The Plugin Purge: Improving WordPress Performance

The Plugin Purge Featured Image

In a major effort to simplify the site, not only did I remove the store and create a membership site, but I also removed a solid third of my plugins. Welcome to the Plugin Purge!

Table of Contents

What Are Plugins?

For those of you that didn’t know, The Renegade Coder is built on WordPress. As a part of WordPress, there are these tools called plugins which you can use to add functionality to your site. In many cases, plugins are the best or only way to get a certain functionality for your site, so sometimes they can be essential.

For example, I use W3 Total Cache which is a caching plugin that speeds up the site for my users. I would consider this performance gain essential, and I wouldn’t want to have to implement that caching myself.

That said, most plugins are not essential. In fact, they can actually harm your site in terms of performance and security. That’s why it’s important to limit them. For instance, Dan Norris of WP Curve recommends never to exceed 20 pluginsOpens in a new tab..

As a result, I made it my mission to reduce the number of plugins on The Renegade Coder for the sake of performance and security.

List of Removed Plugins

The following is a list of plugins that I have since removed from the site:

  • Max Buttons
  • Require Post Feature Image
  • Require Post Category
  • Regenerate Images
  • Pirate Forms
  • TinyMCE Advanced
  • Simple Memberships User Import
  • Broken Link Checker
  • Health Check
  • OnePress Demo Importer
  • Quiz and Survey Master
  • Revive Old Posts
  • Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
  • Admin Columns

In addition, there were several plugins that I removed that I don’t even remember, so they didn’t make this list. Regardless, this list is pretty massive. Why was I holding onto these for so long?

Why Each Plugin Was Removed

At this point, I’d like to talk about why some of these plugins were removed, and how I was able to do it.

Max Buttons

The Max Buttons plugin is a button generation plugin. That’s it.

Back when I used to use SiteOrigin, I was able to render buttons no problem. However, I found SiteOrigin problematic as it didn’t mesh well with other plugins. For instance, SiteOrigin broke my origin syntax plugin, so I switched over to Enlighter.

Without SiteOrigin, I had no way of rendering a Call to Action button in my sidebar. As a result, I downloaded Max Buttons to solve that problem.

As it turns out, you don’t need a plugin to make a button. In fact, you just need some HTML:

<div style="text-align:center">
  <form action="">
    <input type="submit" value="Show Your Support" />

The CSS on the site will take care of the rest. Goodbye, Max Buttons!

Require Post Featured Image

As the title suggests, Require Post Featured Image is a plugin that forces your post to have a featured image before it can be published. For a long time, I used this plugin to prevent myself from accidentally publishing an article as the image is always the last thing I do.

Of course, this plugin is completely useless beyond that, so I decided to remove it along with its buddy Require Post Category. Now, I have no publishing rules, but that’s really not an issue anymore.

Regenerate Images

Regenerate Images was a plugin that I used probably one time when the website was first created to adjust image sizes across the site. Naturally, it was an easy plugin to remove because I only use it as needed. If I need it in the future, I’ll download it, use it, and delete it again.

Many of the plugins in this list were one-time-use style of plugins. For instance, Broken Link Checker and Health Check were both plugins that I could use as needed. Therefore, they didn’t need to sit around taking up space and opening up security risks.

Other one-time-use plugins like Regenerate Images included OnePress Demo Importer and Simple Memberships User Import

TinyMCE Advanced

To be completely honest, I don’t know how I acquired the TinyMCE Advanced plugin. I suppose at some point I installed it, but I’m not sure when.

As it turns out, all this plugin does is add a bunch of clutter to the article editor, and I’m not even sure I used any of its “advanced” features. Can you imagine how excited I was when the editor went from hundreds of options to 20? I love minimalism.

Now, I have a slimmed down editor which has just the features I need.

Quiz and Survey Master

Awhile back, you may have noticed that I used to host quizzes on my Java series. In addition to the fact that the Java series has gone through a ton of changes since then, I’ve actually removed the quizzes. No one was taking them, and they were sort of just taking up space.

Of course, I’ve been trying to move toward an article-only kind of website, so the removal of the quizzes just made sense for me. If you’re still interested in taking those quizzes, perhaps I can move them to Google Forms or something. However, I won’t be actively maintaining them anymore.

Revive Old Posts

The Revive Old Posts plugin was a social media tool I was using to annoy the hell out of people that follow me on Twitter. Of course, it wasn’t really getting me any views, so I got rid of it. I’m sure my Twitter followers will appreciate that.

Auto Terms of Service and Privacy policy

As the name suggests, Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy generated my Terms of Service and Privacy Policy pages. All I had to do to remove this plugin was copy the generated text and paste it as static text in the same page. Done!

Admin Columns

The Admin Columns plugin was a bit weird. Basically, it just allowed me to organize the backend a little bit. Overall, it was a pretty useless plugin. I’m not sure why I was holding onto it.

List of Remaining Plugins

Despite all this cleanup, I have about 23 plugins that I would still consider essential. Although, that’s up for debate:

  • Akismet Anti-Spam
  • Akismet Privacy Policies
  • Breadcrumb NavXT
  • Easy Table of Contents
  • Enlighter
  • Featured Images in RSS
  • Jetpack
  • List Categories
  • List Category Posts
  • Media File Renamer
  • OnePress Plus
  • Organize Series
  • Simple Membership After Login Redirect
  • Simple Membership Google Recaptcha
  • Simple Membership MailChimp Integration
  • Simple WordPress Membership
  • TablePress
  • VaultPress
  • W3 Total Cache
  • Wordfence Security
  • WP Author Bio
  • WP Author Slug
  • Yoast SEO

Feel free to debate the legitimacy of some of these plugins with me in the comments. For instance, I’ve read that caching can be handled at the server level, so I could remove W3 Total Cache. That said, the remaining plugins all require a lot more work to remove.

Of course, if you want to comment, you’ll need to subscribe to The Renegade CoderOpens in a new tab.. After that, you can join the conversation!

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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