What Happens When WordPress Is Updated With 100 Plugins Activated?

Over the years, there have been several articles published on the topic of how many WordPress plugins are too many. A common point of debate is that too many plugins can slow down your site or cause things to break. While the risk of things breaking exists, I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be.

Longtime WordPress trainer, Bob Dunn, has published the results of his WordPress 4.0 update experiment. He set up two different sites each with 100 plugins installed and activated. One site used a Genesis child theme with several Genesis specific plugins. The other site used Canvas from WooThemes with WooCommerce and several WooCommerce extensions. Watch the following video to find out if WordPress and the server hosting it melts down.

One thing I hope this video does is give users confidence in updating WordPress. The most common reason I’ve read for not updating is the fear of the site or plugins breaking. This video proves something I’ve been saying for years, it’s not the number of plugins you use, it’s the quality. As Mika Epstein astutely points out, it only takes one plugin to crash a WordPress site. Are you surprised by the results of the experiment?

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7 Comments


  1. Hey Jeff, thanks for sharing this. And yes, for sure this isn’t to give anyone confidence in prepping for an update or going crazy with plugins, but my way of saying, “Hey, WordPress updates are pretty damn good when it comes down to it”.

    I remember being in a session at a WordCamp where Otto basically said the same thing as you, Mika and myself. It’s not the quantity, but the quality.

    And in the end, it was all about seeing “what the heck will happen”. Cheers!

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  2. I was a little slow to update to 4.0 in one of my site that has the highest plugin install (>50) built on Divi but I did anyway bracing for any crash but the site didn’t crash and I was bold to update other sites instantly. Its all about the quality truly said.

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  3. Thank you Jeff for sharing that article and video. It’s always very difficult to explain this not only to clients but also to experts. I had several discussions (maybe I should call them arguments) with the support staff of the hosting company of one of my clients because they say that the 15 plugins installed on that website are too many and they are the cause of the backend’s slow down. Actually, with a news website that publishes 4-5 posts per day with videos and photos plus a Woocommerce plugin with hundreds of products it’s hard to say for sure that the plugins are responsible of anything. I will bookmark this post and Mika’s post too as a future reference! :-)

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  4. I have a multi-site with over 50 plug-ins, over 30 sites and always updated automatically without any problems so far. I always liked auto updates. I used a plug-in for auto-updates until auto update was included into WordPress core.

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  5. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been updating plugins, themes and core constantly for years and never seen a single one go down because of it … with the exception of extremely poorly setup sites.

    The only problems I’ve experienced, were non-critical functionality just disappearing and I’ve broken a few themes due to using brand new stuff in WordPress trunk which hadn’t gone stable yet. The last problem is just what you’d expect if you are living on the edge like that, so not something I’d hold against the concept of upgrading regularly.

    Personally, I have all of my plugins set to auto-upgrade whenever a new update arrives in. My biggest fear is a goof up by a plugin developer messing up an SVN commit rather than an actual compatibility problem.

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  6. Very nice experiment, this will help convince those that are apprehensive when it comes to updates. It’s certainly given me more confidence, and it gives more weight to the argument that it’s about quality not quantity.

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