ones that your site actually needs in order to function smoothly.
Too Many Plugins Can Compromise Your Site
Plugins have been called “mini-apps.” They run alongside the core WordPress code, and for that reason, numerous plugins, especially large, multi-functional ones, can slow a site’s load and run time. This can become particularly problematic if you’re using a shared hosting environment where server resources can be limited. A large number of plugins can fill up your site’s database, and too many user requests sent to the server through the plugins can bog down the site, or even cause a crash.
Because WordPress is a free and open-source platform, anyone can design a plugin to perform even the smallest task and make it available to other users. So the more plugins you install on your site, the greater the likelihood of encountering one that’s poorly coded; or even one that contains malware capable of infecting other parts of your site.
Even if you’re careful to install only quality plugins from reputable sites, running a lot of plugins increases the likelihood that some may not be compatible with others or with your WordPress core. This can slow your site or cause other plugins to perform poorly. That’s why it is highly recommended to download your plugin directly from the WordPress plugin directory and always stay up-to-date with the latest version.
Some plugins, like the eCommerce plugin WooCommerce, also have extensions of their own that add even more specialized features. After installing the core plugin, users can fine-tune it even further with these secondary plugins; but each extension adds more code to the database, with consequences for your site’s loading and running time.
Are You Using Too Many Plugins?
The right number of plugins for your website is the number you need for the best function of your site; but that number can vary considerably, depending on factors including your site’s purpose, the kind of hosting you’re using, and the size and functionality of the plugins themselves.
A small blog site or a one-person eCommerce venture might need five or fewer key plugins, while a larger site or one that’s run on a hosting package with more server space, such as a Virtual Private Server, could comfortably manage more than 20 plugins for highly specialized functions. If every active plugin you’ve installed is secure and performing a needed function for your site, you probably aren’t using too many. But your plugin collection may need some pruning if you have:
- Inactive plugins that haven’t been deleted
- Outdated plugins that are no longer being updated or supported
- Multiple plugins that overlap or duplicate functions
- Plugins that don’t add essential functions or features to your site
Manage Your Plugins for Better Performance
When choosing the best plugins for your WordPress website, look for high quality, current plugins that have positive reviews from users. Make sure each plugin you choose enhances the functionality of your site in a unique way, and that it comes from a reputable source that provides some user support.
It’s also important for WordPress users to manage their plugin collection. From your site’s admin dashboard, open the plugins list and review all installed plugins. Unless they’re actively deleted, inactive plugins still take up space in your database and contribute to site slowing. If you’d still like to use the plugin, activate it and install any recommended updates to avoid security and compatibility issues.
If any plugins are no longer being updated or supported by their developers, consider deleting them. Older plugins that haven’t been updated can open the way for malware and viruses, so deactivate and delete them. This will remove all associated files from your site’s database, which eliminates the risk of infecting databases with questionable and dangerous code. Finally, consider removing any active plugins that have overlapping or duplicated functions and replace them with a single multifunctional plugin.
It’s all too easy for WordPress users to overload their site with too many plugins, and that can compromise its quality, security, and performance. By sticking to the essentials and regularly managing your plugins list, you’ll have just the right number to keep your WordPress site running the way it should