The trouble with too many plugins

The blog market is crowded with plugins

Q: Our WordPress site recently crashed and we were told by our hosting company that we have too many plugins. We had 32 of them and have decreased them to 28. Our site is still very slow. Is there such a thing as too many plugins? How many should we have?

A: It certainly sounds like your site may have too many plugins.

There really is no “correct” number of plugins for all WordPress sites. A plugin’s impact depends on your hosting specifications, compatibility with your theme and other plugins, and the quality of the plugin’s code. Your site can crash with one poorly-coded plugin, but function beautifully with 15 well-written ones.

As a general rule, I strongly recommend minimizing the number of plugins for performance. Every plugin adds its own set of demands to your server.

The features that plugins offer, such as shopping, also generate more HTTP requests and database queries. If you have multiple plugins sending requests, it slows page loads and your server can even crash.

Every plugin also takes up the limited space in your WP database. Your database has a specific limit on how much information it can hold. When that limit is reached, your database become bloated and your site sluggish.

Security is a serious concern if you have too many plugins. Every plugin runs the risk of creating a hole in your site’s security, giving hackers another surface to exploit.

Let’s not forget that not all plugins are meant to be together. One set of code may conflict with another, slowing down or breaking your site completely. The more plugins you add, the more likely you’ll run into compatibility issues.

While I recommend using as few as possible, I also recognize that you may need several to accomplish your site’s goals. So my rule-of-thumb is to keep a WP site to as few as possible, but no more than 20 plugins. My client sites range from 0-20 plugins; this site uses four. There are sites out there that use 50 or 60 plugins. A 2017 poll of developers found that 41% said 11-25 plugins were the max allowed.

To minimize the number of plugins, make sure you’re using only those that you need. Unused plugins should be deactivated or deleted. You can also search for plugins that combine the functionality of two or more your plugins.

Once you’ve determined the number of plugins you absolutely need for your site, check that your hosting plan has the capacity to meet their requirements. Your hosting company will be able to guide you on this.

Finally, keep your site maintained. Routine cleanup and optimization of your databases will go a long way to keep your site running smoothly.

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