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May 24, 2016

Choosing a safe WordPress plugin

If you want to add different types of functionality to your website, WordPress plugins are an easy way to do that without calling someone to custom code it. You can even make many changes to the plugins yourself.

The main thing you want to be careful about, though, is picking a plugin that is safe for your website. There are plugins that can create issues for you.

Usually, that’s either because they open a backdoor for your website to get hacked (often because they aren’t updated frequently), or they bloat your website with unnecessary code, making it slow to load.

WordPress depository

I recommend always downloading plugins from the WordPress depository. These plugins have been vetted by the developers who work on WordPress. Developers have tested and researched those plugins, and have reviewed the code to catch potential issues.

To download one of these plugins from the WordPress depository, visit wordpress.org/plugins. Make sure you look at the ratings and choose one that many people have downloaded and given a good rating. That’s another level of security for you, knowing it’s been used effectively by lots of other WordPress users.

Bonus: If you know the names of some of the WordPress developers, you should check out all the plugins they’ve made. That’s a great feature of the WordPress depository.

Free plugins

Plugins from the WordPress depository sometimes have both free and paid versions, depending on the plugin. As long as they’re rated well by many other users, and they do what you need them to do, free plugins can be just as good for your website as paid ones.

Third party plugins

If you want integrate with a third-party source (like MailChimp, for example) on your website, those sources will likely have their own plugins you can download and use. Those plugins will work well with that third party app, so they’re a reliable choice.

With any plugin, make sure it’s been tested recently with your version of WordPress. Some plugins haven’t been updated in 2-3 years. While that might be ok, it’s more likely an outdated plugin will probably work poorly with your version of WordPress and it might even be less secure.

There are many plugins out there, but narrowing your search by what’s safest for your website is a great way to start looking. And don’t forget to update them frequently!

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