Here’s how to uninstall WordPress plugins completely

Tips for WordPress

WordPress plugins are a great thing. There is a huge selection of specialized plugins available on the Internet, many of which are even free. You can use it to expand the functions and possibilities of your WordPress site almost indefinitely. The corresponding plugins are quickly and easily installed and activated – and you’re ready to go. Now try the desired plugins and see if they work the way you want them to.

However, WordPress plugins can also become a problem. If you have activated too many plugins, this can significantly slow down the performance and especially the loading times of your WordPress site. Therefore, you should think carefully about which and, above all, how many WordPress plugins you really need. But there is another problem. Unfortunately, some plugins that you deleted via the dashboard are not always completely gone. Sometimes remnants of it have nested in system files or the database and have to be removed manually.

WordPress plugins uninstall – reliably and in the right way

You will probably remove most plugins because you just wanted to try them out or because you have found that you don’t need them (anymore). Now you might be wondering: Why should I learn how to uninstall plugins? Why is that important? Isn’t it enough if I just disable them? No! And I’ll tell you why.

What are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are small programs. They are installed when one wants to add certain functionality to a website. Programmers who develop WordPress plugins try to make them as secure as possible. However, WordPress plugins can contain security vulnerabilities, which makes them a risk for a website because hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities and infect the website with malware. WordPress plugins should therefore be updated regularly or deleted immediately.

If you no longer need a particular plugin, you should always uninstall it completely. You should only use the “Deactivate plugin” option if you want to continue using the plugin.

Uninstall WordPress Plugins – Directly from the Dashboard

If you click on the “Plugins” plug icon in the WordPress administration area (dashboard), you will get a list of all plugins that you have installed. Active plugins have a light blue background. Deactivated plugins have a white background and can be uninstalled directly by clicking on “delete”. However, if you want to delete an active WordPress plugin, you must first deactivate it.

Uninstalling from the WordPress dashboard is certainly the most convenient way to delete plugins. In some cases, however, scattered files may remain that you must separately remove from your system. These files do not usually cause serious problems, so manual cleaning is only recommended for those who already have experience with WordPress and the administration of the hosting package.

How do I delete the files left over after uninstalling a plugin?

Most plugins are already completely removed when uninstalling via the dashboard. In this case you don’t need to do anything else. But when is that really the case? In the following I will show you how to make sure that all files of the plugin have been deleted.

Using an FTP client such as FileZilla, you can check if there are any files that were not removed when deleting the plugin via the dashboard.

Files in the wp-content directory

  • Connect via FTP to the web directory of the hosting package on which you have installed WordPress and open the directory wp-content.
  • There are quite a few plugins, such as backup plugins, galleries, etc., that create and store files directly in this directory.

To be on the safe side, before you make any changes or start deleting files, you should make a full backup of this directory and save the backup files to your computer or an external hard drive.

  • Now delete all files in this directory that you no longer need.

Tables in the WordPress database

Some WordPress plugins create their own tables within the WordPress database. The bigger these tables get, the bigger your backups will be. This will slow down the backup creation process and use up more storage space. Importing for a migration becomes more complicated and the risk of failure and database corruption increases.

But you can avoid these problems by cleaning up these tables with e.g. phpMyAdmin. However, you must be very careful when doing this so that you do not accidentally remove important data.

Remember: before making any changes in tables or deleting data, you should make a full backup of the database.

Delete tables or data in tables

  • If you want to delete tables or data in tables on your hosting product, follow these steps:
  • Log into the administration area of ​​your hosting product, e.g. via cPanel.
  • Go to the Databases section and click on the “manage” / phpMyAdmin option.
  • Now select the database you want to edit and go to the table you want to delete or edit.

If you want to delete a table, you will usually see a warning. You must actively confirm this delete command so that the selected table is actually deleted.

Be very careful when deleting tables, because this action is irreversible. Unless you previously made a full backup of the database.

Disable WordPress plugins if you don’t have admin rights

Some WordPress plugins can give you real problems under certain circumstances. But what if you don’t have access to the administration area of ​​your WordPress site? Is there a way to deactivate or delete interfering plugins in this case as well? Yes, there are two!

  • You can disable the plugin using an FTP client. Or:
  • You remove the plugin via the database management – phpMyAdmin.

That’s how it’s done:

Deactivation of WordPress plugins via FTP

  • Connect to the web directory of your hosting package via FTP and open the /wp-content/plugins folder.
  • Locate the folder of the plugin that is giving you trouble and change the name of the folder.
  • Once you regain access to your WordPress site’s admin panel, you should delete the problematic plugin from the dashboard. You may have to rename the folder to its original name.

Deactivation of a plugin via the database administration – phpMyAdmin

  • Log into the administration area of ​​your hosting product, e.g. via cPanel and go to the database management area – phpMyAdmin.
  • Find the wp_options table in the database
  • Find the line active_plugins
  • Now delete the reference to the WordPress plugin that is causing you problems in this line. Then change the number of active plugins by subtracting the number of plugins you deleted and save the changes.
  • As soon as you regain access to the administration area of ​​your WordPress site, you should uninstall the problematic WordPress plugins via the dashboard.

Conclusion

If you no longer like a WordPress plugin, if you no longer need it, or if the plugin is causing problems, you should delete it immediately. It is therefore advisable not to simply deactivate the plugin. This way you can avoid possible security gaps in the plugin damaging your website.

When uninstalling, make sure that the plugin is completely removed from your system. If you’re not sure if this happened automatically, use the procedure above to check.