WordPress Plugins: Can You Have Too Many?

WordPress Plugins - Can they put too much strain on your database?

The world of WordPress plugins just keeps getting bigger. There are thousands of freebies available from the plugin repository, with more added pretty much every day. Hundreds, if not thousands, of premium premium plugins can also be found from a variety of sources.

With all the cool features and functionality that can be found – not to mention the fun factor – it’s often tempting to install stuff, even if you don’t really need it on your site. But, before you go installing everything that looks cool, consider the following questions:

  • Can you really have too many WordPress plugins on your site?
  • How many is too many?
  • What impact, if any, do inactive plugins have on performance?
  • Which are better; premium or freebies?

Some would say that too many active plugins can slow your site down to a virtual crawl. In such a scenario, it is often recommended to install a caching plugin. Kind of a paradox, don’t you think? Install another plugin ‘cuz you already have too many installed.

Others may affirm that the number of plugins has relatively little impact on a site’s performance, considering that most modern browsers are lightning fast anyway. Then again, those folks likely have dedicated servers that are also lightning fast.

Kidding aside, here’s a simple fact: any additional queries that are made to your database WILL take time. The actual amount of time may not be immediately noticeable, but keep adding stuff, and it will soon be. Here are a few recommendations that may help reduce the impact plugins may have on your site’s performance.

  1. This is one the most important things to remember: keep your WordPress install updated, and make sure that ALL plugins that you have activated on your site are updated to their most recent versions. Having older versions of plugins activated can lead to script conflicts, and probably leave your site vulnerable to exploits by spammers and hackers. If, God forbid, you have decided to keep an older version of WordPress running because some plugin doesn’t work when you update WordPress, maybe it’s time to look for an alternative plugin that can provide you with similar functionality.
  2. In spite of the temptation to install a plugin when you find it simply because it provides a cool feature that you want, take a second look at the ones you already have installed. Maybe that cool feature can already be provided by one of them.
  3. When reviewing your currently active plugins, and when thinking about installing new ones, consider your answers to the following questions.
    • Does this plugin increase the user-friendliness of my site?
    • Do I want it simply because it does cool stuff?
    • Will it help keep users on my site, and keep them coming back?
  4. To eliminate the possibility of additional load on your database, and reduce clutter, delete any inactive plugins that you may have installed. In case you ever change your mind, and want to re-install, you can always bookmark the sites where you found them, or simply download them to your computer.

In conclusion, here’s a rule of thumb (borrowed from my years working in the printing industry): less is best. Keep plugins and scripts to the minimum required to ensure the proper features and functionality for your target audience, and keep them updated. Doing so will also ensure that any strain on your database is kept to a minimum.

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