How to Identify a Rogue WordPress Plugin

WordPress. You have to love it with its neverending supply of plugins that can make your site do just about anything you want, along with WordPress’ constant updates that can make those plugins suddenly do absolutely nothing (or worse). The simple fact is that if you rely heavily on WordPress plugins for your site or blog, you’ll likely come across a rogue plugin at one time or another — one that doesn’t just stop working but manages to royally screw up your site in the process. What joy.

This might be a result of a plugin author failing to update their plugin to work with the latest version of WordPress. It might just be the result of your own failure to update that plugin. Or sometimes plugins simply aren’t compatible with others on your site, and an installation or upgrade can make the whole thing seem completely wonky.

If you’re new to WordPress and plugins, maybe you’re dealing with these kinds of issues for the first time. If so, here are some tips to help you identify and nab the culprit and get rid of, fix, or replace that rogue WordPress plugin.

Step One: Note Important Settings

In most cases (at least of what I’ve personally seen) deactivating a plugin doesn’t completely reset any manual choices you made in the plugin’s settings. But it could happen. So start by jotting down notes about important settings in case you need to replicate them later.

Step Two: Disable Plugins One by One

Fortunately the testing to find a rogue WordPress plugin is fairly simple. Just visit the plugins list in your WordPress admin interface and click the deactivate link near a plugin. That stops your site from using that plugin without actually deleting it from your server. Check your website or blog again. If it’s now working properly, you’ve identified the problem plugin and you can move on to the next step. If not, deactivate another plugin. Keep doing this until you find the plugin causing the problems (where your site will work upon its deactivation). Don’t forget to activate your working plugins again when you finish this step.

deactivate wordpress plugin
Deactivate WordPress Plugins

Step Three: Remove, Repair, Replace

You have a few options once you’ve found your rogue WordPress plugin. You can simply delete it if it wasn’t vital to your site. You can also check for updates to the plugin. If the plugin author hasn’t released an update yet, check their website to see if there’s a fix in the works to make it compatible with your version of WordPress before scrapping it for good. Or you can search the WordPress plugin database and see if there are other plugins available that will offer you the same functionality. If so, install one and test it out — make sure it works properly and doesn’t cause similar problems, or continue looking for other options.

find wordpress plugins
Find Alternative Plugins in Your WordPress Admin Interface

Easy peasy, right? While rogue WordPress plugins can be a royal pain when they lead to sudden blog malfunctions, fortunately the solution is a simple three-step process. If you’re facing plugin problems of your own, best of luck in tracking down the culprit!

Written by
Jennifer Mattern