WordPress websites use plugins. They’re one of the reasons WordPress is so great! Plugins allow you to add and customize functionality for your website on demand.
WordPress’s open source software means anyone can make a plugin. When developers find they are coding the same custom functionality for multiple websites they can turn that functionality into a plugin so going forward it can be added to a website with only a few clicks. Once the plugin has been created developers can offer it for sale, or for free, for others to use. There are currently around 60,000 free plugins available from WordPress. Overall this system creates a powerful and robust ecosystem and is why WordPress is such a success.
The WordPress community does an amazing job of keeping malicious and/or harmful plugins out of the ecosystem. The moderation, ratings and reviews of the community clearly helps users know what’s good. Some plugins may conflict with each other, or your theme, but you should have a solid idea up front of what each plugin does and WordPress makes it easy to add and remove new plugins for testing.
Things fall apart;
Technology can change fast. WordPress lets you do whatever you want with your website so they won’t force you to update or remove broken or harmful plugins. Developers are constantly refining the code powering the web. This leads to better, faster and more secure websites. If your plugins aren’t keeping up with these developments though, that can lead to the opposite results. A plugin that worked great for years might crash your entire website when your host updates your server to the current version of PHP.
Plugins release updates to keep up with developments. Usually you won’t notice anything different when you update. Sometimes there’s a small change, like how text is formatted on the front end, and very occasionally the changes can have a major effect on your website
All of this means you need to keep your plugins up to date and you need to monitor what those updates are doing. If you aren’t doing this on a regular basis you start risking vulnerabilities, or worse, with your website. So especially now, with the recent switch to PHP 8, please be sure your plugins are up to date and secure. If you want assistance with this please contact me here.