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Check your Plugins this New Year

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January 1st, 2007
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WordPress, WordPress Plugins

Let me take this opportunity to wish all the readers of WLTC a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Have you made any New Year resolutions?
If so add one to the list. If not, make a resolution to give the plugins that power our blogs a little attention.

WordPress and Plugins

WordPress is a very popular and excellent blogging system.

While WordPress is self sufficient to run as a system for a novice blogger, the more advanced bloggers like to enhance its functionality using Plugins.

There are already a few hundred, if not thousand plugins available today that do various tasks from enhancing your Admin panel to protecting you from spam to integrating some third-party service on your blog and more.

This wide choice of plugins can be very “tempting” and we end up installing a lot of plugins without giving a second thought; many of these we rarely use.

I won’t use this post to tell you which plugins I use or which I recommend. Will save that for a later post.
This post will stress on the importance of regular and continuous plugin maintenance.

Install Basic Plugins first

This is something I follow on all my blogs. When I install a WordPress blog (the same applies to existing installations too), I install a basic set of plugins. These plugins include those that help me manage my sitemaps, protect against spam and feed scrapers and to embed contact forms (to prevent email spam).

These plugins are necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the blog.

Choose only the plugins you need

Don’t install that plugin just because your friend’s blog has it running.
Before you go ahead and install a plugin, research and see if your blog needs it. If it does go ahead and install it. If not, then just let it be. You can always install it in the future as the need arises.

Can you embed the code?

The more plugins you have installed, the more the number of functions are to be loaded, which increases the overhead of your blog and slows down its loading.

Many of us use ready made templates. These are further customized as per requirement. And normally you wouldn’t be switching your templates too often.

If this is the case, then instead of installing many plugins, you can put the code in the template files directly. This is especially useful in the the case of a plugin that simply embeds code of some third party service.
While the plugin does offer ease of use, the manual install of the code means WordPress has to do lesser work while displaying the blog.

Try Alternatives

Most plugins have an alternative from another author. While some plugins may be a bit heavier, another plugin might be lighter while providing the same functionality.
Either install and test them seperately or better still find out the performance difference from another user.
Use the one giving you a better performance.

Remove files of deactivated plugins

If you are not going to activate it, then why keep it?
Remove the files and folders of plugins that are deactivated. You can always instal them later when you need to. If for any reason the plugin file has any vulnerability then you risk getting your blog hacked.

Check for updates

Plugins are not meant to be installed and forgotten. Take the time (I do it once a month) to check if an update is available for the plugins you have installed.
Almost all plugins have a version number and most authors publish a changelog. Make sure that you upgrade any plugins which have security updates.

In Summary

  1. Install basic and necessary plugins first
  2. Only install a plugin if you need it
  3. Find a better alternative
  4. Embed code in the template if possible instead of using a plugin
  5. Remove files of deactivated plugins
  6. Check regularly for updates. Security upgrades are mandatory

Do you have any other practices to follow w.r.t. plugins? Do comment and let us know.

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13
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Comments

  1. MrCorey (14 comments.) says:

    All good advice, as usual. BTW, love the new theme!

  2. Everton Blair (7 comments.) says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of work pruning my plugins. It’s amazing how much difference it can make. My advice is if the plugin is only there because you think it’s cool, but your users don’t, then remove it. Also , think – will this really increase my usage?

    http://www.connectedinternet.c.....2/24/1237/

  3. Ashish Mohta (19 comments.) says:

    I agree with Everton,We think its cool but how much user respond is what matter at the end.Not every plugin gets 100% output…There could be one reason for that..The readers downt know we got something new for them…any ideas how it can be done?

    Good post ajay

  4. Jane Ullah (5 comments.) says:

    Amen to that, Ajay! I’m guilty of leaving plugins unactivated. I really liked your tip about embedding the code ourselves. I’ll do more research before blindly activating plugins now. Thanks@

  5. jcwinnie (5 comments.) says:

    Your forgot about eating all your vegetables and brushing after meals and zillion other shoulds.

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there were statements, one might even say promises, made about an easier way to maintain plugins.

  6. Ajay (39 comments.) says:

    @Ashish, the best way for them to know, is for you to tell them. Blog about it :)

    @Jane, many plugins can be done away with just by doing a little hardwork ourselves. Can work wonders on load time.

  7. Cheryl Gonzalez (1 comments.) says:

    I haven’t had ANY luck with any plug-in except Askimet. Shortstat hasn’t kept track and I falsely assumed I wasn’t getting traffic. When I checked my stats in my c-panel…I was blown away!
    You’ve got good advice here…maybe I need to check versions…or is there a better alternative?
    I’ll be watching this space! Thanks again and Happy New Year!

  8. Ajay (39 comments.) says:

    @Cheryl, always check for new versions, it could be incompatibility issues with Shortstat. I haven’t used it so I can’t say for sure. I use Statcounter and Google Analytics to track on my blog.

  9. Investorblogger (1 comments.) says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if WordPress could check for compatibility and updates from within the Admin Interface? Wouldn’t it also be nice if WP could allow you to upload plugins, like SMF does, all from within Admin? Wouldn’t it be nice if…? Not to say I’m ungrateful, I’m very appreciative of the efforts that all the writers of WP have put in! It’s quite a wonderful thing! Just my humble user’s suggestions! Happy 2007



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] I have disabled a good number of plugins, going with my idea of keeping plugins to the minimum. […]

  2. […] Read the full post here on Weblog Tools Collection: Check your Plugins this New Year. […]

  3. […] while pondering about the same I remembered the article I wrote when I joined the Editorial team at Weblog Tools […]

  4. […] 1, 2007 when I first began to blog at WLTC, I wrote an article to address these questions. Titled Check your Plugins this New Year, the article covered what plugins you should first […]

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