With the wealth of WordPress plugins that are available to bloggers, it’s easy to see why so many new bloggers get their fingers caught in the cookie jar, so to speak. While plugins can enable some advanced functionality in your blog, their use comes at a price: performance.

A word of warning about plug-ins: it is easily possible to use too many. Each plug-in requires additional server resources and processing time, and some require the use of additional software. For example, some might make additional requests to the database, some might query a third-party web site for content. All of these things take time and add overhead to your server.

To carry this a step further, certain kinds of plug-ins will have a greater impact on blog performance. Because WordPress is heavily database driven, you can expect a lot of database interaction. Reading from a database is blazingly fast; writing to a database moves at a snail’s pace in comparison. So any plug-ins that involve writing to a database, e.g. ratings plug-ins, will have a greater impact on your blog’s performance.

Another drawback to using plug-ins relates to the varied nature of WordPress installations. With thousands of available themes, thousands of hacks, thousands of plug-ins, and more than a handful of different browsers, it can be very easy to introduce “inconsistencies” (that would be a programming euphemism) into your blog. These bugs can sometimes be quite frustrating to track down because there are literally millions of possible combinations of themes, plug-in, widgets, and browsers.

If you find yourself in the situation of having too many plug-ins activated, take steps to ease the load sooner rather than later. An obvious question is “how many is too many?” There is no concrete answer to that question, but a generalized action plan that you can perform is eliminating any plug-in that:

  • Doesn’t add value to your readers
  • Doesn’t build the popularity of your blog
  • Doesn’t ease the administrative burden of your blog

Also, as a rule of thumb, you should be using caching in your blog, but if you are using a resource-intensive plug-in, caching should be considered mandatory to offset some of the overhead. This can be accomplished with one of two freely available plugins: WP-Cache and WP-SuperCache.

Plug-ins are powerful but can begin to erode your blog’s performance when used too freely. But if you take a conservative route, only installing functionality you need, using only mature, stable plug-ins, backing up before performing plug-in installations, and limiting customizations (hacks), you should be safe.

Jared helps new and aspiring bloggers learn how to blog professionally and profitably, and is the author of a popular suite of plugins for WordPress blogs. You can learn more about one of the leading blogging programs available today by downloading the FREE guide on how to blog at Jared’s site.

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