We know well that WordPress’s functionality strongly depends on plugins, so we all rush to install them immediately after our website goes viral. Doing it can be a bad mistake at times: we can’t know how our website is going to grow and develop, and whether we have installed the right plugins or not. Once we confirm that there is something to remove, the next step is to deactivate/delete it, and we should do it in the most appropriate way possible so that they won’t cause any problems in future. The purpose of this article is to show you how to do it.
As a beginner, you probably installed tenths of unnecessary plugins without checking which one is suitable for your website. The sooner you remove them, the better because they can do more harm than benefits.
Why do you need to remove them?
Plugins are a dangerous thing to play with because they are powerful. Their authors know all the things that can come to your mind when using their plugin, so they do the best to make it safe and functional. Still, if the control over your plugin falls in the hands of a hacker, you have no idea of the damage he could cause by using it. It won’t only make your WordPress site dysfunctional, but it will potentially endanger its security.
Having too much of them also means backing up more stuff, which is how downloads and restorations take days to be performed.
That’s why we advise you to install only those plugins that you actually need; all the others should be disabled and uninstalled.
The difference between inactive and uninstalled plugins
Technically, inactive plugins are those you have installed, but you’re rarely using them (if at all). It means that you can still adjust its settings and activate it to work in case you need it.
You can always deactivate the plugin you’re not using, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t cause any harm to your website. Hackers can still use it to run malicious codes through it, which can end up being a complete disaster when you don’t have a firewall as Sucuri to protect you, and to disable PHP execution.
The good side is that you usually get notified about inactive/deactivated plugins that need a repository update, even if that’s not the case with the premium ones.
In order to take things in your hands, uninstall the plugin and delete all data that is related to it.
Deactivated plugins should only be preserved in case you believe you will activate them soon. Otherwise, it makes no sense.
Another benefit from uninstalling plugins the right way is that the database remains clean from plugin-caused junk data.
After all, it’s not such a loss. You can always reinstall the plugin in case you need it.
Uninstalling plugins: The main procedure
There are few simple steps you need to follow in order to uninstall the plugin:
- 1. Check the ‘Plugins’ menu to see which plugins you have installed. Once the page opens, all of your plugins will be listed there;
- 2. Find the plugin that you want to remove;
- 3. Choose the ‘Deactivate’ link located under the plugin title. Once the pages refresh, the plugin will obtain an ‘uninstalled status’, or explained simply, it will become inactive;
- 4. Open the ‘Delete’ link under the plugin title, and once the page is opened, you will see a confirmation message requiring you to claim once again that you want to see the plugin deleted;
- 5. Click on: ‘Yes, Delete These Files’. After that, the ‘Plugins’ page will be refreshed, and the removed plugin will simply disappear from the list leaving nothing but a short message informing you of its successful, permanent deletion.
Voila, the plugin is gone! It’s such a simple process!
Here come few more steps that can make the plugin disappear completely, as they remove some critical parts you didn’t even know that they existed. Once again, the processes are optional, and we don’t advise beginners to deal with them without professional assistance.
Uninstalling plugins: Additional actions
Deleting the folders/files of the plugin
You need to browse through your WP-content folder using FTP clients. The thing you need to do is to check what is there and to look for all files/folders related to the plugin. If you find such files/folders, remove them instantly, and check every plugin folder to see if something remained inside. Long story short: remove everything that is related to that plugin.
Be careful with your database, and make sure it’s completely backed up. In case you have doubts, download the files on your computer and save them there. Once that’s done, deleting stuff will be completely safe.
Getting rid of unused shortcodes
Another thing to consider is that some plugins use shortcodes to add stuff to your pages and posts. Even when a plugin is removed and uninstalled, certain shortcodes remain and become highly visible. They are not dangerous for your website, but without the plugin on sight, they look a bit ugly.
Shortcodes can be easily disabled. All you have to do is to add this code to the functions.php file of your themes on the site-specific plugin:
add_shortcode( 'pluginshortcode', '__return_false' );
What the code does, as you see, is adding the shortcode back, due to which the shortcode won’t display a thing. Still, bear in mind that the plugin shortcode has to be replaced with the shortcode tag of the plugin you’re trying to remove.
Remember, this code has to be removed; otherwise, you won’t be able to use that plugin again, not even if you reinstall it.
De-cluttering the database
Certain plugins use your database to create tables of their own, and those tables don’t always disappear when the plugin is uninstalled. Most of the time, the tables don’t harm performance, but they can be a serious problem when they’re too large.
Take this for granted when you’re uninstalling a plugin, and get rid of the tables too. Let’s see the manual process:
Go to phpMyadmin and remove them yourself. Take care, though, because doing it can affect the WordPress database. The best way to go is to back it up in advance;
- Go to the cPanel and find phpMyAdmin (in the database part);
- Open phpMyAdmin. Select the database that appears on your left-hand side, and pick the tables that need to be removed;
- On the bottom of that list, you will see a small combo box saying ‘With Selected’. Choose it and click on ‘Drop’;
- phpMyAdmin will require you to confirm it again since the tables are being permanently deleted. Make sure everything is fine (mostly that the database backup is performed), and get rid of the tables by clicking on ‘Yes’.
Uninstalling WordPress plugins provide you with many new options to free space in the database and to make the website/blog run faster. Moreover, it protects you from the potential exploit of the plugin through malicious codes. Yes, it sounds like the time to remove all those database-eating tables has finally arrived, but make sure to perform it properly.