Do deactivated plugins slow down WordPress?

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Can inactive WordPress plugins slow down WordPress? Do they have any impact on performance?


The client wants to know if deactivated (or, inactive) plugins can have an impact on the performance of a WordPress website.

Do deactivated plugins slow down WordPress?

Deactivated or inactive plugins do not slow down WordPress. Keeping inactive plugins installed is harmless, but they can introduce security risks.

WordPress only loads files whose file paths are stored in the active_plugins option in the database, and ignores everything else entirely.

The one caveat to this: if the deactivated plugin stored a lot of autoload data in the wp_options table. This could have a marginal effect on the performance of a WordPress websites, reports some users on StackExchange.

Should you delete inactive plugins?

Yes, if you don’t plan to use them soon and fear that deleting the plugin will delete its settings then they should be kept. Otherwise there is no point in keeping them installed since they can be quite problematic at times. In addition they can also get infected during an hacking attempt so as a security precaution any inactive plugins should be deleted immediately.

Should I delete inactive plugins that I don’t plan to use?

Definitely. We 100% recommend that you delete all inactive plugins if you do not intend on using them soon. Inactive plugins can pose a security risk.

If you’re note sure if the plugin is in use, the we suggest auditing your WordPress website to find out what options are available to you that will improve the performance of your site, and eliminate the extra plugins you may not be using at all.

What happens if I delete a plugin without uninstalling it first?

Not all plugins have an uninstaller, so it’s probably okay. Our engineers basically never use an uninstaller for plugins unless the plugin is known to leave behind bloated tables.

If you delete a plugin without properly uninstalling it, then theoretically, the settings and other data associated with the plugin will still be stored in your database, and could potentially lead to issues. It’s recommended that you properly uninstall any plugins you aren’t using before deleting them.

Is there any upside to keeping inactive plugins on a WordPress website?

No, there is no real benefit to keeping inactive plugins on your website since they won’t be used and will only add clutter. It’s best practice to delete anything that you do not need.

In general, what are some other common causes for a slow WordPress website?

If you’re experiencing issues with your WordPress website, there’s a few things you may want to check, as there are definitely some recurring issues when WordPress is slow. Generally speaking, the biggest culprit is the hosting environment and hosting provider. Ensure you’re matching your resources with the demand and value of your online property. For a lot of older websites, the biggest culprit might be older plugins with poorly managed code, where maybe some conflicts that are happening with other plugins, or maybe they’ve not been updated to properly work with changes in the WordPress core.

Do inactive plugins load in WordPress?

No, inactive plugins will not load in WordPress. However, the code of inactive plugins will still remain in your database, thus taking up valuable space. It’s always recommended that you delete any inactive plugins from your WordPress installation to ensure that you have an optimized and up to date system.

Although they may not be loading on the frontend, we still think it is important to delete any deactivated plugins that you no longer need.

Additional reading

  • Learn more about WordPress site speed optimization and getting more performance out of your WordPress website.
  • Explore other ideas and strategies for resolving performance issues with a slow WordPress website and learn the steps you can take to fix the underlying issues contributing to poor website performance.

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