WordPress has grown to be one of the most popular website building platforms on the Internet. It’s estimated that over a quarter of all websites on the Internet are powered by the Content Management System. One of the biggest reasons why WordPress is so popular is due to the fact that there are over 29 thousand plugins that can be downloaded. A WordPress plugin is a piece of software that integrates with the WordPress software, allowing for a new function or tool on the site. Many of these plugins are free to download and install, some will come with a fee. If you need your WordPress site to do something, there’s probably a plugin that will help you do it.
With so many plugins available, it’s very possible to download and install a WordPress plugin that will have a negative effect on your website. It doesn’t matter how careful or experienced you are, it’s very possible to install a plugin that could cause your website to crash. There are a few things you can do to keep your website safe from harmful WordPress plugins.
Regardless of the plugins you install, you will always want to regularly backup your website. There are various do-it-yourself solutions on the market, but it’s probably best to seek the help of an experienced WordPress development company. Manual backups are the best way to ensure you have everything stored properly, but automatic updates are better than nothing. We would also recommend that you store your backups on a secure cloud service.
Do Your Research and Test Your Plugins
Every WordPress plugin will come with some basic information that you’ll want to review before you download anything. You’ll want to take a few minutes are review things such as the number of times the plugin was downloaded and read any reviews or feedback left behind about the plugin. Do not download the plugin if there’s been negative feedback left or if you see a limited number of downloads. It can be tempting, especially if the plugin seems to solve a problem on your site, but a bad plugin can quickly cause a nightmare for your website and might even make it crash.
If you’re going to download third-party WordPress plugins from unknown sources, it’s always best to have a functional copy of your website available for testing. Your testing site should be an exact clone of your live website; with all the same posts, pages, plugins, custom code and theme. This is your best solution keeping your website safe from a problematic plugin but will take some work to keep everything current.
How Can One Plugin Bring Down an Entire Website?
It’s hard to really pinpoint one specific reason why a WordPress plugin can take down your website, there are many things that can go wrong.
- The plugin could simply be coded badly
- Maybe the plugin is well-coded but it conflicts with a poorly coded element in your WordPress theme
- The newly installed plugin is coded well, but it conflicts with another plugin already installed and active on your website
- A plugin could be coded so poorly that it doesn’t work with WordPress itself
Many people feel okay about installing a new plugin due to the fact the site seems to work properly after the installation. This can be a positive sign, but it’s not uncommon for a plugin issue to arise after the installation. There are various updates issued by WordPress and updating your WordPress to the newest version could cause a problematic plugin to take down your website. Plugin developers should be proactively updating their plugins before WordPress launches an update if a plugin hasn’t been updated there could be major issues. An out-of-date plugin can cause two scary issues; the website may start showing error messages on the top of each page, or your live website will appear as an empty white box. Typically, the white screen error is caused by a memory limit. These issues will need to be fixed on the backend of your website and will likely require the help of a WordPress developer.
Custom Plugin Development
One of the best ways to prevent plugin-related issues is to have a custom WordPress plugin built specifically for your website. An experienced developer will look at your website and develop a custom plugin that adds the functionality you’re looking for but will work with your current theme, plugins and content. Sure, having a custom WordPress plugin developed isn’t going to be free, but it’s a worthwhile investment when you consider the potential harm your website could face. You will also have the peace of mind knowing that you alone own the code for the plugin.
What to do if Your Website Crashes Because of a Plugin Issue
First, you’ll want to take a deep breath. It’s scary to see your website crash, but it is fixable. Issues will need to be resolved in your site’s admin area and you’ll want to do so quickly. Some issues can be resolved by simply uninstalling the offending plugin. Working in your admin area can be risky when you don’t have the right experience and a simple problem can quickly become a larger issue with only a couple wrong clicks. You may want to seek the help of an experienced WordPress developer and have the issue fixed right away without causing more issues. It’s possible that your website’s code could also have issues that need to be attended to.
WordPress is a great website platform and the selection of plugins is one of the main reasons the CMS has become so popular. Your website is vital to your business and the thought of it going down due to something as simple as installing a plugin is a very scary thought. At Insiteful Solutions, we’ve been building WordPress websites and keeping them maintained for nearly a decade. We have various WordPress maintenance and backup packages available. Our team of experienced Toronto WordPress developers will work with you to create custom WordPress plugins that are designed to suit your site and needs. We’re also here to help if your website is down due to a plugin error. Let us know how we can help.