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Do deactivated plugins slow down a WordPress site?


Does having inactive plugins installed (but not active) impact the performance of your wordpress install? Is it always better to delete them rather than just leaving them installed but inactive?




From searching around, the consensus seems to be that the only real impact of inactive plugins is in the Dashboard, because that's where get_plugins() (which scans the wp-content/plugins directory) is called. So probably zero impact on public-facing pages.

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It could also have (a small) impact if you previously activated the plugin (or a theme @one trick pony) and it added some options that autoload. So you would have invisible queries. But be aware that there are a lot of plugins out there that don't remove their options on uninstall (which they shouldn't on deactivation).

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  • almost all themes do this too :( – onetrickpony Mar 16 '11 at 17:37
  • yes, but.... not mine ,) ... see updated answer. – kaiser Mar 16 '11 at 17:42
  • Deactivated plugin/theme options wouldn't add any additional queries to the database. WordPress pumps in all options with one query on init. The only performance hit would be if the options were set to autoload and were a considerably large serialized array. – TheDeadMedic Mar 16 '11 at 18:54
  • @TheDeadMedic: Take a look at this one: codex.wordpress.org/Function_Reference/add_option and tell me what the default value for autoload is. Then take a look at the extend plugin repo at wp.org and tell me how many plugins don't use the settings API (& i'm even not sure if the options added this way don't autoload per default too). – kaiser Mar 16 '11 at 20:29
  • My point was that you wouldn't have 'invisible queries' - if they autoload, they get pulled in with the others on init (one query), or they don't get pulled in at all. The performance hit is (if the option value is large) the additional memory eaten merely existing, and the requirement to unserialize if an array. – TheDeadMedic Mar 17 '11 at 0:20

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