Bulk Deactivate: A New WordPress Plugin Debugging Tool

photo credit: -pdp- - cc
photo credit: -pdp-cc

Entry level WordPress debugging often involves the tedious task of turning plugins on and off to track down the culprit that is breaking something on your site. When seeking help in support forums, users are often instructed to deactivate all of their plugins and activate one of the default themes.

This process can become especially complicated when you have, for example, 55 plugins active, 10 inactive, and 4 recently active. Trying to remember which ones were previously active/inactive is maddening, especially if you’re new to the site and not aware of where and how the plugins are in use.

Bulk Deactivate is a new WordPress debugging tool that offers advanced options for saving your plugin list. After attending WordCamp Europe, the folks at Raison, a WordPress development agency, decided to open source the plugin as part of their contribution towards the Five for the Future initiative.

Bulk Deactivate sets up shop under the Plugins menu in the admin and allows for tailoring exceptions via a dropdown select list of your active plugins.

bulk-deactivate

Ordinarily, after doing a bulk plugin deactivation, all your inactive plugins are lumped together. When using the Bulk Deactivate plugin as an alternative, you’ll get a saved list of the plugins that you just deactivated so you can easily re-activate them all again.

activate-saved-plugins

Bulk Deactivate is not an all-or-nothing plugin. It can be configured a number of different ways to suit your particular debugging requirements:

  • Add exceptions, so essential plugins will not be deactivated
  • Save a list of the plugins deactivated
  • Activate the plugins you just deactivated
  • Activate only a selection of the plugins just deactivated
  • Advanced options for how the plugin save list is handled

The next time you have to take up the task of isolating a plugin conflict, you might want to employ the help of the Bulk Deactivate plugin. I tested it and found it to work exactly as expected. This is one that you’ll want to bookmark for later. Download Bulk Deactivate from WordPress.org, or head on over to its GitHub repository if you’d like to contribute code to make it better.

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6 Comments


  1. Awesome idea! This together with Theme Test Drive from Vladimir, are a must have for all support people.

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  2. It is a good idea, but I can name probably 20 plugins off the top of my head from the wordpress directory that will break your website, or as WordPress.com puts it, the “The White Screen of Death” for you homepage and wordpress admin.. So despite the what the plugin does, you would still resort to using ftp to remove the broken plugin(s).

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    1. This is not meant for fixing a ‘bricked’ site. As you say, that will need you to view the files and remove the offending code. It’s for working out which plugins conflict with each other. As Sarah says as well, it’s the first question asked by Support when you submit a query. They will need to remove as many variables as possible to determine what causes the problem. You can deactivate the plugins in the built-in manager, but this makes it less painful.

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  3. Thanks for the write up Sarah.

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  4. Um…what’s wrong with going to the plugin management screen, checking all the boxes next to the plugins you want to deactivate, and then selecting “Deactivate” from “Bulk actions”? It’s worked for me for years.

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    1. The plugin does more than default bulk tool. It saves a list of the plugins that have been deactivated and then let’s you re-activate those plugins in one go or one by one.

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