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How to Properly Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

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How to Properly Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

Once you install WordPress, usually one of the first thing you do is install plugins. As your site and skills grow, you quickly realize that certain plugins weren’t the best fit for you. Well, it’s important that you deactivate and delete those plugins. In this article, we will show you how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin and explain why it’s important.

Do you want to uninstall a WordPress plugin? Many WordPress beginners often install different plugins to check out which one works for them. It is important that you uninstall plugins that you don’t want to use on your site. In this article, we will show you how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin.

Uninstall WordPress plugin

Why You Need to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin?

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, and you can easily install any WordPress plugin on your site. However, it is also important that you uninstall any WordPress plugins that you don’t want to use.

WordPress plugins are like apps that you can run on your site. This gives them enormous control of your site. While plugin authors do their best to keep the plugins secure and safe, history shows us that mistakes do happen from time to time.

This means that any plugin that you are not using on your site can be a potential liability.

Keeping unnecessary files on your site also increases your WordPress backup size. This means that it will take more time for you to download or restore backup.

Yes, you can definitely install as many WordPress plugins as you need. However if you are not using a plugin, then we believe that you should uninstall it properly.

Difference Between Deactivating and Uninstalling a WordPress Plugin

Many users fall into the habit of simply going to a plugins page and deactivating plugins that they don’t want to use.

Deactivating a plugin without permanently deleting it is very handy for debugging and bug fixes because it keeps your settings and configuration in place should you reactivate. However often users end up finding a different solution and never using this plugin again.

Inactive Plugins

A deactivated WordPress plugin can still make your site vulnerable because it can still be used to run malicious code on your site. Most folks do not take proper security measures such as adding a firewall like Sucuri, disabling PHP execution, etc.

While you do get update notifications for deactivated plugins that are hosted in the WordPress repository, you do not get them for premium plugins.

That’s why we always recommend that you should only deactivate plugin when you just want to temporarily disable them. If you do not intend to activate it any time soon, then it is better to uninstall the plugin.

By properly uninstalling the plugin, you also keep your database clean from “junk data” that plugins often leave behind.

Remember you can always download and reinstall the plugin.

How to Uninstall a WordPress Plugin

WordPress makes it super easy to uninstall plugins from the admin area. Simply login to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins page.

You will see the list of currently installed plugins on your site. Active plugins are highlighted with blue background color and have a link below to deactivate them.

Installed plugins on a WordPress site

Inactive plugins have links below to activate, edit, or delete them. Click on delete link below the plugin that you want to uninstall.

WordPress will now ask you to confirm that you want to delete the plugin.

Deleting a WordPress plugin to unintsall it

You need to click on ‘Yes, delete these files’ button. WordPress will now safely remove plugin from your web server.

That’s all you have successfully uninstalled a plugin from your WordPress site.

There are some more steps that you can take to remove all traces of the plugin. However, these steps are optional and not recommended for absolute beginners.

Removing Extra Files Added by a WordPress Plugin

In most cases, simply deleting a WordPress plugin will uninstall it completely. However, there are some plugins that store files outside of the plugins folder. Those files will not be deleted when you uninstall the plugin.

You can check and delete files stored by the plugin using a FTP client. Connect to your website using FTP, and then go to /wp-content/ folder.

Delete extra plugin files using FTP

Many WordPress backup plugins, gallery plugins, and sliders create and store data directly in the wp-content folder. If you do not have a complete backup of your WordPress site, then you should download these files to your computer as backup.

After that you can safely delete these files from your server.

Removing Unused Shortcodes in WordPress

Many WordPress plugins use shortcodes to add things into your posts or pages. Once you deactivate or uninstall a plugin, those shortcodes will become visible in your posts, and they look quite ugly.

[pluginshortcode]

You can easily disable shortcodes by adding this code in your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific WordPress plugin.

add_shortcode( 'pluginshortcode', '__return_false' );

This code basically adds the shortcode back and make it display nothing. Don’t forget to replace pluginshortcode with the shortcode tag used by the plugin you want to remove.

It is important to note, that you will need remove this code if you ever decide to use that plugin again.

For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to find and remove usused shortcodes from WordPress posts.

Cleaning Up WordPress Database

Some WordPress plugins create their own tables in WordPress database. If these tables have too much data in them, then that would increase your WordPress backup size.

You can delete those tables using phpMyadmin. However, we must warn you that you should be very careful about making any changes to the WordPress database. Like always, it is highly recommend that you have complete WordPress backup before you perform any action.

All of our recommended WordPress hosting providers offer cPanel with phpMyAdmin. Login to your cPanel account and scroll down to the database section. There you will find the phpMyAdmin icon.

phpMyAdmin cPanel

Clicking on it will launch phpMyAdmin. You need to click on your database and then select the tables you want to delete. Below the tables list, you will see a drop down labeled ‘with selected’. You need to click on the drop down, and then select ‘Drop’.

Deleting unwanted database tables using phpMyAdmin

You will now see a warning that you are about to delete these tables. You need to click on Yes to confirm the action. Please note that it is irreversible, once deleted you will not be able to restore these tables unless you have a backup.

Confirm you want to delete tables

phpMyAdmin will now drop the tables and will delete all data in those tables.

For more details, you may want to check out our beginner’s guide to WordPress database management with phpMyAdmin.

We hope this article helped you learn how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin. You may also want to see our guide on how to deactivate all WordPress plugins when not able to access wp-admin.

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Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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Comments

  1. Arturo Treviño says:

    Thanks for the post, this kind of posts can help many begginers as me.

    Thabks again.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for this article! I have been receiving your updates for over a year, never having time to sit and learn WP, but knew this was a great resource.
    I am a novice at WP, but quickly ramping up from my “learned experiences” that includes waste of money, weeks no exaggeration of my time, my frustration and everyone around me…..its been hard. But, in hindsight, necessary for me because I feel smarter and I finally cut the cord from using and paying for templates from hosting providers. I’m slowly getting there…

    I need help now again before I spin my wheels even more. Here is the story… For purpose of time, I am copying an email I just sent to my Dad to give him an idea of what I’ve been working on. Nobody else understands it. In laymans terms, I basically built a house on a garbage foundation made by gypsys that didn’t care/know, and now I begin to see that my foundation needs fixing too much. Constant repairs, that others don’t waste time on. Here it is…

    I’ve been getting this newsletter for about a year. Finally getting to read an article I think will be useful. Basically the long and short of it, that “expert” was a dummy.

    My site is running a WordPress theme v2.0. It includes plug ins. I never knew there was documentation and support. But mine is a “free” version. Probably hijacked somehow.

    I built everything on top of it. Hours of making documentation. Hours wasted time trying to tweak things, figure out fonts, functionality, customizing buggy plug ins. Setting up backend email functionality to “sign up for more info” and collect email addresses. And last… Never built it on a “child” version. The child version allows you to customize your site, then when theme updates are made, if you choose to install them or have them pushed out, you won’t lose your content.

    Then…. I CLONE THE SITE, and customize for my other site. Mistake.. More wasted time.

    And there are more issues, setting up Google analytics and Google Adwords. The code still said the other web site. You wouldn’t see it, but it’s in the code and screws up.

    Now…. I ripped the bandaid off. Freshly installed
    Brand new premium theme $59 v5.0 with customer support and documentation and plugins all ready to go like registration form for summer camp. (That was another time waster looking for plugins for V2.0) half the plugs ins they stopped using years ago.

    But…..now my big fiasco will be fixing meadow creek. It’s getting a lot of hits now since I set up Google Adwords so I can’t screw it up. It really just needs to be rebuilt. Tear it down, restart with proper foundation. I could leave a few pieces and see if it imports over. But not gonna.

    If you followed it this far…thanks! Any advise? Because you don’t know, what you don’t know!
    Thanks Kim

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