The Dangers of Unlicensed WordPress Plugins

For those who are unaware, approximately 40% of all websites on the entire Internet utilize WordPress as a CMS. Not only is WordPress highly renowned for its versatility and creative potential, but it also allows users to incorporate a wide variety of different plugins to add valuable features. 

Unfortunately, utilizing unlicensed WordPress plugins can come with a large number of consequences. Let’s explore some of the most notable below.

They Could Contain Malware

One of the most significant dangers of using an unlicensed plugin is that it could contain malware. Unfortunately, this is something that many WordPress users tend to be unaware of.

The main reason people utilize unlicensed plugins is in an attempt to save money. In reality, however, the complications you experience from malware will far outweigh any money that you may have been able to save.

This is particularly true if you experience downtime for your website. Depending on how much traffic your site typically gets, this could easily translate into tens of thousands of dollars in missed sales.

Performance isn’t the only factor that you need to keep in mind, though. This type of malware could easily result in privacy issues.

For instance, a hacker can leverage an infected unlicensed plugin to compromise customer payment information.

You Can’t Update These Plugins

If these plugins aren’t licensed, then you can’t update them. This means that you will have to forego all of the benefits that the most current version of the plugin can provide.

More often than not, this will include substantial changes that affect usability and quality of life. To elaborate, let’s assume that you have a 3.5 version of the plugin, but the most current version is 4.1.

The current version might drastically outperform the one that you are using. It may also allow you to significantly improve your productivity, which can directly translate into more revenue.

As time goes on, the discrepancies between the contemporary version of a plugin and the one you are stuck using will only become more prominent.

You Won’t Get Dedicated Support

As you might guess, you won’t be able to take advantage of dedicated support for plugins that you do not own the license to use. In fact, many people have to go out of their way to avoid getting in contact with the support team or developer.

To elaborate, some types of software will automatically check for updates on a regular basis. Similarly, it might provide users with the option to report an outstanding issue that they encounter.

If you are using a plugin that is not licensed, neither of these are viable options for you.

Instead, you will have to discover the solution to the problems you face on your own. In many cases, you simply won’t be able to determine the best course of action without outside help.

You Could Negatively Affect Your SEO

Your website’s performance on Google’s results often plays a significant role in the overall performance of your website. After all, search engine optimization has an entire industry dedicated to it.

Using unlicensed WordPress plugins can harm your ranking, and that can be difficult to recover from. This occurs because some plugins include a link to the source you obtained them from within their data.

Let’s assume that you pirated a specific plugin from a website that focuses on providing unlicensed software to users. As you might guess, Google categorizes a site like this as malicious because it participates in fraudulent activity.

Somewhere within the metadata of your plugin, there may be a direct link to the resource on this site from which you obtained the plugin. This process is implemented so that the piracy website can boost its own domain authority through all of the backlinks that it receives from users.

From here, Google may penalize your website and make it more difficult for users to find you on their results.

They May Not Function Correctly

It’s important to acknowledge the fact that an unlicensed plugin may simply not function correctly. This isn’t to say, though, that the plugin will not function at all.

More often than not, everything will seem to be going fine once you install it. As time goes on, though, you might begin to notice certain nuances that you wouldn’t expect to find through the premium version of the plugin you’re using.

This could include constantly resetting user inputs, crashes, etc.

In some cases, the plugin may operate so inefficiently that it is not worth using at all. However, the real danger comes from using unlicensed plugins for crucial obligations, such as those that are security-related.

If a plugin like this does not function correctly, your website may not be as secure as it should be. This could result in incidents like data breaches, poor user experience, etc.

For this reason alone, many people tend to avoid using plugins that have not been appropriately licensed.

The Pressable Support Team Can Help

As tempting as it may be to use them, you should always avoid using unlicensed WordPress plugins. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself dealing with significant problems in the future. 

Have questions about a specific plugin? We’re here to help!

If you’d like to learn more about recommended plugins, check out our blog and knowledge base for more information. If you’re a Pressable customer, you can always log in to your account and start a chat with our friendly team of experts to get plugin recommendations that will deliver the desired result while keeping your WordPress site as safe as possible.

Amanda Nadhir

Amanda serves as the Head of Sales and Enablement for Pressable. She's worked in the tech space for well over a decade and has spent the majority of that time building/training/leading teams. She loves travel and adventure and when she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, lounging pool/beach-side, playing tennis, working out, and meeting people/making friends all along the way!

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