Plugins are an essential part of any WordPress site, and it’s important to choose them carefully. However, it's equally as vital to review your plugins periodically. Failing to do this can lead to a number of issues down the line, particularly concerning your site’s security.
Auditing your currently-installed plugins will help you identify any deactivated or outdated tools, and deal with them right away. That way, you can rest assured that the user experience of your site remains top-notch. Fortunately, conducting a plugin review is simple – once you know where to begin.
In this post, we’ll explain why taking a close look at your plugins from time to time is important. We’ll also walk you through how to perform a thorough plugin review on your WordPress site. Let’s get to it!
As your website continues to grow and change, you’ll likely install a number of plugins. While many such tools are immensely valuable to your site, it’s likely that you don’t need (or want) everything you have installed.
In particular, you may find that some of your plugins haven’t been updated by their developers in a long time. Continuing to use outdated plugins can lead to numerous issues – such as potential security breaches and a slow-running site. This may negatively impact the overall user experience of your site, as well as conversions and traffic rates.
Auditing your plugins can also help you improve your site’s stability. Plugins can sometimes conflict with each other, and even with specific versions of WordPress. Each additional plugin you install increases the chances that these types of conflicts will occur. That’s not a reason to avoid using plugins, but it is a reason to make sure each one is something you actually need.
As we’ve hopefully made clear, conducting a review of your plugins can be incredibly beneficial for your site. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult process. Let’s walk through the necessary steps, one by one.
You’ll want to start by creating a complete backup of your website – including all of its files and its database. This will help protect your existing content, in case you accidentally remove a plugin you actually need. In that scenario, you can simply restore the backup and start over.
Backing up your site by hand can be complicated, but a plugin like BackupBuddy or BackWPup will help you easily automate the process:
You’ll just need to configure the way your backups will work, and the rest of the process will be handled by the plugin.
Regularly backing up your site is a smart habit to pick up, even when you’re not conducting a review such as this. Backups help you improve your site’s security, and provide numerous other benefits as well.
After your backup is in place, you can get started with your plugin review. A good place to begin is by removing the plugins you no longer use.
First, you’ll need to navigate to the Installed Plugins screen within your WordPress dashboard. There, you’ll find a complete list of all the plugins your site contains:
You can now begin to work your way through the list, assessing each plugin on its value. You may discover plugins that you no longer use, or that provide features your site doesn’t actually need. If that’s the case, it’s time to remove them.
To do this, simply select Deactivate next to the relevant plugin:
Once a plugin is deactivated, the option to Delete it will become available. Selecting this option will completely remove the plugin from both your site and its database. Then, you can repeat this process for any other plugins you don’t want to keep.
After deleting any unnecessary plugins, you’ll want to ensure that all those remaining are fully up to date. This is easy, because WordPress will provide a notification that lets you know if there’s a more recent update available for a specific plugin:
However, you’ll also need to ensure that plugins without notifications have been updated recently, and are compatible with your version of WordPress. To do this, select the View details option next to each installed plugin:
In the resulting pop-up, you can find the necessary information under the Last Updated section:
An update within the past six months usually means the plugin is in full working order. On the other hand, anything left without an update for over a year is more likely to cause a security or compatibility problem.
If you don’t really need an older plugin, you can simply delete it. However, you may find that some of the outdated plugins are ones you frequently use. In that instance, you’ll need to find a replacement for each one. While this can be inconvenient, the potential problems caused by neglected plugins are much more difficult to rectify.
Regularly reviewing the plugins you have installed can have a very positive impact on your site’s user experience, security, and performance. By removing any unneeded or outdated tools, you can continue to provide a fast and efficient service for your site’s visitors.
In this post, we’ve walked you through the three steps it takes to review your WordPress plugins:
Back up your website, using a plugin such as BackupBuddy.
Identify the plugins you no longer use, and remove them.
Ensure that the remaining plugins are updated regularly, and are compatible with your site.
Do you have any more questions about how to conduct a WordPress plugin review? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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