Please Remove Unused Plugins and Themes

An issue that I run into frequently on websites I work on is tons of deactivated plugins and themes just there on a client’s website. Inactive plugins theoretically have no impact on your site. However, in practice they are still a security liability and inhibit web performance as well.

Remove Unused WordPress Themes

Unused WordPress themes do not have a direct impact on a website’s performance. Most of the time, themes add very little to the database; and only do so once they have been activated.

However, themes, especially ones that are out of date, are a security liability. For example, back in 2011, there was a widespread TimThumb vulnerability. TimThumb was basically an image resizing library.

The library was used in thousands of themes and even if the theme was not active on a website, it still left the website vulnerable to an attack. Therefore, you need to be aware of what themes you have installed.

At most, you should have three themes.

  • A child theme
  • The parent theme
  • The latest 20xx theme from

You want to include a default theme for debugging. Anything extra is just that, extra, and should be removed from your website.

Remove Unused WordPress Plugins

Much like the security issues you will run into with themes, plugins are also susceptible to the same types of vulnerabilities.

But unlike themes, plugins tend to add a lot of junk to your website’s database. A plugin will add its own tables, data, and more to your site’s database. The good news is a lot of them will be clean up after themselves after uninstalling. (If you are lucky that is).

Deleting unused plugins will help cleanup your website’s database, which in turn, will improve your website’s load time. Now, the performance impact will be minimal, but it is still important for keeping your website as light and as clean as possible.

Other Benefits

Other benefits to removing these unused items include the following.

  • Faster backups
  • Lower inode usage
  • Lower storage needs
  • Cleaner admin panel
  • Hypoallergenic
  • OCD Friendly

Jokes aside. There really is no reason to hold onto unused themes and plugins. If you are not using them, toss them. It’s that simple!

scott hartley

About the author

Scott is a web performance geek, lover of all things coffee, and avid video game player. His WordPress work delves into web performance, web security, and SEO.

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