Considering that plugins are must haves for websites due to its immense versatility and abilities to enhance the default functionalities of WordPress, the question that arises is how many would be optimal for you? Acting with restraint in selecting plugins is a big challenge because there are endless functionalities that you can achieve with plugins. From performance, security, site backup to enhancing the look and feel of websites, integrating with Google Analytics and other external services like MailChimp, subscriber management, newsletters, auto responders – the list seems never ending. Since most of the plugins are free or come at little cost, you can replace it anytime you want, and there is no need to worry about updating it, restricting its numbers is a daunting task.
If you are facing problems with website speed, there are high chances that it could be from an oversized WordPress database. It does not mean that you must reduce the size of the database, but surely, you must limit the use of plugins. The problem with plugins, as the DBA Consultant will tell you, is that many of these use databases extensively and sends too many queries to the database. As a result, the performance of the website is retarded. If you are using too many plugins, then be ready to accept the slowdown. Conversely, for optimal site speed, you must use plugins judiciously so that you do not face the problem stated above. In this article, we will discuss why too many plugins could be bad for your website, how you would know that you are using plugins in excess and how you can limit their use.
Using too many plugins is not good
Dan Norris, co-founder of WordPress website support service WP Curve, stresses that the lesser the better, recommending 20 plugins as an optimal number. Here are the downsides of using plugins in excess than what you need.
1 Strains the memory
For delivering a web page to the browser of the user, many codes come into play, and simultaneously the plugins’ codes keep running. There is much stress on the memory, and the stress keeps increasing as you use more plugins. Effectively, you experience slowdown in the site speed as pages take a longer time to open.
2 Affects the database and file system
Many plugins use the WordPress database to store data and for configuring information and all plugins occupy some space in the file system. Although plugins occupy little space in the file system, for small budget hosting it could mean using up allotted space quickly. When plugins overload the WP database, it effectively slows down the website speed.
3 Website management problems
You must update plugins often, and although the task is not difficult and you can do it with a single click, you might face the issue of site breaking because the plugin is in conflict with some other plugin or a bug exists in the code.
4 Creates conflicts
Some plugins can often be a conflict with other plugins. This happens because programmers creating plugins do not always stick to the coding standards. Since many codes go into the making of plugins, the possibilities of conflicts remain.
5 Security issues
Plugins are created with codes and regular updates ensure that it is not vulnerable to hackers. However, it takes some time to release the updates by the plugin authors, and after that, you might take some time to update it on your site. The gap between the activities can give scope to hackers to play mischief, and unknowingly you compromise the security of your site.
Signs that tell you about excessive use of plugins
As the site owner, you are the best placed to know about the times when there are tell tale signs of excessive use of plugins. If you experience any or several of the symptoms, then you must trim down the list of plugins that you use on the site. Although it is not easy to detect which plugins are to blame, the best way to prune the list is to review the functionalities of the plugins in threadbare details to identify the ones that you can do away with without affecting the site performance.
The signs that indicate excessive use of plugins include:
1 Website speed slow down
Many plugins retrieve data from the WordPress database besides sending HTTP requests. If too many plugins access the database, it is only normal that the website slows down. If you experience such problem, review the number of plugins in use, especially those that make use of the database.
2 Frequent security issues
You use the plugins on the assumption that its creator has used a safe code. However, you cannot judge up front how secure the plugin is until security issues are cropping up. This means that every time you use a plugin, you are taking some calculated risks and if there are frequent security issues, it is time to look into the plugins.
3 Frequent site crashing
The compatibility of a plugin with other plugins is an important aspect that you must consider. Not all plugins go well with the additions that you might have done to WordPress. Some plugins can prevent some other plugins from functioning, and you may even experience the site crashing down.
4 User experience is affected
If you use too many plugins, users might get confused. The Analytics of the website can reveal this aspect. If the analytical data about the heat map and the time spent on the page shows a downward trend while you add more plugins, it is a sign that viewers are distracted and losing interest on the website.
5 Functional overlap
Plugins enhance the website functionality, and each is supposed to perform some distinct functions. However, many similar plugins aid the same functions. Having multiple similar plugins, slow down the site speed but does not contribute more than what a single plugin would do.
Since you are using plugins for enhancing specific functions, you must be completely aware of what the plugins do for your website. If you ever find that you are not sure about the purpose of plugins, it is a clear sign that you are overdoing it and must remove the unwanted ones.