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 the question: do deactivated plugins slow down WordPress, and is it safe to delete inactive plugins?
What Are Deactivated or Inactive Plugins in WordPress?
In order to start using a plugin, you will need to activate it.
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 the WordPress admin area.
Active plugins are highlighted in blue, and inactive plugins show a ‘Delete’ link below them.
Do Inactive Plugins Slow Down 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 WordPress website, they won’t affect the performance of your site or make it slow.
The only time WordPress looks for inactive plugins on your site is when it loads the ‘Installed Plugins’ page in your WordPress admin area. Even then, it only looks for the 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 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 that 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 a 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. You can learn how to do this in our beginner’s guide on how to properly uninstall a WordPress plugin.
We hope this article helped answer your questions about deactivating WordPress plugins and deleting inactive plugins. You may also want to see our guide on how to track visitors to your WordPress site or our expert pick of essential WordPress plugins to grow your website.