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I dont really like big plugins like jetpack. I find it much easier to manage multiple plugins with a single piece of major functionality rather than 1 plugin that does everything and use an options menu to pick what parts of the plugin to enable. I understand loading additional php files comes with an overhead, but this will be so small that its not worth considering. What i really want to know is if plugins by default have some kind of overhead. Will there is a notable difference between 10 individual plugins being loaded vs 1 plugin that has all the same code and functionality?

The best answer here is to just benchmark it, but it will take days for me to combine several plugins into one. I dont want to do this as its much easier to manage small plugins rather than having an options page where i can enable and disable parts on a massive plugin.

Whats the best approach to take here? The plugin i would be working on would be similar to jetpack. Large pieces of unrelated functionality that dont need to be combined unless there is a performance incentive.

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No, outside of purely technical aspects of PHP includes (as you correctly pointed out), there is no additional overhead to plugin quantity on general WordPress core load..

The list of active plugins is calculated in advance and stored persistently. The load process just runs over it and performs PHP includes on each.

The edge cases where it does take longer are mostly related to plugin management:

  1. Some screens like plugin list (obviously) need to re–scan all plugins and extract data.
  2. Update checks need to scan for data to submit as well, though with them the network request being made is likely bigger bottleneck.
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  • So the load time between 10 individual plugins vs 1 consolidated plugin would be entirely down to the language and how the pages are linked together. 100 or so additional php includes really add no increase to the load speed, especially on a dedicated server. So if wordpress has no influence on the load speed, there should be no real noticeable speed difference in this regard? – user1889580 Apr 18 '16 at 18:29
  • Correct. The initial plugin load process is in fact just a PHP include. – Rarst Apr 18 '16 at 18:34

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