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It's easy to see what plugins are currently disabled through /wp-admin — but how could I see what plugins used to be on an installation of WordPress and were deleted?

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There's afaik no such possibility. WordPress only keeps track of those which were currently activated. – kaiser Jun 14 '13 at 11:48
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can’t. WordPress tracks the recently active plugins for a while, but there is no history of deleted plugins.

You could install a logger and track this information in a special place for the future.

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