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Will Inactive Plugins Slow Down WordPress? Should You Delete Inactive Plugins?

Recently, one of our readers asked us about deactivated plugins slowing down WordPress and whether they should delete inactive plugins. Many WordPress users often install plugins for testing and then deactivate them. In this article, we will answer do deactivated plugins slow down WordPress and whether its safe to delete inactive plugins?

Do deactivated plugins slow down WordPress? Should you delete inactive plugins?

What are Deactivated or Inactive Plugins in WordPress?

The best thing about WordPress is that you can extend it by using WordPress plugins. When you install a WordPress plugin, WordPress downloads the plugin file to your web hosting server.

In order to start using a plugin, you will need to activate it.

Activate a WordPress plugin

You can install plugins and activate them later. You can also deactivate a plugin that you tried but didn’t find useful. You can see all your installed plugins (both active and inactive) on the plugins page in WordPress admin area.

Installed plugins

Active plugins are highlighted in blue and inactive plugins show a delete link below them.

Do Inactive Plugins Slowdown WordPress?

No, inactive or deactivated plugins do not slow down WordPress. To understand that, let’s see how WordPress works behind the scenes.

Each time a user requests a page from your WordPress site, WordPress starts a loading process. During this process, it only loads active plugins installed on your website. All inactive plugins are totally ignored and are not loaded or even looked at.

Even if you have dozens of inactive plugins installed on your website, it would not affect the performance of your site or make it slow.

The only place where WordPress looks for the inactive plugins on your site is the ‘Plugins’ page itself. Even then, it only looks for plugin’s header file and does not load the plugins themselves.

If your WordPress site is slow, then inactive plugins are definitely not the reason. You may want to check out our ultimate step by step guide to speed up WordPress and boost performance.

Should I Delete Inactive Plugins in WordPress?

The reason why WordPress allows you to deactivate plugins instead of directly deleting them is because sometimes you may just want to switch off a plugin temporarily.

If you plan to use that plugin soon, and you fear that deleting the plugin will delete its settings, then you should keep it.

Otherwise, there is really no point in keeping the inactive plugins installed on your website. In fact, they can be quite problematic at times.

For example, whether or not you are using that plugin, WordPress will still show you updates for those plugins. This can be a bit annoying particularly if you have many regularly updated plugins installed on your site.

Inactive plugins can be harmless, but they are still executable files. In case of an hacking attempt, these files can get infected or can be used to install malware on your site. As a WordPress security precaution, you should delete any inactive plugins that you do not intend to use.

We hope this article helped answer your questions about deactivated WordPress plugins and deleting inactive plugins. You may also want to see our list of essential WordPress plugins that you should install on your site.

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9 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Do I lose the database on deactivating a plugin?
    Do I get the database after reactivating a plugin?
    Any other benefit of the deactivation/activation process of the plugin (s)?

    • It would depend on the plugin but you should keep the plugin data when you deactivate a plugin and don’t completely remove it so it would have all of your information when reactivating your plugin.

      You would normally only have deactivated plugins on your site if you are troubleshooting a problem or have a very specific need for a plugin for a limited time.


  2. Is there any performance benefit (or problem) in deactivating a plugin that is used to develop your site so for example Elementor or Contact Form 7. It could then be activated if you need to edit later.

    • Deactivating a plugin would remove its functionality until the plugin is reactivated. If you’re not using the plugin then deactivating it could help a small amount with your site’s performance.


  3. I do understand that inactive plugins do not slow-down you website if they are not in a very large number as they have very small footprint in your database, Since the information of the plugin is stored in the database and every time WordPress generate a new page, looks in the database, So according to me if you are not using any plugin then all the traces of that plugin must not appear on your system. If they are there then it should slow-down the website.

  4. Ok,

    but plugin is a piece of code and has weight anyway. Theoreticaly it must slow down the site does it?

  5. Hey, I had this doubt and this article resolved it the correct way: concise and detailed. Thanks!

  6. If working on a client’s site, i always like to remove any inactive plugins I do not think we will need to use. That way, your client does not intentionally or inadvertently active any plugin(s) they are not familiar with. Removing inactive plugins also lessens any hacker’s targets.

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