[How to] Minimize WordPress Plugins to Make Your Site Faster

We've always had a strong opinion about WordPress plugins - the success of the CMS comes also thanks to the huge variety and availability of different WordPress extensions. Even for Joomla - the success of any site is whether it is able to do more than just its core function.

WordPress plugins are a huge part of the success that WordPress enjoys.

They can also be a curse. By their very definition, and additional functionality will come at additional "work" that the server has to do. They WILL make thus make your site slower than a native WordPress installation. You have to minimize WordPress plugins to the barest minimum to make your site faster.


Of course - sometimes you'll need them, but you have to reach a balance between functionality and performance.

Which WordPress plugins should I remove?

We are of a very strong opinion that some WordPress plugins are absolutely essential (and in fact, we do post about popular products on this website). If you intend to have an online WordPress shop, you'll have to have an eCommerce plugin.

And we also recommend a backup extension.

You'll need to check though, which are the absolute essential plugins to your website?

Anything that is non-essential should go (or at the very least the plugins which it uses should be completely disabled). Even if your caching has been activated - if you did minimize WordPress plugins, they will still have a performance hit.

1. Remove WordPress plugins you tested and forgot about

Take a FULL backup before proceeding - the following action is not without risks. If you need guidance on which plugin to use, check out this post on 10web.

Many people try lots of extensions whilst designing their site. Some eventually are used, whilst others are not. If you're like us, you've probably forgotten to remove quite a few of these testing plugins.

Also, remove any plugins that have minimal use and replace them with code tweaks if necessary, or get rid of that functionality if it isn't critical to your site

Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins. Browse through the extensions you have installed and remove any WordPress plugins which you know you are not using. 

We tend to do this quite aggressively when working to make a website faster, because of the following reasons:

  • Excessive plugins increase the load on the server making the initial response slow (even if you have caching set up, the work still needs to be done)
  • Each plugin adds an impact in terms of page size. Most plugins have their own script files and CSS stylesheets which tend to compound the problem of your website being too large and being slow to download
  • Old, unused plugins may become a security issue if they are not kept updated

2. Remove or disable inactive WordPress Plugins

Next, you'll want to disable plugins that are not active. If you have deactivated these plugins, then your website is not really using them, so they are not really needed anymore

Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins.

You'll see that some of the plugins are inactive. These are of course a no-brainer. You're not using them and they are just a risk and on overhead.

3. Remove unused WordPress plugins

If anything is not active and you won't be using it in the near future, Trash it.

If there are plugins that you *think* might not need, you can delete those plugins too. Each plugin has a hit on WordPress performance. You want to reduce those hits as much as possible.

Remember that even if caching has been activated - WordPress plugins still have a performace hit. You need to minimize WordPress plugins as much as possible. If it is possible to combine extensions, so much the better.

Browse through the plugins, and try to understand what is the function of each specific plugin. If you think it is not necessary for the functionality for your website - disable it.

You need to be a little bit careful and understand what a plugin does before disabling it. Err on the side of caution where you have doubts. However, you should disable unused plugins. Each one of them has a hit on the initial loading time. The plugins are eating away from the initial load time which has the most critical impact on having a fast (or slow) website.

4. Combine plugins with similar functions

Sometimes, we tend to install one plugin for each function that we want to perform. For example, let's discuss a simple case that we are focusing on right now, WordPress performance.

Some things you can to optimize WordPress performance are:

  • Leverage browser caching
  • Defer Javascript parsing
  • Set up a page caching plugin
  • Set up a CDN plugin
  • Set up a GZIP compression
  • Set up image lazy loading

If you have done these steps individually, you might find that you have installed several different plugins, each doing one of the above optimizations. To improve performance and not requiring a plugin for each of these, you can actually use one plugin such as WP Rocket that is able to perform ALL of the above functions.

This kind of thinking applies to many different aspects of your website.

wp rocket

Measure the performance impact of each WordPress plugin

Once you have cleaned what you do not need - you still need to see what performace impact the WordPress plugins you left have on your website. To do this, we're going to use the Query Monitor plugin.  The is the plugin that we are recommending these days instead of the previous P3 - Plugin Performance Profiler.

While it is a bit of a contradiction to install an additional plugin, when we are recommending that you eliminate as many as you can, one needs to keep in mind that this will plugin will only be used temporarily. You should Deactive and Uninstall it after you complete this test.

Download the Query Monitor plugin here.

Install the plugin and activate it. 

Once you've done that you can go to Queries >> By Component

query monitor queries by component


Now, to see the results of this, you'll need to review the results a little bit in detail. You'll be able to see how much time each plugin is consuming in terms of loading time.

Once you do this, you'll know what is causing the largest load time nad whether you need to replace or optimize that specific plugin. Once again we fully recommend you remove WordPress plugins to make your site faster.

If you think there are things that are not bringing enough benefit as opposed to the performance impact, you might consider disabling them or deleting them. The ones highlighted in red are the ones with the worst performance.

Once you have cleaned and minimized WordPress plguins as much as possible, you should see a marked improvement in your website load time.

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About the Author
David Attard
David has been working in or around the online / digital industry for the last 18 years. He has vast experience in the software and web design industries using WordPress, Joomla and niches surrounding them. As a digital consultant, his focus is on helping businesses get a competitive advantage using a combination of their website and digital platforms available today.

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