So, you have just installed WordPress and even configured a theme to represent your business, blog, or creative idea. Now you need to extend WordPress functionality add various bells & whistles such as social share buttons, social follow buttons, newsletter boxes, landing pages, custom comment forms, and more. But, aren’t these plugins adding some load on your server?
But, Joe who pays for a dedicated server has more than 100 plugins without any problems. So, what gives? How many WordPress plugins should you install without slowing down your website or overusing the server resources that your limited shared web hosting provides you with?
Before digging in, I want to make this very clear; this topic is subjective and results may vary from scenarios to scenarios.
So, unless you are facing issues with speed and WordPress performance, you don’t need to worry about plugins and their behavior on your website.
Don’t install more than 7 plugins if you are on a shared hosting plan
This one is pretty simple.
Shared web hosting plans are for startup blogs that are still in their startup stage. This means that you don’t expect to receive high volume, unexpected traffic from Google, and don’t have that much information to upload on your website.
If you ask me, even 7 plugins are a bit too much for a small blog. You only need the most important plugins without which your website may not function properly.
For me, these 7 plugins are:
- Caching plugin (Most important when you are running a website on a shared web hosting plan)
- Spam fighting plugin (if you plan on making comment form available for the public)
- Social share plugin
- Social follow plugin
- SEO plugin
- Lightweight security plugin
- WordPress optimization plugin
If you are a developer who has some experience working with WordPress, you can integrate social sharing and follow buttons right into the theme and remove the two social plugins.
I also hide the comment forms and don’t install any plugins to display contact forms. Since it’s a new blog, nobody is likely to contact me with a valid reason and people who leave genuine comments are earned after at least 7-10 months of blog grinding. So, having a comment section at this early section is also pointless.
On top of that, you can also stay away from some plugins that are blacklisted by your hosting provider. You can either contact your technical customer support or search your web host’s portal to see if they have such a list of plugins that you need to avoid.
Don’t install more than 15 plugins on a Virtual Private Server
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are much better than shared hosting. They offer more resources, control and less restrictions as compared to shared hosting.
The only downside to using a VPS to host your website is that you’ll end up spending more money.
For decent performance and control over your server, paying a little more makes perfect sense to me.
But, even VPS come with some limitations. Every web hosting offer multiple plans in the VPS zone.
With the cheapest plan, your website may be able to host up to 50,000 unique visitors/month if you install a powerful theme coupled with some plugins.
So, VPS is an ideal route for people who expect high volume of users on their website.
I host all my niche websites on Bluehost’s VPS plans and I haven’t faced any problems with them yet.
But, if you are paranoid of the front-end performance of your website and don’t want to slow down your website at all, you can install up to 15 plugins including some heavy-duty plugins including:
- Feature-packed security plugin for DDoS protection, barring file browsing, and more.
- Forum plugin (BuddyPress etc.)
- Custom WordPress Search Plugins
- Custom fields plugins
- Custom post types plugins
Only install these plugins if you absolutely need them. If you don’t need heavy plugins to run your website, your small VPS server might be able to host up to 80,000 unique visitors/month without any problem.
Don’t install more than 25 plugins on a dedicated servers
Well, a dedicated server is a whole box with a dedicated process, RAM, SSD storage, and other components assigned to your account. In most cases, dedicated servers are used by E-Commerce websites and to run startup applications such as Amazon or Buzzfeed.
Since Dedicated servers are powerful enough to host hardcore apps, you don’t really need to worry about performance issues even after installing more than 25 plugins.
But, installing any more than 25 plugins can create a lot of problems that you definitely don’t want to deal with. To name a few, you may encounter these issues when dealing with a boatload of plugins:
- Plugin conflicts
- Abandoned plugins(But multiple blog posts of yours depending on the features so you can replace or remove them)
- Admin dashboard looks cluttered
- Problems to deal with when migrating website from one host to another
So, the problem that you’ll have is more complicated and painful that performance.
As a general rule of thumb, you just don’t want to use too many plugins on your website no matter what.
So, how do you keep the plugin dependency to a minimum?
Compare plugins to see what features they share and install only one plugin
People aren’t aware of this.
Most plugins share features and functionality. For example, an image compression plugin might also have some features to support lazy loading and thumbnail regeneration.
So, in this case, you don’t need to install two more plugins to enable lazy loading and thumbnail generation.
Similarly, if you read the plugin page carefully, you will be able to find all the features offered by a plugin.
Select a bunch of plugins and compare them to see which one offers the most features.
Also, don’t install plugins to solve minor problems on your website.
Want to display a button? Don’t install a shortcodes buttons plugin that contains many other heavy-duty features.
Also, now you can easily make use of many visual elements with Gutenberg editor by default. So, you don’t need button plugins and many other UI plugins to help you add some flare to your articles.
Find out which plugin is slowing down your website
Deactivate all the plugins and activate them one-by-one to see which one is the culprit. This is the most reliable, battle-tested method used by professionals to determine the problematic plugin.
In many cases, abandoned plugins are the ones that usually slow down your website. In such a case, just remove the said plugin and install a supported alternative.
Which plugins to avoid installing on your website?
Here’s a list of plugins that I don’t install on any of my niche websites and blogs due to security, performance and privacy issues:
- WooCommerce (Has a history of not being a secure and reliable plugin)
- Yoast SEO (I use RankMath as it doesn’t come with the annoying nag that Yoast prompts you with every day)
- Form plugins (Why use plugins when you can insert Google forms for free)
- Security plugins (You don’t need them if you use a secure web host and reliable plugins and themes). Just use a strong password and change your passwords on a weekly basis. Use a password manager to keep track of the changes and to remember the new passwords.
- Gallery plugins (why do you want to use them in the first place?)
- Backup plugins (Take backups in the back-end of your web host. Most of them come with such an option)
- Page builder (There isn’t a single page builder that never had any security issues and loopholes)
- Social login plugins (Get premium version if you must use social login plugins)
As mentioned earlier, you can deactivate all the plugins installed on your website and activate plugins one-by-one to see which ones are slowing your down.
Conclusion: How many plugins to install on your WordPress website
You don’t want to install more than 25 WordPress plugins in any case. For the shared hosting platform, the safe number would be somewhere around 7 plugins, for VPS hosting, the safe number would be around 15 and for dedicated servers, there’s no said limit. But, the real problem is not performance issues with dedicated servers. It’s the plugins/theme conflicts and management-related issues.
Drop your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also share with us the number of plugins that you use on your WordPress plugins and some frequent challenges that you face while running the website.