Word Press plugins come in many flavors. Because so many look interesting, it can be tempting to install a lot of them. Remember – the more plugins you have active, the slower your site will run. It can make a very big difference. You may not notice a difference in speed, but web site traffic often consists of load spikes. It’s when many people are accessing a site at the same time that you might see a difference. Also, every extra plugin creates a new target for attackers. Unless a plugin is providing functionality you regard as important, don’t install it. Uninstall any you are not using. Often, less is more.
- Rule 1 – Less is more
- Rule 2 – Keep them up to date!
- Rule 3 – Delete plugins you are not using. This is for security.
- Rule 4 – Do not use plugins which are not actively maintained. If a plugin has not been updated in a year or more, it is likely a security hazard. I once lost a site because of this.
Highly Recommended Plugins
Akismet – This plugins is so useful it is automatically installed with Word Press. What it does is filter out comment spam. A busy site can get hundreds of such comments daily and it’s an annoyance to get rid of them. Aksimet requires and activation key which is free for personal sites. A donation is requested for commercial sites.
Word Fence – This plugin provides firewall functions and site hardening. In just a few seconds you can dramatically reduce the vulnerability of your site. To install it, click “Plugins” -> Add New. Search for “Word Fence”. After installing and activating it, you need to do some basic configuration. After installation, a dashboard menu choice will appear. Click on that to configure and check things.
Database backup – Generally on our servers this is not needed as we do this automatically. The danger with many of the settings is that they will interfere with other plugins. For most sites, simply clicking on, “Secure My Site From Basic Attacks” is 98% sufficient. Next, run through the options. If you simply change everything in RED, your site will be about 1,000 times more secure than the usual WP site. If you have a very busy or controversial site, you may want to take this further. Most attackers are looking for low hanging fruit and there is plenty of that around.
Anti Captcha – This plugin is invisible to users, but stops automated login attempts.
Jetpack – by WordPress.com – a highly useful collection of functionality.
Ultimate TinyMCE – This plugin adds a lot of useful editor features. After you install and enable it, click on the new dashboard menu choice. Some of the things which can be added are color backgrounds, fonts and styles, various buttons and media functions. When you add features, be sure to select Row 3 or it can make a mess.
Shortcodes Ultimate – This plugin provides many additional visual features. Among them are tabs, dividers, drop caps, fancy boxes and too many more to mention. Many plugins include some of these features, but this one has a longer list.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – The developer is a senior Word Press developer so this is a really advanced plugin. Search engine optimization is the tip of the iceberg. It includes social media, XML sitemaps, permalink behaviors and many ways to modify a sites internal structure. It also includes many buying opportunities which I haven’t tried.
NOT Recommended Plugins
Any Cache Plugin – Keeping a cache is far more likely to slow down your site than it is to speed it up. Our servers are optimized to serve web sites. This means that the server itself runs many kinds of cache simultaneously, mostly in memory, but also on disk in a raw form which outperforms the file system. Memory is thousands of times faster than disk I/O.
A cache plugin has to analyze what is being requested, generate signatures and then search on disk for those signatures. Paradoxically, the larger the cache is, the longer all this takes. 98% of the time it would have been faster to simply generate the content from scratch, partly because doing so takes advantage of the server cache. The pieces are usually pulled from memory rather than requiring any I/O.
A good way to speed up a Word Press blog is to use a content delivery network like Cloud Flare. We are partnered with Cloud Flare to offer this to you for free. Be sure to enable railgun to take maximum advantage of Cloud Flare. Contact us if you want to discus this.