By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Sometimes it is simply time to let go of a WordPress plugin and remove it from your site. You could have many reasons for deleting a plugin:

  • You no longer need the feature offered by the plugin.

  • You want to replace the plugin with a different one.

  • You’re retiring the plugin due to its functionality being replaced with features built into a new version of WordPress.

  • You’re removing it due to performance issues because the plugin simply required too many resources to run.

It may be tempting to simply deactivate undesired plugins and leave them sitting in your plugins directory, but take the extra step to delete plugins that you no longer need. The PHP files of the plugin can still be run manually if someone, or some automated computer program, directly requests that PHP file.

If the plugin had a security flaw that could allow such direct execution of the code to compromise the security of the server, having old code lying around is simply a problem waiting to happen.

If you accidentally delete a plugin, you can always reinstall it.

Delete WordPress plugins via the Dashboard

Deleting plugins can be handled from the Plugins page. To delete a plugin, it first must be deactivated.

Ready to delete the plugin? Click the Delete link listed just below the plugin’s name. You first have to confirm that you want to delete a plugin before that action will take place.

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After confirming the deletion of a plugin, you’re returned to the Plugins page with a notice confirming that the plugin was deleted.

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Delete WordPress plugins manually

You can manually delete a plugin by simply removing the plugin’s directory from the wp-content/plugins directory. Because the files no longer exist, the plugin simply stops running. It may be helpful to deactivate the plugin first, but doing so isn’t required.

Manually deleting a plugin can be very helpful when a plugin has a fatal error that causes the site to crash. If you can’t gain control of the site again, manually deleting the plugin’s directory could quickly return control of your site.

Because this process involves using FTP, like manually upgrading a plugin, this process is very similar to manually installing a plugin. The main difference is that, rather than uploading the plugin’s directory, you’re deleting it.

Before deleting a plugin, download the directory to a local system first, just so you don’t lose any data that would be difficult to get back later. If the goal is to force the plugin to deactivate, you can rename the plugin’s directory rather than deleting it, which prevents WordPress from being able to locate the plugin, thus disabling it.

The process works as follows:

  1. Connect to your site’s server using FTP.

  2. Navigate to the site’s directory.

  3. Navigate to the wp-content/plugins directory.

  4. Delete the plugin’s directory.

The Plugins page shows a message that confirms the plugin is now deactivated due to the missing files. Note that this message is shown only when you go to the Plugins page after manually deleting the plugin, and it is shown only once.

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